i am not a stand up comedian.

I am not a stand up comedian, nor do I have the inclination to be one. Unless stand up comedy evolves to where I can mutter things under my breath in response to people’s conversations, then I don’t think I have the necessary skill set. I prefer to react, over me actually being the creator of the content. And again, I like to react quietly where it’s possible to be heard but most likely it’s indiscernible. This results in a person saying, “Oh, what was that?” and I have to awkwardly say “Oh, me? Nothing,” and we both know I’m lying, and it makes the situation uncomfortable. Let me know when that’s a viable career path to the stage.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching James Acaster perform with my lovely wife as my date. She even enjoyed it! I state this not because he’s unfunny and it was a surprise she liked it, but because he’s from Kettering, England and she once stated, “I cannot understand anything he says.” Thus, after that glowing compliment of 5 minutes of his material, I decided to spend ~100$ on two tickets to see him months down the line. James, I can call him James since he’ll never read this, was first introduced to me by watching the British TV show, Taskmaster. He was a funny fella, as most on that show are, due to being professional comedians and all. It could’ve been due to him being younger than some of the contestants, that he had an air of absurdity, and well, I just liked him. This isn’t my story of how I became a James Acaster fan, it’s just that I gravitated to his comedic persona and looked him up, eventually reading two books he’d written and buying a comedy special of his.

I like comedians that are open and vulnerable about their actual selves. Why? Because, yes, sure, it’s wonderful to just hear some jokes sometimes and laugh and not worry about someone else. However, it’s also nice to see someone funny and thoughtful and famous and be like “Oh wow, look at them. They have struggles too. Isn’t that nice?” Granted, those kinds of insights also lead to para-social relationships with fans thinking they know everything from a comedian by listening to their sets, reading their books, or streaming every episode of a podcast. So, there’s good and bad to it all. That’s why I can totally understand a comedian having a disconnect with the audience, not indulging them in any of their personal lives, and being a vessel for comedy and nothing further. I mean, that’s basically how all stand up comics were until the past 20 years or so and the advent of more alternative comics.

This isn’t a history lesson, and it definitely isn’t one because my facts are probably all wrong anyway. Isn’t that history though? The past is decided by the victors or whatever that malarky is. The point is, I saw my pal James last night, he performed, it was funny, I had a good time, he gets paid, and everyone wins. His special was called “Hecklers Welcome” and it was basically a therapeutic exercise for him to both perform stand up comedy and also allow himself to be more comfortable with outbursts that come from drunken audiences and entitled comedy fans. Part of the reason why I enjoy writing out my thoughts is due to the fact that there’s no one to judge me right at the moment. Honestly, I’d probably be bothered if someone judged me for something I wrote last week and it’d affect me just as much, but with my extremely limited, niche market I don’t typically have to worry about that. Still, I think with some distance between me and the work, it’d be easier to cope with. Comedians, any live performers, do not have that luxury. You are judged within the moment, and I can empathize with the excruciating anxieties of those moments.

I used to be a performer, but I retired early. Much like John Cazale, I had a limited run, I was critically lauded and then my career died. In regard to him, he did actually die and that cut his career short. Maybe I’m more of a Daniel Day Lewis. A string of hits, a lot of method acting and leaving on my own terms at the top of my game. I portrayed Sheriff Billy Bold and Prince Charming in my single-digit years and left with many (imaginary) Oscar nominations to my name. Or Tony awards. This was live theater after all. The point of all of this is James talked about his own anxieties, his nervousness, and his general lack of affection towards performing stand up in general. Listen, I get it, I was at the top of the church theater summer camp game, and I abandoned it. The pressure was high, the audiences were almost too loving that it didn’t feel earned, and the highs weren’t worth the pre showtime jitters. It resonates with me that good ol’ pal James is open and honest with the fact that it still sucks to be in front of an audience. He hasn’t magically grown out of a fear of public speaking, he’s just become more accepting of it as a creative endeavor to pursue and to make a living from. He made it very clear that we shouldn’t worry about how he feels during the show, instead to focus on whether we’re enjoying ourselves. Because in the end, he gets a paycheck, we get a nice night out and a laugh, and we go on our separate ways. In the end, it’s a business transaction between two entities, nothing more.

Within the past week, I’ve now seen 2 comedy/storytelling shows and 2 improv shows from comedians that I’m truly huge fan of. James Acaster, Mike Birbiglia, and the improv group, Big Grande. I’ve listened to or watched them for more hours than I can count and I’m not going to say that I didn’t create some fictional friendship between us all in my brain. However, I have the wherewithal to recognize that what I created is an illusion and not representative of reality. They are more or less public figures and I’m just a fan who enjoys their content. I’m not going to say that I haven’t fantasized about situations where we all become best friends and make each other giggle incessantly, but again, I have my own friends for that even if they are a little less famous. Did I diverge from my point? Trust me, I’ll get back to it. At the end of the show, Mr. Acaster said his final punchline, walked off and came back for a brief encore. He also opened to the floor if they had any final heckles, to conclude his therapeutic exercise. Apparently drunken people think of heckles as impromptu Q+A sessions and rattled off inane questions. Listen, I like the guy, I think he’s hilarious! Do I care about how his recent vacation went? Sure, if he crafted it into a bit. If someone is just asking if he had fun, does that matter? Does his personal life matter? Sure, again, I hope he’s happy and healthy, but I don’t need the details. I enjoy his material, but again, we’re not actually friends. Just as he wants me to laugh at his show and have a nice time and recommend him or whatever, I don’t think he specifically cares about how my day went. Which is normal and okay and fine and better that way! I don’t need his faux investment in me, and I don’t need to do the same.

The point though? Apparently, this way of thinking makes me an outlier. Or maybe not even an outlier, just part of the silent majority. I think this applies to most of the audience, this understanding, it’s just that the ones who differentiate from this way of thinking tend to be the most outspoken. Or the ones with the highest bar tabs. It might not have anything to do with alcohol, but I’m trying to give human decency the benefit of the doubt and blame it on the booze. It just seems to happen at so many types of shows nowadays. Through social media, through hours and hours of recorded dialogues from our favorite what have yous, we foster this relationship with folx and we treat them accordingly. Based on our own hypothetical, NOT REAL, relationships with them. There are things I could say to a friend that if I said to a stranger, they would rightfully beat my ass. And instead, we think these public figures are immune from that. That we can say whatever we want to them, and they earned the right to hear our ire or adoration. A gentleman last night complained that he’d read one of the stories that Acaster performed in his set in a book. Guess what? I’d also read that book and the story seemed a little familiar. And also guess what? I enjoyed hearing it done performatively by the creator himself! If I did not enjoy it, I wouldn’t specifically point out that I read one of their “jokes” a decade prior in a book and say that to their face? Why? For I am not a rude, entitled asshole. We are not owed 100% original material that is catered to us. He’s performing another show tonight, and it’ll have the same stories. A bit of banter could be different, depending on the heckles. How can one expect a person to cultivate an original 90 minutes every night he ever performs? That’s insanity and it seems that nowadays audiences seem like they’re entitled to complain to the comedian’s face. Or to DM them on Twitter, or publicly put them on blast. It just seems we’ve moved past the point of just enjoying something and nothing ever is good enough.

I have to end this paragraph and this blog as a whole because I do not want to come across as some out-of-touch boomer as well. It was just a frustrating end to the show that the comedian himself even mentioned saying, “I was going to tell a story of the worst ending to a show I ever had, but I think this will fit the bill.” And another quote by a gentleman sitting just beside me, “Why wouldn’t people shut the fuck up? I just wanted to hear the story.” As did I, as did I. Because contrary to what audience members seem to think, there is a reason that they are not on stage. We paid to see the professional and the blurts by the general public, there’s a reason they have jobs in accounting and not in comedy. I do not want to discredit the entire point of his special, or how James himself responded to the comments, which were wonderful and hilarious, etc. I regret that I went on and on about so much because I think the main point is, he’s great, he’s funny, and I hope his mental health continues to improve and his confidence soar and anxiety wanes. I can say this because I actually do have a background in mental health, so comparatively, I’m not speaking out of my ass. Anyways, I’ve written far too much because I don’t think my poor wife could tolerate me going on any more diatribes about this. If you take anything out of this, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, listen to the comedy of James Acaster, and don’t be an asshole. So it goes.

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today i stepped on another cockroach

I’m not sure if this is what I want to be known for in the office. The resident cockroach stomper, or to quote a colleague, “a waterbug.” Were my fears about a cockroach erupting out of the toilet true? It was in the bathroom today, the bathroom that I sit right beside. Am I the reason these cockroaches are coming? Do they have a vendetta against me? Who knew that these loafers I got would be more than just slip-on shoes that look like something a grandfather would wear? Now they are killing machines. I know some people have their hands classified as deadly weapons. I will see if I can put in the paperwork to do the same for my docker’s loafers. I wonder if the company knows that they’re selling the equivalent of nuclear bombs to the cockroach community. Dockers are certified arms dealers. Actually, scratch that, what they’re selling is more powerful than a nuclear bomb because in my last post I already spoke about how cockroaches can survive them. They can survive anything. Except for a Dockers loafer.

I’m still yet to investigate the Kafka metamorphosis stuff. I typed out this sentence and then immediately googled it. He transforms into a monstrous insect, yadda yadda yadda, but most people in contemporary culture attribute it to be a cockroach. Thus, I take back what I last stated. I am not the next Kafka. I am the enemy of Kafka. Even though he’s dead and that was just a character in a book. I would have to assume it had a metaphor attached as well. I don’t care. To me, Kafka is a giant cockroach man, and he must be thwarted. Even though he’s dead. I believe in the tv show, The Powerpuff Girls, there was a villain who had the ability to control cockroaches, and like he turned into the equivalent of a Kaiju when like a million cockroaches were his body. It was gross. The Powerpuff Girls defeated him. They are essentially my sisters now.

