Thursday, June 21, 2012

Manual labor: a mental straight jacket

Every morning I wake up with a fun new bruise/scrape/mysterious lump. If the amount of damage to my hands and arms were applied to my face, people would think I was in an underground fight club. The real, not-as-interesting-as-a-fight-club reason is that I work a manual labor job that requires putting my extremeties in positions that leaves them often vulnerable to being pinched, smashed, or bent backwards. If it wasn't for steel-toed boots, my feet would look like Jack Nicholson's face.

For clarity, I work at a party rental business. We rent out tents, tables, chairs for people that are putting on events. Summer is the busiest time, because people are getting married, graduated, or drunk in the outdoors for no real reason and need some shelter.

This means that about 25% of the time I'm working, I'm building a tent in someone's backyard so they can celebrate their brat daughter graduating high school. Yea, high school. Remember when people thought that was an accomplishment worth celebrating? Me either, because I was born after 1970.

I understand that I shouldn't complain about having a job, considering the rough financial times the country is having. I'm not saying that I'm above my occupation, but there's a part of me that wishes I could honestly say that my job requires basic literacy, but it doesn't. Come to think of it, an inability to read may actually make me better at my job. Words would be one less thing to distract me from that trailer hitch I'm about to walk into.

Shin splints make a man out of you.

Since I was a teenager, I've been using my body and physical attributes to move myself forward. That's a stupid way of saying that I played sports for a long time, too long. And once I stopped doing that, I found out that my brain, my wit were what I really had to offer the world that meant something. I've spent roughly the last two years focusing entirely on that, so now that I'm swinging a maul, I can't help but have the word “regression” bounce around my head.

I know most of my writing has some optimistic twist at the end that makes all these childish gripes a worthwhile venture through the blogosphere, but I don't see that happening here. I'm coming off an 11-hour shift that was spent almost entirely in the sun. We got a brief lunch break, but I didn't finish my food because I was too busy fantasizing about the horrific death of today's customer, who liked to whistle at you to get your attention. Like you're a dog.

Lifting stuff sucks. Sweating blows. Unemployment sucks and blows.

That is all, internet. I have to work in the morning.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Well, that was weird...

Apparently I graduated from college the other day. After wiping away the last few scribbles from the whiteboard that was filled with every homework assignment I had to do over the last month, I can't help but think “oh, so that's it?” I know I'm not the only one with that feeling, so I'm sorry if I bore you with the thought pattern of a 23-year-old asshole with an overpriced degree and an empty jar labeled “excuses for being unemployed.” It's the only perspective I have. Sue me.

I certainly thought it would be a little longer before I was staring at a word document again, but the underachieving public college I barely got into tells me that it's what I'll be doing the rest of my life, so I may as well start now. It's odd to think about, my life is supposed to start right about now, I'm no longer in the “training” phase.

I can start using the phrase “back in my college days” and follow it with a half baked story about how I only ate pickles and animal crackers for a week so I could afford beer. I didn't do that, but I'm sure someone out there did, and they'll sound like a real douche when they talk about it.

So, what did I get out of this? This $60,000, 5-year-long, slow motion train wreck that I am now supposed to call an education. I know I'm supposed to be excited, I've gathered that from my classmate's Facebook updates. Which isn't to say that I'm not tickled by the idea of never doing homework again, because I am. It's venturing out into the great nothing we refer to as the “economy” that scares me. Let's be honest with each other, I'm a creative brain in a frat boy's body in a toddler's clothes with a Writing Studies degree. Rough financial waters lay ahead.

I wish I could sit here and honestly believe Johnny Depp in Blow when he says “money isn't real,” but I can't. Money is real. When the government comes calling for their financial aid money back, I won't be able to tell them that I thought all those loans were imaginary. I'm going to have to tell them that the check's in the mail. But the check isn't in the mail, because there is no check, because there is no job for someone that has an “Idea Board” that only contains the phrase “funeral home employees working on commission.”

Perhaps I'm being a bit glum, that usually happens on days spent entirely in a basement bedroom trying to write a blog post that will be read by seven people. I'm sure there's some idiot, or some group of idiots out there that will want to hire me to write things for them. And if they're reading this, disregard everything you've read so far, except for the bit in the beginning with the jar. I thought that was cute.

I'll be honest, in most classes I learned nothing. In some classes I learned something and then forgot it by the time I walked out of the classroom. And in a few classes, my tuition money contributed to me becoming a better writer, and more well-rounded individual. Taking this angle on my college career, and you'd think I'd be asking for a refund. But the path one takes to self discovery will always have it's tolls, mine just happens to have a dollar sign in front of it.

Life has a way of trying to make you hate the things that you love. Well, I love words. And if taking back-to-back linguistics classes wasn't enough to squash my passion for language, I'm not sure what could. Take a close look, folks. This is written documentation that I am experiencing youthful enthusiasm for life. I'll have to remind myself of this in a decade or two when I've become that jaded, bummer of a veteran comedian that I'll inevitably turn into. There is always value in learning about yourself on level that's deeper than what you have to look at in the mirror.

$60,000 of value? We'll see.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Up late, feeling weird

I find myself up at nights with this unfamiliar energy that I can't shake off. It's not something easily described, like most sensations rooted deeply into a psyche. It's like my brain is screaming at the rest of my body, “DO IT,” but never really explains to me what “it” is. So in many ways, my writing this is my way of trying to get my brain to shut the fuck up. I'm approaching 4:00 AM, and no matter how many times I highlight and delete full paragraphs from what you're reading, I'm still getting yelled at by my brain. The last paragraph with the Arrested Development reference actually wasn't bad, but by the end I was hit with a barrage of “is that what you want to say,” “that's not quite right,” “no, try again, you can do better.” My brain's a perfectionist, clearly the rest of me is not or I would have picked up that tissue that missed the garbage... three days ago.

Is this how you know you're going crazy? When your brain and the rest of you seem to be communicating on two entirely different wavelengths? The only thing I'm worried about is what kind of crazy I am. Am I crazy like the Wright brothers: “See that bird? Let's do that.” Or am I crazy like the Mansons: “See that bird? Let's go eat a hooker.” Considering I'm not smart enough to invent something like human flight, and not hungry enough for a whole hooker at the moment, I'm probably somewhere in between. But either way, I'd like to think that this is a similar sensation that many of the great creative minds have experienced. I guess I just feel better believing that Louis CK stayed up at night with a sense of undefined purpose before he started turning out the funniest jokes on the planet.

The last few days have been a complete waste. I've been stuck in a cycle of: wake up, walk to computer, overeat, go to bed, repeat. A less than ideal pattern of behavior for someone with big ambitions, probably too big. I'm not ashamed to admit that I value nothingness more than most people probably should, but I've started 2012 off with a complacent groan and it needs to change.

I've heard from successful people that the key to achieving what you want in life comes down to just doing it. Want to be a comedian? Get on stage. Want to write a book? Start typing. Want to make a movie? Find a camera. The world is made up of people that did it and people that kept saying “Well it's not that simple...”

People spend their entire lives just waiting for that spark of inspiration that sets them on the path they think they deserve. But the fact of the matter is that life doesn't give you that spark. What life gives you is a free night to think every now and then, and a decent bottle of wine. Then you're on your own. Asking for anything more is pissing in the wind.

Perhaps this is a trait of my generation. It seems like just about everything that's been invented since I was born was made to distract me from more meaningful endeavors. Of course Michelangelo could focus on painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he didn't have a Netflix queue to watch or access to pornography on his phone. Why wouldn't Beethoven compose those nine symphonies if the only alternative form of entertainment was playing hopscotch or dying of the bubonic plague. I don't intend to blame the shortcomings of this lethargic generation on the technological advances that are supposed to represent the forward thinking we so obviously lack. But it's impossible to even finish a thought, let alone an idea, when every time you blink there's a new shiny gadget offering instant satisfaction.

This is the hand we're dealt. And I don't feel like folding this one, at least not tonight. That's why I'm still up at a time when most people are just waking up for a productive little Wednesday. I'm awake because this itch wouldn't scratch itself. I'm awake because that twinge my brain is giving me is sick of being cast aside, and I decided that it had a good point. I'm awake because even though I don't have any idea what the hell I'm writing about, I know I had to write it.