Distractifications

Last night when I went to bed, I had big plans for today. I was going to wake up early, sit down and really just go to town with writing. I should have known this morning at 8:40 when I woke up that all those plans were going to get blown to hell. I’m still working up to my routine. Yesterday, I felt that push of Resistance. I saw that long corridor of fear and that Sissiphysian push uphill with my rock, that I chose to see it as. Instead of seeing it as the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I wonder if this is what keeps stray dogs wandering around neighborhoods where they have been chained too long.

I forced my hand to make the words happen and it worked. It always feels good to write. Every chance I get to set down and snatch the words out of the aether and put them on the page feels good. What doesn’t feel good is sitting on my ass doing data entry. Listening to coworkers talk about ham or taffy for hours, or be regaled by the tales of recent surgeries or the medicines they are taking for something as stupid as being overweight.

This morning is a moment of resistance. The Newtonian law of an object at rest remaining at rest applies to the Creative mind as well. The unbalanced force is when we will ourselves to put our butts in the chair, pick up that artist’s pencil, start mixing paint, or turning off social media and turning on our minds.

But wait. There might just be that one friend on Facebook who says something witty, or maybe I can visit with someone to become motivated? Or maybe this book will write itself and I just don’t wannnnnaaaaa!!!!

These are all just ways to continually distract yourself. Binge-watching a series on Netflix, arguing with someone about politics/pandemics/Star Wars. I understand that I need to build a resume, that I need to build my website again–after losing a year’s worth of posts. I need to keep my options open for freelance work and have to check Indeed and LinkedIn and other sites for this. And I should set up a Fiverr account too to try to bring in more income.

But what I have had the opportunity to do for several weeks now, but haven’t because of distractions is work on the book. First it was the pandemic, then the layoff, then the breakup, then the…damn, I’ve run out of distractions…how do I create more? Why not work on the book? I can do that. I can do all the rest and still have time. Once you remove the time you piss away on social media and driving around to run errands, you free up a lot of time. Even the words I’m writing right now are a way to distract myself. So, why?

Because I’m afraid of that book. It’s one thing to write a paid blog post about why you should shop at a certain hardware store, or the dangers of toxic mold, but when that writing gets bought, you feel good. You get to put a little away in savings. You get to pay a bill. When they don’t sell, you shrug and just figure that was a small chunk of your time that didn’t pan out. When you spend YEARS writing a book, and people hate it, or worse yet, people buy it and never read it. Well, you wonder why you spent all that time writing it in the first place. You have made more money writing about rain gutters or dental implants.

There are worlds out there your mind is creating and it’s up to your butt (in that chair), your fingers (on those keys), and your caffeine tolerance (how much until my heart actually explodes?) to get those stories out.

You risk it all when you tell people your dreams.

But when those dreams don’t get to be born, they die inside of you. When they are on the page, they flirt with immortality.

Time to stop letting myself be distracted. Today, I get to do something about it.

Frustration and Staying Frosty

So, I moved my travel blog (not that it will be getting any mileage in the foreseeable future, for obvious reasons) to WordPress. It was supposed to be a little cheaper, and the domain host that I had been using was not that great. All customer service was done by automated responses to keywords which directed me to a Tech Info Library.

So, I moved the domain.

Only to discover that none of the content moved with it. But because it never made it to Google, I can’t even use the wayback machine to copy and paste a year’s worth of content to the new site. It’s gone. All of it.

When life throws those kinds of things at you, all you can do is find the lesson in it. You see, I have a LiveJournal blog that I wrote on from 2007 all the way until pretty much the end of last year. All of that content is still there. Unlike the blog site I paid for, which is gone, never showed up on a Google search in spite of all the add ons and bullshit I paid for, and now it is so much pixelated dust.

The lesson here is write locally, upload globally.

Kinda the same with my book. You see, people are buying and potentially reading my book, but they are getting copies of it from sites on Amazon that aren’t my account because I never get paid for them. The Chinese are notorious for this. Copyright? What’s that? I’ve had many friends who find their works printed off from China and they never see a red cent.

The only bummer is that I probably no longer have a PDF of the finished copy of my book the way Createspace had it, because I could just go to Createspace and run off copies for cost and give them or sell them to people. I could buy three or sometimes four copies of my book for what Amazon wanted for just one. I did this a lot. Because I feel like it’s better to be read than it is to get rich.

I know I’m not going to get rich. Money-wise anyway. There are other kinds of wealth. Granted, I wouldn’t mind selling some writing to help pay the rent, which is why I write SEO content for companies. It is usually joyless work, but it is more fulfilling than changing the same classes over and over and over again for professors who don’t feel that working five days a week is for them. No, they do everything they can to shore up their teaching schedule into maybe three days so they get four day weekends.

This is why I’m going to be writing about the underbelly of the Ivory Tower soon enough. I have 18 years experience in this kind of fuckery. It’s time to share it with the world. There’s a good reason Higher Ed is failing right now. Why one of the biggest crises to hit the US is the student loan bubble. That’s why the Feds are looking to bail out loan holders right now. They painted themselves into a corner by not allowing bankruptcies, and rather than bring back debtors prison, they have to do something. Might as well winnow out the small remaining loans so they can continue to milk the big bulls.

This, my friends, is how you get the Great Depression II. Inflate loans people can’t pay (but keep issuing them) and then the bottom drops out of the economy. Boom. You now how an impoverished class. Or at least an economic crisis.

And this stimulus package to just pay everyone $1000 to $3000 dollars? It reminds me a lot of the German state in the 1920s. Lets just print off more money. What color deutchmarks would you like to plaster the bathroom with? I guess if they run inflation up, that toilet paper crisis in the US will be solved. Just go to the ATM machine!

Anyway, that is my dispatch today. Stay safe. Be patient. And be kind.

How it should have been

There’s the opening monologue of the 1990s movie, Trainspotting which has been resonating a lot with me these days.

Choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose a family, choose a fucking big television…”

On this blog a lot of the time I talk about regrets. I talk a lot about healing. I am usually optimistic about where life is heading, however, since for the most part, life has usually been getting better.

A few weeks ago, my day job announced upcoming layoffs. This is the University where I have spent the last 18 years as an employee, and let’s face it, four years as a student, working in the same building that shares where I currently work, I haven’t moved very far. Physically or metaphorically when it comes to my career.

In 2001, I was working at a call center. I landed a job at a place that paid roughly twice per year what I was making, answering 50+ phone calls per day. It was never my intention to stay forever at this University. But with kids at home and a wife who refused to contribute to the family income, I was locked in to my job, with no ability to move out of this place.

I was stuck.

I’ve gone over a lot of this before, but I was having a conversation about the disillusionment of our generation. The GenXers got sandwiched between two of the most selfish generations ever. In a lot of ways, we were raised with the viewpoint of the Greatest Generation, or probably more like the Lost Generation. The period of time that brought us the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, Frankenstein, Stein Cold Steve Austin, and many others. A generation of people who lived through the horrors of WW1 and said, “Well isn’t this just something?” while their children went off to fight the Germans again, and the Japanese, drinking Europe dry in the process.

I look at my parents generation as a lot of people who did what their parents told them to do, once they got back from VE, VJ, and VD Days. They went to school, then went to college or the workplace. Maybe they fought in Vietnam, maybe they bought a house, raised a family, did some recreational drugs, watched a crap-ton of television, moaned about being in their 30s in the 1980s. They brought us the Big Chill, and 30 Something, and they did everything they were supposed to do.

They worked hard. They paid into Social Security for 30-40 years in the hopes that when they retired, they would get back a fraction of what they paid into it. Because they were supposed to. In the early 2000s, a lot of the Boomer generation took a beating when a series of bad investment scams brought Wall Street to its knees. Entire retirement funds vaporized. So many Boomers were stuck with the prospect of living on the $1100 per month they get from the government or simply never retiring. At least the bastards who ran the economy into the dust in 1929 had the decency to jump out of windows. The ones who did it this go-around got a bailout.

An entire generation of men and women doing what they were supposed to do. School. Work hard. Kids. The American Dream. Retire. Die at some point. But so many of them are feeling robbed. That moment flashes on as to “Why did I work hard all my life to get this?” The system failed them. But as the subsequent generation, I had to say, I’m not sure why GenX is so dutiful in following our parents’ footsteps. We work hard at thankless jobs, a lot of the time because the Generation before us can’t, or won’t, retire to let us have advancement. Then we have the more Tech-Savvy Millennials, who swoop in with a lot of entitlement and a lot of participation awards to show for why their feelings are hurt easily and the only real competition they have is who has the newest phone and who can get the most offended.

In my situation, I hear a lot of “Well, you can’t do X because…” I’ve been told what I couldn’t do my whole life. I’ve been told what I should do as well, but looking back to the previous generation, what you should do hasn’t exactly worked out all that great for them either.

A lifetime wasted, making money for someone else, hoping one day to retire just to have enough money to sit around and wait to die.

That doesn’t sound like anything I want to be a part of, to be honest. I’d rather choose something else.

Giving someone advice in the hopes that they become just as miserable as you are one day isn’t good advice. It isn’t right. It isn’t healthy.

I put in the time at my job, and one day, either this week or two months from now, they will finally let me know that I no longer have a job there. What I want to do with the rest of my life is all up to me.

This wasn’t’ the life I signed up for. Living hand to mouth. Paycheck to paycheck. A human piggy-bank for an ex-spouse who never had to work a full-time job for very long because her hand was always in someone else’s pocket. Soon, the piggy bank will be empty. All I will have to show for nearly an entire adulthood of a “career” is a whole lot of stories I have gleaned about people for the last 20 years that nobody would believe if I told anyway.

But the cake, my friends, is a lie. You aren’t guaranteed anything. Not a job after college. Not a happily ever after. Not safety and security. So quit living your life like any of that is even real. Take chances. Think outside the box. Fuck shit up. And wake up from this dream while you still can.