Not Doing What I should Be Doing

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop preparing for the next big adventure in my life. I find that I’m extremely anxious.

Not so anxious that I’m going to stop, but enough so that I don’t think I’m incredibly focused.

That might be because I’m incredibly exhausted.

I’ve been working up to 70 hours a week every week for the last 6 months with hardly a day off. I had two jobs – my unpaid editorial job (internship) and bussing tables at a brewery. The editorial job is Monday through Friday every morning, and then I go to the brewery at night, which schedule varies. I usually get Monday and Tuesday off, still working on the weekends.

I get two days off per week from each job. Those days don’t always align.

Or ever. Except for today. Thank goodness.

About three months ago, I would halfway-jokingly say, “I’m not quite burnt out, but I’m getting there.”

I think I’ve finally gotten there. I’m just… over it.

But that’s because I’m coming to an odd crossroad. My internship ends conveniently on the same day as the lease to my apartment, which is next month.

I’m starting to get creative and think ahead. I’m in a coffee shop with my coffee refill, my laptop, and my writers market book looking for publications I want to pitch for as I get out to the next big place and do something new and huge.

I’m amazed with how much support I’m getting. I can think of three instances where I’d casually comment about these changes coming up – the apartment and internship ending – and the person I’m talking to gets excited for me and tells me that I should do something big. I suspect that at that moment they want to live vicariously through me so they imagine themselves in my shoes and are equally anxious to do something new and big.

They’re reinforcing everything I’ve planned for the last three years.

So I’m spending my day in a coffee shop trying to get a good foundation so when I do finally get out there, I can take off running and not worry about trying to find a job.

But it’s a bit intimidating when reading up on people who are already firmly established and finding everything they’ve accomplished. I wonder, how can I possibly get to that point?

How hard will it be to get a series of articles and stories published? To be affiliated with agencies? I just came across a website for a writer with a huge resume. This is so intimidating.

There’s a part of me that’s afraid when I get out to [big city] I’m going to lose focus, get lazy, and then falter, run out of money, and go home, effectively starting over, again. From zero. I’ve spent a year just getting to this place I’m at right now. I could easily stay put, and continue down this path I’m at, e comfortable, and safe, and I’ll be OK.

I could be OK.

Be OK.

Just, simply, OK.

How boring is it to be OK?

But for now I’m exhausted.

I’m sure it won’t last, I’ll get a good nights sleep and get hydrated and wake up super focused tomorrow. I’ll go on a run, and all will be OK.
 

Coming Back or Going Forward?

Yesterday while writing my blog post I went on a bunch of different tangents that strayed fairly far from my main point and I ended up having to cut about a thousand words or so. Today, I thought I’d go back to one of those tangents and explore it a little bit.

This is about familiarity.

Its about my joining the army and wanting to get out and be back in my safe, familiar, comfortable environment.

The gist: I shipped off to the army in 2003. I was stationed in Louisiana for four years. I had a hard time making friends right away so I resorted back to staying in touch with my friends back in Washington.

In yesterdays post I said people move on in their lives whether I’m around or not. So while my friends were graduating school, having kids, moving to California, joining the military (including myself), I was still counting on life to stay just the way it used to be and waiting for my return so we can go back to normal and behave the exact same way. I can honestly say that I only wanted out of the army so I can go back to being a kid.

I think that’s relevant because I recently reacquainted myself with an old friend from college who’s going to become a full fledged, proper lawyer soon, making more money in a month than I’m making in about four months. She lives in [big city], and she says she hates [big city]. She has a million and three reasons why Seattle is infinitely greater than [big city]. She thinks I’m crazy for wanting to move to [big city]. It’s calmer, cleaner, better people, better industry, better food, better beer, etcetera and etcetera. Why are people so interested in [big city] anyway? Why do people feel they have the need to move to [big city] and struggle to find success? Why does everyone have such an unconditionally positive attitude toward [big city] and they accept it simply because [big city] is [big city]?

She had the kind of attitude that made me feel like an asshole for wanting to spend time in [big city].

So I thought: What the hell makes Seattle so much better than [big city]?