I veered off track too much with the last post, wondering aloud how to add up to my word count and I won’t do that here. I just think I’ll start wearing a cape when I go into the office as the CK. The Cockroach Killer. Maybe Calvin Klein will sponsor me. Or the aforementioned Dockers. Or like, maybe just cockroaches can stop coming into the office because I don’t really need to be known as the guy that they call on to step on insects. I do have other talents, ya know? But it seems that this is my greatest one so far. And if I must be the one to vanquish those little shits, so be it. Because when Hank is around, justice will prevail. So it goes.

today at work i killed a cockroach

I was standing for some reason, maybe to promote cardiovascular awareness. I saw a cockroach. I stepped on it. A coworker said, “Thank you, Hank.” Another said, “You took that one for the team.” I was a hero. A hero who then had to clean up cockroach guts and flush them down the toilet that is situated 3 feet away from his desk. The sign on the door says “Employee’s Only” but I don’t consider that cockroach an employee and he’s living there in the pipes now. Do I think he’s dead? I hope so, he was stepped on with the full force of 45$ Docker’s Men Loafers. I think they were 50$ but I rounded the price down to appear more relatable because I only, exclusively, use them as work shoes and don’t even bring them home. My point is, should I print out a sign I create with WordArt and say, “And Cockroach’s Too” and tape it under the plaque already there? Of course, I won’t because that’s weird and no one wants to be reminded of that vile creature. Except now I’m afraid I’ll use the bathroom and next thing I know that monstrosity will be swimming up from hell where it’s presumed dead. Those things can survive a nuclear bomb, ya know.

A friend of mine told me I should write a new blog post. I do not believe this is what she intended. Granted, one does not deign where inspiration reigns from. That was an unexpected rhyme I just used because I can’t remember the last time that I used the word deign. Nor am I even sure it was used correctly but it’s a cool-sounding word that is not mentioned enough.

I brought a book to my job today. It’s called CLINICAL PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY made ridiculously simple. I haven’t read it while it’s been sitting on my bookshelf in my apartment, nor have I read it while it sits on my desk at work. I’m just staring at it now, noticing it has an interpretation of Rodin’s The Thinker on the cover. There’s no more to this paragraph. I just hope writing this out inspires me to read page one before the day is over.

What else has happened, what else? I went to a wedding in FL. Experienced antisemitism in FL. Two different experiences, wholly unrelated. It’s very obvious to me writing this that I took a break after the “deign and reign” paragraph. Because I think that’s about how far the initial inspo took me and I’m running on fumes ever since. It’s just like I looked at the word count and it was paltry so I thought I could bolster it up. Let’s put a pause on this and see what else happens throughout the day.

It is one day later. I am now working from home. I was supposed to conduct a session with a gentleman, but his phone is off. That is distressing to me because had he answered my day would’ve been finished. Now I anxiously await the possibility of him calling back. At the same time, I know the chances of him calling back are minuscule, but due to there being a chance, I can not entirely be comfortable. Why couldn’t he just have had his phone on?

I’m not sure in the Metamamorphosis by Kafka if he turns into a cockroach or like a moth or something. I’m pretty sure it’s a cockroach. I really need it to be a cockroach because I just told a friend that “some people call me the next Kafka.” No one has ever, nor will ever call me that. I read his book, The Trial. I don’t think I ever finished The Metamorphasis. I’ve also spelled that name wrong in two different ways so far and I still don’t know how to spell it right. Metamorphosis. Meta-Morbius. A movie I did not see.

Not all blogs have to be over a thousand words. It’s been diminishing returns since I wrote the initial paragraph about the cockroach. However, I think what I wrote today was much better than the padding I attempted yesterday afternoon. I want to divulge information without being too introspective or navel-gazing. This is meant to have some form of entertainment factor, not just be a journal of my own thoughts. As I said, sometimes less is more. I had a surge of inspiration due to the cockroach stomping and I wrote that and now I’m just breaking the fourth wall about the writing process but I’m barely giving any interesting insights and mostly complaining about my own words. I think this is enough. So it goes.

we all know the moon landing was fake

Stanley Kubrick was a genius, an auteur. A master filmmaker, one of the best there ever was. What was one of his greatest projects? The 1969 moon landing starring Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. No, it didn’t win any Academy Awards, although it should have, and most humanity doesn’t consider it a film, but I know the truth. It was made on a Hollywood lot to help boost that American spirit and usher in the Cold War. Not sure if ushering in the Cold War was a good thing, but hey, that just shows how impactful that film truly was. I should also add that I’m not a big fan of Full Metal Jacket which I think is important to add because it shows that I can be critical of the Kubz. Just adds more meaning to my awe of his talents because I don’t turn a blind eye to his flaws either. For even more context, I didn’t like The Shining either! Which has nothing to do with his directorial style, more so with the fact that I do not like horror movies and I watched it when I was young and got scared and never finished it. Nor the book. Context matters.

This brings me to my next point. Why are parents lying to us as children? Why are we told the stork does not exist? I just googled an image of a stork because I forgot what it looked like, and there was an image of a stork that was six feet tall and a caveman human that was 3 feet tall with a 2-foot child. This was from NPR. That’s an actual legit organization. After I preached about context, I did not read anymore other than looking at that image because it told me everything I need to know. As I’m getting up there in age, meaning I just turned 18 last week but am very mature, I’m having friends starting to settle down and start families. It’s very funny to me that they do the whole pomp and circumstance of growing a (fake) belly, going to the hospital for a (fake) delivery, and bringing home a (real) baby. I am not saying pregnancy isn’t real, I am not saying babies aren’t real, I’m just saying the circumstances of birth are a lie. There are factories in the skies that are run by stork corporations who deliver babies to good husbands and wives and wives and wives and husbands and husbands and everything in between. Don’t believe me? Think I’m a foolish idiot? Try to prove me wrong. [Editor’s Note: Please do not try to prove me wrong because I think it would be very easy to do so and it would hurt my, I mean the author’s, feelings.]

