January 18, 2014 § 2 Comments
Almost 40 years ago to the day, there was a book published called The Inner Game of Tennis. I don’t know the ins and outs of legality and copyright infringement on a book that I’m sure few people are picking up new copies of, but you can read the whole thing online for free. That’s one of the nice things about not actively seeking books to read until you’re in your thirties.
Most of the good ones are just out there to be had and won’t cost you a dime over your regular monthly costs of having the internet.
Now to be honest with you, I haven’t read the entire thing. As with most things that are written, I mostly just started it and I hope to finish it one day. I can tell you however that it didn’t take long to get the gist, and it was easy to understand why Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll considers this book to be one of his greatest inspirations, despite being about a completely different sport. In fact, the book has little to do with sports at all.
The author Timothy Gallway was on the Harvard tennis team and then went on to be one of those club pros that teaches rich moms, dads and their kids how to “play” tennis. After awhile, Gallway started to get bored of simply allowing his clients to fail — as you can imagine most of them would — and began to look for ways to actually improve a person’s game. And it wasn’t about strategy, it wasn’t about stamina, it wasn’t even about technique, but instead he started trying to think about how the mind reacts to commands and then how to make the body best follow through with those commands.
Mind + Body. Two separate entities in the same ‘parental’ unit, i.e. You.
Think about a time when you’ve tried to do something right that you were new at or not very good at. Take bowling for example. I am one of the worst bowlers you will ever meet. I know that a lot of people say stuff like that, but the reason that I know I am one of the worst bowlers is because naturally everybody bowls in groups. Nobody bowls by themselves except for actual bowlers — it’s not like playing video games or shooting hoops.
If you went to the bowling alley on your own, rented shoes on your own, bought a lane on your own, stood next to actual groups of people playing in groups as friends and family on your own, then you’re either a bowler, want to be a bowler, or an alien trying to fit in with humankind as best you could calculate. But you miscalculated somewhere from the Degobah System to Albuquerque.
Because people bowl in groups, I’ve been able to judge my skill against the skill of every group I’ve ever bowled in, and in every group I’ve ever bowled with I’ve finished in last place. Dead last. I’ve never hit 100. Not once. Not “one lucky night,” not one night of cheating with the bumpers, never.
I am one of the worst bowlers you will ever meet. But it’s not like I’m not trying!
Every single time I bowl, I pick up my ball and slide my fingers in nice and gentle. I feel the weight of the ball in my hand and I stare at it while I rub my right hand (I’m a lefty) on the outer crust of the ball. I caress it. I hook it like a Longhorn in my left hand while I start to take the steps up to the front of the lane, while aligning myself on the little white pyramids that point me towards the Glory Land:
Those 10 little pins, just begging to be put down so they can go for a ride and do it all over again.
I stand to the right so that my left arm lines up better with the target, which is that cocky little sumbitch that stands in front of the rest of the pins like he’s Cmdr. General Bowlinpin. I have no idea if I’m standing in the right place, as I have had no formal training except for 25 viewings of Kingpin. (Which is better than learning from 25 viewings of There Will Be Blood, otherwise I’d be killin’ Paul Dano over and over again. Spoiler alert?)
(You deserve to have TWBB spoiled. That was like seven years ago.)
Now that I’ve ritualized every precise moment in the dance, that’s when everything goes wrong.
I start a little stutter step towards the lane while I begin my arm’s descent. *Okay fingers, put your seats in the upright position and your tray tables back up, hopefully this will be a smooth landing* That’s when I begin to make the most fatal error that anyone with my skill level can make.
I start to think about it.
I think about how hard I’m going to throw the ball when it’s finally time to let go.
I think about the direction of the ball and the placement of my hand when it’s finally time to let go.
I think about when it should be time to finally let go.
I think about not thinking about it.
I finally do let go and it’s like…. It’s like if I told you to down down from 3 and slapped you in the face halfway between saying ’3′ and ’2.’ That’s usually how bowling goes for me because you release and sometimes you’ll know instantly that it’s going in the gutter and sometimes it just instantly goes in the gutter. For me at least.
When I’m talking to myself about everything that needs to go right, that’s when everything goes wrong. When I’m just about to give up, it’s almost like a Michael Corleone moment. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!
If I’m a horrible bowler, I’m a worse golfer. I’ve played golf — with a serious intent to do good — about 10 times. At most. Less than 200 total holes, probably way less. But I remember with perfect precision, detail, and vividness, the best three shots I ever hit off the tee. And on every single one of them, I had completely released myself from “doing good.”
The best shot I ever hit was two years ago on a public course here in Los Angeles. I walked up to the tee, probably the 11th or 12th of the day, so I had already known I was about +5 on every hole up to that point, and I still had a cigarette in my mouth. I didn’t care anymore. It was a par 3 and I had that cig in my mouth, and while my three buddies were jibberin’ and jabberin’, I just swung.
The ball came within a foot of a hole-in-one.
Can you imagine how dismayed my friends would have been if me, the worst golfer that they have probably ever met, had gotten a hole-in-one in his career before any of them had? Even on a shitty par 3 that was probably 150 yards (or whatever they measure in. see how much I’m paying attention?) that’s a big deal. All I had to do was stop caring about it.
So what did I do on the next hole? I thought really super hard about how I’m not going to think hard about it and I fail, of course. Because learning how to unteach yourself to teach yourself so constantly in the moment, takes years and years of practice. Anyone can do it once by cosmic chance but to actually lose yourself — an actual athlete like Michael Jordan may refer to it as “the zone” — on purpose, is something special. I may not get in “the zone” as an athlete much, but I probably have areas where I’m comfortable enough to do that. Just not in sports.
There are other areas where I can probably start to bind the mind and the body together so that they’re not just talking to each other, but working together in perfect silence. We all have that. When we can just get our second self to shutup for awhile.
I think about my “second self” a lot lately, but in a different way. I think about things I’ve done in the past, embarrassing things, things that I would never actively want to do again, though I know I’ve done it at least once before. I wonder to myself, “Who is that?”
“Why did I do that?”
I literally do not know, but you did.
“Can I not do it in the future?”
“But will I not do it in the future?”
I can’t answer that.
“But you’re me!”
Well, you’re you too.
“Like your favorite band.”
You could not resist.
“You know me. I love puns and wordplay.”
That’s one thing, my friend, that we can both agree on.
(or maybe even *self-facing high-five*?)
Everybody should be at least two people, all of the time. Not in a schizophrenic way, not in a psychotic way, but just in the way that we constantly need someone to check ourselves. Or in the case of zooming your zoomzoomzoom, to wreck ourselves. I’m not just talking about conscience, I’m not talking about the angel and the devil on either shoulder, and I’m not just saying the person that you talk to when you’re bowling.
Maybe more like Marty McFly when he goes back to back to 1955 and sees himself the first time he went back to 1955. The times that we have to face the choices that we made and reconciling with yourself that you were the person in your memory playback, but are you the person in the memory playback?
Did you actively seek ways to change or do you need to change at all? You’re always two people at once, but you’re also always one person that one time.
Face/Off was a movie that was released in 1997 starring Nic Cage and John Travolta. They switch faces to kick off the second act, and apparently the FBI has first crack at science and technology that is still not available (that we know of) 17 years later. It makes less sense than most movies I’ve ever seen. Not just movies though, but ‘things’ in general. It’s nonsense.
I give it 4/4 Nic Cage’s
January 8, 2014 § 4 Comments
It’s been awhile since I have written on KennethAuthor.com, the blog that I started awhile ago to talk about anything I wanted and am currently paying to own the domain name rights to. (Back off other authors named Kenneth that give a heck!)
I don’t want to say it’s because I didn’t have enough time. I have the same amount of time, really, as I did a year ago.
I don’t want to say it’s because anything terrible happened in my life. It’s the same amount of terrible as it’s always been.
I guess my absence just sort of happened, and like taking “just one day off from the gym” or “eating just one chip,” a little turned into a lot and so a few weeks after my last post, I return. Sort of. I have returned to say that I’m returning, though I don’t know how often the posts will be up. They’ll either be a lot, or a little, or somewhere in between. But the other thing is that rather than have a place to write about “whatever I feel like that day” I’ve decided (again. I’ve done this before.) to narrow the topic down to one thing.
No, wait. Damn it! Films! Movies! Moving pictures! Hollyweird, California, you see!
I like movies and I want to spend more time delving into them in the same way that I get to write about and delve into football and the Seahawks. Yesterday, I created a big spreadsheet containing information on every Nicolas Cage movie. What am I going to do with this spreadsheet? I don’t know yet, but I never gather information with a specific goal in mind. I just gather it because I “need” it, and who doesn’t need more info on Nicolas Cage?
Who doesn’t NEED more INFORMATION(!!!) about the great and almighty NICOLAS “FUCKING” CAGE WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
My first thought is that I’m going to watch everything Nic Cage has ever done as an experiment. To prove something? No. To gain something? Almost certainly not. But just because I can.
Where do you start with Nic Cage? From the beginning, with his short appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High or perhaps Valley Girl? Maybe during his action trilogy that shot him into the stratosphere, starting with The Rock? His Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas or maybe his Oscar-winning performance in Trespass. (That’s an incredibly funny joke that I have to explain with this parenthetical because most people have never heard of Trespass, the movie that made 16-THOUSAND dollars at the box office.)
I actually think that one of the key moments of Cage’s career came in 1995′s Kiss of Death co-starring David Caruso, which happened to come out just before Leaving Las Vegas, and was Cage’s first big flop. It’s an interesting point in his career that could have gone either way, but luckily for him, things worked out.
But I think I might start with Zandalee (1991) because it’s a movie that very few people have ever heard of or seen (straight-to-video) despite having quite an all-star cast. Despite the cast, it appears to just be an awful and terrible film… that is available in it’s entirety on YouTube!
If you want to watch it in prep for an article or podcast about the movie, then just go to that link. Until then, I’ll see you next time here at KennethAuthor: A (nicolas cage?) Movie Blog!
October 11, 2013 § 7 Comments
When I was a kid, I always used to come up with something that my next birthday represented. This can probably go back as far as when I was 9-years-old, but maybe it goes even deeper. My memory of childhood isn’t so good (if that’s because of repressed memories, please never let them unpress) but this action I took on my birthday’s is something I often think about.
When I turned 9, that was the last year of being in single-digits.
When I turned 10, that was my first year of being in double-digits. (And if I was a little genius kid, I probably would’ve said something about binary code but to be fair, the internet was not even around yet for the public.)
When I turned 11, that was identical-consecutive-numbers.
When I turned 12, that was proper-numerical-order-numbers.
Of course 13 is a big one, because that’s the first time you are a teenager. And then you are classified quite succinctly as being “a teen” and all that it implies, for the next seven years of your life. When you turn 13, you really become a classification of your age, you’ve truly entered “decade assignment” and from now on you might have tasks to perform before your next decade, goals to reach or otherwise be considered a failure.
I don’t know how many of those goals that I properly hit as a teenager. I didn’t have my first girlfriend. I can’t believe I’m even going to admit this, but I didn’t even have my first kiss as a teenager. I got drunk for the first time. Smoked a bit of weed and didn’t care for it because I got way too high. (I’ll never understand this apparent notion that you don’t get high your first time; I thought I was getting high for the first time and also dying for the first time at the same time.) On that note, I didn’t care for the first time I got drunk, aided by my sister’s boyfriend-at-the-time and a bottle of whiskey. Why would anyone start a young kid on whiskey, if not only because that dude turned out to be a giant asshole.
I did the normal things. I got my driver’s license, turned 18 and bought cigarettes and dirty magazines, graduated high school, got into some trouble, went off to college, and before you know it I’m in my twenties.
The funny thing about turning 20 in this country is that it’s the most anticlimactic of all the decade change-overs. Nobody spends their adolescence waiting to be a 20-year-old. Turning 20 is only another roadblock in front of the true goal: Turning 21.
I really wasn’t even much of a drinker when I turned 21. I wasn’t much of a rabble-rouser as a teenager, I didn’t do drugs or get drunk except for on sporadic occasions, and when I turned 21 I went over to my friends apartment with one of those mini-kegs of Heineken that my mom had given me as a gift, and maybe drank half of it. I wasn’t even drunk; that didn’t become an interest of mine until literally the next semester at college, when I made a new group of friends and now had full access to the bars. Now I consider it to be one of my favorite hobbies!
What are the goals of a person in their 20s these days? It used to be that by the time you were 25 you better have a career, a spouse, a bun in the oven, and a house for your spouse with an oven and some lovin’. Start preparing for your retirement 40 years before it’s due. My understanding is that you’re supposed to hire an accountant named Ira so that he can help you save up 401,000 dollars by the time you are 65.
Those goals don’t seem to apply to the 20s anymore. Now your goals are to not have goals, to travel, to date a lot, to use protection to avoid putting any buns in any ovens, entering the housing market is a terrible idea, and “most people really don’t even have their careers figured out until they’re 40 so don’t worry about it!” This current generation of 20-somethings is now sort of the “eh, it’ll work itself out!” generation. It’s the generation that puts the drinking bird toy by the keyboard so that it keeps hitting the proper button to keep Springfield from having a nuclear meltdown and goes out to watch Naked Lunch. Your twenties is literally the time between being a teenager and being a 30-something, and that is literally how people in their twenties interpret that time in their lives.
“We don’t want to leave behind the time in our lives where nobody held us responsible for anything but we also want to be treated like adults!”
By the time I had hit 27 I was already itching to get into my thirties. Don’t get me wrong, I also don’t want to be held responsible for anything, but I’m also fine with surrounding myself with people that don’t expect me to be an adult. When I’m at a business place — like work — I consider myself to be more of a “three kids in a huge trench coat” that walks around pretending to be an adult.
“Business! Reports! Filing things! Print!”
I turn 31 in December and I’m already starting to think about what it all means. What the clock on my life is doing. When will I be “too old” to do certain things? I don’t really worry about things like “playing video games for an entire weekend” or “eating a Lunchable for mid-morning snack” because those are timeless, but there are plenty of other bigger life decisions to consider.
When will I be “too old” to date a girl that’s 26?
When will I be “too old” to have a kid?
When will I be “too old” to quit my job and travel Europe?
When will I be “too old” to consider myself “too legit to quit”?
I look at myself as someone in my early-30s and I think to myself, this could be your last chance to not be “too old” to do anything you want to do. Nobody has ever told me it’s a bad idea for me to quit my job and risk being poor, because I don’t have anyone to support. The age difference from 31 to mid-20′s isn’t bad at all, and if the opportunity to date anyone arises, I’ll let you know.
And there are going to be plenty of grampas that “Do the Hammer” in about 30 years, so don’t you worry about that last one.
But I start to look at other people now, older people, and start to consider what I’ll look like when I get there. I start to wonder “How am I going to look when I’m 45?” or “How will I come off to younger people when I’m 50?” I don’t want to be a creep but at the same time, I don’t want to be an old fogie that doesn’t know how to boogie. (May have just nailed my own coffin there.)
I sometimes go to a bar near my apartment and it’s one of those “locals hangouts” with the same 15 people every night (and about 5000x less charming than Cheers) and I see this group of old men hitting on young women and I think “Oh God no. Not me. Never” and it freaks me out to think about becoming one of those dudes if I don’t either settle down before I’m 40 or develop an anti-aging potion-slash-lotion.
(And really, if I develop that point/lotion, I’ll be so rich that none of the rest of it really matters, so yes, I’m working quite hard on that too.)
So I look at myself now, and I look ahead, and I think:
This is it. This will be the best 10 years of my life. My first 10 years were so stupid that I barely remember them! The next 10 years seemed to have me missing a lot of what you’re supposed to experience when you’re a teenager and I tend to look back on that with embarrassment and regret. The next 10 years were all well and good, but they are gone now and you can’t dwell on that. The next 10 after my 30s will be the first time that I really start to resemble “the dad” of pretty much everyone I knew in school. When you’re 40, you’re perfectly capable of having a kid that’s going off to college. That might not be as normal these days, to have a kid when you’re 19 or 20, but it’s not extremely abnormal either.
I’m not only not ready to be an actual father, I am equally unready to look like a father.
(I picture Maury Povich yelling at me: “Ken, you are NOT the father…. Buuttt.. you could be. You look the part. Technically, you’re not, but I would not have all been surprised if you were the father of this 15-year-old.”)
There’s no choice now but to enjoy it. I’ve lived nearly the first full year of being in my 30s and it’s not like each year is going to be better than the last. At some point you peak, at every point you are one second further from a person that is 26-years-old. And then one day, you’re 40.
(At which point, I’ll bargain that that is the best 10 years.)
October 4, 2013 § 1 Comment
So with much procrastination and a lot of “man, do I really want to say this?” I have finally finished telling my story of my trip to Thailand. It’s certainly personal and frankly, I don’t know if it paints me in a good light, but at least it’s over and I can move on to the next thing. I don’t know what that will be. I received my yearly notice that my rights to this domain are going to expire and I’m not sure what to do with this blog anymore.
I guess we will just have to wait and find out.
To download and/or listen to part III, just follow this link:
Thanks for listening! I’m sure that wasn’t easy.
September 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
I returned from Thailand on Monday and it was one of the most surreal and amazing experiences of my lifetime. I met new and interesting people, saw some beautiful temples, ate some amazing food for so cheap that it should be illegal, fell in love for 24 hours, walked down the most ridiculous alley I’ve ever been to, probably interacted with some very shady characters, got bitten so badly by mosquitos that my foot swoll up to twice it’s normal size, and got asked if I wanted to be “f’d in the a”!
I talk all about it in what could be a 2 (or 3) part podcast. I think that it would have been very helpful to have something like this to really prepare me for what was to come, however then again it was part of the experience to NOT know what was coming.
I tried to embed the player and add a download link but apparently WordPress sucks. God damn it, WordPress! You can go to this link though and listen to it from BlogTalkRadio or download it from the same page. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fieldgulls/2013/09/12/nsfw–thailand-travel-tips-and-adventures-part-i
The audio sounds shoddy to begin with but that’s because I was trying to add a rain sound effect! This is something new I’m trying, thanks for putting up with me.
Kob kun kob!
June 13, 2013 § 3 Comments
We’re back! It’s time for another edition of me answering questions from ladies that are looking for the perspective of a dude. Not just any dude though, but me, a guy that’s been on no less than ten dates and had sex before. It was cool.
Speaking of sex, here’s today’s question. It comes to us from Accidentally Racy:
I’m enjoying reading your advice and figure getting a guy’s prospective is going to be way more efficient than my girlfriends’. So, here goes. I had a first date with this guy that lasted 7 hours because we had this amazing connection and couldn’t stop talking with each other about everything from the little things to the deeper subjects; we also ate dinner and bowled. We kissed a lot at the end, and I went home. The next day, he invited me to his place to ride his motorcycle, listen to him serenade me with his guitar and voice, and “watch a movie”. Watching a movie led to kissing which led to sex.
Having sex on a 2nd date is a big no-no in my book, but it just happened as these things do. We talked on the phone for an hour the next day and all seemed well. I went over there again on Wednesday, and he seemed distant. I haven’t heard from him today, and I am afraid that now that I have “given the milk for free” way too soon, I may have screwed up my chance at something real. So, my question is, if you as a guy share a deep connection with a girl and then sleep with her on the 2nd date, is the girl no longer relationship material? Is there anything that I can do to turn the odds in my favor at this point? Any insight would be appreciated.
Dear Accidentally Racy,
Let me first say that in general, each gender views casual sex in a different light:
Men – “Had sex, all is well.”
Women – “Had sex, now what?”
That is definitely not a hard and fast (hehe. pun.) rule. There are a lot of dudes out there that attach emotions to each sexual encounter (sheepishly raises hand) and a lot of women that don’t (slyly peeks to see if any girls raise their hand) but on the broad spectrum, men can walk away from sex and women want to know “What’s next?” Why?
Because you are the gatekeeper, am I the keymaster?
Basically, the penis is Indiana Jones and the vagina is the Holy Grail. Men spend 24.5 hours a day trying to have sex and women are constantly fighting off dicks like they’re being swarmed by bats, so when you finally let one into your cave, you want to know that it’s the right one. Or at least, a decent one. And sometimes it can be really hard to tell, because like I said, guys can get really good at getting sex.
I’m a firm believer in the 10,000 hour rule. That with 10,000 hours of practice, you can be an expert at something. Well with guys trying to have sex, they’ve spent like 100,000 hours doing that. But only during the times that they are awake, or most of the time that they are having REM sleep. Every once in awhile we’ll dream about death, but that’s honestly about sex too.
But we are all different creatures. I don’t think any women want to be thought of as a set of stereotypes to which everyone and abides, and we have to recognize that while each gender certainly has characteristics that would be true with the majority of individuals, we’re all still different. So I wouldn’t want to give the impression that men are lying this way and that way in order to have sex, nor am I saying that your beau was lying to you or pretending to be something so that you’d sleep with him, but it’s certainly possible. Frankly, and this is why I probably have had less success with women than most men, I’d be in your shoes more often than I would be in his. I’ve had very similar encounters, and while I wasn’t super upset about it because of the absolute shortness of those relationships, it certainly makes a person feel like they’re less than.
But you’re not less than. And he might not have been using for sex. Look at it from a macro level and remove sex from the equation and what do you have:
A really good first and second date over a period of no more than 36 hours that simply fizzled out before the carbonation bubbles even hit the surface. Which is ridiculously common.
It’s mostly the sex that’s messing with your head. The idea that you gave up the Holy Grail “for nothing.” That you may have been duped or bamboozled or took a hit to your self-esteem because you thought he was so perfect for you and might have actually found someone worth holding onto for awhile but he possibly doesn’t feel the same way about you. ”What’s wrong with me?” ”What did I do wrong?” “Why can’t he see me how I see him?”
If this is how you’re feeling, if you’re feeling low and used, let me please urge you to cut that out right now. There’s nothing wrong with you, or what you did, or that the time you spent with one-and-done was less-than-fun. You chose to sleep with a guy on the second date because you felt certain in your heart that there would be a third date. A fourth. Hell, a fifth even! And now he’s gone MIA and you wish you could take it all back.
Don’t wish that. Embrace it.
Embrace the two or three days that you could live inside of a Richard Linklater movie. The last time that I really thought I might have found a relationship, rather than just a date or two or someone to makeout with, she turned cold before I did. The texts became short and finally stopped. If we had been out a few times and had always had a good time with each other, then why wouldn’t she want to continue to do that just like I did? What was wrong with me?
Nothing. Nothing was wrong with me. The reasons that other people have for not wanting to see other people just one more time can be many, and it doesn’t mean that there was something wrong with the party that got ditched. That’s like saying that there’s something wrong with the square peg that doesn’t fit in the round hole.
There’s nothing wrong with square pegs. They hold most IKEA furniture together. They’re great!
And if that doesn’t make you feel better, then I can only offer one more piece of advice. A line from John Steinbeck to his son that I keep pounding home over and over again, because whenever I think about the one that got away, I remember this mantra:
“And don’t worry about losing. The important thing is not to hurry- Nothing good ever gets away.”
If this one got away, if he hasn’t returned your calls and has fallen off the map, then he wasn’t the right one. Let him be the right one for a couple of days, let yourself experience the experience, and then learn from it and move on. Every time I think of that last person that “totally should have been a relationship” I remember that nothing good gets away, so therefore she was never going to be more than what we were. That if it was good, then it would be.
But it’s not. And that’s okay too. Let yourself identify with the male gender for a moment and simply take it as a casual encounter and remember that there’s nothing you can do to “turn this in your favor” other than to live today as happy as you can be.
May 13, 2013 § 5 Comments
*the following is the account of one man’s experience with quitting tobacco. it does not reflect the experiences of any other individuals. names have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent.*
I remember my first cigarette, but more importantly, I remember my first dip of chewing tobacco. After all, that’s what set this crazy train in motion to begin with. After spending a good 18 years of my life chiding my own mother for her smoking habits, I suppose it seemed more acceptable to use tobacco as long as I wasn’t smoking it. (Though that’s not entirely true either; sadly I had spent some of my wasted youth riding skateboards around a community college campus on Saturdays and finishing butts with friends. It’s amazing what you think is acceptable when you’re 14. I still wouldn’t kiss me if I were you.)
It was a night like any other, chillin’ out maxin’ with my friends — who were now living in their own places (!!) and we could do whatever we wanted. Which… still isn’t that much when you think about it. At least not when your’e 18 and broke and still unable to legally buy alcohol, not that it’s much of an obstacle to overcome though. I was hanging out with a lot of athletes at the time, of which I am not myself one, but athletes tend to get bored and even the nice ones will dip chewing tobacco because it’s still seen as kind of a masculine way to pass the time. I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to try something once, but the lesson that you can never quite learn any other way besides the hardy way, is that getting “high” is really hard to stop doing because it feels so damn good. And trust me: If you’re 18, had never really gotten lightheaded from tobacco, and putting a giant dip in your mouth (that’s a few letters from an entirely different sentence right there), you will get stoned as f— from chewing tobacco.
A large quantity of nicotine (much larger than your average cigarette) goes directly into your bloodstream all at once. You close your eyes and all of a sudden you can still think about stuff — but your brain is all of a sudden gone. It has to be. Your head is far too light to contain any matter anymore. It’s the most relaxed you’ve ever been, and I can put my hand on the Bible to testify that it never felt that good again but it still kept feeling pretty good.
You don’t all of a sudden become a regular user. You’re aware of the risks and you’re not “one of those guys” so you manage to avoid regular usage. Maybe just once every few days. Then maybe once a day. You’re in control so you buy a can, but just this once because you’re going over to your buddies house tonight and that’s the end of it. Before you know it, you’re lying in a pool of your own vomit — which is littered with chewing tobacco of course — in some strangers backyard without a home, money, your wife left you and took the kids, and your stocks are through the floor.
(Though an extreme exaggeration, I would like to say that the first part of that story is also false… it is not.)
About a year after developing an addiction to chewing tobacco, I went over to a friends house. He was a smoker and had never had “a chaw” while I was a chewer that didn’t care for cigarettes. Then we decided to try each others habits and sure enough, I quit chewing for smoking and he quit smoking for chewing. It was like a wife swap except this is probably less hazardous to your health. And so I smoked, for ten years, and never tried to quit for even a day.
I wouldn’t say that I am typically a weak-willed person. I had a very strong will… a very strong will to never attempt to quit smoking because I was worried I would fail hard. Everybody talks about how difficult it is to quit, that most people fail at their attempts, that it’s harder than quitting heroin and alcohol and Jake Gyllenhaal combined. (I realize that in the movie it’s Gyllenhaal that says it to Heath Ledger, but mixing Ledger with addiction jokes seemed to be in poor taste. Yet ignoring a great Brokeback Mountain joke would have also been a travesty.)
I have known what it’s like to not smoke for say, a day, or even half-a-day, and could feel how hard it would be to do that… forever. Nicotine and your lungs seem to become a single entity once you join them together, like latching on your hair braid to another person’s hair braid or one of those flying creatures except it’s way more real than just 3D. It’s real life. And when you haven’t latched the two together for awhile, there’s simply nothing else you can think about.
But I finally decided to quit on January 13th, and today marks four months without a single puff on a single cigarette. Sure, it was a little difficult at first, but honestly the most important piece of advice on quitting that I could ever pass on is that no craving last for more than five minutes. You do have a lot of cravings at first, like when you wake up in the morning, after you shower, on the way to work, ten minutes after you get to work, just before lunch, lunch, just after lunch, a little bit after just after lunch, with only an hour left to go at work, on the way home from work, when you get home from work, before dinner, dinner, after dinner, just before bed, when you’re in bed, in the middle of the night, etc. But it’s only a few days until it’s only a fraction of those and you start to really break your habits. It’s only a few weeks before I forget that I was ever a smoker. People say “How’s the quitting going?” and my initial reaction is “Oh shit, I used to smoke, huh?”
Ten years of smoking was nearly eradicated from my memory after a few weeks of not smoking. Yeah, I get cravings every now and then, none of which are very strong except perhaps for the one I have right now due to writing about it and remembering that I used to smoke, but it’s not even close to being enough to want to have a cigarette.
When my friends go out to smoke, I have no qualms about waiting for them.
When someone smokes around me, I have no desire to bum one.
All of my past habits associated with smoking, such as drinking and eating, are much better without a cigarette I have learned.
I didn’t even try to quit for a decade of my life because I figured it would be too difficult to imagine a life without smoking. Now I can’t even remember what it was like to be a smoker to begin with. If there’s something (it doesn’t have to be cigarettes) that you have some apprehension about doing, remember that it might not be as hard or as bad as you think, just resist the apprehension to try.
April 23, 2013 § 7 Comments
I’m on that pursuit of happiness. And I know. Everything that shines ain’t always going to be of the gold variety. I will be fine once I get it. Yeah. I will be good.
[dub step reeeeemiixxxxx] wub wub wubbbbwubbwubbbbbb
I have had a few interesting conversations lately about happiness, as well as some important internal reflection in regards to the topic at a time when I was starting to feel unhappy. Let me try and put my thoughts in the correct order now in order to inflict the most happiness onto the brains of you, the reader. It shall feel good for both of us, on this journey to pursue happiness!
Awhile back I was talking to a person, let’s call this person “girl”, and I told girl that talking to her felt like I had little marbles of happiness stored in my brain for safekeeping that would explode magical fairy dust of happiness all into my brain parts. This could be one of several things:
- Chemicals, such as endorphins, being released into my brain
- Aneurysm, or stroke
The likely answer is probably number two, those little guys that show up when you’re “doin’ it” or eating a killer taco that tell you to be happy. I like to think of a billion endolphins swimming through your frontal lobe and all the other lobes.
But the problem with attributing all of our feelings to chemicals and processes in the body and brain is that it doesn’t produce enough endorphins because we’d much rather believe in something bigger! We’d much rather believe in magic, and love, and higher powers that are possessed in ourselves, in our souls, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I want to believe that too. Controlling our emotions is still a power higher than chemicals, and that’s just as important.
“Girl” and I don’t really talk anymore, so the happiness bubbles aren’t popping anymore. This leads to the idea that sadness is the absence of happiness, and that’s not really true either is it?
It’s a really interesting question to ask if you are happy with the person you are today. Well, I wouldn’t say that if I could choose a life that I would have chosen mine. I might go with “The Gos,” Ryan Gosling, or even Topher Grace, but I’d definitely think I would go another route. But then again, would I? I’m not unhappy with the person that I am, and I think that the fact that I have always strived to be something else has molded me into something else already; the characteristics that make up Kenneth, both positive and negative, are all a result of wanting to be something else. I’m perfectly okay with my positive attributes, and it only takes a little bit of light to fill up a lot of dark space.
But then when “girl” goes away, it feels like she takes the light with her. That’s not how it is supposed to work; never give your happiness to anyone. That is your happiness. The happy is always contained within yourself, never give it to anyone, only let other people touch it, not take it. Am I happy? Well, not constantly! But if you always remember that your happiness is a bag of gold that’s kept in your backpocket, and not gold pen that you can only borrow to sign this birthday card and then you have to give it back, then you can never be unhappy for too long.
Happiness is a motion-activated porch light that others can turn on with their presence.
Happiness is your favorite memory with your dad, or butcher. In some cases, these are the same person!
Happiness is your favorite fake memory. I visualize the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl on a regular basis. I have the fantasy on a regular basis, they don’t win the Super Bowl on a regular basis. Yet.
Happiness is the song that makes you believe that anything is possible. Like “The Promise” by When in Rome or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or “I Want It That Way.”
Happiness is the movie with a happy ending, like when you find out that sometimes you actually find a guy in ten days.
But no matter what happiness means to you, always keep in mind where its always resting like a sleeping Andre the Giant (the happiest of giants): Inside of you. People, places, things, and any kind of noun you can think of that bursts glitter bombs of happy into the recesses of your brain (why do you think they call them RECESS?) are always contained within you, not feelings that others get to keep. It’s yours. If you’ve given your happiness to someone else, even if only to borrow, you’ve taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Also yours: Sadness. And it’s an addiction as well, otherwise nothing would be emo!
I used to have this metaphor for my life, that’s not especially uplifting but it is true that sometimes this is how it feels:
Sometimes I feel like I’m on a rowboat in the middle of a dead calm lake without any paddles, and sandbags keep being dumped into the boat, dropping it further and further into the water. And the person dumping in the sandbags is me.
Now I don’t know how it’s physically possible to do this (where am I getting the sandbags from?) but sometimes I feel like I tend to add in sadness on purpose just to feel pity for myself. For every happy place there is a sad dungeon. (Not one of those dungeons with candy and video games, but a sad one without video games and with beets only.) And we hold onto this dungeon, and it’s ours, and you can’t have it because it’s personal – stay away from my dungeon! You don’t get my dungeon!
Why don’t we do that with happiness too?
“I’m chillin’ in my dungeon today because you took away my cotton candy fields.”
Absence of positive isn’t presence of negative. Absence of positive is an opportunity to go in either direction, all you have to do is not choose to go to the dark side but instead stay with Luke and the Ewoks. If you’re thinking about throwing another sandbag into the boat, think instead of cuddling a fuzzy little Ewok. And money can’t buy happiness, but it could possibly allow you to rent a small person and put them in an Ewok outfit and cuddle them for two hours but no kissing. And that would make you pretty happy for awhile.
Talking to “girl” could feel like glitter bombs danced in my head, but “girl” did not place them there, she only elicited an action or feeling. Those pockets are always inside of you, it’s just a matter of knowing how to make them jump instead of sandbagging yourself. Now, show me on the doll where touching makes you happy. Oh, I think I know
March 4, 2013 § 15 Comments
On Saturday morning I got up at around 8 AM in a bad way. (I don’t see this phrase “in a bad way” used a lot so here it is with my first usage of it.) We got superbly hammered on Friday night and I didn’t eat very much so the hangover was especially worse and my cure for any hangover is usually “way too much food” because how much more damage could I do to my body?
I decided on Subway. I went to a Subway that I don’t usually go to because when I started driving I didn’t know where I was going then I said, “Subway b-fast is pretty good actually” and I probably actually said “breakfast” and not the shorter version in my head but I said it shorter there to save time. See how much time I saved? I decided on a six-inch something on flatbread. I don’t remember exactly what but it had egg (yellow) and other things. Use your imagination! I paid for it and left. No, I paid for it and also spend over $4 on a frappacino at the next door Coffee Bean. I’m not good with money or eating habits or drinking habits. So far this story is incredibly unflattering.
It gets worse.
After I demolished that six-inch sub (the size choice of six inches because I decided “I don’t need a whole damn foot of breakfast sub”) I went to a different Subway and ordered another six-inch breakfast sub. Damn it damn it damn it damn it. The first sub was okay, but mostly I was still not feeling well and just wanted to eat more things. I went to the other Subway and ordered a different six-inch breakfast sub. After we were wrapping up (pun) the order, the woman asked me if I wanted coffee or soda. ”No, I’m good” (which is code for, “I would love some more stuff but I’ve spent like $14 already on this random morning breakfast outing”) ’twas my reply. But there’s more she explained:
“Oh but it’s the same price.”
“BWAH!?!?!” because I probably did have an audible freakout over free soda or coffee. But mostly I was concerned that either A) The first Subway did not inform me of a free soda or coffee or B) that one of the Subways was just giving shit away without rhyme or reason. (Or maybe C) Different store policies because this is a franchise, but I just doubt that explanation.) I’m not mad at the first Subway, but I was curious as hell as to what was happened. I had to contact Subway and keep them abreast about the situation and what’s going on with some of their Los Angeles area Subways.
(by the fucking way, when I did a location search for Subways near my zip code, the below image is my result. There are more Subways than there are McDonalds, and holy shit that must be true. This is maybe an example of one square mile…)
It sort of reminds me of what maps will look like when a zombie invasion or virus outbreak happens in the world. ”This is what the country will look like after one hour. /next slide. After 1 day.” and then it keeps growing except in this case it’s just more and more Subways until the whole world is covered in Subways except for the oceans, in which only about 15% are covered with floating Subways.
I sent Subway an email through their website, which I sadly do not have anymore. It was kinda funny but I basically just wanted to know which Subway was right and that the woman at the second Subway did an excellent job of informing me of this free soda, unless there wasn’t supposed to be a free soda in which case reprimand her I guess? I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble!
Oh, the flatbread at both places was also stale and I did not even finish the second sub. This was 75% because it turns out I only need 2 more inches (lol!) of sub to satisfy myself but 25% because the flatbread was so stale that it was sort of like eating a sandwich in which you’ve used cardboard as the slices, which I guess you would call a “Hobo Sandwich” trademark.
Denise at Customer Care sent me this response:
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us.
In order to better assist you, I will need to know the exact location of the SUBWAY® restaurant that you have visited so that our regional office can investigate this properly. Would you please reply by e-mail or by calling me at 1-800-888-4848 ext. 8201 to provide me with a complete address of the location you visited or a nearby landmark. Please refer to the Customer ID listed below when replying.
I appreciate that you took the time and effort to contact us and am looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Fair enough! I was honestly wondering if Subway was going to respond because it had been two days and conglomerates usually have an entire nation of customer care people but then I realize now that it was the weekend and they also get a lot of complaints. I guess I’ve been soured too because I sent Apple an honest-to-God “this is Bullshit!” complaint a little while ago and they ignored me… twice!
I am actually a pretty sweet man to customer service people. Their jobs suck and they’re doing the best they can and it’s not their fault and they can only do so much. So on the phone or whatever I will try and make their day and be a fun-loving customer that’s had a rough interaction with their company. I am not mad at Subway, their reputation for stale bread precedes them anyway, but I decided to have fun with this one. I ended up having maybe too much fun, but could also have an Emmy-award winning show on our hands. Here is my response to Denise:
Hi Denise (that’s my mothers name too!)I looked up the locations on your handy website. Man, you guys have a lot of locations! Not a problem, everybody needs sandwiches and that kind of convenience certainly doesn’t sub me the wrong way.Subway #13028 was the second location. That girl should be given a raise, but I don’t know her name so I guess give all the girls there raises. They’ve always been nice to me. Oh wait, except the flatbread was so hard that I didn’t finish half of it. Keep everyone at the same payscale actually.Subway #13477 was the first location. I think that they should just know “Hey, free drinks!” if there really are free drinks when you order a certain breakfast sub, because that’s a great deal. If it really is a deal, you should be advertising it more. It could go, “Free. Free dollars. Free dollars driiinkkkss! Come on down to Subway and get a free coffee or soda with every sub sandwich purchase before 9 am! Can you believe we’re just giving this stuff away? Tell ‘em Jared” and then Jared comes on and says, “You guys should really just be getting water anyway.” And then McKayla Maroney is all “I’m not impressed, get me a diet coke!” and then the two of them, Jared and McKayla Maroney stand back-to-back with their arms folded and a look like “This guy!” Maybe it could even be a sitcom this fall on NBC? The show could be called “Sub-Standard” and it’s about Jared from Subway and he’s dating McKayla Maroney and he’s always trying to lose weight or gain muscle and do better for her but always falling short and her catchphrase could be like, “Oh brother!” and his catch phrase after she burns him with another mean look will be “I didn’t ask if you wanted it toasted or untoasted!” Is she 18 though? Look, I haven’t thought this all the way through yet, I’m just spitballing. Tell me if you think that will work Denise.Also get back to me about the stale bread I guess, but mostly your thoughts on “Sub-Standard”.Thanks and have a wonderful day!Kenny (writer and creator of Sub-Standard. Also plays the whacky neighbor ”Mr Fundek”)
March 1, 2013 § 4 Comments
I don’t think that I am the first person to ask questions in relation to existentialism. In fact, I know that I am not because I just used the word ‘existentialism’ and I certainly did not just make it up. I don’t think that I am the only person to constantly ask myself questions like “What the hell am I doing here?” and “Why do I have to exist?” and sometimes wishing that I had never existed in the first place so I wouldn’t have to worry about eating too many hamburgers or drinking too much alcohol. My boss wants me to work tomorrow night from 8 PM to 4 AM…
Again, why the hell am I here?
Why do I have to deal with my idiotic boss? Why do I have to go to the gym later? Why do we have water, and air, and fun size Crunch bars, and Lollapalooza, and dinosaur fossils, and World War II, and the word ‘often’, and Push Pops?
It’s such a damn frustrating question, trying to figure out why the hell any of this was brought here, and after billions of years of the universe it doesn’t seem we are any closer to any answers. If most things appear to have a purpose then certainly the biggest thing of all, EVERYTHING, has to have one too, right? But there does not appear to be a logical purpose to the existence of everything we’ve ever known and if the universe was wiped away from existence right at this very second… So what? What would be the loss, really? We don’t know because we really don’t know what we have ever gained. The dinosaurs roamed the Earth for over 150 million years which is like 750 times longer than humans and our ancestors. Or just think about how long modern humans have lived or how long since the start of the industrial age or how long since we’ve had the internet and it’s ridiculous to think about how short our existence has been and if the only purpose of the dinosaurs was to give us oil and the Jurassic Park trilogy after 150,000,000 years of existence then what the hell is the good of us?
I feel like such a pompous ass to even bring up the question as if I could grasp a small fraction of what Kierkegaard or Nietzche could understand, or that even asking “Why do we ask why?” is going to make a damn difference, or that it might look like I would assume that nobody else but me is bothered by these questions (see, I could be making a pompous ass out of u and me) or the age old problem that even bringing it up is rather another exercise in futility… but fuck!
That’s the best that I’ve got. That’s me as a philosopher. And it might not be deep and it might not help anyone, anywhere, any time, but I am just so frustrated that we all must wallow in our existence and not even be given a clue as to WHY? Fuuuuuuuucccckkkkkkk.
In my next example, I don’t want to just say “humanity” because animals deserve answers too. I don’t want to just say “creatures”, because plants deserve answers too. And I don’t want to say just “life”, because inanimate objects deserve answers too and to be honest with you who am I to say there isn’t some life in a star or an ocean or a planet? So I will just say, “STUFF”:
I just wish that STUFF could go on a daytime talk show like Maury and the topic of today’s show is “WHY?”. And then Maury would get to setup the show and play clips of STUFF and WHY and lay out the concept of today’s show.
Maury: Take a look at this.
WHY: I’m gonna be who I be and ain’t nobody gonna tell me that I gotta give ‘em answers.
STUFF: I’m just so frustrated with WHY and I don’t know if I can put up with it anymore. WHY is worse than an out-of-control teen and I need to send WHY to the Answers boot camp.
WHY: I don’t care. /finger wave
STUFF: Maury, please help my teen, WHY.
Maury: Okay, please welcome WHY to the show!
(audience boos and hisses)
WHY: FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!! FUCK YOU!
Maury: Why, everyone wants to know…. Why?
WHY: I’MMA DO WHAT I WANT!
WHY: FUCK YOU!
Maury: Let’s bring out, STUFF.
STUFF: I don’t know if I can take it anymore, Maury. I just need to know WHY.
Maury: WHY, doesn’t that hurt a little? To see STUFF in pain?
WHY: (calmer) I don’t care.
WHY: FUCK YOU!
Maury: Well, WHY, I’ve got a surprise for you. You’re going to ANSWERS camp!
Maury: We’ll be right back, and that’s when you’ll get the ANSWERS!
And then the show goes to commercial break and never comes back.
For Christ’s sake, WHO IS THE FATHER?! Oh, speaking of Christ and father’s, I don’t want to get into a religious debate. This isn’t about religion. But even religion doesn’t actually have answers, it only has a peace of mind but it doesn’t have answers. God created the heavens and the Earth (and other planets too I assume now that we know about other planets and other things, right?) because he was bored and stuff — Cheers was a re-run that day.
The most frustrating part about life is life. The fact that it even is. I spend all day looking around at shit and thinking, “Seriously? Pens?!?!” or ”Oh wow… calenders!” and “What genius came up with cups, am I right?!”
Will we ever get any answers or is it going to be more disappointing than the Architect in the Matrix? Was there ever a purpose or a being or a something that would be around to give us any answers? Do we find out after life? Therein lies the problem with even starting a post like this: They just end.