Then it occurred to me: Does this person simply miss her familiar surroundings and wish she could go back to simpler times?

So back to the army…

if you’ll allow me to repeat myself, I was stationed in Louisiana.

I was young and naïve and sheltered in a small town in Washington, and suddenly I’m living in Louisiana.

It was all so new, unfamiliar, terrifying.

I was stationed in Fort Polk, which is right next to Leesville, Louisiana.

Leesville has a population of less than 7,000. They have a Walmart. It was literally the only place to go shopping. The residents wear hunting clothes as casual dress wear, fashionable dress wear even. The nearest Starbucks was an hour drive. (I say “was” because I’ve been gone awhile, they may have one closer to town now.)

Vancouver, Washington had a population of about 150,000 in 2003. Seattle had a population of about 570,000. Today Seattle’s population is 652,000.

Culture shock much?

Make no mistake, Leesville is a town where the confederacy is alive and well. Never mind racism; there are areas nearby deep in the woods where they’ll shoot ANYBODY who looks unfamiliar. Entire buildings, along with vehicles, are decked out on confederate flags. I’m certain it’s still that way today.

Once I was in a store, I forget which one… Sam Goody maybe. A man spoke to me. He looked like a hard worker, a man of the earth, good with tools, shaggy  hair, an orange beard, and vehicle oil and grease stained on his orange shirt. He had on work pants and boots. He said to me, “Do you want to know how I know you’re from the North?”

I asked how.

“Because you’re wearing flip flops.”

And… That was it. That’s how he could tell.

They still talk about Yankees, and the North.

I was dying to get back to get back to Vancouver. Vancouver, especially Portland, were heaven to me. I thought that Louisiana was infinitely inferior to Vancouver, and Portland, and (I assumed since I hadn’t actually been there yet) Seattle. All my friends were there, I had grown up with them, I had become comfortable with them, and it’s literally where all of my memories come from

But when I got back, it was all different. I felt like an outsider. Nobody really knew me anymore.

My friends welcomed me and spent time with me, but we didn’t have anything in common anymore. They went from high school straight to their new jobs, and they moved in together, and were having kids. The communities they formed had only tightened. Sure, they remember me, and my face, and my voice, but I had become a much different person.

That’s not their fault. It’s not my fault. It’s just the choices we all made. But I had not been apart of that tightening of bonds, so my ties were much looser than theirs. I could have slipped away and disappeared with minimal emotional and communal impact. It’s a matter of, “oh, he’s gone again, I guess we’ll go back to the way things were before he showed up.

I wonder if a similar thing is happening to this friend of mine. I don’t know her that well, but part of me wonders if, now that she’s accomplished everything that her life was building up to at this point, starting everything in Seattle, growing up there, deeply sowed roots, developing such incredibly tight ties to the people area, and the community, and the culture, lots of friends she could turn to at any time, never short a place to go, a place she called her home, and suddenly supplanting herself to move far, far away into a city like [big city], or any other big city similar to [big city], she might be a bit resentful of her current situation. It’s not home, it’s not familiar, it’s not where I came from, it’s not where I belong, I imagine her thinking. She becomes overwhelmed with a longing to go home.

That’s all perfectly understandable. I was once in that same place. But I dread to think how she’ll feel when she realizes there’s no turning back for her.

She is not the same person as she used to be.

But that doesn’t mean she has to like it. She can be as bitter and angry and resentful all she wants. She can criticize my decision for going to [big city], she can tell me i’m crazy, she can try all she likes to convince me that Seattle is a better place to be. The difference is is that i’ve accepted I can never go back.

Though I’m sure she’ll be just fine.

 

Blatant Seattle Freeze

In my blog post yesterday, I made a comment about sacrifice. Today I want to elaborate.

A sacrifice is an act of giving up something of profound value for the sake of something else regarded as having greater value. This gets attributed to military service members frequently. I don’t completely disagree.

My sacrifice is letting go of just about every relationship I’ve ever had, platonic or otherwise.

I moved back up to Seattle about a year ago. Before then I was living with my dad in Vancouver, Washington. I went to college in Seattle. I made a lot of friends in Seattle. My coming back to Seattle very probably could have been a nonstop party.

