“Because you’re god-damned ugly, Bob.”

ugly bob

This is what I think about when I’m not asleep:

One of my favorite comedy lines is from an episode of South Park, called “Not Without My Anus”. It is actually the April Fool’s Day episode from early on in the series and doesn’t feature any of the series regulars but rather those of the show-within-the show, Terrance & Phillip. The episode features the players Terrance, Phillip, Celine Dion, Scott, Saddam Hussein, and Ugly Bob. The line is said by either Terrance or Phillip (they’re deliberately interchangeable) to Ugly Bob in regards to his appearance and is as follows:

“Ugly Bob, your face looks like someone tried to put out a forest fire with a screwdriver.”

What makes this line so funny is how often it revisits your brain for comedic effect. When you first hear it, it is completely nonsensical and so you laugh at it. Then the portion of your brain that demands reason gets upset with you, and so you try to make sense of it. This causes you to visualize someone trying to put out a forest fire with a screwdriver which is ostensibly ridiculous and so you laugh again. Then you try to translate that into a remark about someone’s appearance and it doesn’t so you laugh again. Then you realize you’re trying to make sense of this completely nonsensical line and you laugh at yourself. And then you realize that the writers probably knew all this would happen and you have to marvel at their comedic mastery and you laugh again. At this point, you’ve already laughed at the joke five times.

Then you have to imagine a horrid man with deep divots in his face from screwdriver stabs and you feel awful for having laughed, and then you think that can’t be the image that the writers meant to convey, nor the logical conclusion of any sane person in trying to make sense of it, so you return to the notion that the line was always meant to mean nothing and you frankly shouldn’t have thought so hard about it. Then you laugh.

So, yeah, that’s the funniest line I can think of in a comedy vehicle.

Here’s a video I made.

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“He’d hoped to be remembered as the one/ who told his men to turn around”

IMG_1735

Fjorgen, bitches!

There’s too much in my brain. So, here’s a lot of it:

I think the thing I like most about Krab with a “k” is that it tastes like nothing. There are so many flavors out there that one could inadvertently emulate and you’ve got to be trying really fucking hard to make a product that tastes like nothing.

Police Officer: (getting ready to search my car) Is there anything I should know about this vehicle?
Me: It’s a Prius; prolonged exposure can cause liberalism.
Police Officer: I’ll make the jokes here. Or Bernie Sanders; he’s really the only one that’s qualifi-GODDAMNIT!!!

I told myself twenty minutes ago that I was going to go to sleep. Then I opened up the laptop and streamed a comedy album and started stuffing my face with snacks. I am a bloated engine that runs on bad decisions.

Sometimes I want to text or message friends but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to just say “hi”; it’s such a loaded message. But I want to start a conversation because I enjoy conversing with them. But I can’t think of what to say so I say nothing. Just sit in the dark and shove four more Cheese Balls in my mouth at a time.

I wanted to write a review for Deadpool 2 but I didn’t know how to start it. Because it’s a sequel, my thoughts toward it start in medias res, so I stared at a blank screen, knowing I couldn’t begin an article with “I know your friends say it’s better than the first one but it’s not. It’s just as good, which is really good, but it’s no Godfather II. Better than III, but not better than the first film. Let’s just get that out of the way now.”

A co-worker and I talked about mortality at work today. She says she thinks about it a lot, and being essentially atheist, she has to believe that there’s nothing, though that really bums her out. So she has to imagine something else: maybe there is a heaven, maybe there is another plane of existence wherein we observe, maybe reincarnation is a thing. I told her scientifically that’s not likely. What we know as consciousness is merely electrical impulses in our brains and when our batteries die there’s no on-board memory so even if we do “go somewhere” or “become something else” we won’t have any cognizance of it.
She, uh, she didn’t seem to like those answers.
I should really have a newspaper column or something.

I miss me. Who I used to be. A co-worker came in the other day to start her shift as Metallica was playing on the staff radio, and she remarked how it brought her back not only to a different time but to the geographical memories of that time. Hearing the music transported her back to North Carolina where she lived with her husband at the time and his military buddies and they’d blast that music in overpriced trucks with overpriced aftermarket sound systems looking for a wild night of forgetting or throwing money at women and calling it love. It made me think of music and places and fool-hardy notions I’d once held, and what change in the wind would bring me back to those roads or rooms or salty-sea air kisses.
I hardly recognize that young fool anymore. If I met him today, would I know who he was/is? Would I even know myself?

