October 11, 2013 § 2 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.
February 11, 2013 § 6 Comments
This article won’t attempt to answer too many important questions or anything.
I found myself trapped in another internet rabbit hole on Sunday, back to the “Universal Drawing Board” of trying to gain a better understanding of the vast blackness and spots of light that surround us. I will never actually understand it of course, but we can always understand it better and I don’t think there’s really any point in doing anything else right now as a species. Because in the long run, the only way for humans to survive the demise of Earth (perhaps sometime in the future when the Sun becomes a Red Dwarf and says “It’s gettin’ hot in here, so consume the f***ing Earth!” billions of years from now) is to escape Earth. Stephen Hawking basically says that the escape from Earth is going to happen and to not even worry about Red Dwarves, since we’re doing an awesome job of killing ourselves.
But even if we managed to survive the death of Earth and survive a galactic road trip with our families to colonize another planet, whether it’s Mars or an extrasolar planet, we’ve still got to deal with things like the Milky Way colliding with the Andromeda Galaxy in 4 billion years or just the fact that the Universe itself will one day die out, even if it’s trillions of years from now and even if we think it’s improbable to see humans survive it. However, even though humans may not make it even another billion years in this universe, it doesn’t mean that we might not be able to leave the universe. String theorists hypothesize that we live in a multiverse, which is more like being the Russian doll inside of the Russian doll inside of the Russian doll and so on and so on forever. Michio Kaku, who you might know as “The Asian guy that is literally the guest talking head in every single documentary special about space”, talks a great deal about the simple things that make up the universe and our planet and how we got here in this video. It’s worth your time.
I’ll wait the 42 minutes until you come back.
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? I wonder what I was doing in that 42 minutes in my life while you were watching the video. Probably nothing that important. Probably not getting closer to helping anyone find out what dark matter is. Probably- Hey look, Chris Brown is on the Grammys.
Because despite how important it is to find out how to get from here to the next solar system at warp speed, or how we could possibly create a wormhole (which is sort of like Alice’s “Wonderland Rabbit Hole” that got me here in the first place) to find other dimensions (and pray that it’s not like the dimension crossover we saw in The Mist) we would much rather read 50 Shades of Grey. Or watch Real Chopped Champions of Macon County: SVU. Or give an award to Rihanna for “singing good and stuff”. And many other countless things that don’t matter. Is it wrong? Well, not necessarily and I am as guilty as anyone else. But we should still recognize just exactly what entertainment is:
Entertainment is how dumber people cope with the boredom of being helpless to advance humanity.
Not to say that most of us are necessarily stupid, because I wouldn’t want to sit here and tell you that I am an idiot, but I’m certainly a lot stupider than Kaku. Or Hawking. Or Newton and Galileo and Einstein and a very large number of people that have done something important for humanity even though those names make up a minuscule percentage of people that have ever lived. You must understand that literally anyone can have an impact on, or effect the very fate of, humanity. From me to you to Abraham Lincoln, but only a few of us make important changes directly. It took us until Christmas Day of 1642 A.D. to get Isaac Newton, some 200,000 years since the first known homo sapiens, some millions of years since we could trace back to our original ancestors, some
6,000 4.5 billion years since we got this planet, and then finally we got the guy that defined the basis for modern physics. That set the stage for what could finally get us off of the planet. And yet every domino during that 4.5 billion years still played a role, whether minor or major, in giving us Newton and then without Newton, we wouldn’t have the other geniuses that got us to the moon and continue to travel deeper and deeper into space. The people that are doing important things for the rest of us, while we sit here and think of new ways to keep ourselves busy – whether it’s Arrested Development or a Carly Rae Jepsen concert (does she do concerts or only YouTube videos? Who is Carly Rae Jepsen?) - for hopefully another billion+ years.
Ummm… Thanks, guys! (And girls. I’m using “guys” in the general sense here.)