I didn’t tell a soul.

Not even that girl who I was in love with.

I had been away from Seattle for a long time. All my friends had inevitably and predictably moved on. They had jobs, they had their communities, they were forming relationships, buying houses, starting careers, had close friends. I moved home to be a professional drunk for two years. I had disappeared from that scene. They moved on without me.

It struck me odd whenever they’d encourage me to move back.

Why?

I don’t know.

I moved back to Seattle without a job or a home. I borrowed money, rented a room on Airbnb, and worked jobs through a hospitality temp company who had been in business less than a year in Seattle. It was not steady enployment, and the main office, which was made up of a small team, changed over frequently, leaving me to take assignments and criticisms by someone new every couple months.

But it was a job, and it paid.

My housing was super expensive. I couldn’t afford it anymore.

So I moved out. Found a house in north Seattle. Turned out to be a kind of recovery house. It was run down and reaked of cigarettes. At least it was furnished.

After a few weeks I rented out the living room of a one bedroom apartment of a 23 year old female bartender in Capitol Hill who only had the space available because she up and decided one day that she simply didn’t want to be dating the guy who she was living with anymore, so she dumped him, he moved out, and she suddenly couldn’t afford it. That is, until she up and decided she wanted to live with this new guy six months later, informing me I had a few weeks to move out.

Fortunately, the staffing company was moving people around again. I got promoted and I worked in the office. I had a full time income, so I moved into a new apartment building. A low income building. That’s where I’ve been living for almost a year now.

I eventually quit that office job. It wasn’t really my thing. I worked such ridiculous hours. They had the same mentality as Amway, using language such as “growth” and “bonus” as a means to whet my interests like a dog to a dinner bell.

So I quit. I moved on to something else.

Ironically, I moved on to work more hours, half of which was unpaid.

And I loved it.

Even though now I’m over it.

I already mentioned that job in my previous blog post.

One night a couple old friends from college came in, Joe and Alexa. (That’s not their real names.) they were surprised and excited to see me. Where did I come from? Why was I working there? They probably wanted to know.

Joe jumped up from his chair and spoke in his very enthusiastic voice, “hey man!” His clothes seemed a tad too big for him and his short cut hair felt to be very distinctly Seattle. Alexa didn’t say much, just watched as the boys caught up for a few minutes.

“How long have you been in Seattle?”

“I’ve been here for about a year and a half or so.”

“You didn’t hit me up?”

“Dude I haven’t hit anyone up,” I said, which was true, except for once, or twice rather. Two other friends from college who have moved on in such drastically different ways that they are completely unlike what they were back in college and I can’t quite reconcile that.

“Man I would have bought you a beer!” We drank a lot together in college. “Soon we’re getting a beer!”

“What are you up to now? I’m almost done.”

“We’re just heading out to a show. It’s my birthday.”

“Nice! Congratulations, happy birthday.”

“Thanks! Let me give you my number so we can get beers.”

He reached toward his pocket that made me think he was pulling out business cards. I asked him if he had some.

“Hey I can get you business cards.” He had a strange sense of overconfidence and enthusiasm about the way he talked.

So he took my number. He texted me. He said “BEER!” I told him I’m available on Saturday and Sunday. He said good, we’re going out, and that I’m invited to the party that he and Alexa are throwing that Sunday.

I never heard from him again.

My first case of blatant Seattle freeze.

I could have followed up with him, but I was working every day, and I was saving money, and I was publishing. I didn’t really want to put off work and make things harder for myself for this guy who I don’t talk to or hang out with or even necessarily feel any association with anymore. Besides, it was his party, if he wanted me to go that’s his problem.

Like I said, I’m saving money. In college, I spent a lot of money on alcohol. Going out with friends and spending money and getting super drunk was a priority of mine. I was flat broke throughout college because I spent it all.

The people I work with spend all their money on having fun. I’m probably exaggerating.

