Drowning

Capture

A few seconds after I broke my neck, I almost drowned. Both are scary, but one is a lot scarier right away. When you’re sucking in water instead of 02, you’re not thinking about much else.

That is how I am feeling now.

Sure, destroying my spinal cord is really important. We need to take care of that right away.

BUT I’M FUCKING DROWNING! I CAN’T BREATHE! JUST HOLD ME UP FOR TEN FUCKING SECONDS!

I need to do some things in my life right now that I’d rather not get into, but there are so many problems that seem to pop up into my life right now that I can’t even grasp onto the fact that they’re there.

When you’re drowning, the big scar you’re going to have doesn’t really matter. The rehab isn’t in your mind. Missing work isn’t the most important part. Moving back in with your parents will be a detriment to your life. Relearning how to do everything will be a huge pain.

BUT I’M FUCKING DROWNING! I JUST WOULD LIKE A FEW GASPS OF AIR!

I need a new job with benefits and a decent salary. I’ll have to find a place to live, new buddies, a new favorite crappy Chinese food restaurant, place to hang out, good grocery store, gym, bike, bike shop, bike path, bike route to that possible job, place to buy stuff like coat hangers, bed, dresser, winter clothes and…

I JUST NEED SOME OXYGEN!

Alright, I just need to get away for a little bit. I’d like some peace and quiet. I have a little bit of cash saved up. I’ll be just fine. I’ll worry about all the life stuff and neck stuff later. Right now, I’ll take some deep breaths and everything won’t be okay, but at least I’ll get the important thing out of the way.

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See You Later!

KC PIC

In an hour, I’m going to be unemployed again.

I put in my two weeks’ notice and today’s the day.

I need to leave the city and retire from my current gig. I have been overly stressed. I need some fresh air and a new start. The friends I have are wonderful, but I need a change.

Until 5 p.m. I work for Cognitive Arts and/or NIIT, but the company is actually one and the same. I think Cognitive Arts is the old name.

The folks I have worked with have been really wonderful. I learned quite a few things, most importantly: PowerPoint. Back when I rode a woolly mammoth to school, PowerPoint was just getting invented so I never had any proper lessons on it. That was invaluable.

Writing and interviewing people again was really fun. I liked that. Copy editing brings some light or purpose into my life.

I also had some free time to do a lot of writing of my own, so much of my last two novels were edited and written right here. I’m sure after the success of my novels the computer, desk and chair will be bronzed.

Yesterday I was at my gym pumping iron. There are two very sweet ladies in their fifties and I told them I would never see them again. That’s always weird. They seemed sad, but hopeful. Sometimes those were the only two people I would talk to in a day or two. Granted, it was “How’s your day going?” and chit chat like that, but interacting with somebody is always nice.

I highly doubt I will see them or they cried in their beers last night — or if they even drink beers — but that starts the big waves of goodbyes.

Over the past seven hours, I’ve deleted all the stuff from my computer, cleaned out my desk, eaten all my food in the fridge and taken down a few of the paltry decorations (Jiu Jitsu words of wisdom, Big Lebowski photos, holiday cards from my mommy and cute notes from friends).

In 52 minutes, I’ll go to happy hour. Whether or not that lasts an hour, I don’t know. I might hit a concert after that. It will be a shame to peace out on the few friends that I’ve made over here, but that’s what has to happen for me.

What’s happening next? Good effing question!

I have a few possible second interviews for jobs: one in Colorado and one in Wisconsin. Either or would mean a lot more writing than at this gig, which would be great. I miss all the interviews and such. Both would involve moving somewhere much smaller than Chicago, which I am also much more interested in.

A big problem with my current position is that often I wouldn’t have anything to do, so I’d sit here bored and be begging for something to do. Staring at a computer screen for eight hours drives me a little batty. I can only pretend to be doing something for so long.

Was this the most fulfilling job or the worst job ever? Nope and nope. But, I have something to put on my resume, I believe I did a great job and earned a few paychecks. That’s what matters to me.

I am leaving on good terms and I hope whoever takes over my spot does a fabulous job. I also hope I find a new one. How and where and when that will happen, I have no idea.

But that’s part of the adventure!

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (in concert)

YYY2

Tonight I’m seeing one of my favorite all-time bands ever: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Spotify sent me one of their annoying spam emails and told me they were in town. The tickets weren’t that cheap, but I bought three of them and am pretty damn excited.

I don’t even know where I originally heard their music. I know I lived in New York while they were running around, but I think I heard them through an internet suggestion like when YouTube tells you, “Hey there, you might like this stuff too.”

My first time hearing “Maps” captured my attention. But honestly, if that song doesn’t hook you, well you might have some problems.

I remember hearing some songs in Vegas while on a trip and finally knowing a new album was out.

I remember friends playing “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I sucked at the games so I just watched and listened to my friends butcher the music.

yeahyeahyeahsmaps

Watching their music videos really changed my feelings for the band. They sound cool, but Karen O steals the stage and has such a cool stage presence. I truly admire that. She is one of the few rock stars I’ve been dying to see.

If I could be any band member, I’d be Karen O. When I’m singing in my bathroom, I’m rocking my ass off as the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

I don’t know the last time I was so excited to see a band. Darkest Hour is the only band I’ve seen more than once. I remember White Zombie was the first band I’d ever seen — and that’s a tale for another day. Rob Zombie is certainly another rock star, but I don’t really care for that music any more.

Oh boy. This is exciting. I hope she rocks the roof off of the Aragon Ballroom.

Day 31: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Which (personal) dragon are you battling now? How and where is your ego holding you back from making progress? Have you been preparing too long to act? Have you been waiting for others to finish the battle for you? Have you been using others to avoid the next step you know you must take?

“Are you ready to slay the dragon yourself?”

It’s only taken me until May 29 to finish these writing prompts that were supposed to be finished January 31, but I am finally finishing them. This is something I’ve been doing while I’m at work and need a quick writing brain warm up. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.

My personal dragons are probably just myself, ego and self esteem. A large part of me doesn’t think I’m good enough for just about anything. The last couple weeks quite a few jobs got back to me to tell me I’m not good enough for their position — that’s taken a huge hit on my self esteem. It seems as if people might move up in my company, but not me — that’s another hit. A few sets of friends are popping out their third and fourth babies into their family homes, and I am basically a glorified squatter that kept a few plants alive for about a year.

I want to be good enough at all of these things, but a lot of this isn’t that easy.

My ego is holding me back because I feel like I should be doing something serious with writing and I’m sitting here writing a blog and not a novel. Granted, after I’m done with this I’ll start cranking on that novel.

Time seems to be keeping me back. I’m trying to be a good friend, son, worker, exerciser, job seeker, coworker, boyfriend, etc., but I just don’t know if I’m doing a good enough job at anything. You work a little harder on this, but then you haven’t been working on that.

I will always make some good progress and then get stuck somehow. I’ll be making great moves and then “CLUMP!” I’ll get stuck in quicksand.

Have I been preparing too long? Oh most definitely. I just keep thinking this magical book agent or publisher will jump down from the heavens, ask for my writing, give me an advance, tell me to quit my job and write my fingers off. (But that hasn’t happened yet.)

I did finish writing a book earlier this year and a few people have looked at it. I haven’t heard anything about their critiques, so who knows? I believe in that book.

I wish somebody would finish these effing battles for me or at least point me in the right direction. I don’t know what’s to finish. I barely even know how to get started.

Have I been using others to avoid the next step?

I don’t believe so. I keep trying to do Step A before Step B. But a lot of times Step A isn’t necessarily easily done. For me, Step A has been “Get a decent job that will allow you the energy to write.” But finding that job has been a lot more work. I should have just taken some monkey job and worked my ass off at writing.

Am I ready to slay the dragon myself?

Ugh. I keep thinking I am, but I don’t really know. I hope so. I am about to take some major steps to do so.

Thanks Art of Manliness for the journaling prompts. This has been a lot of fun.

Time to slay some dragons.

Day 30: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Where have you been indecisive, stuck between two choices about which you only have abstract information? Where have you been making assumptions? How can you test those assumptions? How can you conduct an experiment to get firsthand experience of something?”

I have a million decisions that need to be made in my life right now. I assume going to the grocery store with me is a chore fit only for the most patient. I look at everything. I can’t decide if I should buy two boxes of a cereal that I sort of want for the 2 for $5 deal or get one box of a cereal for $3. I like the first cereal more, but with the other deal I get two boxes for a better price!

I need to move away from Chicago. But where? To do what? When? With whom? Should I take the ten seconds out of my day to look up if who or whom was the proper grammar? (Who vs. whom is a huge piece of grammar that I don’t care about, in case you were wondering.)

I make assumptions all of the time. Maybe I won’t like this place because it is too crowded. I doubt I’ll enjoy this movie if the rest of the masses have. I’m going to shut up and hope this person stops talking.

The only way to learn stuff is to fail and succeed. The only way to do either of those is to try. I’m a pretty good failure. I’d like to succeed some more. Staying in the same quagmire doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere. I packed up and moved from Colorado to Chicago to get out of a living/life situation. I hated being unemployed and living with my parents. Now, I have realized that I don’t care to live in a big city or work a shucky job. I have a lot to learn and do. I keep getting more and more things stacked on top of myself.

Getting firsthand experience comes from doing something. I like getting experience.

I always tell my English-as-a-second-language students on the first day of class, “You can memorize the dictionary and grammar books. That doesn’t mean you can speak English. The only way you can get better at speaking English is by speaking English. So, we’re going to speak English in my class.”

I really wish that all of this would magically make me a great human and decision maker. All of this still takes forever. I want to be perfect at everything. I’m not. But I will keep trying and keep failing. But hopefully I’ll succeed here and there.

I was a Hipster Before it was Cool – or uncool if that’s what it is now – Deadpool

caution-hipster-warning-sign

Deadpool 2 is coming out today. I’m excited. I’m not going to see it today. Maybe on Monday because I’ve got some time to kill or maybe whatever. I’ll figure it out. I’m so far behind on movies.

A friend and I had a great conversation. He asked, “What do you think about comic book stuff being so popular now?”

All in all, I think it’s pretty great. These characters have gotten exposure and changed movies, clothes, promotional stuff and entire other stuff. I think there are too many crappy comic book movies, but I’m happy with the good ones. I’m happiest that they’ve turned characters I’ve never cared about to characters I’ll pay attention to. I never once cared about the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor or Doctor Strange. I’m happy they managed to change my mind about those guys. I wish they’d make Punisher not suck.

A decade ago, Deadpool was still mostly unknown. His comic would go in and out of print. Most people didn’t care. They even “killed him off” and made him Agent X for a while — which I thought was alright, but not as cool as Deadpool.

New_Mutants_Vol_1_98

This is Deadpool’s first appearance ever. I remember New Mutants #98. I didn’t buy it because back then I only bought Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man and X-Men, but if you’ve got that in your collection, dang. That’s a big one. Deadpool looked cool but he had no personality – just Spider-Man with guns.

Some fans liked him, but not enough for much. I did search long and hard for X-Force #1 with the limited Deadpool baseball card. It was a complete waste of money, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got two of them.

Writers and artists molded this throwaway character into something that people just liked. Nobody up top seemed to care so people just did what they wanted. All the other X-Force and New Mutants don’t really matter. Looking at NM #98 and I don’t remember anything about Domino or Gideon. They look stupid. I barely remember anything about Cable. Deadpool was only in every five issues or so until he would get a miniseries or something.

Then a video game called “X-Men Legends 2” came out and he was a minor character. And he talked constantly. A new group of fans came about. DP popped into a few more games and his popularity took off. “Wolverine: Origins” came out and destroyed any fans’ hopes for a cool Deadpool movie. And they even cast Ryan Reynolds who everybody thought would be perfect. It was absolutely awful.

HulkVsDVD

“Hulk vs. Wolverine” came out. It was a cartoon. Deadpool was in it, and stole the show. I don’t know how many fans watched this, but I thought, “Hey, maybe if a cartoon can manage not to screw this up, maybe they can do a full-length animation.”

Rumors of a solo Deadpool movie impressed mostly nobody. Who cares? They screwed up Deadpool in “Wolverine: Origins,” so why should we give a crap about spending ticket money for another disaster?

All of a sudden just about everybody knows about Deadpool. His movie may overshadow the last few giant movies. Who knew?

I think once Target and Wal-Mart start carrying clothes, that’s when your thing has hit mainstream. And those two stores actually carry some pretty cool shirts now. Back in my day (said in an old timey voice) I used to have to order clothes from www.stylinonline.com. They’re clothes are still the toppest of the top notch.

In some ways, the hipster in me wishes these things weren’t that easy. I searched long and hard and wide for my comics and fanboy stuff. I could tell you mountains of stuff about Deadpool, Punisher and Wolverine that people just don’t know. I’m not trying to be the annoying comic book guy, but…

I wish people would go to the source material. Let’s say a quarter of the people that see Deadpool later decide, “Hey, I want to know more about that world.” They go to their local comic book shop and decide to get some Deadpool stuff. Or Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Avengers, Black Panther, Superman or Gwenpool.

Now that starts a chain reaction. Wow. Somebody’s buying comics again. Usually comic book stores are small businesses. Boom. Now you’re doing some good for your local nerds. You’re buying a product. Woohoo! Distributors see that people are interested in comics, so they start looking for writers. If people are looking for writers, they know where to find them. Me!

Do I like most of the Deadpool comics? Um, some of them are alright. I’ve seen a lot of cool ones come and go. The one where he gets Thom Cruz’s face is pretty funny. He gets interns in one great story arc. “Mission Improbable” was badass. I wrote one where he teams up with U.S. Agent and they try to get more popular than Spider-Man and Captain America.

Hell, I had a Deadpool tattoo on my back — which is the only tattoo I regret. It’s the only tattoo that doesn’t mean anything to me (yes, the dinosaur kicking a businessman in the nuts means something). I covered up Deadpool with something else, which I also regret. I kind of wish I just kept the damn Deadpool tattoo, but mostly I wish I didn’t get a Deadpool tattoo in the first place. I’m glad nobody sees it anymore. I still like Deadpool and consider him one of my favorite superpowered characters, but not enough for a tattoo.

In my closet, you’ll find two tees, two hoodies, a beanie and slip-on shoes featuring the Merc with a Mouth. I’m wearing a hoodie now.

But I’m not a poser that just saw the movie a few years ago and decided to buy some stuff with his logo. I’ve followed the Merc with a Mouth for more than 20 years. I liked him way before he was cool. And I’m glad he’s out there for the adoring public.

Are there any popular things that you liked before they got cool?

Day 29: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Reflect on how you distribute your attention throughout the day. How much of it is directed to what is truly important? How often do you allow yourself to become trivial? If we become what we focus on, what are you becoming?”

First and foremost, I think social media sucks up way too much time. The internet too. That’s why I don’t have internet at home. Or television.

During the workweek while I’m at the desk I read a lot of news articles and make sure to email everybody in my list.

Usually, I can get all the required work done. My job is weird because most of the times I have to ask, “How do I do this?” or “What do you want me to do here?” Mostly, because the bosses are not necessarily good at telling me.

But once I’m rolling at work, I’ll finish whatever. Sometimes I just get going. Yippee. Some thing with actual writing. Sometimes everything just works out perfectly and “Whoa! I’ve been at the keyboard for four hours!” That’s a great feeling.

I am fine being trivial. I watched a movie last night instead of writing. I think the world will keep turning. I need to stay on the writing. It’s difficult, but I need to remember that if I don’t care, than nobody does.

What am I becoming? Hopefully an effing writer. I spend plenty of damn time on it. I’m about to take another step to become an even more starving writer. Yippee.

Nashville and Louisville

I took a mini-road trip last weekend. My friend Alex and I decided to ditch our cities and bounce to some parts unknown.

We met up in Louisville, Kentucky. I pronounced the name wrong 99.998 percent of the time. There is a Louisville, Colorado that is not pronounced the same as the Kentucky version.

I wanted to see the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Muhammad Ali stuff, but we just didn’t have enough time.

We went to Mammoth National Park for some hiking, camping and atmosphere but most of all for some peace and quiet. That was easily the best part. I saw some animals, trees, greenery, lightning bugs and stars.

Stars are crazy. I didn’t really appreciate them until I noticed them and then lost them. They are visible in Colorado, but you might be able to see two on a good day in Seoul or NYC or Chicago.

It was great. We made a fire (after three or four really pathetic attempts) and cooked some hot dogs and s’mores. It was funny because I’d just seen “The Sandlot” with the s’mores scene. And we sort of considered s’mores vodka.

I wanted to see some animals, but all we really saw were some birds and deer. The deer didn’t look like our Coloradoan and North Dakotan deer. The were redder and skinnier. Weird.

We went to Mammoth Cave. Every single ranger was so nice and cool. I really wish we spent more time over there and could have hung out with the rangers. That was such a cool gig. Or maybe being a park ranger would make you hate the outdoors and society.

The next day we grabbed some very mediocre BBQ and then went to Nashville.

Nashville was alright. We went to the music area, but I thought it felt more like LoDo (Lower Downtown) Denver than anything else. Lots of people, music and bars, but I wasn’t really in the mood for that or that interested in drinking around a ton of people. I can do that here in Chicago.

There were a few things about Nashville’s downtown that I liked:

1. It was clean.
2. People were nice.
3. Even though there were a lot of people, I didn’t really feel crowded.
4. Most of everybody seemed to be having a good time.
5. There looked like a ton of things to do.

There were also a few major things I disliked:

1. Call me a Thrifty Cheapass, but I hate not knowing how much a beer will cost when I’m looking at a menu in a restaurant. If I’m in a dive bar, I’ll just have to guess at prices. But when I’m sitting down for a sandwich and there’s nothing to tell me how much my PBR is going to cost me…fuck it. I don’t want to be there.
2. Bathroom attendants. I hate these guys. Maybe somebody likes them or finds them useful, but I really just want to use the boys’ room in peace. I don’t need somebody washing my hands or whatever. We had bathroom attendants in some of the clubs I’ve worked in. I don’t like being pressured into tipping something I don’t want to do. I like drinking in bars. I like tipping servers. I hate bathroom attendants.

The biggest and baddest thing was, these two annoying things were at the same restaurant bar!!! Not a club. Not a lounge. Just a regular old bar where we ordered some very mediocre food.

We ended up blowing $6 for domestic bottles and then there was a guy trying to hand me paper towels after I took a leak. I finished by booze and whiz and bounced as fast as possible.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to visit Louisville and Nashville was because I’d heard both of those places were cool and maybe I’d like to move there. I’ve been so unhappy in Chicago that I thought I’d better look at some other spots.

My little experience did a pretty good job of changing my mind. I’m not interested in either city now. Some things rubbed me the wrong way and others just didn’t rub me in any way.

Both places seemed a little too expensive and a little too uninteresting. When I move to a place I want to have a job or a friend. I don’t want to make the same mistake that I made when I moved to Chicago. I had a couple buddies here, but no job. If I moved to Nashville or Louisville I’d be in a worse situation because I’d have no friends or job.

Maybe I’ll revisit these cities another time, but if that happens I’d like to go with a better guide. Closing eyes to pick places to go or looking at Yelp reviews doesn’t necessarily make a good vacation.

Day 28: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“When the world seems intent on outraging you, how can you maintain your sanity without becoming a misanthrope?”

“Is it caring about the right things? Is it being so focused on your aim that every obstacle is just fuel for the fire? Is it learning to tame your desires? To be more aware of silly frustrations? What will work for you?”

How does the great Casey Freeman stay sane without becoming a misanthrope?

This is a perfect writing prompt for the last few years of my life.

Plain and simply, I need to chill the hell out. How does one do that? I don’t know.
I do my best not to take stuff as seriously as I used to. It’s not the end of the world if somebody bumps into you, doesn’t like your thing or ignored you. Or if you accidentally drop something.

I’ve done my best to do the things I like to do. If I don’t like something, I make a change. Maybe that’s not always the best thing in the world since in the past eight years I’ve lived in Denver x2, Seoul x4, Elizabeth, Chicago x2 and now looking for another spot.

I don’t want to be the cranky old man so if I can get out of that atmosphere, that would be great.

Right now, I don’t want to be around all the urban noise and shitty people. I’d like to be out in the smaller cities. Fire engines, homeless people, trains, gunshots and all that are annoying to me. How can I solve that? By moving somewhere new which is what I want to do.

I really liked the indie movie “Safety Not Guaranteed.” I probably wouldn’t like “Pirates of the Caribbean Part ___.” But it’s safe to say that the Johnny Depp movie will make a ton of money but the tiny one won’t. I can’t get mad at the world for wanting that. So I do my best not to.

What should I care about?

I care about my writing career, health and friends. A lot of the things many people care about, I don’t. I think that’s totally fine. Not having a car, house, kids or wife whittles down a lot of my worries.

I want to be a successful writer. The rest of the stuff doesn’t totally matter.

I am aware of silly frustrations and I try to stay positive about stuff. I think that’s important. Laughing at stupid crap makes life a little easier to deal with.

Sooner or later I’m going to nail this whole thing down.

How about you folks?

Day 27: Journaling

Everyday I’m writing to get my day started. I’ve got great prompts from this site:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/2018/02/28/31-days-greater-self-reliance/

Today’s question is…

“Is there an area where confidence or action could actually straighten out your thinking more than another book?”

I don’t like this question because I’m not totally understanding this question.

Anything could straighten me out more than another book.

I’m going to steal some of my own teaching lessons and mix them into this blog.

After my first terrible breakup and knowing that I sucked at relationships, I read “The Game” by Neil Strauss about pick-up artists. I thought, “Hey, I could do all of that stuff. Bing bang boom, I’m feeling more confident.”

Well, memorizing every relationship book doesn’t make you good with women. Reading a million grammar books or studying the dictionary doesn’t make you a perfect writer. Watching Jiu Jitsu videos on YouTube doesn’t make you great at Jiu Jitsu.

Only doing those things makes you better at those things.

Yes. you need the theory, the grammar, the vocab and the basics. But you also need to know how to actually do those things.

Sucking and failing at these things is totally cool. There’s nothing wrong with that. Our schools of thought are constantly pulled one way to the other. We hear about Stephen King who threw away his first manuscript but his wife fished it out. Now he’s the most popular writer of all time (or something).

Stephen King didn’t just magically touch the typewriter and pump out novels. He sat and sat and typed and typed. I’m reading some of my old writing and I hate it. I won’t say I’m embarrassed at it, but I definitely hope I’ve gotten better. I think this is something artists or creative people are supposed to say. But I truly believe I’ve grown a lot as a writer.

Books are wonderful. I wish more and more would be read and published — and I hope my books are right on top. But going out and doing whatever you want to be be good at is much more important than knowing every last detail. You learn some basics and some from experience.

I hope this answer is alright. Yikes.