Saturday, April 26, 2014
Thursday, April 24, 2014
My anxiety has been building for a few days now. I took one of my emergency pills last night to stem the tide. I may have bought another day. I tried not to think about it. I tried to think heavily about it. I went to bed early, stayed up late. But I can feel the panic attack dogging me around the corner of every day, waiting to sink its teeth in and shake until my flesh comes loose of the bone.
Every little thing goes wrong. I'm fumbling all that I touch. A pen goes tumbling against the tips of my fingers as if it were sand, falling through the fluttering gaps, helplessly. I only half try to catch it. I bend over to pick it up and I'm not surprised when my ipod falls out of my shirt pocket, crashing sharply against the ground in the process. I pick up the ipod and drop the pen again. I set the ipod on the counter and try to reclaim the stupid fucking pen.
I go to write something down and realize there was a pen laid across my open notebook all along. I exhale evenly through gritted teeth.
I spent all day feigning sincerity, trumping up my good will and selling off mental real estate to my employer. I'm not a mean spirited man, but being nice isn't enough in my place of work. We need to stand out. We have to give a larger than life customer experience- so I have to deliver vaudeville performances of customer service. People are genuinely offended if I don't act like their presence is the most important thing that will happen to me today, and my employer will not stand for anything less. People will say things like, "What's wrong with customer service this day and age?" when the worthier question might be, "What's wrong with customers?"
I've been spit at, cursed at, hung up on mid sentence and completely ignored when greeting people five feet away. Today. And I've only had five customers.
Entitlement has spoiled us all. Since we mostly hate the work we do, resent its necessity, we perpetuate the cycle of abuse that we receive at our own places of work by shitting down the throats of customer servants whenever we get the chance. Some of them are more deserving of that blow, but I am not. It hurts most because I care and I can't make myself stop. I can't separate the good experiences from the bad. I feel it all. I am a paid punching bag for your bad day. Your unruly kids. Your small dick. Your cheating, whore husband.
It's wearing on me. My skin feels thin and translucent. I want to be more than my job, but I am growing closer to the image of what they expect me to be and further from the image of myself that I drew when I was 9.
I put the pen I had trouble holding onto into a drawer, mentally noting where I put it so that I can retrieve it once I've inevitably lost the one resting on my notebook that I now remember leaving in that location so that I could find it when I lost the pen before.
I breathe deep for a second, closing my eyes and trying to let go of the tension in my shoulders. The tendons that reach into the back of my skull ache, they're pulled tight, like weathered, overplayed, rusted steel guitar strings. I open my eyes and look down at the page, blank now as my mind.
I forgot what I was going to write.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The fun part is dreaming up and creating all of the places I end up, like Alice visiting Wonderland. The hard part is often communicating those ideas to others. That's not a condemnation on the intelligence of others nor is it meant to be a back door compliment to myself- it's a personal flaw that I am diligently working at every day, to become a better writer. Having a hard time conveying my thoughts (more verbally in my case) is probably the worst consequence of being wired like this.
Smarts comes in all sorts of shapes, but even being a genius on its own doesn't matter if you can't explain your ideas in a way that makes sense to everyone else. That's what makes some of my favorite scientists of today (Neil Tyson Degrasse, Bill Nye, Phil Plait) extraordinary in their respective fields. They all realized at some point on their quest to learn stuff that it doesn't matter how much knowledge they amass- some day, they're taking all of those secrets with them to the grave. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. You can give a man a fish, or you can be the lightning rod in his head that helps him to invent the fishing pole. It's that concept that stoked the fires of my passion for writing. It's that same line of thinking that named my blog, actually. The idea that I had been holding onto all of the ideas that burrowed into my consciousness, herding and funneling all of my thoughts through a pinhole, trying to concentrate on just one idea at a time while I wrote on this book or that. It seems so counter productive to how I started out, but I really want to finish a book. Like, really. It makes me afraid to think that I could be struck down by lightning tomorrow or have a heart attack (the latter is more likely given my sedentary preferences and predisposition towards stress). I don't want to drop dead before getting these novels out of my head. I like my current job a lot, but I don't want my legacy to be how successfully I ran someone else's business. I want to do something with my life that the future couldn't live without. Is that too much to ask?
It was also about getting together on a regular basis to create something with a group of guys that I don't get to see in person often enough. It was, and continues to be, a way of making myself responsible to other people whom I love and admire and would hate to let down. Fear of letting other people down is probably one of my largest sources of drive, so I try to tap into that (which I realize is like dosing myself with the flames of anxiety I am half the time trying to squelch) when I need to get something done that I am not entirely excited about doing.
So a few weeks back, somebody got a hold of me on our United We Geek Twitter account (@uwgpod, tell your friends) and mentioned that he really enjoyed what we were doing and had been a listener for a while. Then he noticed that Twitter exposed my location on one of my posts, and that I just happened to live in a city 20 minutes away from him. For those of you who know me, I'm never more than a stone's throw away from going coo banana pops mental. I've got a touch of the paranoid already, so having someone "track me down" and the threat of all my lives crashing into each other just about fried my circuits.
He started asking questions about me, and out of fear that he was going to recognize me or put things together and somehow figure out where I worked, and then proceed to blow my cover at work, I explained to him where I worked and asked that he help me keep it on the down low. I felt like I would be less worried about the exposure in the long run if I just got that conversational elephant out of the way. Usually, calling out the source of my anxiety, sometimes even making fun of it (see my famous Costco Breakdown Fiasco via Twitter all about the time I had to go shopping in the belly of my nemesis and forgot my Clonazepam at home) helps me to laugh it off and avoid calamitous implosions of the psyche.
Well, last week my fan showed up in my store while I was on lunch and started asking my employees if their boss had just gone to Comic Con in Seattle last week. I showed up, clocked back in from lunch and eventually recognized who this dude was, trolling around the store giving me the fish eye like he knew me. We were both very friendly and polite, and I really don't think he was setting out to do me harm. I think he just genuinely wanted to make friends. But, after he left, I started to realize that he had crossed a line. (I said that this wouldn't be about being ricochet headed, not that it wouldn't be obvious in my writing that I am, in fact, ricochet headed. I just now realized that I mentioned this was all connected to the Today show, and I'm laughing aloud to myself trying to figure out if anyone among you is fucking mental enough to know where I'm going with this. I'll get there... probably).
Being a writer, or maybe it's just me, I am constantly in one of two states: I am always either powerfully ego fueled and overly self confident to the point of being a narcissist or I am brimming to the point of choking on self loathing, doubt and the black hole void of where my confidence used to be. I don't know what that has to do with the overall point, but I figured if I let you in on that factoid, maybe you'd be kinder in the comments section. You know, really dig in. Don't be afraid to lay it on thick. Or if I did something dickhole-ish to you in high school then I guess I just gave you the keys to my kryptonite safe. Fuck.
I mean, I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the concept- I've been to plenty of concerts. Enough to understand the basic principal. I'm not shitting on anyone else's parade if that's what they're into, but are they really that into Kathy Lee and Al Roker? It seems like such a strange thing to spend a day on.
We are recognizing people for the action of their grabbing at fifteen minutes of fame. People like the Kardashians and whatnot- they're all famous for being famous. It's an unsustainable formula, because it requires an unbalance to maintain. In order for the Kardashians to hang on to their fame, they need you to be poor and unfamous, looking at them with star struck eyes and wonderment from outside.
Being famous is more important than what you are famous for, and it's not a new concept. The Today show crowd has been around forever, and rather than going out and doing something worthy of being made famous, people are lining up in droves just to be featured on the television set for fifteen seconds.
If you are a super fan of the show, or are relating this in your head to something else that you are a giant nerd for, then I'm probably not talking about you. Lord knows I've gone to Comic Cons and concerts galore. The thing that scares me most about people in just about any situation is the lack of self awareness. It's the dead eyed folks that can't look at situations like this objectively and say, "Yah, that's kind of fucked up."
It's my belief that if you are aware of why it is that you are lining up to meet someone, watching whatever shows you want to watch, or nerding out on whatever your favorite pastime is, you will be better for it. If you're hoping to draw inspiration from the moment that you are sharing with someone who altered your life in a way that is irreversible and significant to you, go for it. Take it all in and use it to fuel your next personal revelation. If you just want to be enveloped by a pool of people who are excited about the same things you are excited about, to find camaraderie and a sense of belonging to something greater as we are being hurled throughout space on an infinitely empty, unbelievably full universe, be a part of that brotherhood! It can be magical!
But while tiny bits of objectification can be healthy and inspire you to reach a place higher than you find yourself today, we live in a world of endless wonders- no one of them is more significant than another. So breathe in the moment, live and absorb the place that you are in right now. Seriously, do it. Then let it go and open yourself up to the next astonishing surprise.