I had planned to write a thousand word flash fiction piece for submittal to the Masters Review but I couldn’t think of what to write. I thought perhaps dramatizing one of my crazy apocalypse dreams, or expanding this piece I wrote years ago in a journal I’ve since lost about a man dealing with a woman with mental illness and how it taxes him. But I never do that anymore. I don’t do what I want, or manifest my will, or even do what I say I will. I do anything but. I stream comedy albums (that are just okay) and stuff my face and stand on feet that are begging for rest and watch my belly grow large in real-time as the mousepad of my laptop disappears under an expanding American flag. If that’s not a metaphor for everything wrong then I don’t know what is.

I worked 12 and a half hours today. I shouldn’t have had to, but three and a half people didn’t show up for work, so I worked longer and harder.

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“I was angry when I met you / I think I’m angry still”

feral

I am a wreck. I’ve damaged both of my thumbs, and I only have two.

I’m sleeping more, eating more; it’s clearly depression, the same that had me sleeping little and eating less a few months ago. Oh, you fickle friend, Depression.

I told my friends and family that I moved back to Texas to be closer to them; to reconnect with family. As a man staring down forty, it’s important to have a family, a network, a group of trusted loved ones. But they don’t trust me, and maybe I’ve forgotten how to love them.

I’ve become feral. I was on my own for far too long. I learned how to live without them, and to prevent new familial bonds from forming. Nothing sticks. I’m teflon. I’m oily, flat, granite. I spent so much time with nothing that I learned to live off of it, so now I need nothing.

I can’t connect with family, can’t make friends, can’t allow anything to mean anything. I just sleep and eat and work and drink and disappoint people. But is it my fault? I never taught anyone to expect anything from me, so if they did or still do they made that decision without consulting me.

In my dreams I make plans, notice lesions on my body that aren’t there, fret about the present and worry about the future. When I wake, I live in a consequence-free state of perpetuity fueled of necessity. I sleep because I have to, I work because I can’t afford not to, and I wake the next day because I have to. I don’t have a choice. Earlier today I signed a lease for another year in this apartment, and while reading over the clauses noted there’s one stipulating that I can’t die. How convenient!

I was joking with a co-worker yesterday about the lies we tell when we’re away from work to get us out of responsibilities in the home. “Dishes? I do dishes all day at work and you want me to come home and do them? Why?”

I, of course, took it further. “Aunt Lyla’s wake? I spend ten to twelve hours a day attending Aunt Lyla’s wake at work and you want me to come home and do so? Why?”

It was funny in the moment but I look back and realize what a desperate cry for help it seems to me. That I would use hyperbole about my work responsibilities to cop out of anything resembling humanity during my actual life. That I would sweep it all under the rug to just sleep and eat and get back to work.

That working is the only function I feel I haven’t a good enough lie to shirk. But living is just too easy to avoid. I don’t know why more people don’t do it more often. Oh, they’ll tell you they miss you, but no one will come to find you. Because they’re busy sleeping and working.

I’ve been an outside cat too long and I can’t live inside with you. I do occasionally bolt in from curiosity, but soon after I piss on everything you’ve attached to and begin mewling for release. And don’t you dare fucking touch me.

It’s lonely being misunderstood, but exhausting trying to make oneself understood. Best to lie and sleep.

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“A brave new world of gods and monsters…”

frankenstein

It seems worth mentioning that the dream I had the night prior also involved something I had a close relationship to that tried to kill me:

I had created a man, à la Frankenstein. It was tall and very muscular, but lithe. Less Lou Ferrigno, more Dolph Lundgren. It was a perfect specimen of strength and physical poetry, with a mind built for intellect yet empty like a child. When it came to life I felt shame for what I had done so I ran from it. It chased me into the city streets where I lost it in the bustle. As it ran by I could see its skin part in perfectly symmetrical panes, revealing beneath a technicolor swirl of circuitry and science. When it would spin its torso there would be that separation, like a delay, and it would snap back into place. I hid away in my fear and failure. 