Unfortunately for many of us, we are left with so many unanswered questions. Not only are they unanswered but we are helpless to find the answers. Because we’re too stupid or too lazy or too overwhelmed by the question itself. It’s not an insult, we’re talking about questions like “Is there intelligent life on other planets?” and “Is there a God?” You almost certainly should not know the answer to those questions, and if you do, please use the contact button on this website to tell me or send me a DM on Twitter! I’d really like to know, thanks. :)
Having these questions is sort of like spending every day of your life feeling like you’re a bird even though you are a human. That nature is telling you that you MUST walk outside, spread your arms, and fly above the clouds because it’s what you are meant to do. Except that you can’t. Because you’re a human. You can not fly and naturally, you likely never will. At least, not without some help. Maybe one day you’ll invent a metal box that does put you in the air and allow you to travel in the skies or perhaps even into space. A workaround, if you will, but an accomplishment of the urge given to you by nature. There’s still hope yet that we can find intelligent life, cross
swords universes, fold space, and maybe even travel through time. I might not be the one to answer any of the questions but perhaps we all play some small part in that and I know I still have so much left to ask.
Is there life on other planets? Yes. Hell yes. By definition a theory is not a fact if it’s wrong even once. In this case, I actually have zero facts to support the theory that there are alien lifeforms. But Jesus, man, there has to be. There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone. There could be 100 billion galaxies. Who cares about doing the math at this point, that’s just “a lot” of planets. Some will support life. In fact, some may not even have any reasonable reason to support life according to the life-supporting features that we are used to on Earth (water, oxygen, McDonalds) but actually might support some other kind of lifeform. Even here on this planet there are species that should not survive but do anyway, called extremophiles. A Tardigrade is a polyextremophile that lives right here on Earth and can survive: Subzero temperatures, boiling temperatures, all kinds of radiation, can go 10 years without food or water, pressures deeper than our deepest oceans and yes… they could live in the vacuum of space.
We might look at a gas planet like Jupiter and think it doesn’t support life but like hell that I’d be surprised if you told me that there were mole people in the middle just livin’ it up! It’s even easier to imagine that there could be life under the icy surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Or on Mars. Or on Titan, a moon of Saturn. If we can find just one other place in the solar system where any kind of life existed, we know that life on Earth wasn’t a freak occurrence.
So is there life out there? Yeah, I think so. Is there intelligent life out there? I would like to think so. One of the only problems with that, whether or not there are people like us out there in the Uni, is that we are rather young. The Big Bang happened some 9 billion years before Earth formed, twice as long as Earth has been around itself. Meaning that Earth has been around for only like 33% of how long the universe has been around and yet other planets, solar systems, and galaxies have been around for plenty of time to have bred a human-like species of intelligent life and theoretically, those people would have had the same questions about life that we do. They would have eventually wanted to meet other intelligent beings and they should be more advanced than us. Possibly to the point where they have everything we ever dreamed of and so much more. It’s conceivable that if humans could travel outside of the solar system within 100 years, or even 1000, that other intelligent beings would have already done so since they could have a head start of 1,000,000,000 years or more.
So where are they?
We couldn’t possibly be the first right? Are UFOs real? Is Ancient Aliens real? Are humans themselves the aliens? Did the aliens find that it was a bad idea to contact other lifeforms? Are we really the smartest people in the Universe*, or at least, the galaxy? Please tell me that the smartest lifeforms in the galaxy aren’t also responsible for Honey Boo Boo. As you can see, even one question, like the one about life on other planets, just becomes its own “multiverse” of questions. An infinite amount of more questions we must ask, like the child that just says “Why? Why? Why?”
*It simply does not compute that we could be the most intelligent life forms in even our own area code of the Milky Way. You realize that we are failing right? It makes perfect sense that the biggest cancer killer of Americans is actually the one we knowingly do to ourselves: Lung cancer. I mean, I smoked for ten years before quitting (still going strong) and I can tell you first-hand that there is absolutely no point in smoking despite the fact that it kills 150,000+ Americans every year. You could say that “God” gives you every other kind of cancer, and yes also sometimes cancer of the lungs, but most of it is us just saying “F*** it!” because “you’re going to die anyway.” And so goes the human race, killing the Earth at a faster rate every single day because it’s going to die anyway too. Hell-to-the-no are we the smartest beings in the M.W. Galaxy and if we are, God help us all.
And so we are left with exploring other possibilities about why we have no record of being contacted by aliens, and then if you subscribe to something like ancient aliens or Roswell, you are branded as a fool. Hey, don’t lump every believer in aliens in with this guy:
I don’t know if we have been contacted by aliens but based on the mathematical evidence of how many planets there must be out there, shouldn’t we consider it? I find it interesting that we can know how ridiculously large the universe is, that it’s packed with amazing images like different nebula that you would swear aren’t real pictures but in fact is an actual photo*, that we can live and breathe and think and have no idea why or how we are all here, that the Earth is just one of many literal miracles, and yet thinking that maybe aliens came and chilled on the planet some 50,000 or 50,000,000 years ago or something and then moved on makes you a crazy person. If you equated the history of Earth to a 24-hour day, the time that humans were alive would be the last few seconds. What’s to say that aliens haven’t come by a bunch of times but just not in the time that we were either A) here or B) had video cameras rolling?
*Crap, look how crazy the Ant Nebula is:
If we stopped and thought intelligently for a moment, it would be so blatantly obvious to us that we aren’t the only intelligent ones out there. Hell, we are really only intelligent relative to other Earth species. Our Sun is big as hell – to us. It’s more like a medium-sized star relative to other stars. For all we know, Earth Humans are the Honey Boo Boo’s of the galaxy. Maybe we haven’t been visited by aliens because they are too embarrassed to be seen with us. And could we even blame them? Do you go hang out at the house of the neighbor that doesn’t mow his lawn for 10 years and has two cars on blocks in the front yard?
I didn’t think so.
Which is another good reason that we need to be spending all of our energy on finding a way out of our solar system and being able to reach other Earth-like planets in our relative neighborhood. It’s the only way for humanity to survive (if it even should) and possibly get the answers we’ve been seeking for the entirety of our existence. Maybe even the answer to the most important question: Why are we here? Luckily, while us stupid people bet on the Oscars every year, there are people working to find the answers and possibly escape the solar system.
The James Webb Telescope replaces the Hubble in about 2018, nearly 22 years after the project was set in motion during the Clinton administration. (Unfortunately, important change takes time but we have to start somewhere, sometime.) The Hubble’s successor (which is 100x more powerful than the Hubble, the most powerful telescope we had ever invented) will hopefully answer many questions about the formation of the galaxies, planets, stars, and life. It will be positioned so far from Earth that we won’t even be able to service it and it may only last 5 years before breaking down, but it will be phenomenally important to understanding ourselves and our galaxy. And yes, this shit is coming while you are probably still alive. Amazing things should be known in the next 5-10 years. That’s not all. The ATLAST telescope is even more impressive.
ATLAST (Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope) is Hubble 3.0 and it has one specific mission: Find life on other planets. That’s a sick freakin’ mission. Though it is still in the conceptual stages, a potential 16-meter telescope sent out into space could photograph more planets than you could ever believe possible. The hope is to have ATLAST out there “at last” between 2025-2035. Just imagine if you gave birth to a baby boy today, he might only be 12 or 13 when we found out that there was life on other planets. Even if the concept of sending a giant 16-meter telescope millions of miles into space to see light years away and take voyeuristic naked photos of aliens in only 15 years sounded “stupidly ridick” to you right now, try telling a computer technician in 1965 that you carry a computer in your pocket that’s 1000x more powerful than the one that takes up an entire floor of his office building.
Technology doesn’t advance at a steady rate, it advances exponentially. That’s why it took thousands of years to get from point a to point b and yet it took like ten years or less to go from “everyone finally has a cell phone” to “literally nobody is looking at each other anymore because they’ve got mini-computers – that I guess also have a talking function? – in their hands 24/7.” We will probably have a mission to Mars in the mid-2030s and it might actually happen after we have found life on other planets. (Though it’s a longshot to happen that soon. James Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2007, not 2018. It also went from a $300 million project to an $8 billion project. Damn “inflation.”) To go from Hubble 1 to Hubble 2 to Hubble 3 and possibly Hubble 4 someday, it’s incredible to think about how advanced that technology could be. A large scale technological advancement version of going from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad. Would you have believed that the original iPod could someday be a grandmother of the iPad?
Just imagine if instead of spending any money on wars, humans spent taxpayer money on space exploration. Just to think that if we could stop spending a single cent on crime prevention, we could funnel all that money into education. Of course, that’s an “insane” idea, right?
And still, after billions of years of the development of Earth, planetary species, and homo sapiens, you might actually be living at a very exciting time where many questions once thought “unanswerable” will be answered. We’ve already had the Large Hadron Collider possibly find a Higgs Boson particle that could answer many questions we’ve had for a long time. The Kepler Mission is deep in space looking for (and finding a ton of) new planets. We could possibly learn hundreds of answers to how our galaxy and universe was created with the launching of James Webb. Maybe eight years later we will launch the device that takes pictures of aliens. Shortly after that we might be walking on Mars. Maybe within your lifetime we will even be planting the seeds of true space colonization or other “science fiction” concepts like time travel and teleportation. Black holes were “science fiction” not too long ago and many “crazy” ideas were born out of some truth.
I have to believe that anything is possible just based on everything I’ve already just mentioned on how amazing and complex the universe and life really is. At some points in my life I find it impossible that a scientist could ever believe in the existence of God, while at other times I find it even more unbelievable that he couldn’t. Most of us are just lucky to be observers and have the answers given to us by the genius few. We have had certain questions for millennia that might actually be cleared up within our lifetime, but those answers will probably still only lead to more questions. That’s actually a good thing because what’s the point of being alive if you don’t have any questions?
Even if most of us are just biding time with stupid entertainment because we don’t have anything better to do, I know for a fact that we are all still bound by the same curiosities and quest for true Universal Knowledge.
It’s funny that during my Rabbit Hole vacation, I also came across a Tumblr site that is just photos of “Awesome People Hanging Out.” Random famous people that were photographed together. I started to look at the “Notes” section under each photo that shows you how many people commented or reblogged the photo. Some were as low as 600 “notes” and others might get as high as 3000. That’s a lot of people sharing a photo. And then all of a sudden I saw one photo that dwarfed all the rest as if they were non-descript asteroids orbiting a massive star. The fact that this photo had over 81,000 notes gave me so much hope in humanity at that moment that even if most of us are relatively stupid, and even if we want nothing more than to be mindlessly entertained because of the boredom of living a dull life, we still respect the hell out of the grand quest to understand this universe and just what the hell we are doing here. We are mostly just the drones, but we thank and admire the people that have helped get us from a planetary creation 4.5 billion years ago to sitting in front of our TVs or computers today. These 81,000 notes were proof that most of us all just want answers and respect the hell out of the Newtons, the Einsteins, and even some of our modern day scientific heroes – specifically the ones that have married science and entertainment. We know you geniuses are still out there, and we support your everyday mission for knowledge.
81,000 notes on Awesome People Hanging Out is my proof:
Now, can we please stop killing ourselves?
January 16, 2013 § 13 Comments
I never talk about this, I suppose because most smokers have been taught to be ashamed of themselves, but indeed I do smoke cigarettes. Oh how funny it is when society takes a turn and all of a sudden just about any arbitrary activity can be seen as shameful. It’s not like I think that smoking is good for you or that you should blow smoke into people’s faces, but watch an episode of Mad Men and tell me that we haven’t changed our views on the whole activity just slightly. It seems like you could have lit up a Lucky Strike, picked up your friend’s newborn baby and blown a big puff of fresh, wholesome Lucky smoke into it’s lucky face and said “Beautiful little son of a bitch you got here, John” in 1960 and nobody would have batted an eyelash. Now you can’t sneak into your own bathroom, crack a window, and take quick little puffs of a cigarette, blowing them out the window as to not disturb anyone within a 500-foot radius, and still someone will walk by and notice the tiny smoke puffs (like it’s Indian in the Cupboard) and scream, “YOU’RE FUCKING KILLING ALL OF US YOU SCUMBAG!!!!!”
Though I am pretty sure that in that time, the cigarettes have not changed nearly as much as we have. Yes, I smoke. No, I don’t think that I am a piece of shit for it.
However, it’s not like I don’t want to quit or that I can’t see the benefits of finally letting go of cigarettes. I recently turned 30, which comes with a whole slew of philosophical questions about life, so I feel like it might be okay to let myself have a “smoking phase” in my twenties and leave it there.* In addition to the “must live longer” issue, I also know that as a single man at this age, I can’t be giving the opposite sex any more of a reason not to date me. Sure, if I was Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Harry Connick Jr., go ahead and light up or even develop a heroin addiction for all anyone cares, you won’t have a hard time attracting women. As a 30-year-old that still buys Lunchables from time-to-time, I don’t think that “By the way, I also smoke in addition to all these other many faults you see” is doing me any favors. Maybe I am fat, maybe I need to grow up, maybe I will insist that we watch all of the Friday the 13ths this weekend, but at least I don’t smoke! It also wouldn’t hurt to save a little cash, since we all know that it really adds up to a lot of cash in the long run.
*One thing that always stuck with me as a kid was a scene in the movie Angels in the Outfield. Plot: There are Angels in the outfield of the California Angels and they are helping the Angels win by cheating. A) What a coincidence. B) Really God? You probably don’t give a shit about PED use either I am guessing. But what did stick out to me was that Tony Danza was a baseball player that used to smoke (or maybe chew?) and at the end of the movie *Spoiler alert for a movie from 20 years ago* he was going to die soon of cancer. The little boy asks Christopher Lloyd “Why does he have to die? He quit!” but Doc just says that it was too little too late. That scared the hell out of me, like you couldn’t ever smoke or else you would die. It didn’t eventually stop me from smoking years later, because I eventually found out that there aren’t angels that help teams win baseball games (except for maybe with the 2012 Orioles) but it did stick with me. And yes, quitting will indeed add years to your life no matter what Christopher Lloyd says.
I did manage to avoid smoking until I was 20 though, which statistically should have put me in the clear, but numbers always have exceptions. I grew up chastising my own mother for smoking, vowed to never do it, but I guess I’m a smoker and a person that lies to himself. It actually wasn’t even cigarettes that did me in.
A friend asked me if I wanted a dip at a party shortly after high school. Smoking was bad but chewing tobacco? Baseball players do chewing tobacco and are also great baseball players! I decided to go ahead and up my fastball speed and hand-eye coordination and take a dip of mint Skoal. You know in movies where someone smokes weed for the first time and then all of a sudden gets dizzy and falls into a couch while Magic Carpet Ride plays? That’s exactly what your first dip feels like. I have never done any hard drugs like heroine, but I honestly feel like your first real dip-high like that is a preview. I mean, it was clearly enough to get me hooked on nicotine and tobacco for ten years.
At one point I was regularly buying Skoal and dipping. I went over to a friends house, and this friend smoked cigarettes. We decided, “here you try this and I try that” and wouldn’t you know it; he became addicted to the chaw and I became addicted to the cigarettes. I was not really into leaving gross bottles or cups full of chaw spit around anymore or even having to look at them, so even if it makes you smell bad, I switched to cigs and have stuck that way ever since.
I started smoking when I was 20, what would finally be the catalyst to make me quit at 30? Disaster.
I first started rooting for the Seattle Seahawks when I was probably 14 or 15. That makes me a bit of a late bloomer, but the truth is that my dad just wasn’t around very much. By the time I was old enough to develop memories, I probably saw him about once a year and frankly, that’s just not enough time to go to ball games. (I do have a game book from a 1987(?) pre-season game between the Lions and the Seahawks that says “Kenny’s first football game” on the front cover in my dad’s handwriting, but I have no recollection of the actual event. At least I know what my first football game was, I guess.) So I never had anyone around every day that was like “Hey kid, let’s watch the Mariners or the Seahawks or the Sonics.”
But I have vague memories of taking action on my own to follow the Sonics and Mariners just when they were starting to get good in the early-to-mid 90′s. First the Sonics with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and then the 1995 Mariners and their miracle run to the ALCS. Now sports were filling a void in my life, giving me adrenaline thrills. You become addicted to the highs and the lows. Yes, you even get addicted to the lows. Hey, I am a Seattle fan, I wouldn’t still be here if I wasn’t okay with feeling low.
But sports allow you to feel something, no matter what that something is. It’s camaraderie. It’ happiness. It’s pain. It’s reliability. Dave Niehaus called almost every single Mariners baseball game until his death in 2010. That’s why so many people cried sincere tears of grief when he passed away. This wasn’t just a guy that called baseball games, this was a voice we heard 162 times a year and maybe a few more if we were lucky. We were raised on Niehaus. Same as when the Sonics were taken away in 2008. To some of us, sports are more than just sports.
Sports are family. The teams, the players, the announcers, the coaches, the fans. ”Hey, I don’t know you but we share a love of something special so I kind of know you and I’ll fight with you.” Didn’t see your dad much growing up? Don’t worry, here are some sports!
The Seahawks were a team I started to pay more and more attention to around 1997 after they got Warren Moon and since then, it’s like they are Sonny and I am Cher. Do you believe in life after losing in the playoffs? Sometimes that bond is for my benefit, sometimes to my detriment, but I think this week I am going to make those two outcomes be one in the same.
Why can’t I just turn my detriment into a benefit? Into a real benefit that could keep me alive longer and make the quality of life a little better? Seems like a decent plan to me.
You see, the Seahawks lost their playoff game on Sunday and it really put me into a funk. I know how this would sound to someone that didn’t see the appeal of sports, but I have immersed my life into Seattle over the last two years as I work on my writing career. Almost every moment of every day is dedicated to the Seahawks and I really thought that this might be their year. I wasn’t prepared for a heartbreaking (oh, it was so heartbreaking) loss and it sent me into said depression.
All of a sudden I realized that I hadn’t smoke in two days. It was then that I decided that if I was going to feel so crappy about this, I might as well do like Bradley Cooper and break out my silver linings playbook.
Just because something bad happens in our life, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do something to make the negative moment be a positive one. Yes, shutting the doors and opening windows and all that… whatever. This isn’t a cliche or a metaphor, it’s just trying to cope once again with something shitty that happens your life. Many shitty things will happen but we can also look back one day and say, “Damn, that shitty thing saved my life.”
I won’t pretend to have officially quit smoking forever though. It’s only been 3 days. I’m going to do the best I can. Here is what I have already done in 3 days without cigarettes:
- 20 minutes: the benefits of quitting smoking start immediately. After 20 minutes of Quitting smoking, a person’s pulse and blood pressure returns to normal.
- 8 hours: After 8 hours of quitting, a person’s oxygen level returns to normal while his carbon monoxide and nicotine level in the blood is reduced to half.
- 24 hours: Within 24 hours, the smokers lung starts to clear out smoking debris and mucous and carbon monoxide will be eliminated from the body.
- 48 hours: After 48 hours, a person’s ability to smell and taste is improved as all the nicotine leaves the body.
- 72 hours: Within 72 hours, a person will be able to breathe more easily as by that time, Bronchial tubes have begun to relax and energy levels have increased.
No wonder everyone is commenting on my sparkling bronchial tubes today!
In the last ten years, I have never once tried to quit smoking. I honestly might already be at the longest I’ve gone without a cigarette since I started. I don’t really feel anything special at this time, the desire to smoke certainly pops up every five minutes and I woke up at 3 AM this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, but other than that everything is normal! I really don’t know how the following days and weeks are going to be, but from everything I have heard, the first four weeks are the hardest. All I know right now is that very few things were as hard as watching my beloved Seahawks lose in the playoffs and I made it through that.
If I can make it through this, if I can let go of nicotine forever, maybe in a small way (never all the way) that loss will be worth it. Then I will have one less thing to be ashamed of.*
*Leaving me with only 4,316 other things to be ashamed of.