What is the point of writing this? I’m not entirely sure. Should I just end it right there? No, I’ll try to explain, but the further I explain the more and more idiotic I’ll appear. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job of expressing that thus far. Regardless, I was having a conversation with my wife last night regarding pregnancy. Yes, I brought up this stork point to her. She thought I was kidding. Why would I lie? I brought up the moon landing. Because of course, I did, it’s the truth! Has everyone actually seen a baby being born? Ha, exactly! Replace that with anyone and the answer is obviously yes, but if you stick in everyone then the answer is no. Logic! How was I created? I assume a stork delivered me to a river, much like Moses, I was picked up by a dalmatian who retrieved me from a dam, and dropped me off on the doorstep of my parent’s Nebraska home. If sounds nonsensical, think about the idea of a living human growing inside of another human. I understand making pee and poo, but a human? A fetus, a changeling, an it, whatever you wish to call it. Somehow we’re creating feces at the same time, we’re creating a living organism? Yeah, forget about it.

The moral of the story, I’m really happy for my best friend and his wife having a newborn. I’m not going to ask them how it happened because I know what they’re going to say, and I don’t like being lied to. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m celebrating the next chapter of their lives and I’m excited to watch the (stork) baby grow. I really can’t believe this post lasted 800 words after a thirty-minute conversation last night about this same topic that my spouse walked away from because she was fed up with it. So it goes.*

*This post was mostly bad satire. Or that’s how I’m going to phrase it so I can say it was me failing to be funny, instead of me ranting and raving about how I still struggle with the inability to wrap my head around the possibility of pregnancy/childbirth. However, people like Joe Rogan and his followers who do believe things like the moon landing are fake are abhorrent and truly ruining modern-day intellectualism. Please be educated, and not an idiot. It ain’t that hard. So it goes (again).

something i wrote at work last week

Don’t bring a book if you want to read. Don’t bring headphones if you think you’ll want to listen to some music. Never adjust your routine because as soon as you do, you will regret it. As with almost all the things I write, what I was saying in my head made a lot of sense and was totally understandable. Then I attempt to type it out just as what my brain created, and out comes this drivel. I brought a book to my job today. I didn’t read the book because I had to work at my job. I’m not complaining about that, I’m happy that things came up and I had things to do. However, there wasn’t much on the schedule for me today, everyone was either sick or on vacation or working virtually and I thought I would be in this tiny office all too my lonesome. At the moment I am sitting with a 9-year-old child who is watching something on his mom’s phone, and he doesn’t have headphones. I do not know what he is listening to, but I do know it’s annoying. Granted, compared to the things I hear coming from the holding cells that are near me, it’s not too bad.

Sometimes I go on little getaways, tiny “vacations” with my wife, by myself and I always pack like I’m preparing to be stranded for days on a desert island and will need a way to entertain myself. I’ll pack video games, I’ll pack books, I’ll pack a Kindle, and like, for what? Five hours of round-trip flying. A couple hours on a bus. Why do I think I’ll magically be able to read 1500 pages, listen to 5 podcasts and beat a 40-hour game in that time span? Especially when as soon as I’m on any form of interstate transportation, I immediately fall asleep. Doesn’t this have something to do with a book? Reading is important. It builds something within you. I don’t know what it builds, but I’ve been readin’ for 25+ years now so I want to think it had some payoff.

I didn’t want to feel the need to bring a book to my work. I don’t normally ever feel the need. But when put in a tiny office and awaiting clients that are not showing up (although they sometimes do), it’s a way to kill the downtime when staring at your phone seems even less productive. Except, it’s the times when you think you’ll be alone and doing nothing that the most things start to happen. People are running late so ask you to cover their groups, folx are out and about so you must cover another group. Most of what happened was that I had to cover groups which resulted in me having one on one sessions with clients. Which again, not complaining! I want to work, I want to interact with clients, I want to actually do something! All I can say is that if I didn’t bring this book, don’t ask me how I know, but none of this would’ve happened. The universe saw me carrying a book or two (yes, it was two. I seriously thought I’d literally finish one book and start another all in the span of one workday?) and just knew that it’d set obstacles in my way to prevent me reading even a single sentence.

This is not a blog about my job, now almost two months in, or a blog about anything. This is just a way to finish off the last leg of today’s day. I figure if I can’t read a book, then I can write my own. Though this is not a book, this barely constitutes an essay. This is just a way to pass the time. Honestly? I’m surprised I wrote so many words. I’m both thinking I haven’t written enough words and realizing that I milked this very simple topic as much as possible.

It’s like the second day of fall or something, huh? Yeah, that’s cool. Not a lot of fodder for commentary there. Fallder. Doesn’t make a great pun either. I’m just gonna figure out something else to do for the next 23 minutes of my time. Then it’ll be the weekend and that’s always fun. Until next time, which, as always, I can not predict when that’ll be. So it goes.

i don’t walk out of movies.

