At the Risk of Trying Too Hard

This is supposed to be a funny blog. It’s also supposed to be a blog about what’s on my mind at the moment. Most of the time I can reconcile the two fairly easily. Not today.

For me, Memorial Day is a source of depression going back decades. This has nothing to do with military service, and I certainly don’t mean to belittle the holiday’s meaning by dwelling on myself. Still, personal history weighs heavy on my mind.

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And as with any other artistic endeavor, trying too hard at humor often leads to disaster.
Image credit: ponyboy-draws

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My Soundtrack, Part 286 of 645,291

It’s a holiday weekend, and frankly I’m more interested in going to WebMD to find out why the pain in my right side came back than in posting crap here. The pain very similar to what I had after I fell in February, but I haven’t fallen recently.

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It’ll probably tell me I have scurvy-related SARS or something. I know. But it would be nice to sleep.
Image credit: Kevin Trotman

So tonight I’m re-posting one of those “soundtrack of my life” lists as inspired by a bipolar message board I’m on. More after the break, y’all.

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Spring Cleaning, SB Style!

With the notable exception of laundry, I’m about as domestic as the Bhagavad Gita (or, if you’re reading this in India, Omaha Steaks). When cleaning is done around here, it’s on a piecemeal basis.

I’ve written in the past about my allergies. Possibly because this is the first spring in several years I’ve lived with multiple cats, they’ve been brutal. There are days when they’re utterly incapacitating. Curiously, Boise is ostensibly one of the best cities for allergies in the country. You know what I think about that?

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You’re supposed to measure the allergens, not smoke them.

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Electing for Obscurity

It was election day in Boise today. Seriously. Three Greater Boise Auditorium District board seats were up for grabs. As you can imagine, it was a heated campaign.

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You practically had to fight your way to the polls.
Image credit: momboleum

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Bulge? I’ve Got Yer Bastogne Right Here!

There’s nothing quite like receiving a nasty surprise at the doctor’s office.

One of the nasty side effects of depression is weight gain. Since you don’t want to do anything, you don’t do anything. Since not doing anything means not getting exercise … well, you get the idea. Continue reading

When Did I Turn Into a Hippie?

Like virtually everyone else in this world, I’ve held a few workaday type jobs in my day. I’ve been fired a couple times. I’ve been promoted a couple times. I have a fair amount of experience in management and such. On paper I have to say my resume looks pretty damn good.

The problem is I honestly think I couldn’t hold a job like that anymore, at least not for any significant period of time. I’d much rather work for myself doing something I love, such as writing and publishing. Also, being bipolar means it’s not a question of if I use all my sick days, but when. Accordingly I haven’t had such a job for nearly two years now.

If you’ve seen the “About” page here, you know that I have an LLC. I set it up with the thought of becoming a book publisher. Eventually I’d like to make that happen, but being sick with bipolar disorder effectively ground that process to a halt. As a result the business became more about writing Wikipedia articles, which I don’t do anymore.

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Why? Because dealing with Wikipedia is like trying to get a rabid wolverine through Chinese customs.

I’ve thought about going back into insurance, or some other type of sales job, or even participating in one of those MLM things. Unfortunately, I’m simply not cut out for that sort of work. After years of denial, I’ve come to the horrible conclusion that I’m fundamentally one of those artsy-fartsy types.

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But without the patchouli oil. That stuff is nasty.

That said, instead of resigning myself to a life of shopping at thrift stores so I can save enough to go to Burning Man – which really isn’t my thing, either – I need to reconcile who I am with economic reality. This is not to say I’m trying to avoid working. Absolutely not. Ambition is alive and well here at the Command Center.

I suppose until I put a plan together, I’ll have to be content with providing y’all with your daily dose of snark and cynicism. You’re welcome.

But hey, if you have any ideas, you know how to contact me.

Sans Pants (Again)

A few weeks ago I mentioned I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to laundry. It’s my sole domestic quality. Being a divorced bachelor and all, I occasionally wash all my pants at the same time, leaving me with, um, no pants to wear.

Today is one of those days.

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I’ll spare you further imagery.
Image credit: Stuart Chalmers

An occasional lack of clean pants at the Command Center stems primarily from two circumstances. For one, like many men I almost never go clothes shopping. Since I was separated in late 2008 I can count the times I went on one hand. One of those times was a few months ago in Portland when I found myself without a belt.

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How the hell did this happen? Your guess is as good as mine.

The second, and more disquieting, reason is my weight. For most of my adult life I wore a 38 waist. Accordingly all of my slacks and suit pants have a 38 waist. The problem is over the last year or so I’ve expanded to a solid 40. The 38s simply don’t fit anymore. That leaves me with four viable pairs of pants at present, all jeans.

Yeah, yeah. “Go to the gym.” Easy for you to say. Recently because of my bipolar and other factors, getting up by 5 pm has become something of an accomplishment. It’s not that I don’t want to (no, really). It’s just that I haven’t been able to.

Besides, without pants even simple tasks like getting the mail become … shall we say, problematic.

Contemplating the Nihil

Saturday evening, 10 pm. Due to a bad bipolar day I’ve done exactly jack shit today. As of this writing I’m eating my first meal of the day: chicken nuggets with ranch.

In other words, I have …

“Stupid! You so stupid!”

As I suggested last weekend, I’m seriously considering making SB a strictly Monday through Friday venture. Today, well … today I gave myself a swift kick in the ass in that direction. Another craptacular post like this will seal the deal.

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I’m just about to this level of futility myself
Image credit:
The Trentonian

Perhaps it’s time to watch Weird Al Yankovic’s masterpiece UHF again. I just need to forget Victoria Jackson is in it.

Resetting the Circadian Rhythm

For years my sleep schedule has been off. Every few months or so, it gets so FUBAR I find it difficult to function during daylight hours in any capacity. I’ve found the best remedy for this is to stay up all night and as much as possible the next day, completing tasks as I go. When I was in college I occasionally extended these “reset” sessions to 60 hours, but I can’t do that anymore.

Well, the time has come to make it happen. Again. My agenda before any thought of sleep is as follows:

– Take care of the daily SB post. If you’re reading this, check.
– Stay up until at least 11 am.
– Call the paramedics and answer their questions about my head injury.
– Pick up a prescription and get some stuff at the supermarket.

That’s it. It may not sound like much, and frankly it isn’t. But when you’re bipolar and on the down side like I am right now, it’s a busy day. I don’t want to let any of this go until Tuesday, y’all. If I let myself sleep until 5 pm again, it probably will.

With that in mind, here’s the timeline of the previous night … and the day. Yup, this entry is going to be even more stream of consciousness than usual.

12:52 am

Caffeine plays a major role in these resets. I have some Cherry Coke, but soda doesn’t really do the job. Nope, this calls for a hot caffeinated drink, and lots of it. My caffeine of choice for a situation like this is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee.

Unfortunately, I’m out of Peet’s. The only coffee I have in the Command Center at the moment is a contemptuously cheap, obnoxiously bitter store brand “100% Colombian” blend I unwisely bought a couple years ago. Juan Valdez’s goat wouldn’t touch this stuff.

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And it’s seriously expired too. Score.

Well, I guess I’d better try tea. I know I have some of that around here somewhere ….

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Dammit.

Next attempt, an unopened box of Fred Meyer Tea Bags. The date stamp was very faint, too faint to photograph. I think it said … “BESTBY AUG2606.” Holy shit, I haven’t even been on my own that long. That’s bad even by my standards.

One more shot: the Red Rose Earl Grey.

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Qapla’!

A truly embarrassing trip to Jackson’s avoided, I press on.

2:27 am

On my third cup of Earl Grey, I began playing Civilization IV: Warlords, which is a great way to kill a few hours. With my Pandora app up, it’s time for some empire-building. Yes, I’m well aware there’s a Civilization V and has been for several years. I’m not much of a gamer.

7:24 am

Wow, that worked better than I expected. These Civ IV games eat up time, but rarely last five freakin’ hours. I won. Then again, I always play on the easiest setting because I’m a wanker like that. Ha ha.

Mao

Chairman Mao thought he could take me on. He was very sorely mistaken.

Time to change the Pandora station. The likes of Yes, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – as much as I dig them – are getting old. Some Erasure perhaps? Nah, too poppy for my current state of mind. Gabriel & Dresden it is.

7:39 am

Contact lenses aren’t meant to be worn for this long, at least as not as far as I’m concerned. Switched to glasses. Also changed underwear. I’m not incontinent or anything; it’s just those damn chafing waistbands ….

8:29 am

The paramedic office has been contacted. I’m glad that’s out of the way.

10:02 am

I’d say I’m about seven cups of tea into things at this point. I started coming down with a headache and a sore throat, so I took some ibuprofen to knock that out. It seems to be working. In the meantime I verified this site with Google, Bing, Pinterest and Alexa. I really don’t get the appeal of Pinterest, but whatever.

10:36 am

Went downstairs to check the mail and take out the trash. I figured this would be a good time to see if there was anything else expired in the kitchen. Turns out there was. To wit, cappuccino mix, microwave popcorn, rice, Pasta Roni, a loaf of bread, horseradish, three cans of soup, two bottles of pancake syrup, mini ravioli, peas, olive oil, garlic pepper, Italian herb seasoning … and a can of spicy Indian poppadum chips. Yeah, buddy.

Saltmill

Apparently salt doesn’t go bad. That’s probably just as well.

11:40 am

Just read Margaret Thatcher died. In recognition I’ve been watching old Spitting Image clips.

Why can’t they import this concept from the UK instead of crap like American Idol?

1:07 pm

The day’s stated agenda is complete. As an added bonus I changed the cat box and did the dishes. My supply of Peet’s is replenished, so I can dispense with the Jean-Luc Picard schtick.

Although it’s rather crisp outside, for the first time this year I saw noticeable leaves on the neighborhood deciduous trees. The HOA also had the sprinklers going. That was a nice way to end things for the day. I’m going to try to stay up a few more hours, but I daresay mission accomplished.

I just hope I don’t have to do this again for awhile.

Riding the Thunder Broom

I recently bought a bass guitar. I figured at this point in my life it would be a good idea for me to take up a new hobby or two. Beachy also wants me to be a “rock star” when I grow up. She approves of this purchase.

Music is not an entirely new thing to me. Dad was a guitarist in a few local bands in the 60s. I took piano lessons when I was in elementary school, although my passion for that was halfhearted at best. Most of my friends in high school were band geeks.

Strongly influenced by said band geeks, I acquainted myself with the works of Mike Watt, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool and others as a teenager. I’ve been interested in taking up bass for a good 20 years. Bass should be a good instrument for me. I fancy myself loud and low, and I think in terms of single notes rather than chords.

There were two main obstacles to that though. First, I’m left-handed. VERY left-handed. Dad tried to teach me guitar on a standard right-handed model, but I just wasn’t picking it up. Everything seemed upside down to me. What’s more, locating an affordable left-handed instrument in the pre-World Wide Web days was about as easy as picking up a bottle of Bacardi 151 in Riyadh. It just wasn’t happening.

The second obstacle – and probably the more important one – was my strong tendency to set the bar unrealistically high for myself when undertaking any new endeavor. If I wasn’t able to be a virtuoso in a relatively short period of time, it wasn’t worth it to me.

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And when I say “set the bar high,” I’m not dicking around here.

I’m a perfectionist by nature. It wasn’t until quite recently that I became somewhat comfortable with the concept of not having to be a world-beater in absolutely everything I did. Having your ass handed to you by bipolar type II will do that to you. That and the miracle of e-commerce finally convinced me to take the next step.

So despite being 39, well past the age many people take up these sorts of things, over Christmas I found a left-handed bass online and had it shipped to the local Guitar Center. Of course, not wanting to drop a ton of money on something I wasn’t entirely sure I’d take up in the long term, I went for – shall we say – a low-end model. It’s made by an outfit called Main Street Guitar Company.

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The Chinese call it quality!

Over the next couple months I picked up other necessary items, such as an amp, a cord, a shoulder strap and a gig bag. I’m ready to RAWK!

Well, I would be if I had anything resembling dedication. Everyone tells me, “Man, you need to practice every day or you lose your touch.” I have no reason to disagree with that. However, I play maybe twice a week at the moment. Never mind CORRECT notes. At this point I’m happy with CLEAN notes which don’t sound like hitting a metal coil with a sledgehammer.

I can play the bass line from “Once in a Lifetime” fairly well, but that’s about it right now.

A couple days ago I compared learning the bass to learning to type. Honestly I don’t know how valid that comparison is, but as a writer it seems logical to me. Music theory as traditionally presented has never been one of my strengths. I get the basic concept of such things as notation and time signatures, but I’ve always found anything but the simplest sheet music absolutely confounding.

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Yeah, this does nothing for me.
Image credit: Hyacinth

It seems to me it would be easier to think of notes as “letters” and bass lines as “words.” One needs to learn where the various notes are on the bass. After that it’s a relatively simple matter of constructing the line in much the same way one types a word on a keyboard. I understand this theory doesn’t take into account important things like tempo. I tend to view that as something one picks up innately.

Perhaps I’m over-thinking this and trying to unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. That’s another thing I’m notorious for.