Flash to: it passes near me, bemoaning loudly “Is there no Heaven for me? Am I not meant to know love?” I hadn’t taught it these concepts; they were innate within. I wept for him in my hiding place, and I ran to him. 


He embraced me and excitedly said “let me show you what I’ve learned!” We walked the city, where he showed me personal spaces he’d created throughout. At the end of an alley he pulled aside a dumpster like it was a refrigerator door and revealed a cubby hole of ten by six feet cut into the base of a building, illuminated by a soft blue glow. Two thin naked women lay in the space, shivering on the pavement. He said “Don’t worry; I only hold their bodies for comfort.” He invited me inside to lay with them. Shortly after we had lain down he cast them both out. They stood before the shelter and stared at a large porthole in the building which looked into the city’s sewer system but was also a digital screen. A man’s body lay slumped against the glass and I knew he’d awaken. He did, and the women leapt in fear. They each fell to the ground, still retaining their color, but now their images were also in the porthole, decrepit and spent. 


Flash to: The Creature is now an art installation at a hot spot in the city near his hole. People come to see him and unknowingly leave some of themselves behind. I am looking at his vitality growth on a monitoring station in the middle of the exhibit, hiding in plain sight though no one knows what it means but he and I. His face appears in the wall before me and he says “get out. save yourself.” He knows he needs to consume me to truly realize himself but he also doesn’t want to. As I back away his face appears everywhere and his mouth is an open box huffing air, “heesh heesh get out heesh heesh.” I am spinning in confusion as he hisses at me from every wall of the room. As I round a corner to what should’ve been the exit, his face again huffs air at me and his arms extend from the walls and grab me.

I awoke in a panic, heaving for air as my sleep apnea had woken me.

Hotel dreams, man.

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In my Dreams, even those who Love me try to Kill me

You put a gun in my mouth. You wanted it to be instant. I gagged and started crying, saying “I’m sorry but not like this. It’s how he went and I can’t.” You grew angry saying “don’t make your experiences weaknesses. I hate that more than anything.” I replied “no you don’t, you hate fear more than anything. Like me.” The look on your face when you realized how well I understood you, that you weren’t alone, was unmistakable.

You put the barrel of the gun against my eye and pulled the trigger. ‬
‪The rain and mud rendered it useless. ‬

We’d gone to the river’s edge for you to kill me. What now would we do with the rest of the evening?

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“Well I wonder ‘Do we learn?’/Seems we’re making the same wrong turns”

I am unwell. Work has been stressing me out lately, and I’m not handling it correctly. One of the core management principles at my workplace is “resilience”; actually I just recently went on about my do-or-die doggedness in my year-end personal review. But truthfully I am exhausted and I just want it to be over.

How many times have I found myself here? Everything just went so off the fucking rails in 2013 when I left Dick’s Last Resort. I shouldn’t have done that. I was depressed and I thought that changing jobs and making an extra $1500 a year would magically fix everything, but all it did was throw my entire life into a horrific tailspin in which I’m still spiralling downward. Every decision I make now to correct the course is laced with self-loathing as I recognize I’m only trying to clean up from the wreckage of my own Kaiju.

Wanting to run away from work says more about me than it does about the job. We’ve lost a lot of team members recently so we’re perpetually understaffed, making every shift incredibly difficult. I have to work hard every day I am there, which shouldn’t be a reason someone quits a job. Conversely, it’s kind of what a job is, essentially: hard work. We’re trying to hire on more staff but they accept the job and then work one day with our current team members who are all exhausted and at their wits’ end and think “Is this what working here does to a person? Fuck this!”

And we never see them again.

When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher. There were three motivating factors: knowledge, good teachers I’d had in the past, and bad teachers I’d had in the past. I saw teaching as the most reverent position one could hold in our society, and I genuinely wanted to be that person. To carry on the good I’d seen done and atone for the bad.

As it happened, I sort of fell into restaurant management. Kind of the same thing, except not, and none of the pride or satisfaction comes along with it. However, I did approach it in the same way that I approached wanting to teach: learn as much as I can, honor the teaching styles I appreciated and steer clear from the missteps and transgressions I’d seen in the past.

So imagine my disappointment when someone at work quit because of me. I leaned on them too hard, worked them too often, didn’t tend to their needs adequately. I took it hard. Which, of course, made me want to run away.

But running away isn’t the answer. It hasn’t been for years. I left Dick’s to go to BWW and hated it, leaving after a year. Dick’s took me back as a bartender but by that point the failure had set into my bones and augmented the depression and I couldn’t sustain it. I drank myself stupid and stopped caring about anything other than being drunk and numb, and was late to work one too many times, getting myself fired. I waited tables at Chili’s for a while, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a living, and I continued to spend all my money on liquor and distractions. Fred’s came calling and that was okay, but I found myself discouraged by how intense the work often was, and got exhausted and just wanted it to be over.

So we moved here and I’ve been at my current company for almost a year now, so of course I hate it and want it to be over. This is not a life. If anything, this should be all the evidence I need to discern a pattern. To look at all the facts laid out on this screen and see the truth:

It’s not you; it’s me.

The hardest part of this realization is the responsibility. Okay, it’s me; now what? The most obvious solution to all this brow-beating is “Grin and Bear It”, but that’s not comforting in the slightest. So I’ve been looking for side gigs to parlay into a life outside the corporate box, but it’s hard to give them an honest go when you’ve just come to the conclusion that you’re a self-poisoning piece of shit. Hard to believe I deserve to follow my passions when I can’t even make peace with working hard enough to pay my bills.

 

So, in the mean time…

grinn

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“What a presence / haven’t we paid penance?”

Evil. Evil Monkey

I’m hiding underneath my sheets for fear he’ll point and show his teeth!

Today was one of those days where I was me and the world was itself and we just kept brushing up against each other in ways that I didn’t precisely care for. I’m not to blame; It’s not to blame; Shit just happens.

I woke up early and did exercises (that’s right, bitches), drank a cup of coffee, brushed the teeth, showered the body, and off I went into the world. I took the wife’s car to work as I knew that I had to deliver an impressive carload of product to another store we’d borrowed from over the unanticipated brutal holiday weekend. On the way to work there was over-exuberant freeway maintenance which made my usual half-hour commute a whole hour. I texted my GM amidst the gridlock to let him know my predicament. He didn’t respond. That set me off ease.

I arrived at work realizing that the accoutrement that enabled me to do my job effectively was in my car, now a good 90 minutes away. I rang a shoddy doorbell for admittance, and a co-worker let me in with an admonition:

“The rumor is Chris got fired.”

I tried to set about my day and noticed that the Regional Operations Director (read: “My Boss’s Boss”) was tooling about the kitchen whipping the opening checklist with a GM from a neighboring store. They greeted me curtly then asked about the absent follow-up on some unperceived oversight. I froze, then after a half-second suicide, responded “Oh, we’re all over that.” I had to admit my missing necessities, and they obliged me by handing me my (former) GM’s credentials to go about my daily routine. I was mortified.

The day went on like that. Hourlies would come in and ask me what I knew and I would answer honestly “No one tells me anything.” Eventually, I loaded the wife’s car with product to return to a store a good 40+ miles away and happily hit the road. You see, my car is a death machine of subtle menace, and I had to disconnect the stereo after the leaking A/C caused it to short out and drain the battery of the car at rest. The wife’s car not only had a stereo, but I could plug my old-ass clickwheel iPod into the USB and have full functionality on a dash interface that allowed all the musical play I wanted. I even divined how to manipulate the antiquated music dump from the steering wheel.

Seriously, I think I’ve found my new profession.

So I drove. Some thirty miles into the trip, I exclaimed aloud to no one but myself and Jon Crosby’s recording “Damnit, he owes me twenty bucks!” about my recently severed GM. Some of the kids at work were genuinely ecstatic to be rid of him, but I had no issue with him, and he had a family. I genuinely hope he lands on his feet. I told him as much through a text I sent from a bar some 14 hours after his separation. I’ve never been good with fresh wounds. Too red, too raw, too smelly for my constitution.

I found my destination in a posh mall in the middle of nothing. I dropped off our obligations and the receiving manager, a fellow I recognized from one of many off-site, pointless meetings, tried to make light jokes of our location’s fresh shake-up. I laughed easily, an act I’d learned as a broken-toothed simpleton in a sea of artist fifteen years ago, and fed him all the -response he needed for his cutting call-and humor. I walked around the mall for two minutes before I felt small and impoverished and hopped back in the car to escape.

The trip back took less than half the time, so I stopped to put gas in the wife’s car and get cigarettes (I know, I know; I’ll start quitting tomorrow). They didn’t have the smokes I wanted so I’d foregone them entirely, then entered into a prolonged negotiation with pump number 2 to honor the arrangement I’d made with the cashier. I was a passenger to a brainstorming session between a Hummer-bodied white girl in a Jeep and a black gazelle in a sports car about meeting at the Wal-Mart later, and I sheepishly considered the inevitable run-in I’d have with them there; it was my next stop, of necessity, for items the store needed. How I wish they’d said “Meet you at the Sprouts Market” but those exchanges are few and far between here in Texas, especially at a nameless fueling station in the shadow of a Chevron and whatever Oil Magnate’s dick is being sucked by “The Corner Store” these minutes. I gritted my teeth and watched the prepaid amount tick out timelessly some 60 cents away from the automated cutoff.

Minutes later at the Wal-Mart I brought in my own cart from the parking lot, for I was a Consumer and my Purchases were WorthWhile and Important. I needed three things, but I needed them in various increments of Bulk. At the produce section of the store, just near the entrance, I examined individually wrapped heads of Iceberg Lettuce. I selectively tossed ten of them into my cart, all the while afraid I’d catch the attention of the couple conversing a few yards ahead of me. It was a one-sided conversation, to be sure, as the talker was (I think) an employee with some learning or mental disability that had him take long pauses to bring his thoughts to his mouth. He was listing his Christmas bounty to his audience of one, and when I realized what was happening my heart just sank. I slowed my discerning pace to share their time. He’d had an impressive haul: cologne, so much candy, radio-controlled cars, a giftcard to some indeterminate wonderland. I listened to him form the words in his mouth, the vowels drawing long and gorgeous, the consonants clipped and falling over one another. I loved him in those minutes, and I wanted to indulge him. Everything inside me screamed at me to push my cart over to him and ask him please, if he didn’t mind, to start over from the beginning, and don’t leave anything out. I wanted it all, I wanted him to take his time, take my time, know that someone was always willing to listen, even though he knew full well it took him a bit longer to tell a story than it did Cheryl at the water cooler, who’d run down the latest Will-and-Grace in forty seconds flat and gloss over the gay stuff. I’d patiently sit, stand, hold a grapefruit at arm’s length and let him fill in all the detail he’d cared to. I wanted all of that.

As I carefully selected the least-shitty heads of Iceberg Lettuce and deposited them in my cart, I heard his loud, determined voice cut through the high-ceilinged silence and I saw the audience he’d captured. I knew nothing of either of them, other than the storyteller wore a smock with no nametag, and the audience member wore a jacket that was as blue as the Wal-Mart sign emblazoned on all the labels in the store. I sent a silent prayer to both of them; that the Storyteller would spin his yarn to his heart’s content, and that the Audience would stay to hear it all, even as it meandered, and rejoice its pitfalls and victories. I wanted to be him; to be the Audience. I really did. I always do. But I know that I can’t. And it eats me alive. I want to be a champion for the least of us, but I can’t balance it with the fact that I’m not one of them. Confronted with the Storyteller, my heart burns, and my empathy soars, but more than anything I am given cause to recognize, appreciate, and exercise my own mental acuity.

It hurts so much every goddamned time.

I got back to the store and the team demanded answers that they thought only I would know. So I told them what I knew, with great pomp and circumstance, and my lack of detailed knowledge slapped of ingenuity. I had to repeatedly assure them that, yes, this is all I know, and no, I’m not going to be the new GM. I shoved a burger in my face as I’d been awake and hadn’t eaten at that point for twelve hours. I left as soon as I’d drank enough water to keep the burger down and arrived home to collect my wife for drinks and karaoke.

We had a nice enough time, and I’d sold her all the carnage that I cared to recall, and after not too long we were both ready to come home. She went straight to sleep, but I had too much in me from the workplace shakeup, the Storyteller, and a stink-filled wonderland I found between two toes on my left foot.

Again, I am not to blame; The World is not to blame; Shit just happens,]

But I feel like we keep meeting here too often.

I feel mentally obtuse.

 

 

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