I don’t want to spend my money. I don’t want to live like I did in college or in the army. I don’t want to be the designated clown. I don’t want to be the entertainment. I don’t want to be the guy who does all the stupid things and acts clumsy and knocks shit over so that they can laugh at and joke about later.

I’m very afraid that’s how people think of me. And thats how I used to behave.

I was a walking self fulfilling prophecy.

It differs drastically to the kind of person I see myself as.

So I quit.

I have goals for myself. They aren’t glamorous, but they’re the best way I can contribute to society. My life decisions benefits

Me as well as all of society.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? I like to think Sartre would be proud.

So I made sacrifices. I’m working myself to death today ignoring all the “friends” I’ve had in the past 20 years. These same people who still expect me to respect the narrative they’ve constructed for me so many years ago.

I’m getting myself out of this place. I’m removing myself from this community and situation who frankly holds me down.

I’m removing all those in my life who I don’t want there anymore.

So that’s my sacrifice.

And it’s a hard one. Nobody wants to turn their back on their friends. People often don’t move forward at all because they’re so comfortable in their situation. That’s fine, nothing wrong if that’s where they belong. People like familiar.

Not very many people understand that sacrifice. One of my many (short lived) bar jobs in Seattle I made a comment to a co-worker about how I don’t have many friends and that I’m ok with that. He responded as if I’d just confessed to a horribly irredeemable crime. “WHAT??” He said, with wide eyes and a gaping, awestruck jaw dropping to the floor. “That’s not very encouraging!”

Then again, he probably wouldn’t understand why I write.

Ruined For Days

 

In the last 30 days there’s been two times I went out and got stonking drunk. Once was the night before I caught a train to go back to Vancouver for Thanksgiving weekend, the other was my first day back to work after Christmas break where my mother came up to visit me.

Both of those times I got so drunk that the next day I became terribly sick, and skipped work without prior notice. A proper blue Monday.

I found it interesting that one day of heavy drinking ruined about two or three days. After spending the whole day like a block of concrete is tied to my head, I’d go to bed the next night, thinking I’d fall asleep quick, only to lie there, wide awake, for hours, actively thinking why I’m not asleep. Then I get out of bed, restless, wide awake, stiff, aching, my whole body throbbing with the pulse of my heart. I thought i’d pass out. I’d still feel hung-over like I did the day before. My hang-overs last for days.

Over Thanksgiving, when I finally got home to my dad’s house (where I always stay when I go to Vancouver) I’d get into my old bed and simply not sleep. For two days. Again, I’d wake up stiff, aching, restless, cranky; At any moment feeling like i’d topple over and pass out. but I never did.

I finally lost my cool on Thanksgiving day. I got so bad that I left abruptly to catch a train back to Seattle. Dad was awfully confused, afraid he said something to offend me beyond repair. He only partially offended me.

The day after Christmas, the first day back to work was the second time. I had a shift drink after work. I work at a brewery in downtown Seattle. I thought I’d have a drink, just to relax me. I didn’t sleep the night before either (Though that was different, I went on a midnight run. Six miles. Go me). Several beers, shots of whiskey, and cigarettes later,  I stumbled my way home around 1AM and vomited all over the toilet. Then I woke up the next day, still drunk. Barely able to keep balance. I could feel the alcohol in my stomach. I considering shoving my finger down my throat to puke it up. I stayed in bed until about 1PM. I skipped work at my other, non-brewery, writing related, unpaid job. I was completely useless. I began to doubt myself, falling into a slight depression, considering drinking just to drown my sorrows, if only for that moment. But I didn’t. I went to bed, and didn’t sleep, woke up, and wrote this blog.

Drinking is getting to be damn hard to do, and it seems to be an increasingly dangerous thing to do. I get hung-over after only a few drinks, and I can’t be productive when I’m hung-over. It’s like if I want to continue drinking, I may as well kiss my future goals good-bye, and settle selling vacuums or something.

I’ve been trying to quit drinking for quite some time. Alcohol has had a major place in my life for the last 10 years. It started when I joined the army, and it continued throughout college. After college, it became a habit.

Though I do like to have a drink sometimes. I admire beer culture, and it’s impressive what’s going on with the breweries, particularly in the northwest. Portland and Seattle have a lot of incredible products, and they’re ran by wonderful people. They’re environmentally conscious and care deeply about their communities. It’s just something I need to be careful with.

I’ve been actively trying to quit drinking lately. It’s working. It’s like when I quit smoking; use it less and less and occupy my time with something else until I simply lose interest and I don’t desire it anymore. In cases like this I feel fortunate to have way too much work on my hands. It gives me a focus. I feel it’s working out.

Particularly with some of the goals I’ve set for myself, I’ve had to make some significant sacrifices to achieve them, or even if coming a bit closer.

BeerBottleGlassThing

 

A Sudden Surge of Inspiration – Super Short Prose

i’m starting to try to learn french again, but I find it very daunting. How do you learn a language? I keep thinking when I was younger, singing the ABCs and counting to 100 over and over and over again until they just stuck ingrained on my brain, and I didn’t even think about it when I wanted to recite those songs. I tried that with french once, counting to 100 repeatedly until I became comfortable with the numbers, and i’m thinking, “crap, i’m 5 again.”

Bloc Party Announces Tour Dates and Performs New Music

I love Bloc Party. They’re one of the few bands that, somehow, I haven’t gotten simply lost interest in at some point (looking at you Green Day). Even with the bands constant changes and uncertainties (are they even a band anymore?) I still get excited whenever I learn some update about the band.

Which is why i’m thrilled about this new bit of news, even if I shouldn’t be so thrilled. First the good bits: The band has some new songs, and they’re going on tour. They recorded a new full length album, and I’m predicting that they’ll go on a US tour pretty soon. The sketchy bits: They replaced a few members of the band, Matt Tong and Gordon Moakes have left, replaced by Louise Bartle and Justin Harris on the respective instruments.

Right now they’re only touring UK and Europe, but keep an eye out regardless.

Amsterdam, Paradiso (November 27)
Koln, Live Music Hall (28)
Berlin, Astra Kulturhaus (29)
Paris, Alhambra (December 1)
Brussels, Cirque Royal (2)
Manchester, Albert Hall (3)
London, St John At Hackney (4)

This Old Thing Again

A couple weeks (months?) ago I was inspired by Casey Neistat to work on a daily blog. Casey has his daily vlog which he seems to do a good job at actually posting daily vlogs. It seems that he records a ton of video content, and, at some point, finds the time to dedicate a few hours to edit them all together. And he does this daily!

It makes me struggle to think about how he’s able to maintain patience, focus, and dedication. I wonder if editing video is as natural to him as brushing his teeth; it’s not simply a job, it’s an extension of his regular activities required in order to live, like breathing. If that is the case, then I am severely jealous.

I decided that I want to replicate that kind of work ethic and maintain a daily blog. And, of course, the very day that I decided to maintain a daily blog, and I opened a word document, to type down some words, I lost focus within an hour, and walked away. I haven’t posted anything on my blog since.

Will I do that tonight? I watched a vlog of Casey as he and a dude skateboarded through an airport and eventually walked around the VMAs, because, you know, they’re celebrities, kind of. Throughout the airport, Casey made a bunch of peculiar editing decisions, as well as peculiar angles for his shots. It made me wonder how he got the shots he did, and why he edited them the way he did. He held the camera in his hand as he walked to the check in desk, and then it cut to a distance shot of him and his buddy at the same desk, presumably still checking in, and then right back to the camera in his hand. It made me wonder, did he deliberately halt the check in process so he could run ten feet away to put his camera on the floor as it recorded them? And then stop the conversation again so he could get the camera and move it to another spot on the floor that simply reverses the shot?

It blew me away how much effort and energy he puts into those videos. And I started thnking again about my daily blog. I should maintain a daily blog. Even if it is only a couple hundred words at a time.

This post is a completely shallow, terribly edited post, but it is a post nonetheless. The last time I decided to post daily, didn’t post, and my blog went ignored more months. Though, to be fair, I seem only only update once every couple of months anyway. Let’s see if I can keep this blog going again? Probably not.

And now for a song that I came across today:

to Blog a Blog.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers