At night, I try and log my mental state down in journal/blog format. I put it up on my website, or, if it’s particularly good writing, I save it, edit it, and post it on Medium. Tonight, I want to take the time to say some shit to you.
I’ve probably repeated the “that’s God’s Stallion” GTA 3 story 3 or 4 dozen times, and I just remembered it again and told Fia. After I finished, I got to thinking about why that story is so important to me, and why that’s such a good memory for me.
I think there are a lot of points where we could’ve just stopped being friends or connecting up in any way. Those kinds of things happen as people age, mature, change, and literally grow further apart. But memories like “that’s God’s Stallion” after an all-night GTA 3 session sitting in front of the TV are part of the reason we’re friends. Part of the reason why I’m writing this text to you now.
Life has come really fast lately. For both of us, I think. You’ve found someone, and I’ve found someone. You’re fucking married now. With pets. It really bums me out that I wasn’t at the wedding - or know if a ‘ceremony’ even happened. But I’m happy for you. Going on those adventures and taking that leap, those moves, those pet adoptions, those first Christmases, are what makes this all worth it. It’s a slow-coming realization that I, the perennially familyless weirdo, am only just now grasping. Seeing one of the most important people in my life have that makes me happy by proxy.
Some nights, I miss those old days on Halo and playing Guitar Hero and fucking around outside. Now, in my excruciatingly adult life, I’m feeling set upon by the anxieties of making my life what I want it to be. In the whirlwind of it all, I find that I’m letting some personal relationships go uncared for. With you being in Virginia and otherwise preoccupied by your Virginia-based existence, my relationship with you has been an easy one to stop keeping up with. I’m sorry for that.
Fia and I likely won’t be in Florida for another year. Maybe as little as six months. She has grad schools narrowed down to 2 options, both of which are on the West coast. Portland, Oregon or Fullerton, California. As a mentally unwell artist type, escaping Florida by any means necessary is fine by me. Fleeing to Portland or California with the love of my life doubly so.
My biggest fear is that moving that far will be the final nail in that coffin for you and me to continue keeping up with each other. Some of the memories you and me have shared over the years have been ones that I’ve used as fuel to keep going. I recently told Fia’s family about that time I pushed you down the hill in a shopping cart and thought you died when you hit the curb.
Even if we continue to lead busy, preoccupied lives after tonight - and we will, I suspect - I want you to know that you’re an extremely important person in my life. I hope that little spark that’s kept us friends over the years continues to linger.
At night, I try and log my mental state down in journal/blog format. I put it up on my website, or, if it’s particularly good writing, I save it, edit it, and post it on Medium. Tonight, I want to take the time to say some shit to you.
I spent $40 on toilet paper today. That’s the kind of information I’m supposed to write about, right? The transmogrification – to borrow a term coined by a writer of actual merit – of the mundane into the meaningful. I spent $40 on toilet paper, and I did it because I thought I would be saving money. Who the fuck is going to go through $40 of toilet paper in a time-effective manner? Where am I going to put it all? In the bathroom, next to the toilet seat? That’s absurd. That’s where it’s sitting right now. I can tell you that for certain, because I’m sitting on the toilet as I write this. It’s pretty fucking absurd.
I’m writing this on the toilet because the alternative is writing in bed. Which is something that I always mean to do and don’t. There comes a point in the evening where it comes down to three things: play video games with Sofia, have sex with Sofia, write, or go to sleep. Four things. Not the three things I originally mentioned. Send your complains to @jghartisabadperson. Every time, one of the other three options wins out. I never prioritize my sleep in the hours leading up to an exhausted passing-out. I never give a shit about that until it’s juxtaposed with the alternative of writing, in which case it takes precedent. After all, I need to take care of myself. What the fuck am I even going to write about? Toilet paper placement?
I haven’t had a goddamn thing to write about. I’ve been drifting. I’ve been zombified at work. A yes-man of the highest order. I commiserate, I vent, I am vented to, and I play RuneScape. Today, I sat and played Pokemon for about 2 and a half hours sitting at my desk. That raises the obvious question of “what are you doing with your life?” The answer, as far as I can tell, is ‘sleeping through life until something interesting happens.’ I’m not the one making things interesting, either. If Sofia wasn’t present, who knows how long this shit would go on. Probably until some kind of major mental break or suicide attempt, I think. That’s the real shit. I suspect if I wasn’t getting second-hand enthusiasm for life from my life partner, I would be suicidal. I’m bad at every form of art I am interested in. I am bad at music. Not for lack of passion, but for lack of practice. I am bad at writing. Not for lack of practice, but for lack of passion. I’m bad at photography because I have nothing that seems worth photographing. I know even the most mundane setting can be made compelling by seeing through the lens of the photographer with a vision. I’m not that photographer, and I don’t have that vision. Every time I refrain from journaling like this and then pick it up, it turns into this gangrenous – my favorite word-of-the-day – rant session of poor-me-isms.
Fia got her job back at Staples. She’s doing more closing shifts, which is leaving me alone at night. I wait for her to get back home so I can deliver my latest half-failed cooking creations. Otherwise, I sit and jerk off or watch the same Youtube videos I’ve already seen on repeat. What else is there to do, anyway? The alternative is playing games, which gets old, or making some attempt at a piece of art. Then it becomes the snake eating itself. The ouroboros. Why do anything, when all of what I do results in something that wasn’t worth doing in the first place? So do nothing, because why do anything. All of it sucks. All of it is bad. Some altruistic young entrepreneur would – and did, recently – tell me that the act in of itself is the success. Real easy to say when you’ve got a sense of momentum to absolutely anything in your life. I am waiting at the train station, sitting and waiting for that train to take me away. Fairly sure that’s a Hendrix lyric. What am I, 15 again? Writing poems about listening to the rain and Hendrix’ blues albums.
I have so many little threads I could pull on, but each one of them unravels at the tapestry of my own delusion. Writing, filming, and editing a VR short film. I’ve got the camera rig. Making use of the samples I keep recording to put together a song. Maybe even doing vocals. Doing something with all these photos I’ve been taking lately. Writing more about mental health in the format of a story worth telling. Each time I sit down at them and make an attempt, I feel like output sucks. I don’t know if that means I need to pare down or bolster. Cut time. Eliminate distractions. God knows I’ll take them. It becomes fucking paramount that I advance in Pokemon far enough to transfer my 14-year-old Pokemon off of my original game cart from when I was 9. Or play more Red Dead Redemption. At least I started running again – but then I injured my foot, and I’ve been nursing that since last Thursday. Seems as though every attempt I make at bettering myself is shot down in some way or another.
This is formless, idle bitching. Today, I stopped myself as I was bitching to Sofia about shit. I was annoyed and feeling sick and shitty at work. I stopped mid-text string and said “yeah, and bitching is not helping anyone.” To myself – to her. I bet that was real pleasant for her. But that trueism “complaining about a headache just makes everyone who can hear you feel worse and your headache doesn’t get better.” Something like that. That’s why I need to journal more. That’s why I need to go back and see a fucking therapist.
Maybe that’ll help. Saying ‘yes’ to things like that. I thought I was done, but I’m not. It’s not done yet, how do you like it so far? All this is for me is mastubatory echo chambering anyway, so, for the record, I like it great.
Fia and I were walking down the street in Gainesville. It was a sort of somber Sunday evening, with delicate jazz notes floating through the air from some tucked-away backyard garden party.
Fuck it. I’m not going to tell that story to myself. I know what happened. Fuck you.
This is a journal entry that I haven’t been looking forward to. Couple of reasons. Chief among them being my whole identity has been challenged by a single question. Something Sofia asked me last night. She asked it and simultaneously ended an hour-long conversation; she spoke those final words.
“Do you even like writing, or do you like when people think you’re good at writing?”
Tonight, I made a beat. And a bassline. It sounds okay. It’s sort of ripped off, with the same samples found from a Youtube tutorial. The beat is mine. The bassline is mine. I’m proud of it. I had a lot of fucking fun making it, too. I ran today. I had a lot of fun doing that. On the forth lap, I almost stopped. I looked at my phone to stop the Strava activity. I saw that I had only gone 24 minutes. I decided to go another lap around the neighborhood. I finished my fifth lap, my third mile, and my thirtieth minute and I felt proud. I cooked honey garlic chicken with roasted new potatoes tonight. It came together perfectly. Everything was heated through, seasoned well, timed correctly, and tasted good.
I did a lot of things that I like today. Writing was not among that list of thing. It hasn’t been for the last two weeks or more. I’m writing now, sort of, but I haven’t decided if I enjoy it or not. I’m trying to parse all of this. So much of my identity has been stitched into writing. It has been the liferaft that carried me through the darkest times of my life. It has been the goal to snatch above my head in a bid to grasp, simultaneously keeping my feet out of the alligator pit. But Fia asked me that question, and I didn’t know what to say. I turned over and I went to sleep. I couldn’t cram my brain into the box constructed by that question. Instead of trying, I turned away from it. I’m glad she isn’t mad at me for that.
It’s not a wholesale truth. I have had genuinely enjoyable times writing. I’ve enjoyed the process, and the product. But when she asked me what she asked, it forced me to reflect on all of the things I’ve done with this supposed talent for writing that I have. More often than not, I haven’t really enjoyed it. I didn’t particularly enjoy writing scripts. I didn’t particularly enjoy writing storyboards. Or free-form narrative. I enjoyed writing little things here and there. But mostly not. That’s a freaky fucking thought.
Sofia said she envied me for knowing so firmly what I wanted to do with my life. She was jealous that I knew and she didn’t know. Now she’s the one that has a timeline leading us across the country and leading her into another classroom. An office with a framed degree on the wall. I’ve firmly swiveled my cannon toward a red-and-white cloth target that says “deadbeat.” But I’m having a good time with music production. That’s something, right? So much of my life is music. Fia also asked me if I knew how to differentiate between ‘hobby’ and ‘career.’
Fuck if I know. But that was obvious.
Another brief one. Wading back into this. I just have some things I want to get out of my head. Journaling does that for me. Reifies the thought. Captures the anxiety.
This weekend was great. Honestly was. Quality family time - a wholly foreign concept for me - involving Jackbox games. Quality relationship time, with a lot of casual company time. Not a lot of cooking time, but that’s fine. Red Dead is an immaculate piece of art. Evocative in a way that I haven’t ever experienced. Immersive in a dangerous capacity. I started getting so immersed that I could feel myself acting as though it really was me in that world. I was able to let go that hard. Roleplay, as it were. Rockstar alone has the power to make products that satisfy that itch, it seems. Amazing.
I’m not looking on work tomorrow as much as lamenting as I do with regret. I turned 23 this last weekend and it put me in a funky headspace. I haven’t achieved what I know I can. It makes me question the foundation for knowing that so firmly. I look on other creators and see that they’re my age or younger. Generation X. They’re already achieving some of my own dreams. The concept of ‘the big break’ is antiquated, in my view. Entrepreneurship is the theme of young success. Gaming for a break is, in effect, throwing effort at the wrong chemistry system. Apply that same work to building your own product, not getting a spot in someone else’s.
.. but it just feels like I need to find that tipping point. Something that snowballs. Something that yields.
I don’t know what that is, but I hope I know it when I see it. I’m probably not smart enough for that.
I’m just on my phone tonight. I think there are some things that I want to take the time to catalogue. I’m sleepy. That wasn’t one of the things.
Today, as I was running, I decided to try producing beats. Making arrangements for hip hop or electronic music. I did it mid-stride. I chalk up a lot if it to being hit with that depression-counteracting dopamine hit during exercise.
More importantly, though, I executed on it. I learned a lot tonight as I practiced with FL Studio. I didn’t put it off. I didn’t find some replacement activity or thought. I sat down and worked on random shit. Sure, it isn’t written word, but it felt like creating in a vacuum.
I’ve got to get to sleep.
“Takes rejection poorly” is not the hallmark of a successful writer. Not to say that I am, somehow, good, but I think it’s important to differentiate: it may not be the hallmark of a bad one. Successful and good are not necessarily correlating variables.
I think what happened is that I had something I let myself be excited about the prospects for go over like a lead balloon. Then that part of my brain that says “no, that sucks, don’t do that again” kicked into high gear. It protected me from further letdown and disappointment. Can I blame my lack of success as a writer to my shitty upbringing as well? That’d be convenient for me. The fractal of my consciousness that wants to protect by discouraging and disparaging is particularly bulky. He’s a motherfucker of a brute. A burly, muscle-bound bouncer that stands at the gates and says “nah, not you. That might fuck up the vibe.” It’s not his fault, really. He just had a lot of opportunities to train and get stronger.
I need to reconcile with that guy. I’ve decided that his name is Tammy. I need to tell Tammy “Look. It’s okay; I understand what you’re doing. I understand that you’re protecting me from being even more depressed. Stepping in when I’m depressed to begin with, though, is fucking me up.” I want to pat Tammy on the shoulder and tell him to take the night off. Like that club bounce from the first John Wick. The one that gets spared just before John kills half the population of Detroit. Or New York. Or Europe. Who fucking knows with that movie.
I’ve been entertaining the thought of writing songs. With my relative lack of ability to write music. Or play instruments beyond a high school level of aptitude. They would all end up being overwrought Josh Tillman ripoffs anyway. But songwriting is a compelling format to get ideas across. They’re minimalist vehicles by design. Even odyssey songs like Pure Comedy are stripped-down essays disparaging the modern zeitgeist of celebrity culture, the role of religion in civilized society, and what it’s like to be an outsider looking in on that sociological landscape. A UCLA student has probably already taken the core principles of Pure Comedy and made a thesis out of it. They forgot to write it, and only had 6 hours to get a passing grade. Coming to Netflix this fall.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is pretty tight. The narrative is a take on the adage of “take compelling characters and place them into the most mundane setting and you’ll still have a viable story.” The 1890s wild west is far from mundane, but the core of the story comes from the interchange of beats between each member of a Brady Bunch of outlaw killers. Great stuff. Movement is a bit slow, but you get used to it after the first ten hours. It really bothered me at first. I’m blind to it at this point. The only worrying thing is that it’s a 200 hour platinum trophy. It’s not necessarily a 200 hour game, but apparently people have been 30 hours in and only 1/3rd finished with the central plot. As if I didn’t have enough distractions. To take away from my important work. That I’m totally chipping away at each day. Maybe I should start a novel. Or a collection of short stories.
I had a long conversation with my hairdresser today. It was about art, and the relationship between successful artists and innovative ones. And the effect of clout on a genre. How one well-renowned artist could do the same thing as Mary Sue and be called a genius, while Mary Sue is struggling to make a partial payment on her phone bill. Can we make it illegal to ask “have you gotten paid for your artwork?” Federal crime. Placed on a registry exclusively for depressed artists to avoid.
I have had two compelling ideas for stories: one where I write about my day in a nutshell, except I deliberately mix metaphors for cooking and writing. Paint a picture of an artist with a troubled relationship with his art by couching the art itself in the act of doing something else. For me, it would be cooking.
The other idea I had would be to personify the concept of being in your car and how that changes your interaction with the world. Sort of based off of this study I read (a reddit comment referencing) that talks about how drivers get worse depending on how much they take road maneuvers personally by seeing their car as an extension of themself. But the car navigating a system of highways and byways could tell the story of human interaction. How some people always look at people next to them at the stoplight. Some stay rigid-focused on the road, either for diligence as a good driver or zombified conveyance. Some blast music with their windows rolled down. Nobody actually thinks they’re a bad driver; it’s always everybody else that they don’t trust.
When the bridge is up, or I’m at a train crossing, I open the sunroof and sit on the roof of my car. What does that say about me?
Every time I start to put down words, I decide that the words are stupid. I’m wasting my time. I entertained the thought that this was about to be a rap. Or a poem. But fuck that. I’m not good enough for that.
I want to get to the bottom of why I’m so discouraged. I think I know why, though. I posted something that sucked. Something that didn’t get any traction. I haven’t been too busy; I’ve been hiding. I got a piss-poor response and I essentially gave up. I haven’t done anything long form for weeks. I’ve hardly even journaled.
At least I found a good phone wallpaper.
At least I got a couple levels in a video game.
At least I’ve gotten a couple levels in a different video game.
Another game comes out Friday.
I’ll hide in that shit, too.
I turned 23. That might have made it worse.
I can’t even say that I’m trying to make this shit work.
What am I going to do to pull myself out of this rut? It self perpetuates. If I let it keep me from making anything, I’m unable to achieve anything that helps me get out of it. I’m at the bottom of a mud hole burning the rope ladder to keep warm. I’m advancing my firemaking level.
I need to go to sleep. It’s two in the morning. I’ve got a big day of work tomorrow. The wrong kind. The kind that’s taking up more brain space for me. I’m remembering things about work while I’m there. More of my waking conscious is taken up by this noise. Orders. Products. Customer names. Statuses. Nothing that is actually important to me.
I wish something would come save me. Some kind of something. A collective. An impetus. But I don’t think it’s ever going to come. I’ve got to do it for myself if I’m going to fix this. But I don’t know if I can. I’ve told Fia a thousand times. She doesn’t need to hear it again. After all, she’s succeeding in the small ways she can. She’s doing it right.
I hate this. I hate this feeling.
I haven’t journaled in a couple weeks. I’m afraid to do it. I’ve had a good weekend–an extremely good weekend, actually–and there’s an omnipresent dread that ‘journaling’ is couched within. I’ve established that journaling amplifies the feelings. I want to feel good. I think my anxieties about writing will come out if I keep writing.
Is hiding better than leaning into it? I don’t want to let this weekend end on a sour note of anxiety and ambivalence. I want to end it curled up in bed with my snoring fiance. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and go to my day job. It’s going to be a shitty week for the day job. Probable disciplinary shit.
I’ve got to stop. I’ve just got to stop this. At least I tapped out a hundred words. At least I did that.
I took two hours out of my (on the clock) work day to write another piece. It was an idea I had been spent a couple days turning over in my mind. To take a couple of scrapped ideas and reconstitute them into something usable. Funny enough, now that I think about it, I cite that the mindset of a successful and versatile artist is the ability to reforge old ideas into fresh raw material. That’s kind of encouraging. Does satisfying my own externally-imposed criteria for good art and good artists make me one? Or am I subconsciously writing justification for my own anxiety over my status as an artist? I’m going to take the time to look back at my piece– no, I’m not. I wrote that with the intention of looking at John Gorman’s piece on polymaths and to rephrase some stuff. Make it more wordy.
That’s exactly the kind of thing that I need to fight against. That desire to workshop until sterile. Sterilize until dead. To pasteurize. I need to use that phrase in the future. Pasteurized prose. Pasteurized writing. That’s not bad; good job, self.
I’m deviating slightly from the norm on this one. The primary difference is the lack of photography. I want to take photos, but also I want to let sleeping dogs lie. No photo ideas jump out at me. I had a difficult enough time picking out a photo for being ‘woke but obnoxious about it.’ I guess I could edit together a retro-looking RSS feed. That wouldn’t be believable, though. I guess it’s not too late to make something like that. But I’d also need pictures of machinery – I could do that at work, maybe. Kind of not. It feels weird enough trying to create art in that environment. I wonder how it will impact me when I reflect on it in the future. I’m already using ‘remelting’ and ‘raw material’ in my metaphors. Again, does that make me a good artist or a bad artist? I don’t know. I’m making the best of my situation. God dammit, I’m getting hella XP.
A new anxiety has cropped up. I don’t want to move with Fia and have roommates still. One of the most anticipated differences to our living situation is the fact that it’ll be our own place. Emphasis on the our. Not somewhere shared with other people. I want that so badly. For the freedom to craft a living space. To make the bedroom a place of sleep and sex. To not have to worry about dishes that aren’t ours.
But Portland is expensive. California is expensive, too. Chicago. At present, I don’t know if we can swing it when we get there. That makes me anxious – like I mentioned before. Idiot. Stupid. Moving with her to the venue for her school is the more important factor. Just like accepting that I’m most likely going to be working a day job for funding, maybe I need to accept that roommates are an inevitability. I hope not. On both accounts. Even freelance writers seem to refer to client work as day job. Not everything is being a tour photographer. Being a high-profile artist. Nobody is going to put my prose up in a frame and sell it for a million dollars, only to have my shred it in the frame using a contraption I built 12 years prior. Bless you, Banksy, you inspiration.
Picking up my film project isn’t the answer, either. That’s not a good place to go at that highly experimental project. Not a good mindset. Sure, it would showcase a lot of skills that I could be naturally quite good in. That’s part of the reason I want to pair authentic photography with these hyperpersonal essays. Diatribes. Ramblings. I don’t know why I think people are going to enjoy them. I like to think that I share that part of me that struggles with the thing I’m talking about, somewhat establishing my credibility to speak on the subject. Even being as young and inexperienced as I am. Another takeaway from my art could be that shared sentiment from other young artists.
Every time I read the work of other people, I think of how inferior my own is by comparison. Gorman’s ‘the Polymath Mindset’ is so much better than my piece. It’s also less gonzo in composition. Who titles their shit “The next person who cuts me off is getting shot”? I guess the answer is ‘me,’ with a side order of ‘.. and I hope it pays off. It’s an authentic title. It’s misdirection. I’m a genius, see?’ Hang on, I need to go link off to my Instagram in the scheduled Medium piece.
Physical Graffiti is probably Led Zeppelin’s best album. I haven’t listened to this thing all the way through, and I’m betting Fia will like it in light of Greta Van Fleet’s new record not being as good. Anyway, be right back.
When I roleplay-write pornography, I’m honestly just doing it for myself. There’s that age-old slightly sexist metaphor for finding a sexual partner. Something something ‘play tennis with a partner instead of the wall.’ I like to play tennis with the wall. I just need something to hit the ball off of – literally, sometimes – because I have an idea for where the story needs to go. I control that. Sure, sometimes it’s enjoyable to let the reigns go, but by and large I want to be the one in control. My favorite co-RPers are the ones who just hit the ball back without any English on it. I think that’s why I am drawn to these journals. I can pretend like I have a captive audience. I tell them ‘hang on, I’ll be right back’ and they’ll stay put. I get to vent into this blank rectangle of white pixels.
It feels good, though, and sometimes I end up willing out some good writing concepts. Writing in this journal has improved my skills as a writer, I think. Even if it’s just this stream-of-consciousness tripe. It has taught me how to get in-touch with my honest self. Lower those barriers. Tap into the honest prose. That’s what the whole essay I wrote was about. I didn’t mention the journals, though. Not yet. Nobody needs to get directed this way.
I might need to make a professional freelancer site if I hope to make any kind of living off of writing in the near future. Unless I pole-vault that right into ‘making them look’ like I’ve written about in the past. But the clock is ticking, and I want to be a professional writer. I’m closer than I’ve ever been.
I can fucking taste it.
At it again.
This time, with 100% more “top writer on Mental Health.” I published a single piece – something I wrote in about 30 minutes. 15 of those minutes were spent on the toilet. My immediate hot take on that notification email was “wow, low bar.” I’m still not convinced that it’s all that illusive of a status to achieve. I don’t know how hand-curated it is. I don’t know how much algorithm plays into it. I published something else – that ‘man bun’ tripe – that got a bit of attention too.
A part of me, though, is proud. It’s reifying, to a degree. I wrote it from a very honest place. Most of the final draft was in the rough draft. I wanted to take a photo that captures that same honesty. So I did that, too. I did my best to refrain from revising. I tied it all together at the end. That was the bulk of the minimal edits made. I did a bit of color correcting on the photos. In two days, I had gotten more attention than I probably ever have for my writing.
I’ve gotten another thing written. I took photos for it today that I think captures what I want to capture. Bit more generic this time. Looks like a marketing photo for the Kookaburra. Oh well. I’m hoping that I can continue to sort of tie this visual and written art together moving forward. Maybe that can be my fucking ‘thing.’
Couple touchpoints: I hit 99 woodcutting in that there old mobile MMO that Fia and I play. I’m finally able to pivot off of that in-game task and focus on getting the requirements for her and I to do more quests. That’s cool. I also had a chat with Bryan Lamb about art. This happened immediately prior to a chat with Richard about the supply chain and inventory management. I’ll give you one fucking guess as to which essay I want to write, myself. Go ahead, myself, write the shit. What are you waiting for? You’re a top writer in mental health.
Maybe getting that little status effect is going to have a damaging effect on my writing for Medium. I feel like I have something to live up to. I need to just let it lay. I need to let the writing speak for itself. Imposing all these worries and apprehensions on it just makes it worse. History has proven that. If I write honestly, if I remove as many hindrances from input to output as possible, the piece comes out good. It comes out authentic. That ‘talking to your depressed friend John” feel that I want all of my pieces to have. I have a couple of worries about this next piece in terms of quality, though.
It’s not as poetic. Not as much pretty imagery. No “swirls of marbled scarlet running down the drain.” None of that. It’s a prosaic take on the feeling of anxiety and duality that I feel when I look at myself now versus what I feel may come to exist in the future. It’s a bit more gonzo. It’s a bit more demanding of the reader. It has a snippet of fucking screenwriting in the shit. What am I thinking? It sucks. But, like, going back and revising it just means that I’m violating the principle that has led me to success. Does that mean I need to just burn it down and draft it again? Drafting it again is probably going to make me feel better. Even if the end product isn’t any better for it. If I draft it again, I’ll feel as though I’m not just ruining my second at-bat.
Baseball metaphors. That’s the sign of hack writing. That said, I do call myself a hack in the piece multiple times. Is that the hallmark of good writing? At least where ‘good’ is defined as ‘honest’ in this new perception I have on art and writing.
I want people to read this thing, though. I want to share a piece of my head. I like that people seemed to relate to the last thing. A lot of young people, too. A noticeable amount. Maybe that’s how the demographics on Medium skew. Maybe that’s an observation for artistic youth that I’ve made in the past. Maybe I should write about that.
Then there’s the timing. I posted the thing Sunday. What time Sunday, I don’t know. I wish I could know. Is posting every Sunday a good idea? Should I just post as soon as I get something done? I don’t know what the better strategy is. “Honest” says post it immediately. Prudent says post it on Sunday. Right now it’s scheduled for Friday. Today is Wednesday (about to be Thursday). It’s scheduled for Friday so I can stress about it some more. The fact that I’ll agonize over it until Sunday is a point in the camp of posting immediately.
I just took a minute to go back and revise a little. I’m so conflicted over all of that bullshit. Is saying more actually saying less? Did I have lightning in a bottle when I wrote my first piece about mental health as it relates to myself?
I think this is the first thing that I’ve written on my new mechanical keyboard. At least anything long form. It sort of irritates me that the real first words penned with this thing were for my day job. It doesn’t deserve that. The day job. I guess the keyboard doesn’t deserve that either. Language – specifically, Englishw – is strange like that.
I haven’t been doing much journaling lately. I’ve been prioritizing sleep over that, honestly. It hasn’t been a fruitful change. I’ve been sleepy. So sleepy that I’ve had to leave work and go get coffee so I could make it through the rest of the day. If not then, I’ve been getting it at lunch time. Five lattes a week. And I wonder why I’m gaining weight. And losing money. I would like to make an improvement to that. I would rather go to bed earlier. Manage my time better. Sleep more. I don’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Or at least not having to wake up at 7 in the morning every day. I know one of the habits of successful people some individual mandate to get your ass out of bed. Time is wasting, and all that shit. I really need to test my typing WPM on this bad boy. I burst up really high.
I published a piece of creative writing today. Maybe it’s an essay. Maybe it’s a short story. Maybe it’s a photo essay. I don’t know. Either way, it’s about depression showers. I wrote most of it on the toilet after I took one. I embellished the timeline. I said in the piece that it happened same-day. It was actually the story of a prior depression shower but written following a completely different depression shower. Does my maxim of honest writing still apply when I come clean on lying on a public blog? Would that devalue the honesty of the writing? The story is about a 0.97:1 retelling of exact details. It’s just that 0.03 that’s punched up.
I’ve been happy lately. I’ve been planning stuff for the future. I’ve been purging. I threw away so much shit. Packaging material. Stuff that I can hold in my hands and go “this does nothing to make me happy.” All of it went in the trash. It’s mostly sorted through, too. Fia is allegedly doing the same to her stuff soon. I’m not going to pressure her about it. If she wants my help, though, she has it. I wonder if this clicky keyboard is annoying to her. I’m going to go ask her. She said ‘a little bit’ but she can tune it out. That’s about as good of an answer as I could expect.
A big addition (subtraction) in favor of that new mentality: I’ve listed my guitars for sale. They’re some of the only things that I have decided to sell. I donated my old sound system from ‘the studio’ room. A lot of things were donated. I hope they can get some good cash for them. Put them to good use.
Father John Misty concert tomorrow. Airbnb in Orlando. Good dinner. Fia and I have been so close lately. Relationships ebb and flow as focuses shift from the relationship to the individual. I say that as a means of soothing my own anxiety over how we’ve been for each other in the past. That sentence makes us seem abusive, or something. We’re just better now than we’ve been in the past. We’ve both made individual decisions to go forward into the future, and we’ve reaffirmed our desires to see each other on the other side. At each other’s side. It feels good. Really good.
We’re planning on going to another show in Atlanta. BROCKHAMPTON. Brockhampton. brockhampton. One of those. We’re trying to get other people to go with us. I think Khalil is going to go. That’s good, because we’re going to be on the other side of the country in less than a year. California, by way of Palo Alto or Fullerton. Chicago. Portland, Oregon. One of those. She narrowed down her college selections to that. I’m happy with any and every one of those options. I just want to be by her side. I want her to take me with her. I’m going to sign that one there. I’m nervous about the piece that’s publishing tomorrow afternoon. I hope people like it. I don’t think it’s all that good.
Fuck it. I’ll journal tonight. Blog tonight. Bitch tonight. I actually had a fantastic, 9/10 day today. In despite waking up late. In despite writing this on my shitty keyboard at 3:15AM while Fia waits for me to get in bed. I could’ve ended this day with sex. Fia would’ve liked that. I told her that I need to ‘get work done.’ The plan is this: I finish this noir script. I shoot this noir script on the camera rig tomorrow evening. I edit it. I voice it. I finish a first cut. All in 24 hours. I told Fia tonight that my problem is letting shit incubate more. I need to drastically cut down on the time from conception to execution. If I can do that, I can increase my overall output. If I can do that, I can bloodlet the shitty ideas. Get more practice.
Fia is turning off the TV right now. I need to just get in bed. I was going to stay up and finish the script tonight, but I need to go to sleep. Fia said she doesn’t want to sleep in much tomorrow. I echo that sentiment. We slept until about noon today. That tends to happen on a weekend.
Instead of rambling about bullshit, I’m just going to stop this here. No profound statements to make. No insight into my subconscious. There’s only one thing I need to get off my chest:
I think Fia and I are going to be all right. She’s on her way to success. Her path is more trodden than mine. But that’s okay. I’m the moron who actually believed in “you can do anything.” I’d rather die than make that fail to make that true.
Tonight, I quit. A million times did I quit. These are the last words spoken by a man who has given up on his dreams. In all of the far-flung pipe dreams that I’ve cooked up as a form of distraction from routine misery, tonight is the night they died. These dreams were a suspension. A diluted substrate of brain chemicals that floated a clean, translucent and breathable fluid above a murky, caustic black ichor. They coalesced tonight into homogeny of pale grey glop. I live in this glop now. It’s comfortable. It’s average.
For all of my dedicated readership, you might be wondering what happened to tilt the phial. I’ll tell you what happened: I spent 2 hours straight struggling and failing to make a VR headset work. I just can’t get a steady playback of VR180 format video shot on the camera rig. Everything lags. The laptop blows out hot hair like a hair dryer. The lack of motion controllers mean that I am restricted to keyboard & mouse. If I bought an Oculus Go, I could’ve achieved straightforward playback in an all-inclusive package & platform. If I had gone to college, I could be writing a cookie-cutter script that I would eventually shop out to network executives with the hopes of beating the bell curve. What was I thinking? It could’ve been so easy.
“John, you’re being stupid. It’s a minor frustration, albeit an understandable one.” Well, here’s the thing about that: fuck you. Fuck you, asshole. Go fuck yourself. I want to quit. I want to curl up under the covers and quit. I want to wake up tomorrow, go back to the day job that I don’t appreciate, play Runescape, listen to books, and shit myself to death in my chair. My final words will be “I died doing what I truly loved doing.”
I got frustrated with Fia tonight. She didn’t deserve it. She’s nervously progressing in her path towards further education. She’ll get enough for both of us. But I was vocally expressing my frustration with the situation, which was annoying for her. She would tell me to ‘take a break,’ to which I replied that I wanted to take a break forever. Taking a break doesn’t make me feel good. Taking a break makes me want to never start again. Taking a break makes me feel like a failure. Funny enough, I am a failure anyway. I set out to do something and I failed at it. I can’t get it to work. I bought the wrong thing. My script sucks. It’s boring. I don’t know how to edit. Video or audio. I don’t know how to write. I barely know how to read – I let someone do it for me, out loud, into my ears for me. That way I can feel like I’m gaining knowledge without truly gaining jack shit.
Fuck this night. I swear to the God that doesn’t exist. If God was real, he would come down and let me suck his talent-imbuing dick so I could have the future I wanted. And I’d do it, too. I’d suck that dick right good.
And then one thing led to another, and I was drinking coffee. I merrily skipped my way into Sushi Burrito – a clever name for a fast casual eatery that serves sushi burritos – and picked us up dinner.
Tried making some changes tonight. I want to walk through them like a CSI recreation of the butchery of a couple social connections. Note the use of the term ‘social connections’ and not ‘friendships.’ Tracing that branch back to the bark, I’m already at the part where I talk about why I cut some ties off tonight.
I was fucking around in a Minecraft server tonight. Lazing. Chatting with one of the murder victims. In steps someone who runs in the larger concentric circle of friends surrounding me whom I despise. A detestable human being obsessed with the sound of his own voice. Arrogant. A sentient comments section with no redeemable qualities that were apparent for me – someone who is generally empathetic – to see. I wouldn’t rule out a deliberate cloaking of them in order to get under my skin. I’m also generally thin-skinned. I can cop to that. I almost could excuse trolling me, because I’m an easy target for a troll.
I realized that this person would be participating in the ‘murder mystery’ event that I had coordinated. Following that thought, I realized that I would enjoy the event less with they would be present. From there, I realized that if I had more reliable, palatable humans surrounding me in real life this wouldn’t be a problem. I would be able to organize improv dinners in real life. I realized, simply, that I needed better friends. This was the was the tipping point. It isn’t exactly eloquently described – because I’m a shitty writer – but it was the point that I assessed all of my digital friendships.
People in that group hold onto people like accessories. Each person fills a broader role in each of their lives. The aimless intellectual. The depressed creative. The sociopath. The ambivalent enigma. The lovable duntz. The aloof career man. In the past, I have directly prompted a response. “Why are we friends?” The answer is pragmatic. It’s logical. Some ‘value’ is seen in me as a friend. It’s never as simple as ‘I like being around you,’ or ‘we get along well,’ or ‘you’re a good friend.’ It’s always a math problem that drums up a positive integer. Who maintains a friendship like that? I’m a good friend. I think of them. I include them in things. I wish them good luck on their first day of a new job. I buy them things when I can. I give gifts. I lend an ear. Being a friend is actually something that I pride myself in. Sure, some of that innate desire comes from being lonely and lacking a lot of interpersonal connections – since I’m just now parsing my own narcissism and understanding how I look from the outside – but the ends are the same.
I went on a tirade. I indicted one of them for the crimes of all of them. I swore. I was annoyed. I was confused. I wasn’t hearing a counterargument. It wasn’t a value proposition. It was a pair of scissors closing. I deleted my Discord account. I closed the Trello board that was used to plan the murder mystery event that I want(ed) to do. That guy that I hate is probably patting himself on the back for successfully trolling me into doing damage to myself and my interpersonal connections. Knowing what buttons in me that can be pushed to drive me to do something drastic. He strikes me as the kind of person that would take that as a point of pride. I hope he is aware of the caustic slathering of unhappiness that he has helped paint onto me. Even if he does, it probably doesn’t matter.
Maybe I should be thanking that grade-A asshole. It has pulled my head back so I can get a good look at the value – or lack thereof – in those interpersonal relationships. I try to put in. I include. I encourage. I empathize. I care. In return, I am treated like a dancing monkey. A depressive Chia pet to prune and humor occasionally. At worst, an inconvenience. After all, caring for a plant gets annoying.
I think I’m better off without them. In the past, I have done ‘disappearing acts’ that resulted in me vanishing from the radar for months at a time. It happened at the intersection of my digital private life and my physical private life. Physical trumps digital every time – at least in this context. New friendships. Trips. Meeting Fia. Getting a new job, or a new cat. Darker things, like depression spells or the threat of being kicked out on the street by my parent.
This time, though, it is a decision I’m making. It’s one made for the better. It frees up bandwidth for me to expand my horizons in the things that matter. Connecting more with people in the real world. Fostering mutually beneficial friendships. Emphasis on the ‘mutual.’
This journal entry feels good.
I’m not doing so hot today. I could just be hungry. It’s another day in the prison cell. Another day wearing someone else’s clothes. Listening to the hourly workers yell on the other side of the wall. Their room is hotter than mine. Their clothes are dirtier than mine. Their workspace is louder than mine. I’m the establishment. They are the proletariat. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about how shitty this day has been so far today. I’m listening to a podcast, but I’m not really listening to it. I’m doing work, but it’s not really working. I got up and producted my hair this morning. It looks bad. On ‘working, but not really’ days, ‘passable’ is the high water mark. Is the phrase ‘high water mark’ used to indicate a good thing or a bad thing? Am I tipping down again? Will I be sad for the next week?
The other day, I started and stopped a piece of free writing that was supposed to say something to the effect of “I mistrust happiness.” I can’t put my finger on why that is - both the fact that I mistrust happiness and why I kept stopping - but I think the events of last night and the fallout of it has helped to elucidate it. I get a picture of what I want my life to be, and then I’m brought rocketing back to the ground. It’s the out-of-body experience that is Bootsy Collins’ Sorry to Bother You. It’s falling through void space as a lifestyle. It’s the feeling of being a bystander to your own life. Last night, I was having a great time. Extroversion given form and colliding with other people like molecules in a system or variables in a theorem. Then, I laid down next to Sofia and went to sleep. 7 hours later, I fell through the gaps between the fingers of space-time and landed in an office chair without enough padding in the seat for my bony ass. I’m not convinced that I ever woke up. It never feels like it. I’m sleepy the entire day. I wake up when I go out for coffee, but maybe life resumes when I get to the coffee shop. Yet, I’m wearing my orange jumpsuit throughout the entire day. I’m wearing the team jersey pledging support for a team that I hate.
There’s a pithier, wittier, cleverer, writer-yer way to say that, but I’ve rendered out something important. A valuable observation about my life: I hate my work clothes, and I want to shed them as soon as possible when I get home, because they’re costuming for a play. It’s a play that I get paid $45,000 a year to participate in. There’s an audience pleasure meter superimposed onto my heads-up display with three sections: Ecstatic. Satisfied. Displeased. If I keep the needle in the top two, all is well. If I spend too much time in the third, my part gets cut.
It’s not a great metaphor. It’s certainly not an original one. I’m not the first person to have come up with it. If I made it into a film, people would say that it’s derivative. Motherfucker, it’s my life. I’m living it. Do I need to come up with a more contrived metaphor to satisfy you, you art critic fuck?
I’m attacking nobody. I want coffee.
Today was a good day.
I’ve been listening to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn at work, and it has made the day job situation even more tolerable than before. I’m still perpetually afraid of letting ‘tolerable’ graduate into anything more than that. On the way out to my car, I griped about the workplace with the process engineer who sits down the row from me. I chided myself for that as I got into my car to go home. I never wanted to be that guy who cares enough to complain. As if doing so meant that complacency and comfort and contentment was sneaking up on me – and succeeding in its predator-on-prey stalk.
That aside, though, the work itself has been great. I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing. Nothing to the point where I can feel the paranoia that often intertwines the spiny tendril of guilt penetrate my mind. Like, someone has to know, right? Someone has to know that I sit and just listen to my book. I zone out for quarters of hours at a time, just listening to the rhythmic cadence of the narrator’s voice intoning the twisted fantasy that Flynn cooked up. I think you can tell that I’ve been reading (audioreading) more. I like that. I’ve been entertaining notions like ‘being cocooned with this novel,’ and I really like that. I told Sofia today that I’m excited to ‘emerge’ from my cocoon and put into practice what I’ve learned from Flynn.
One major takeaway – one that has been easy to take, given Flynn’s writing style and nimble prose – is that my whole “honest writing” schpeal has merit. It needed a key focusing lens, though: nobody cares about my honesty. Not unless it’s there to impart some worldly wisdom. Or give confirmation bias. Or change perspectives. My job, then, becomes to create characters that a reader is actually interested in hearing the honesty from. Half of Flynn’s novel is devoted to the cerebrally, heady honesty of the male protagonist, Nick Dunn (I’m assuming that’s how his name is spelt. Squat. Unassuming. The opposite of high-falooting). She gives the reader a cross-section of his subconscious in a way that lays his character so bare that it’s uncomfortable at times. But it makes you root for the guy. It makes it feel like it’s happening to me. Hell, the early book had me feeling down about my relationship, even. As it advanced, I felt better and better. Then it crossed the starting threshold and actually started making me feel great about my relationship. To see where this toxic couple went wrong. To see the blight that mental illness and dissatisfaction with life can be on a relationship. It soured for them – through fault of both of the – and Flynn spares no detail telling us how it did. However, in doing so, it gave me the lens through which to see how my relationship is different. How my mental health issues made me look and act and sound. How and why cheating can look like an option – for me being a scary risk that I felt powerless in front of. That was a big one. Nick fell into the arms of the idea of a woman who found him sexy. He did that because he didn’t get that feeling from his wife anymore. He didn’t get that feeling from his wife anymore because he felt like a fuck up in front of her all the time. But Fia doesn’t make me feel like a fuck up. She cares about me. She shows it, too.
And I checked everything off my to-do list today, too. And my camera equipment came in. And I ordered more. I need to be cautious with this head of steam. Wrestle with it. Not let it get out of the reigns. Letting go and allowing it to soar me into the atmospheres of happinesses above would feel good, but the crash back to the Earth would hurt worse for it. Instead, I want to keep in mind where this updraft came from, spread it out, nurture it, and hold onto it for as long as I can.
I love you, Sofia. I hope you can see me trying. I’m trying for both of us.
I just wish that the happiness didn’t feel so scary. Ominous. As if I should know better than to relish it. As if relishing it meant that I was being naive. I don’t want to put Sofia through more of my own, personal emotional valleys. Letting her experience the real, happy me instead of the cold, anxious, frantic me is more important than experiencing it myself. I’m just trying to hold on to this. I’m scared of myself in times like this. Time and time again do I prove that it’s only temporary. I don’t want it to be temporary this time. I want it to last. I want to work with it. Negotiate terms. Settle up. I need it. I need it for us, and for her. She matters so much to me. So damn much.
Sweet dreams, traveling buddy. I’ll be right there.
You ever have one of those moments of clarity that stop you in your tracks? What about moments of clarity like that in really inopportune moments? What about having an existential crisis while at a comedy showcase where the 3 front row seats cleared out and left you and your fiance as the two people to whom the comedians “play off of” for the entire show? I was trapped between wanting to zone out and retreat into my mind palace – that phrase is some neckbeard shit. Fuck it. Fuck you – and wanting to give the comedian the attention they deserved. I couldn’t be thousand-yard staring into nothing while they do their set. So I split the time between both, like a child between divorced parents.
It was at some point during the penultimate comic’s set that I was able to synthesize a couple of things. The night before, Fia and I watched a documentary on Robin William’s life and career. Highly, highly recommended for the depressed creative inside all of us. The final line of the film was especially poignant, and couldn’t have framed the impetus behind Robin’s suicide in a more apt way. The film closes with a prophesizing quote from Robin, the paraphrase of which goes along the lines of “don’t lose sight of what makes you laugh; that’s what keeps you alive.” This lens on Robin’s final years – given to the audience at the close of the film – imparts a sober take on why Robin may have taken his own life. As he aged, and his health deteriorated, Robin’s closest friends noted a “change” in him. As if the spark itself was gone. The Robin they had knew seemed to have taken a backseat to this more reserved, introspective Robin. I feel like I know, relate, and am fearful of why that might have been.
It’s not a groundbreaking theory, but my feeling is that Robin used comedy throughout his life as a form of self-medication from the depression he was afflicted with. That dopamine hit, those endorphins rushing into your brain, are a way to distract from the pain. It’s the same ones that flood in when you exercise. Or do drugs. Or drink alcohol – I think. Don’t quote me on that last one. But when Robin lost that ‘spark,’ he lost the ward he was constantly throwing up in between himself and his depression. In a dichotomous, twisted sort of way, I don’t think one of the greatest comedians on the planet would have existed had he not been a deeply tortured individual. Had Robin Williams ‘solved’ his depression, he would have ceased to be Robin Williams. His output was the result of creative fervor spurned by a need to mask pain.
I’ll cut to the chase because I’m tired of being awake: I was sitting in the theater, listening to this comic do his set. I had the following thoughts:
Once he stopped laughing, he quickly began dying.
There’s only so much solace I can take in the thought that “oh, he must’ve been much worse than me. After all, he killed himself and I haven’t.” Yeah, but I also haven’t started outputting in a way that shields myself from the pain of it. I’ve seen – and blogged about – what happens when part of what I live for is threatened. I felt like Fia and I might be splitting up for the good of us both that night, and I wanted to die. Genuinely. The thought “I have too much to accomplish, I can’t go yet” didn’t even cross my mind.
Our relationship has grown since then, and I think we’re on a good path for both of us as both individuals and a team, but the fact remains. I wanted to end it there – I titled this document and everything. But that’s just not fucking pithy enough. I’m too much of a genius to leave it without some kind of tag.
Spider-Man is pretty dope.
Hi. I’m John. I’m not much of a comedian - I really don’t even know what I’m doing up here. When people ask me what I do for a living, I do something humiliating: I tell them the truth. I’m a customer service person for an aluminum extrusion plant. People call me up and say “I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY ORDER!” and I say “Stop calling me.”
What I would like to say that I do for a living is that “I write.” Basically, I say anything that’s not “I work at a place that requires a tucked-in shirt.” My Instagram profile bio says - you know, all of your pretentious, douche friends who have ‘artist’ or ‘writer’ and ‘activist’ in there. By the way, anyone who writes ‘activist’ in their Instagram profile is not a fucking activist. They signed a petition that if Donald Trump fired some dude, they would bust out the sign that says “IMPEACH BABYKILLER TRUMP!” They’re not a fucking activist. After all, if they’re out marching around in the heat, who’s going to be there to sign all the petitions? They might miss out. They’re as much of an activist as I am a writer. (shocked look) That’s why my Instagram profile just says “John Hart. Genius. Genius. Genius. Good person. Genius..”
I do think that I’m a pretty smart guy, though. The reason for that is that I’ve been told that my entire life. The standard schpeal that everyone my age got as a kid. “You can do anything you want! John, anything you set your mind to. You want to be a writer? You’ll be one. You want to be a comedian? You can be that, too. I’m just one of the stupid idiots who believed that shit.
I’m the one who thought “yeah, sure, I can be funny on stage, why not, I’m a writer - and a genius.” Here, this is me, literally writing for this act: shut up, you genius. You’ll be fine. You won’t bomb. It’ll be fine.
(pause awkwardly for too long of a time)
I mean, I won’t bomb up here tonight - and if you think that I already am, fuck you. See? The prerequisite to bombing a comedy set is giving a fuck about the audience or your performance. No, see, I’m the one on stage. I am, essentially, holding all of you people hostage. Save for a fist fight, I’ll get off when I’m done - or when my time slot is over, (off to the side) thank you very much to the venue hosts for the evening. I appreciate the chance you’ve given me tonight.
(turns back to the audience) As I was saying, fuck you people.
I’m kidding. I don’t hate you - I hate myself. Unless my Instagram bio saying “Genius” didn’t imply that. I’m insecure, and unsure of myself in everything I do. Every time I finish whatever bullshit I’m writing, I immediately turn to everyone else in my life. I present what I’ve created to them, not unlike a six-year-old saying “look at this!” - and it’s just a boulder of Lego bricks they’ve smashed together. From there, one of two things happens:
Either they go “cool, I’ll read it later,” or they say “that’s an interesting Lego boulder you’ve made there. Must’ve been hard. You’re very talented.”
Sometimes I set myself up for failure and I call people on the phone after sending my work to them. I hit ‘send’ on the email and think, like an idiot would, “boy, I wonder if I can trick them into picking up the phone when I call again, like an idiot would.” I call them and say “hey, I was hoping I could get your thoughts on what I sent you.” And they say, “Stop calling me.”
(bullshit sign off “that’s my time,” etc.)
I did it. Is ‘not make yourself depression spiral’ a merited act? Is it worthy of praise? If so, praise me. DM me on Twitter. Send me a pair of pants to show that you’re proud of me. Mail me a card saying that $100 a month can be mine if I tell you that I need it – but if and only if I acknowledge that I need it. Try and buy me. Buy interaction with me in order to make up for the childhood you fucked and a lifetime of anxiety, depression, and mania you gifted to me.
Sorry. I don’t know why that became about what it became about. I was originally here to pat myself on the back for doing what I said I would do. The script I wrote today is by no means a triumph. It’s a 4 page gonzo caricature of myself. I think that much is obvious. And I use the term ‘obvious’ in reference to non-existent third parties who may be reading it having had no prior personal interaction with me. It’s obvious to them. To anyone who knows me, it’s probably obvious who the OFFICE DRONE is from the moment OFFICE DRONE appears on the title page. But that’s okay. It’s an example to myself that corroborates to myself that I, myself, am at least channeling my manic depression into something useable. Of at least slightly more substantive value to the world than these blog/journal/diary entries.
It feels good – even if I think the output from today is bad. Here I am, journaling after having spent part of the day writing a script. It started as a very literal interpretation of ‘write what you know’ along with a healthy dose of ‘no backspace key.’ It’s the same approach that I take when I’m writing these blogs. They’re unedited. I force myself to not edit them. In the beginning – especially when I started putting them up in a visible place – I wanted to edit. I bet if I went back right now I would be annoyed that I forced out what I did. I bet I made some kind of swirling, conceptual posit on society or the world. I did that for the benefit of myself, through the reader. That has no personal value. This, the words I’m writing right now – notice the lack of proselytizing – is valuable.
Today has been good. Genuinely, actually good. I came home and whipped up dinner in a quicker manner than I think I ever had. Broccoli, chicken, and carrots stir fry over rice. Fia helped with the rice. Everything came out about as right as one could reasonably expect. I also have food in the fridge waiting to be cooked up for the rest of the week. This weekend has some mini-road-trip on the docket. It’s partially for me, as I’m the one forcing her to go with me to some stupid, po-dunk Florida town to get fried chicken from this place I remember. She’s going to be happy just going somewhere. I hope she is, at least. I think she is.
Fia is taking this ‘financial equality’ thing more seriously than I expected. She’s
the one buying the Airbnb for Father John Misty later this month. It took me by surprise. She set out to surprise me, so that worked. My initial reaction, though, was shame. I felt like I guilted her into doing that. Stepping back from that, I know she just wants to play a more equal role in the relationship that way. I told her that I think, without consciously meaning to, I’ve grown bitter about paying for more of the expenses. Food, specifically, and how both of us like to eat out. That lifestyle is more than sustainable for one person, but literally doubly as hard when it’s for two people. On the other hand, though, I like to be the provider. I’m at least comfortable in that niche. On the third hand, though, it feels good that she wants to contribute more in that way.
It just feels like a lot of steps in the right direction. I’m tentatively letting that scar tissue build up again. This time I’m not trying to tourniquet the wound as schrapnel flies overhead from in-progress bombing runs. The warfare has subsided. Both sides called for a cease-fire, for there were far too many lost on either side. Any more of this may result in a loss of life too great to justify fighting for either cause.
Or another metaphor for depression and suicide. I don’t want to leave Fia. I’d be sad if I couldn’t be with her anymore. That’s a new one. I’ve always been so afraid of being alone again without her, and that the dependency that fosters is damaging. That may still be true, but it’s a sobering thought that if I killed myself I would, in the instant between the deed and the end, be sad that I wouldn’t be with her anymore. Maybe that’s the kind of loneliness I’ve always truly feared underneath it all.
Earlier today, I outlined steps for myself that I could take in order to make myself happier. I called them ‘actionable steps forward.’ I’ve done this before in the past. The net result of defining these actionable steps often amount solely to frustration. I know what I need to do to make myself happier. At least, I know what things make me happy. Give me a dopamine hit.
I’m checking in tonight with a note of hesitation. I feel okay. Maybe even a bit better than okay. A 6 out of a possible 10 on the number line, where a 5 represents baseline. When I left work early today, convinced I was having a nervous breakdown and completely unable to focus on anything I was doing, I was at a 2 or a 3. I was in bad shape. I tunnel-visioned to Walmart, where I bought some things that a 4 or a 5 me put on a shopping list. I went home and yelled at the wall. The wall had a fancy learning thermostat on it. I wasn’t just yelling at a wall. Crazy people yell at a wall. Potentially, crazy people yell at fancy learning thermostats. Let’s get off the subject. I’m trying too hard to be funny anyway.
By the time Fia got home, I was working my way to a clean and functional kitchen. The rest of the evening was on a steady incline. I enjoyed Fia’s company. She made me happy just by her being around. She helped me by just working towards her own 6 or 7 out of a possible 10. She went to the gym in despite not wanting to because she had been tired all day. She cleaned because she knew that would make her feel happier. I did the kitchen, she did the bathroom. I cooked half of dinner before asking her if she wanted something out instead. We had Bojangles. They fucked up the order again and we drove off with the wrong food. I felt myself slip back to a 4. That was all it took. That’s what I mean when I assign myself the status ailment of ‘fragile.’
This bounce back from a 0 out of possible 10 has been particularly brutal. I think it was because my relationship with Fia has been a catalyzing element in why I hit that zero. I take a lot of comfort and base a lot of my security in this life around my relationship with her. I learned that about myself trip around the Depression-Go-Round. It’s something I want to rectify. I want to rectify it for myself and for her. I want to fortify myself against that because I care about her. I care about us, and the life I want with her. We’re good for each other – even if I’m convinced we’re not or that I’m fucking it up every time I pick up my phone or open my mouth. I get in those spells. Everything I say is stupid, etc.
Tomorrow, I’m not going to journal at work. That’s my actionable step forward. Instead, I’m going to write (and put up on this blog) a spec script. It will be riffed. It will be likely written in the framework of an AR audio drama thing. Immersive experience. Whatever they’re calling them. Maybe it won’t be, and will be pure prose. Either way, I won’t be plugging an instrument cable into my brain and improvisationally spelunking into my own depressed mental. I think this emotional rawness – or, at least being available for it – is the key to something. Maybe it’s not the skeleton key that unlocks creative genius like a 7 or 8 out of a possible 10 me thinks, but it’s something good. Something honest.
I just need to harness it into something tangible. Valuable. A third term.
When did ‘looks depressed’ become the defining characteristic of what I present to the world? I’m listening to Gillian (something)’s Gone Girl via Audible - my new preferred method of literary input save for podcasts and the incessant, metronomic ‘click-click’ from differently-colored pixels colliding together in RuneScape. In the female protagonist’s description of the male protagonist, she explains that he ‘wears his cockiness like an ironic t-shirt.’ Let’s get this out of the way: good one. I, as I’m often wont to do, sat back and thought “yeah, that’s kind of like me.” It was a thought hatched from the mind of the person I used to be. It was the inner monologue equivalent of trying to take a bite out of the food that was just torn out from under my fork as the half-competent tableside magician pulls on the tablecloth. Do people have tableside magicians anymore? Do we live in the 1940s? Idiot. Moron. Fool. Stop writing. You’re not good. You’re garbage.
Something inside me stopped dead in its tracks at that thought. No, that’s not like me at all, I thought to myself. It used to be, but it isn’t anymore. I no longer wear a cockiness on my sleeve. A sort of self-assured confidence. What has replaced it is a frown I can feel on my mouth even right now as I write this. Sofia will tell me that people don’t think about me as much as I think they do. I know at least some people do, and I think those people can tell how much pain I’ve been feeling lately. Not everyone is a Target Cashier Shaman, or a Coffee Shop Psychotherapist. But some people, I think, can tell. At the very least, they don’t see the marginally-sexy confidence and austerity and enigma that I think I used to exude. I don’t feel that anymore. I feel lazy. I feel like I’m running in place. I feel bad. I just feel fucking bad. Not all of the time - he said, backspacing over ‘All of’ - but a lot of the time.
Cockiness carries a weight that it doesn’t deserve. It’s an embittered, distasteful weight sewn by a society who view self-confidence as being inherently dismissive of others. Or that it speaks of an assumed inferiority complex. If it’s actually ‘superiority,’ and not inferiority, DM me on Twitter. Call me at 904 397 4292 and tell me I’m wrong. But I think that cockiness can be tempered by those with the emotional intelligence to wield it. It’s not that those actualized few can be self-confident without cockiness, but rather that they can parse the inclination toward cockiness into something tasteful. In practice, it’s probably no different. Maybe this entire tangent about cockiness is cocky. The bad kind. The gross kind. The kind that makes you think “what the fuck is wrong with this guy? Who gives a fuck about his inner monologue. What a narcissist. What is he even getting out of this blog shit? Does he think it’s making him a better writer? LOL. Idiot.”
I pressed ‘pause’ on my audiobook specifically to write into this white text box. I wanted to snapshot the feeling of loss. I needed to capture the emotional blow that I took in realizing that depression has forceably modified my person. The guy in this novel might turn out to be a killer. Or a con man. Or a complex character that I wouldn’t condescend to attempt at riffing on the spot. People who are cut out to make a living off of the written word are the ones capable of doing that kind of thing. Maybe if I’m lucky, depression can forceably modify me into that person. In the meanwhile, all of the existing interpersonal connections I have will wilt and die. Fia will leave me. My friends will continue to distance themselves from their rapidly-imploding friend-of-a-friend. The cats will go with their more competent keeper. Can’t say I blame them.
I hope she doesn’t, though. I hope I can build up more scar tissue before that happens, though. I hope the cats continue to exist near me, though. I hope my friends come back.
I’ll be better, world. I swear. Just give me a chance.
Fuck. Why did I open this notepad?
I’ve been too nervous to do any journaling lately. A close confidant, life partner, and travelling companion recently called me out on my bullshit. We were sitting down for dinner. I was regaling her with my philosophy on honest art and how my creative output has been flowing like an open faucet recently as a result. I’ll save a long, tense conversation and say that she immediately saw through what I was doing. It still sort of shakes my core to know that I can be so attached to a perspective and be so blind to what it looks like – and is – from the outside. She told me, in language that both protected me and let me down gently, that I was justifying doing the ‘easy’ thing. I wasn’t working on any projects that are actually advancing my career. I was writing journals and blogs and bullshit, unedited, unfiltered words that amounted to nothing. I justified it by saying that it was fundamentally ‘honest.’ Honestly, I think this ‘honest art’ thing has something to it. Justifying inertia is not what that something is. Sure, it was making me happy, but Fia asked me point-blank if she can count on me to work towards a future that benefits both of us. As a member in this partnership of ours. I wasn’t able to say for certain that I could. I was hurt that she took it to a financial place immediately. What she was doing – we both decided later – was trying to get me to see what I was doing to myself.
That night wasn’t a good night. I drove for about an hour, completely by myself, completely convinced that I was better off dead. I learned a lot about myself that night. I learned that my relationship holds a dangerous amount of cards for my mental health and stability. I learned that if that relationship is in jeopardy, I am. I wanted to die. I kept opening my mouth and being unable to say anything beside “I kind of want to die.” I berated myself for being an idiot. Fia told me that I hadn’t been putting in much effort into our relationship lately. That I haven’t been giving her what she needs and what she wants out of a relationship with me. I haven’t felt that bad since I lived with my mother. That hopeless. I also learned that driving to a foreign place without my travelling partner is not something that I want to do anymore. Not if I can avoid it. I think we both need to grow and and advance ourselves separately from one another. The thought of that scares me, but the thought of losing her scares me more. I’m terrified of being alone. My mind eats itself when I am. That night, I was curled up on the floor of the shower, bawling, with Fia brushing my hair. It’s my depression. It has really narrowed my focus onto a stripped-out group of action items. I work on my writing. Everything else is baseline. Everything else is static. It can wait. It can be better when I use my writing as a catalyzing enzyme that reshapes my life into what I want it to be. Then I can be romantic. Then I can whisk her off at 3AM onto a plane for an exotic location. Then it’s picnics. Gestures. Exercising. Doctor visits. Vet visits. Working on the logistics of moving. Working on the logistics of living together moving forward. How I can tangibly help her get to the life that she wants.
If I want to hang onto her – and if I want to actually get to the life I want – I need to figure out how to balance. In a way that I don’t think she was aware of, January was right. I need to learn how to balance. I’m not convinced that I need how to learn how to be happy at work. I still think this ‘honesty’ thing in art is worth mulling over some more and trying to imbue into my (real) work. But the important part is that I carve out time to show the people and things I care about that I care about them. Make sure Fia knows I care. Make sure the things I’m responsible for – like the cats or my health – are tended to. They all can’t shrivel up and die as I spend all of my time and energy watering and trimming the stray branches off of this immaculately maintained plant that is my art.
Actionable steps forward: