Day 14/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. muffins
  2.  my brain
  3.  making it through the day

3) Muffins.

It’s a funny little thing. Comfort food.

Do we eat it to feel good or do we eat it because we feel bad? I have noticed a trend with comfort food that I get for myself. It tends to be always a bad idea. Taco Bell, muffins, too much popcorn. Anytime I make comfort food for myself, it tends to be an excuse to wallow in my own sorrow. This may not be true for everyone, but I have noticed time and again that things get really rough whenever I get it for me.

Taco Bell was something I had as a kid. My father would always take me after one of my matches. I couldn’t eat before weighing in or during the meet, but I could eat after. It was quick, it was the only place open after 10pm when I got off, it was the solution. Oh, and I also always lost. So the Taco Bell helped gloss over that.

I didn’t mind losing. I minded losing all the time, but I didn’t mind losing. I was upset because my training montages never looked like what I saw from the movies and television. I was upset that I never looked like them or knew how to even begin. My sensei always said: he never skips push ups. I really hated push ups. Like a lot.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Muffins.

So I never buy comfort food for myself anymore. I try to get it for other people. Or I make it. That way it isn’t for me. It is for other people. I can’t do comfort food for me anymore. The last half dozen times I got Taco Bell I almost put the car through the median. They were really bad days and I don’t think the Taco Bell made them better. Instead, it felt like an acknowledgement that I had been beaten that day. That I wouldn’t get around this funk.

But, when people make or get comfort food for you? That shows somebody cares. I think that is the key to comfort food. It can’t come from you because what we find comforting is the acknowledgement from somebody that another person cares about our well being. This may be just because I am built to hate myself so effing much, but I think there is a kernel of truth there. Comfort can and does come from others taking care of us.

We can build and do that for ourselves, but very rarely is that going to come from consuming unhealth and that very much is what comfort food is. Show me the nut whose comfort food is a kale vegan protein smoothie and I’ll give them my firstborn.

Point being somebody got me muffins and that’s great. Today might even warrant eating them. Who knows? It’s still early where I am when I’m writing this. Things could always change.

Day 13/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. good ideas
  2. an abundance of good ideas
  3. time to write

2) Ever since I was a kid I have loved Tolkien.

Like really loved Tolkien. My father had his first editions that I have worn down to the spine. He has a 10 year anniversary edition that is absolutely stunning. So the family love of Tolkien runs deep.

Tolkien spent his entire life crafting a single story. That story is remarkable.

Growing up, I always wanted to write. I was, shall we say, dissuaded. I blame a number of things: teachers, friends, family, idols 

Really it was me. I dissuaded me. I led me to think I had a single story in me. One that was not nearly as good as Tolkien’s.

So I worked on it. I crafted the hell out of my  story. I worked so long that I never wrote it. I never wrote anything. Part of it was the fear–the very real fear that if I emptied out that story, I would be hollow. There wouldn’t be another story.

I had a new idea the other day.

It wasn’t the second idea I’ve ever had. Or the third. I’ve had dozens of new ideas. The fear still lives in me: what if that is it? What if I never have a new idea again? What if instead of one it’s a limit of five or six or eight?

So I fight the fear with new ideas. I don’t believe in writer’s block.

Day 11/21

Today, 

I am grateful for…

  1. Having somewhere to go
  2. Having a way to get there
  3. Having down time

1) I have a need to flee. 

It is very real and can be deeply upsetting. 

When I’m healthy it translates into wanderlust. When I’m unhealthy it translates into running away. 

When I feel trapped, when it feels like there is nowhere to go and nothing to do: public places, libraries, events, parks (because this is the land of perpetual winter), then there are very few places that I feel I can go. 

When I have nowhere to go: friends, family, etc. I almost always switch to running away. 

Today, I woke up upset, which seems so unfair. 

Fortunately, I had to head into work, spend time with people I like, and then get paid. 

It was a good day. 

Day 10/21

Today, 

I am grateful for…

  1. A vocal email
  2. Dinner with my work people
  3. Bedding down for a night in

1) Today, I received a, shall we say, strongly worded email. 

It was among the first I’ve received. It was based on my blog here. I was very surprised. 

Words, man. Words can send people over the moon or straight into hell. This was leaning toward the latter. 

I was ashamed. I was angry. But, I remembered all of my lessons of the last few weeks:

  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Milo Yiannopolous
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Sam Harris
  • Neil degrasse Tyson
  • Noam Chomsky

How they comport themselves, how they work with words against unimaginable blow back.

I decided to engage. 

I said them you to the vinegar, treating it like spice instead of poison. 

I asked why they felt the way that they did and was genuinely surprised at what they said. 

In the end, I won’t say we were friendly, but we were more neutral. 

It was a place that no one in my support group that we could achieve. It just n means that at this time if polarization we can still find a middle. 

Day 9/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. my endlessly inexhaustible typewriter ribbon
  2. invitations to lunch parties
  3. how easy it is to change a room layout

1) I feel like I don’t talk enough about the weird ones on my list, so I will start to include them a bit more and let’s just talk about the weird one on the list:

My inexhaustible typewriter ribbon!

Guys, guys, …..GUYS!

I bought this ribbon back in March of last year. I have worked through it at least three times now. I have written dozens of letters and it is still going strong.

And…and…AND!!! I still have a back up.

That’s right. There is another roll in its entirety just sitting in my work desk waiting to fill up that bad boy whenever it chooses to lay down and die.

As a guy who is constantly afraid that things are too expensive, won’t last, or of impulse buys that just will not live up to they hype, let me just say…whatever they are charging for typewriter ribbons these days–

It isn’t enough.

Day 8/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. poetry
  2. producing fast, dirty, & cheap
  3. content creators

2) Money. That is what I hear about more than anything else with regards to art. I want to burn it all.

That is what the kids talk about and I hate it. The first thing out of young artists’ mouths is almost always about the budget. It comes out of my colleagues, my peers, my friends, my mentors. I hate it.

Think about ideas, think about your message: Do you need money to tell your story? Would your people have money? What do you need to convey?

The money will follow. Trust that.

I have been producing with almost no budget for years, I’m doing…well I’m not dead and people like my art, so there’s that.

My friend Kira has no budget and doesn’t pay anybody and she is beloved in her market. Shoe-string innovation she calls it. Like Detroit, it is an aesthetic, not poverty.

I write blog posts super fast. I always have, but now I’m consistent. Now, I have a schedule and I try to stick to it. That’s cool. That feels very officious. Some have called it slip shod. Some have called it unpolished.

I don’t mind.

Anyone who produces anything is making ripples. It is better to have made than to wish to produce. So whenever I make a think, it is very important to me. It adds to my body of work. I can look back and say: I made a thing. Look at it. There it is.

I am happy that I have produced as much as I have in my relatively short artistic career. I am happy for the ideas that I continue to produce and the amount of work and goals that I set for myself.

I am happy that I work so hard on so many projects and am fortunate in what I do.

Day 3/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. working heaters
  2. getting up this early
  3. friends who care to drive out & see me

Points 1. & 2. sort of go hand in hand, but I have to pick one…2. I guess…

Getting up this early is significant. It is a big deal.

When you are in a rut–physically/mentally, it is very difficult to overcome, particularly if it rubs up against your sickness in any way.

Depression usually has a quality of lethargy to it. You get tired a lot because your brain can’t seem to distinguish between the threats whether they are real or perceived. You just go and go and go and go and go until you stop and when you stop…you stop hard.

So what does any of this have to do with getting up early?

I have been trying to get up early since I was 18 and I heard that it was common practice for the Dalai Lama. He went to bed at midnight and was up four hours later practicing and praying for loving kindness and healing the world through his example. It is unreal how much compassion this guy has. He blows me away.

I idolize the guy, but I could not for the life of me get up early. At least I couldn’t.

Because of my handicap. Because of my mental illness. See, I spend the majority of my day constantly correcting my social behavior, constantly en garde and on the look out for possible threats. I am constantly afraid that people are going to leave me based on my behavior so I am always policing myself. This becomes infinitely worse in crisis, which usually has to do with my finances or living arrangements. This causes no small amount of anxiety as you may imagine. So I stay up until 3am and don’t wake up until 9am.

This is (relatively speaking) early. I used to wake up at 2pm in the afternoon on weekends or during the summer. My family called it laziness.

But, when I set alarms at 6, 7, 8 & 9 and still somehow manage to sleep till 10/11…well I’m no longer so sure.

A rut is a rut for a reason and when you are unwell, it is difficult to see any way out of it, but some days you wake up at 5:30 with your alarm and remember that everything comes with practice. 

Day 2/21

Today,

I am grateful for…

  1. game nights
  2. having people to send letters to
  3. books to get rid of

# 3: This is an odd one for me. I always assumed happiness was additive.

You see, my father buys everything. “We don’t rent, we own,” which is why my allowance/paychecks always, always, always went to Barnes & Noble not to library fees. I thought I had to own things to be happy. That is why I currently own some 2,000 books. When I was living with other bibliophiles I had that nearly doubled. That still doesn’t account for all of the books still living with my parents. So I have books to burn.

But, if I look at my library, if I really think about how much space it takes up and what a pain it has been to move it (ten times in the last five years alone), I have to say, I was never happier than when I lived on the West Coast and had access to the best libraries. The libraries out on the West Coast are easily the best that I have ever seen. Just floors of stunning art work and mountains of books. All the newest releases, stacks of back catalogs, just dripping with availability. I had two library cards based on where I was living and had access to something like a million titles.

I preferred living on campus without any of my books. When I was in undergrad and living in my dormitory, all I had room for was a tiny little book shelf, which could only hold a handful of items (all of them spiritual in nature) and a bed, which I put on the floor, and a desk, which I eventually got rid of.  Instead of having access to my ever-expanding library, I read whatever I came across. Having moved a bunch, the need for books has substantially dwindled. I get demoralized thinking about packing them up and moving those heavy ass boxes.

However, having access to books is sheer joy. I love and need books and stories, but I think I prefer libraries. Having access to books through libraries is one of the single greatest inventions of mankind. Whenever I hear that a library is closing or needs funds, I get rationally angry. Because they provide so many useful services. They are the benchmark for every great civilization all the way to Alexandria.

If you pressed me, I must say, Detroit does not have good libraries. I strongly consider moving somewhere that has really nice libraries on an almost daily basis. So long as I live in Detroit, I fear that I won’t be able to get rid of my books simply because my library is so much nicer.

But, that means that I have lots that I can give away. Sure, I can be mad about the “wasted” money that could have gone into an IRA or 401k, but I also had a lot of adventure and became the best at what I do thanks to those purchases. So I’m grateful. Does anyone want a book?