Inside-out t-shirt.

Breaking New Grounds, Portsmouth
Around 6 p.m.

As I’m sitting at a table on the sidewalk outside one of my favorite coffee shops in Portsmouth, waiting for inspiration for a blog post topic, I realize that I’m wearing my t-shirt inside out. It’s a plain black t-shirt so its possible that nobody would notice, if they would even care. I bought this shirt at a thrift shop and if there were any tags they’ve long since been removed, nor is there any printing left where a tag might have been to identify the size of the shirt. I only noticed when I turned my head to look at the street corner next to me and saw that my shoulder seemed pointier than usual. As I went to satisfy my habit of making things even and smooth I discovered that my shirt sleeve had not bunched up like I thought. Rather, what I had seen was the seams of the stitching which was meant to be worn on the inside.

So, what to do? I’m outdoors so there’s no law preventing me from taking the shirt off and fixing it. Yet now that I’m over thirty I rarely wear even shorts in public, let alone taking off my top. That’s not to mention my unusual amount of body hair, which doesn’t embarrass me so much but I recognize might disturb others. I could go to the bathroom inside the coffee shop. But then I might lose this great table I’m sitting at. I also only have an hour on the parking meter. I want to finish this blog post first. If I finish my post and coffee before my time is up I may go to the bathroom and fix this thing.

But then I have another problem. Suppose I fix my t-shirt. Like I said, it’s plain black. My deodorant is white. There’s a strong possibility that white streaks will become visible on the outside. (I had to spend longer than I wanted to thinking through that the streaks would still be on my armpits as opposed to my shoulder, as the opposites game in my head first suggested.) So, should I even bother? Like I said, nobody mentioned anything. It’s only bothering me. Even then, I’m not that worried about it. It may seem that by this point I’m obsessing over it. That’s only because it gave me a decent word count for the day. In other words, I got my inspiration after all.

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Sometimes a hug is what a stranger needs.

This would have been a bad restaurant review but it turns out the night may have been worse for the staff than me.

Last night I went to Portland for a dance party and decided to go to a bar for dinner beforehand. I wanted to try a place that I had never been to before, not realizing that it was a bar that apparently appealed to sports fans (although judging by the decor I hesitate to call it a sports bar) and that the Kentucky Derby took place last night. Already something like this can make me irritable—it was my fault for going in so I couldn’t complain. Nevertheless drunken, obnoxious sports fans rub me the wrong way. Fortunately I was able to get my own table.

I didn’t know, however, that my visit was to last two hours. It took ten minutes for me to get a beer and then on top of that an hour for my food to arrive. I knew that I expressed my dissatisfaction through body language however I kept my cool and didn’t take it out on my server. I could tell by the way the servers were running around the delay wasn’t their fault. I overheard at one point a man whom I assumed to be a supervisor tell the servers that food service was cut off for a while. It seemed odd to me that a place like that wouldn’t be able to handle all of the customers. The bar was busy but not overcrowded, and it looked like most of the people were just getting drinks anyway.

As time went on my server became very apologetic to me about the wait. After my food had finally arrived I could see tears on her face. I became worried. I knew that I was visibly irritable but like I said I maintained my cool when interacting with the staff. But I do have a tendency to talk to myself. Could I have said something wrong to her? I asked one of her coworkers who then assured me that it had nothing to do with me. Apparently one of the kitchen staff had not shown up to work for the third Saturday night in a row, which backed up service immensely. It turns out the woman was just frustrated (as I had a seat next to their station I could hear them talking to each other to that effect).

As I left I went up to her and told her I hoped the rest of her night went smoothly. She was still on the verge of crying as she thanked me and apologize again. I could tell from her own body language this time that she was unsure to move in for a hug, not so much from what I said but she needed comforting. I patted her shoulder to give her the okay signal and we hugged before I left. I never got her name but of course I could always go back there (provided working conditions don’t drive her away).

Had this happened ten years ago I would have probably written a blog post about how I potentially had a romantic interest as a result of this brief interaction. (Yes, even though I’m asexual I can still have crushes on people from time to time, even if I don’t usually bother to act on them.) Now I take this encounter to mean that I may have helped somebody feel better, albeit briefly, through a sympathetic human connection, and nothing more. Of course I can’t speak for how she felt, nor would I try to assume to do so. Nor am I attempting to pat myself on the back for what I had said and done. But if anything I probably will become a semi-regular customer of the bar and perhaps make a new friend from doing so. I learned that even a socially awkward person like me can make a small difference in another person’s day with a simple act of kindness.

Although now I’m worried if I tipped enough.

New Year’s Resolutions.

2018 - 2

  1. Write for this blog on a regular basis again. This one is self-explanatory.
  2. Cut down on drinking. If that fails, cut it out completely. Alcohol has been getting the better of me the past year or so. I have a hard time limiting the number of drinks in one sitting and I’m getting sick much sooner instead of feeling the positive feelings of getting drunk. However, for anybody who has seen me in public this past weekend I’m not counting those activities. My birthday was Friday, which I celebrated at the Goth/Industrial night at a nightclub in Portland. I had booked a hotel room in order to stay up late and drink. Then on Saturday family and friends went bar hopping. I purposely was not the one driving. And last night I went to a New Year’s Eve party in Westbrook, and the hosts were kind enough to let me crash there. I admit that the beer got the better of me that time but I still have no regrets. However, this past weekend was supposed to be my last hurrah with alcohol. I now need to limit my drinking to weekends only (barring unusual events throughout the week) and stop at no more than two beers. If I fail this, I will quit drinking again.
  3. Whenever possible, when going out in public adopt as Gothic a look as possible. When this is not possible, such as at work, a quick errand or I just need to do a load of laundry, at least dress up a little. As I was getting ready to go to the party yesterday I contemplated wearing an old t-shirt promoting the album “Morbid Tales” by Celtic Frost. The party had an eighties theme and this was the closest I had to something that would fit. However, it just didn’t look right on me anymore. I don’t feel right going out in band tees. Dress shirts are going to be my new “normal” look while I am going to attempt to look outrageous whenever I can. I’m even contemplating growing my hair out after all despite the male-pattern baldness and seeing if I can’t still do something Gothic with it. After all, to be a Goth is to be morbid, losing hair is a sign of aging, which in turn is a sign of decay and ultimately death. That, and I want to try something different.
  4. Resume routines of exercise and meditation. I can start meditating again right away. Unfortunately, however, I can’t go out jogging this time of year considering how icy the roads are and how cold it is in the Northeast. I may have to join a gym. Even then, though, I won’t be able to until after February when I get my hours back at work. I would probably want to wait until after the RPM Challenge as well, which leads into my next resolution.
  5. Resume work on music with the intent on increasing output from before, but recognize it as more of a hobby than a career aspiration. Aside from my usual participation in the RPM Challenge, Mike and I were discussing new work for Popkin-Salvador. I want to also go back and re-record (and in some cases, rewrite) some older Shadows of Immurement songs.
  6. Pay off credit card debt. I know that I’ve whined about this before, but I am in a much better financial situation now at work than I have ever been. Paying off the debt should be achievable this year. I also had an incentive a few months ago to do so. I was looking at a house but I was denied the mortgage as I had too much credit card debt (fortunately I still have a good credit rating). I had already changed my mind on the house anyway by the time I found out about the mortgage but I will still run into the same problem if I don’t get my affairs in order.
  7. Start being more social. I’ve been going to the same nightclub for most of the Friday nights throughout the year. That’s great, but I still tend to be quiet.* I’m fine when other people start conversations but I have a hard time starting them myself. I’m getting better at it and have even introduced myself to people but I’m still getting the hang of this whole social-interaction thing. I should try to meet one new person every time I go out—not just to there but other locations as well, if anything for the practice.
  8. At the same time, reduce the amount of times going out. I don’t mean that I won’t go out to a nice restaurant for dinner if I feel like it. It does mean that I won’t go driving around all over the place to comparison shop for a pair of work pants at every retailer in the area only to decide to not get anything. I’ve also wasted too much gas using my car a a stereo on wheels. I have a friend who has a coffee shop two towns over and I like to support her business—but I can’t drive out there just for a cup of coffee with the excuse of “running errands while I’m out.” So, I will try to socialize more when I go out, but going out has to become more meaningful. Besides, staying at home will help with my next resolution.
  9. Catch up on my reading. The main reason that I stopped writing book reviews for a while was because of the tall stacks of books on my coffee table that I bought recently. I need to get through those because a.to get back to reviewing new-ish releases and b.I just want to.
  10. Finally: write, write, write. I didn’t just take an unintentional half a year hiatus from writing for this blog. I slacked off completely on any writing. I feel the need to try to start a fresh project (yes, again) just so I can get back into it but at the same time I must take a crack at the drafting process for my other work. This might not be the normal, “right” way of doing things but I can’t dwell on that anymore. I spend too much time worrying about how I’m doing things wrong instead of doing anything about it. This the biggest problem that I have with writing, which I want to make the biggest part of my life.

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I hate the formality and commercialization of bettering one’s self that has developed this time of year. But I usually have these sort of thoughts after indulging over my birthday, which is only a few days earlier. On top of that, knowing that this weekend was going to be essentially one long party I felt that it was a good time to refresh myself. It all started with the resolution to drink less (or not at all) after the weekend. Everything else went from there. I remembered that when I quit drinking the last time I was more creative and motivated to become healthier, both physically and mentally. Why not try all of this again?


*Originally I had written that I still tend to be a wallflower at the club. I started dancing pretty regularly when a good song comes on so I wasn’t sure if I could correctly use the term. I’m still not making conversation while dancing—one could even make the argument that dancing allows me to not have to. Does that still count under the “wallflower” category?

Book reviews will be on hold for a little while; consumerism versus creativity.

Officially starting today I changed positions at my job. I am no longer what is called the “operations supervisor.” Instead I have a new or rare position in the company called something like “Freight Area Supervisor.” In other words, I oversee the freight flow process for the store, working with the early morning stock crew as well as coordinating with management and maintaining the receiving area blah blah blah let’s be honest I took the job because it’s a lot more money. And from my understanding the vice president of the company invented the position because of how good I am in working the back room. At least, that’s the story I heard. In any case, it’s a rare position and management wanted me back there because I’m damn good at it.

What does that have to do with book reviews? I’m still getting used to the position. Even though it officially started today I began work trying to clean up the back room this past Thursday, ultimately working a 14 hour shift. I got sore in muscles that I forgot I had. I ended up only going for three hours the next day. I had got a book to read this past weekend but I spent more time vegging in front of my computer watching Babylon 5 while I tried to recover. Then, of course chores around the apartment started backing up and I had a ton of stuff to do. Even as I write this, I have several dirty dishes piled up in my kitchen that need addressing.

On top of it all I’m scheduled to go into work earlier than I have been, and in fact scheduled ten hours overtime for the week. We’ll see how that pans out, but the main point is that I’m getting used to my new job. I want to go back to book reviews, but I don’t want to make promises as to when.

Besides, I have other things that I want to do, or rather, get back into doing outside of work. Yesterday, when I was feeling a little better, I drove out to a beach near me and walked out to one of my favorite spots when I need to clean my head, a specific rock down by the water away from the beach itself. I went there with the intent to think through a dilemma I had built for myself. I won’t bother detailing that or my conclusions on it here as they aren’t relevant but another, important thought occurred to me. I knew that I’ve been slacking off for a long time now. As you can see I haven’t been blogging much over the past several months aside from book reviews and the occasional, boring thought. I haven’t done any serious writing in a while. Other habits have gone by the wayside such as jogging or practicing guitar.

I have tried to better myself through podcasts covering current events, science and culture, reading more “intellectual” material and watching more “artistic” and culturally relevant movies.But was I really becoming a better person as a result? I thought back to a YouTube video that I watched recently by The Count of the Belfry Network and the Goth talk podcast Cemetery Confessions. During his discussion on “What is Goth?” he brought up the point of how we have become a consumer culture, where we consume more than we create. Being aware of the world is all well and good, but what is the point of consuming knowledge without doing anything with it?

I felt that I was at a crossroads—yes, I know, cliché and melodramatic, but that’s how I felt nonetheless. Was I going to give in and give up on writing and to a lesser degree, music, and just become a consumer? Would I become the type of person who would come home from work, crack open a beer, and watch television until bedtime? Or would I be come a creator? Would I return to writing and this time, in full force? Would I eschew some of my pastimes in favor of more disciplined work, despite the extra work I’m taking on at my full-time job?

I’m not placing a value judgement on either choice. I know that the latter option sounds more “respectable” but I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with going either way. What it boils down to is which type of person am I? The endless consumer or the desperate creator?

I would like to think that by this point, over seven hundred words into this blog post, the answer has become obvious. I don’t feel guilty over “slacking” off over the past year. It may have just been something that I needed. And sure, I may need to relax sometimes. But I need to create.

Although, first, I really need to do those dishes. There’s little insects crawling around on my kitchen counter.

In other thoughts….

If somebody tries to kill him- or herself by jumping in front of a moving ambulance, do the first responders in the ambulance have to call in another ambulance? Would the answer change depending on whether or not the person actually got killed? This is of course assuming that there was not significant damage to the vehicle, in which case they would have to stay there anyway. But I imagine that the people in the ambulance would have to stick around for paperwork.

In other thoughts, I was recently at a local brewery that has its own brewpub with the intent on getting dinner. While I was there I discovered that when they changed their menu, they no longer offer vegetarian entrees. I had one beer and left. While I was leaving I was perplexed by the fact that there were about two dozen portable toilets in the parking lot. I had to wonder if the two issues were connected. No, I’m not thinking of people’s digestion when related to all of the meat. I imagine a more Sweeney Todd-like scenario. Perhaps all of those portable toilets are actually traps. You go in, the floor drops beneath you and you drop into a machine with buzz saws and meat grinders.

In other thoughts, the word “owl” is pronounced one way, but then if you add the letter “b” in the front of it, “bowl” is pronounced another. By adding that “b” we suddenly get the long “o” sound. Why isn’t it pronounced like “bowel?” Think about that the next time you use the word “bowl” in a sentence: “I like to eat out of my favorite soup bowel.” Yes, I realize that this last bit works better when spoken out loud but a.that would involve me actually interacting with somebody in person, and b.I had to write something for today’s blog post.

Do podcasts count as part of the Internet?

Does a podcast in of itself count as a portion of the Internet? I decided recently that I’m only going to go online during the morning before I go to work (at least as far as weekdays are concerned). I came to terms with the fact that I could have been getting addicted to surfing the net when I should have been trying to live something of a life—or at least get something productive done. I was spending too many hours after work watching videos online of other people playing video games or reviewing action figures from the eighties and none enough getting caught up on my reading, writing or actually getting outside. So came the decision to limit my Internet time to the hour or so I’m getting ready for work in the morning.

Then there’s things that I use the Internet to download. I’m still trying to catch up on back issues of magazine subscriptions. But I don’t tend to think of reading those as reading the Internet, regardless of whether or not my Kindle is online. Those magazines are getting written anyway for both print and electronic versions. The Internet is simply the tool I use to obtain the latter.

So why raise the question about podcasts? Isn’t it the same principle? When I think it through, yes. If I allow for one then there’s no reason I shouldn’t allow for the other. But as I was trying to play catch up on my podcasts yesterday (I’ve gotten behind on those as well) the thought crossed my mind that this might be cheating, listening to podcasts that I downloaded later. It still feels like I’m online. Podcasts could be thought of as the successors to radio. But they’re made for Internet users. Except for radio shows that were recorded and released online after they’ve aired, podcasts are made with digital distribution in mind. I don’t know how much this might affect the content—that would be the subject of a study bigger than my ranty little blog posts. It reminds me of David Byrne’s How Music Works. I suppose the same idea would apply.

By the way, I should point out that I’m not listening to podcasts on my phone like so many people do nowadays. I find it’s much easier to do it via an older method of downloading podcast episodes and then transferring them to my iPod, which is an older model that doesn’t have any Internet connection on its own.

Whatever I decide as to how I feel about the issue, it’s not going to affect my listening habits. If anything, I would come to the conclusion that my podcast addiction is separate from my YouTube addiction. But so far listening to podcasts on my way to and from work is a less obstructive habit than wasting time in front of a computer screen when I have too much real life to do.

I identify as the writer of this blog post.

Since when did the phrase “identify as” become synonymous with the label that follows it? (Don’t worry, I’m not going into a diatribe about identity politics, just some of the terminology used.) Why say “I identify as a man” when you could use the stronger “I am a man” despite what you were biologically born as? I’m not making any judgement call about anybody’s alternative lifestyle. I just don’t see the need for the extra words. They feel like a way to soften the blow to others, or even for the person using it—as they’re still nervous about announcing said identity to the world.

I only use the term when I refer to identifying something that I’m not. I’m asexual, but for many years I identified as heterosexual by mistake. (For those keep track for whatever reason, I still haven’t fully realized my romantic orientation, nor am I likely to in the near future.) I’m not saying that I believe that anybody who uses the term “identify as” is using it as a mistake. But in my case, if I use it for the mistake it feels like it weakens the statement about what I am if I use it in that case as well.

There are cases when the phrase is useful. I was just reading an article in The New Yorker about a female lawyer who fought for women’s rights, and about two-thirds of the way through the article mentioned that she “identified as a man.” That’s fine—it was intended to show the contrast between her fight for women’s rights and her biological sex with her identity. In that case, the phrase is almost clinical. I only take umbrage with the way that the phrase gets tossed around a bit too freely.

Don’t mind me. I’m just in a picky mood this morning. “Identify as” could be nothing more than a quirk of contemporary language such as “that’s a thing” or those of use who slip the word “like” into sentences where it doesn’t belong (I’m still working on it, I swear).