I’m going to get back to the title at some point. A couple days ago, I ingested more than the suggested amount of pre-workout and I was stuck with an idea for a post. However, I then decided I didn’t want to write while under the influence of caffeine so I should actually exercise like I intended to. Which I did. And then once I was finished, I didn’t have the drive nor desire to finish writing what I started. I kind of planned to just delete this open tab so I wouldn’t be taunted by the unfinishedness of it all. That was until I had a dream last night.

The song that inspired me while on the pre-workout was from Hamilton. The dream that inspired me to continue what I started was also about Hamilton. Except, I was dead. I don’t know how I knew I was in purgatory, but I was. It was distinctly neither heaven nor hell, just purgatory. I explained to my wife this morning as much as I could remember and I remember even less now. All I can say is that I wasn’t in the land of 1776, I was not part of the American Revolution, I was just part of a stage show. What’s the better word for an extra nowadays? A background artist. I think that applies to movies and tv, not stage plays. I was a member of the ensemble. You could see me in the background of pubs, drinking beer, staring around aimlessly while plans for a revolution were being rapped/sung. I was in the room where it happened, but it wasn’t that interesting because I was aware I was in a musical and I had no escape. I know purgatory is a Catholic idea, and I don’t even know much about it. I know it’s kind of the flux state before you get sent to Heaven, but like, I don’t know why you get sent there, what happens there. I say all this because I barely know anything about it, and yet I was certain I was in it in this dream. I couldn’t escape, I just had to go through show after show, knowing that eventually, I’d be moving on to the next step. Which I think I assumed was Heaven, more so me being optimistic than Hell.

As I just typed that out, it became painfully obvious that this was my brain trying to process my current life of funemployment. Where I’ve been talking to a specific job for two months, have done 3+ hours of interviews, got promoted to the next stage over and over, and still waiting for the finality of it all. Realizing that is so much less exciting than wondering why I was in some between-worlds Hamilton-inspired purgatory. Ugh, self-reflection can be so boring. Plus, hyphenates can be so overused.

I was going to dive deeper into the dream and comment further on it, except what’s the point? I understand the dream, I understand the message. It was more just annoying that I’d wake up, close my eyes again, and immediately start hearing “Raise a glass to freedom” in my brain. Hamilton is a great musical, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re constantly in the background, you can still get tired of the songs. I also write these blogs to attempt to provide myself some escapism from my funemployment woes, and I thought sleep was part of that too. No, nope, it isn’t. Now my dreams are just barely veiled metaphors and parables and fables and blah blah blah that are not letting me get any distance from my thoughts. Let’s move on, let’s address this title.

I am still reading Gogol. I am still reading Barthelme. I’ve spoken of them before, authors of before my time. Gogol especially, Barthelme was alive during my lifetime. I bought books of their short stories because I saw them both (the authors) listed on the greatest short stories ever page. They are surely skilled writers and some of their stories are magnificent works. However, if you hear about the best film of all time, you watch the movie. Do you then watch all the director’s previous and future works? Do you make sure to read every screenplay the writer writes? Do you follow the actor’s career forever hoping they’ll pull off a performance like that again? A better example would be to use a novel by an author because it’s the same context as a short story. If someone is known as writing the greatest novel ever, that doesn’t magically make all their other works seminal. Any work of art should be judged on its own merits, which doesn’t carry over a sheen to be applied to all previous and future works. It might make you excited to read other things, watch other things, to try other things, but it doesn’t guarantee their quality.

I write this because I do not walk out of movies. I’ve seen some real doggone crappy movies. I write this because I do not quit on books halfway through. I force myself to finish them. Why? Maybe a hope that there will be something memorable or worthwhile that I’ll be angry at myself over for missing. Maybe because I’m a masochist who loves to torture himself. Or maybe just because once I start something, I just felt a compulsion to finish it. Eventually. That relates more to literature, if a movie is crappy, I’ll finish it all at once. If a book is lackluster, I might take my time, but eventually, I’ll whittle it down.

Again, all of this is being said to say that just because you write “one of the best short stories of all time” does not mean that every story you write is a hit. However, because I was initially interested in these authors due to their potential as the best, I continue to read their stories in the hopes of finding another story that might be a gem. I’m not saying the stories are bad, or a waste of time. No, to be clear, I’m not saying all of them are. I am saying that some of them are. But it’s that damn title of having one of the best short stories ever that I keep reading and reading because if they could do one of the best, they must be pretty good. Which again, I digress, they are. Except for even the best baseball players bat .350 and that means they’re still missing more often than they hit. That’s how I feel about these stories. They wrote great ones, they wrote bad ones, but more importantly, they wrote so damn many of them. These books of their stories are 400+ pages each. And I can’t stop reading them. I wish I could. I’m nearing the finish line and I’m so excited to close them after that final page and never touch them again. Then one day I’ll tell my kids I read the best short story of all time, and they won’t care. Then I’ll ask them to read it and they won’t even know what a book made of paper is. Then, well, they’ll go back to whatever it is they do and I’ll wonder was it worth it to read that story? And I’ll tell myself…so it goes.

this is 31+1.

Remember when 300 came out? All those cgi washboard abs? the most infamous line and heck, maybe the thing anyone can even remember from the movie anymore is when king Leonidas shouts “this is Sparta!” and kicks a person into a pit. When I say all anyone remembers, I meant just the line itself and not the scene. I’m not sure how I even remember that scene. I remember I saw that movie in Tennessee with my aunt and I saw a double feature of 300 and The Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. Back to back. I learned that day, that no matter how much I love movies, watching two back to back in a movie theater before they installed those reclining seats was a really bad idea.

I was just standing in my kitchen thinking about what I would say here, and let me tell you, recapping a college visit to Sewanee (a cult) was not my intention. I was going to write a list of resolutions that I would actually do as a 32-year-old man because so many of these blogs are just me rehashing the same thing over and over because I come back to this place once every few months. Wasn’t it nice when I was abroad and I was writing this like 3x a week? Nice to me because I actually had original ideas and it felt new and fresh. Now I’m just well. Writing about how I don’t write.

A few days ago, I watched the Martin Scorsese film, After Hours, and I thought about writing a whole post about that. About how it’s rated as one of his lesser works, one of his least popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Then I celebrated one of my best friend’s birthdays last week and we were at a gay bar watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and I looked to my wife and said, “I wish I was half as passionate about anything in my life as this collection of queers is about Drag Race.” And then I thought back to how I was going to write an entire blog post about the 1986 film, After Hours, for no apparent reason and I thought maybe I’m also crazy in my own way.

On a job interview the other day, it was yesterday, they asked about my writing skills. I should’ve diverted them here. Since I’m not likely to get the job regardless, they could’ve had a laugh or something.

Maybe I’ll just quickly list off a few things I aspire to accomplish every year and I fail to do so every year. Hmm, sure, let’s do it. Nike.

Moving on, that list was boring. If I phrase it like that, it implies that I wrote it and deleted it because it was boring. The truth of the matter is that I started to write something (in my head) and it just reminded me of how I have the same dreams over and over and never attain them. So it was more just depressing and sad. I’m also realizing why I don’t write with music or podcasts in my head because it’s throwing off my train of thought. Let me take these headphones out and let’s reassess. Where is my headphones box? Oh no, now I have to find that too. One second, dear reader.

I never delete anything when I write, I barely edit these things. However, I just truly deleted an entire paragraph. It seemed too repetitive even for me. Did I remove those headphones for no reason?

There’s a podcaster who makes jokes about how he used to be a writer but he also sold his company for 200 million dollars so what’s my excuse? No, no, I’m sorry, I said I wasn’t going to rehash old material.

They say constant reading will make you a better writer, but how exactly does that work? I’m reading things every night before bed and all that’s happening is I’m having dreams about being a fighter pilot. The best writers I’ve ever read have only ever made me wonder how the heck did they do that, it didn’t magically make wonderful. I’m putting the headphones back in.

A part of me wants to discuss Gogol’s obsession with noses and coats. A part of me wonders when abstract writing becomes too abstract for its own good and does it hurt the message. But listen, this is about my birthday. This is about aging and the slow (or fast) decline of time and our limited engagement with this ball of rock. Sphere of rock. Rock of ages. Tom Cruise. I just watched Top Gun, Top Gun Maverick, and another Tom Cruise movie in the last week and I’m wondering why I’m dreaming of fighter pilots? It’s pretty obvious.

Just because I have the same dreams year after year, you know what, it isn’t discouraging to me. It’s motivational in the sense that I picked something highly aspirational and maybe I did so because it’s easier to not be let down when you pick difficult goals. A big part of goal making is making small, reasonable goals so they’re actually achievable. Isn’t life all about the struggle though? If I finally have a six-pack, what else do I have to hope for in life? When I write that Tony award-winning musical, what left is there to achieve? An 8-pack? An Oscar-winning adaptation of my own musical? Damn, that’s true. I guess you can do more than one thing and call it quits.

Listen, I just want to accomplish some things this year. I want to read an entire issue of The New Yorker cover to cover since I’ve subscribed to it for so long. Foreign Affairs magazine? Maybe next year. Do I care about a six-pack? No. But I want to rip this shirt off (sexily) and not greet the general public with noticeable love handles. I vow one day to write a musical, but how about a song? Let’s just start with one song. I bought a keyboard during the pandemic, have I learned anything yet? Let’s also go with a song. Let’s learn a song. It can be a simple one. How many other things do I have to list here? Gainful employment is a given, so it’s not aspirational enough. Fluency in Portuguese, that’s also a given, but not a given based on how often I practice. Let’s throw that in there too. I want to have a damn conversation with my wife’s family, that’s not too much to ask.

Okay, I know I should already be finished with this. It’s already too long. And I have a headache, but that’s due to taking too much pre-workout and not writing this. I don’t know how ADHD feels, but I think I took too much where it’s extremely hard to concentrate and it’s making my writing even more haphazard and disheveled. One of my friends called me zany once. One of my best friend’s sisters said I wasn’t cute, but I looked goofy. She intended it as a compliment. I don’t think I took it as one.

I can’t believe I turned 32 this year, this month, this day, and I still can’t grow a beard. I’m going to write another blog sooner than later, not because of my fans, but because I’ve inserted way too many paragraph breaks. What day is it? This song is chanting TGIF and I thought it was Friday. It’s Wednesday. I was born on a Friday though. This song is referencing my birthday. Katy Perry knows it’s my birthday. I appreciate all the love from friends and family, but Katy Perry knows it’s my birthday. There’s not much one can ask for in life. So it goes.

i am not a writer

I have never claimed to be a writer, so I don’t this is much of a big reveal. Granted, I never claimed to be an editor either and that seems to be what I do more than ever nowadays. Not editing my own stuff, not editing anything renowned or “the next big thing.” No, I find myself editing papers that my fiancee is doing for university or editing things for a Colombian friend that I think is for her job. I suppose since I have no employment of my own as of yet, knowing I’m helping assist someone with something is better than doing nothing at all. At the same time, this blog post isn’t inspired by me editing Latin American women’s papers. This blog post is inspired by my book club. I was in a book club once before, we only read a few books, but we managed to meet up in person and get a tattoo to forever solidify our book club bond. I do not think that is in the cards with this current iteration (with new members), but ya never know. I read plentifully anyway, but I’ve always liked book clubs for forcing me outside of my preexisting comfort zones and reading things I wouldn’t normally be attracted to. I think we’re currently doing something where we’re reading a different book from every different continent to escape the western-centric novels that tend to be the support beam of literature. This brings me to the book at hand, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

I am not a writer, nor have I ever claimed to be, but often I think to myself that I could write something. And when I say something, I mean something better than what is being read in the mainstream. I’m not the art of writing isn’t difficult or that I actually could write a novel that isn’t utter shit, but sometimes you’re reading something and thinking this is easy, this is breezy, and even I could do this. Though at the same time, it has to be an art form in and of itself to create a “beach read” or an “airport thriller” or something in that vein. Listen, I’m going to come across as like I’m insulting professional writers and I just want to reaffirm that yes, I completely understand this is only my own ego talking and I do not think I could compare to anyone popular enough to pursue writing words as a living. It’s just similar to a notion when people that maybe create student films, or are aspiring filmmakers see a pile of crap movie with a big budget and think that they could easily do the same, if not better for a fraction of the cost. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say people can tell when things are bad and it’s a common reaction to think you could do better if given the same parameters and support. Again, I’m not defending my egotistical thoughts here, because every person has them regarding some topic at least.

Listen, I am not a writer, so please stop me giving me words of affirmation and praise and saying I totally am in the top percentile of guys who write a blog sporadically named Hank. Man, I really had higher hopes for that last sentence until I took a swig of this sparkling tonic with root beer flavor and that has really thrown me off because this is awful. Probably says a lot about me that I thought a root beer flavored sparkling tonic would have any potential of tasting anywhere near acceptable but that’s a topic for another time. Oh right, The Sympathizer. Just because a film wins a Best Picture Oscar doesn’t always mean it’s going to be great, and by that same definition, a Pulitzer prize-winning novel isn’t always guaranteed to actually be the best thing released that year. At the same time, it does give it an air of clout, and one thinks to themselves, at least in my case, that this isn’t going to be objectively awful at least. Or if it is awful then maybe I’m objectively bad at having any taste. I did book this book for the club, not because I had any connection to it, but because I googled lists of the best novels from Asia in the past few years. Was it already highly regarded, a popular hit? Sure. I’m not trying to unearth undiscovered gems, I’m just trying to read a decent book from every continent, rinse and repeat. All I can say is that I’ve read lots of novels, novellas, short stories, biographies, plays, essays, memoirs, history books, non-fiction, academic journals, etc. I am just trying to say that I’ve read a lot of things throughout my years and I like to think of myself as well-read.

Being able to read well, being well-read, probably helps one be a better author, a better writer, but I’m not one of those, nor have I ever claimed to be. If I was, I’d probably be better with syntax. Or hire an editor to make people think I was. I don’t know, I guess I just really wanted to write something about this book. I’m only about 60% done with it, and my other book club member is only at around 5 or so, but like, all I’m trying to say is that that book proved to me that I am not a writer. It also proved to me how few people are writers, even published authors themselves. Every once in a while, you just read something and you think “Holy mackerel, how did a person come up with this?” It could be a plot point, some characterization, but for me, it’s prose. I have a vivid imagination, I can think of some fantastical things; however, I just can’t craft a sentence that blows the socks off of someone. Though yes, I know all my adoring fans would say otherwise. It’s just damn. Initially, my intention was to write a lot more about this and yet here I find myself 1000 words later and I don’t even know if I hit the purpose I had planned. And that’s okay because I am not a writer. So it goes.

primal fear

“Uh oh.” That’s something you never want to hear from a doctor. It’s especially something you never want to hear from a doctor when you’re a teenage kid because then you’re still full of life and hope and happiness. When you go from avoiding mirrors at 16, to ogling yourself too long at them at 17, you’re thinking you’re at the top of the world. You’re thinking nothing can stop you, nothing will stop you, minus all your insecurities built up until then. However, those insecurities are mental blocks, not physical ailments. So yeah, you think if you’d go to a psychiatrist maybe they’ll diagnose something wrong with you, but you never consider anything wrong could be happening with you physically. Hell, you have the first barely there impression of a six pack. You went on a date with a girl! Half of your fashion sense is Puma apparel. You’re on top of the world.

“Uh oh,” the doctor said while he had my nuts in his hand. When you’re 17, your biggest concern with a physical is if you’re going to get an erection from a medical professional handling your unit and be defined as “gay.” It was the late 90s (or around 2007) and homophobia was still sadly rampant, and looking back, we were a bunch of little insensitive, ignorant shits.

Here’s an addendum three days later. I wrote this on a Friday morning when I was freaking out about the future and my upcoming doctor’s appointment with a urologist. That appointment is today and I’ll be leaving in less than an hour. This post did help me in that it alleviated some of the anxiety, along with me rambling on during long voice notes and voice mails as well. I was going to make a whole commentary about how this topic is far different than the 90s Richard Gere thriller film in which it’s named, and more about the primal instinct of insecurity regarding procreation and blah blah blah. I realize this post did it’s job and there’s really no point in posting it all. However, I did mention to my mother that I’d be writing a post about my testicles and I thought it’d be funny that she might be the only person to read it. It’s still funny and I’m going to think about that instead of this impending appointment. So it goes.

I am not a runner.

Exercise is always used as a suggested treatment for depression, except no one wakes up and thinks of themselves as worthless and that they’re better off not being in this world and wants to take a jog. Healthy eating is way to feel better about yourself, but when your life is just walking around with a constant gray cloud above your head, that’s splattering sulfuric, acid rain on your head from time to time, you’re not thinking about braising a piece of meat, you’re going to order too much food at a Taco Bell drive thru and follow it up with a case of diarrhea. Thankfully, none of this applies to me at the current moment. I’m able to do exercises within the confine of my apartment and make a healthy soup that tastes far worse than it should.

I bring this up because it all applies to running. How you might ask? The how isn’t important. The journey is important. Not the end game. Not the Avengers End Game. I am butchering a quote or idiom or something that doesn’t apply to what I’m trying to say anyway. The point is, even in my most elated state of being, you’ll be hard pressed to see me running. I am not good at a lot of things, but I am especially bad at running. I think it was something I’ve always known I was bad at, since one of my earliest memories is having to run races in kindergarten and suffice to say I was not very good. And that’s when I was young and spry! Today, I wished my fiancée’s old host dad (if you know, you know) a happy birthday, although I was a day late because being late is cool. He didn’t seem to have any idea I had returned to New York City after my traversing around the globe, mainly the Southern Hemisphere, or he said he would’ve invited me to the celebratory beer run that was celebrating his birth. I was relieved that he didn’t know I was in town because it would’ve been tough to craft an excuse to not show up that didn’t involve me saying I was bad at running. Because then you’d get the typical spiel of “It’s fine. We’re drinking, we’re just having fun. Don’t worry about,” because that is what people say when they’re trying to be nice. That is what people say when they think you might be bad at running, but don’t know how truly terrible you are.

Depression was only brought up earlier, because I only speak about what I know. No, I’m not referring to me having a Master’s Degree in Social Work implying that I’m an expert about mental health disorders. Though, maybe I should go with that. I’m saying, sure, I dealt with depression or Major Depressive Disorder or whatever you want to call it. Again, that’s not entirely relevant but I want everyone to know that I do have my own copy of the DSM-V that I’ve at least opened one or two times. Not when my depression was gone, but once it was in a better place, once I felt I was recovering and making progress, I planned a 7 month adventure abroad to recalibrate myself, to do something to get me going somewhere that wasn’t a plateau. Before I went off on this trip, I joined a half marathon training group that was mainly composed of middle aged women. Some of them were my mother’s friends, so she helped me get involved and I joined because blah blah blah exercise good for mental illness, etc. etc. Another reason I joined is that I figured I would smoke the competition. Yes, I’ve stated, I can not run, but I was in my mid twenties at the time, and I thought surely that I could be just as good, if not better than a group of 45 year old women. Looking back, this take was ageist, sexist, and just full of stupidity and arrogance. I couldn’t run when I was 5 years old (young and spry) so why did I think I’d be able to run multiple miles after dealing with the weight of depression for the previous years? The moral of the story? I sucked.

There’s probably deeper morals embedded in there, but they don’t go with the title of this post. I am not a runner and every time I’ve thought I could be a runner, due to my idiotic hubris, the universe has told me explicitly to sit down and shut up. Or rather to jog very slowly and then bend over out of breath while someone twice your age runs past you as three times the speed. If I drop a friend’s dog’s leash and they start running away, then I am a runner. That is about the extent of it. If the sheer panic of losing someone’s dog could be expanded into a race like setting, well heck, they’d be calling me Usain Bolt. Until that happens, I am still not a runner. I really do feel like I should expound upon more philosophical mumbo jumbo, except that this blog was truly inspired by the sheer relief of knowing I avoided a running situation in the past 24 hours. Look, I have no idea what the future holds, but until then, I’m thankful for cars. And planes. And trains. And automobiles. Maybe my next post will be about how I am not a roller skater, or blader, or boarder. So it goes.