Archive for Identity

Cheers

Some days you get it right. Turns out that today, “right” meant having friends over, getting Chipotle, playing video games, and drinking Jagermeister out on the deck. Also, Captain Morgan Tattoo was in there somewhere.

I’m still new to this whole drinking thing. I stayed away from it during college, because no one seemed to do it in a way that wasn’t stupid, and I didn’t want to get sucked into that wormhole. I stayed away from it in grad school because it was a habit by then, and well, who had the time. Now that I own a home, though, and all the problem drinkers are now far, far away in bad decision land, I can comfortably give it a go.

It’s actually pretty empowering. I spent a lot of emotional energy over the years either afraid of the stuff or trying to compensate for the void tee-totaling leaves in adult social interaction. Drinking, and doing it responsibly, is a middle finger to every bro/drunk I’ve ever met, and has the added benefit of making it easier to blend in a crowd.

You should have heard Dan squeal when I told him I’d started drinking. Like, actually squeal, like a piglet in a room full of theremins.

Here are my rules for responsible drinking for adults. First, don’t drink and drive, dummy. To me, that means no driving after any drinking. Second, don’t drink to get drunk. Alcohol is not a coping skill, and using it that way is a highway to bad decision town. Third, no beer. I already don’t move enough. Add beer to that, and I’ll be shocking internet photo fat in no time.

Fourth, rum. That is all.

Nostalgia Ranting

I was a morning person when I was a young, young kid. I couldn’t have been older that five; I remember still living in Texas, which I moved away from when I was seven or eight. I had a Sega genesis back then. I used to wake up early, before my dad had to go to work. I would play Sonic the Hedgehog, and generally do pretty well, except for one or two that were too tricky for my tiny mind. I would try, get frustrated, and would hand the controller off to him. I would eat a bowl of cereal and watch in awe as he effortlessly glided through the spike traps and the bosses, and handed the controller back to me before heading off to work.

It’s what sports must be like for cool people. Where some people played catch or football with their old man, I played a Sega. Where some people got dunked on and outrun, I had my high scores unceremoniously destroyed.

There’s something fatalistic about it. I like video games because I liked them yesterday, and I liked them yesterday because I liked them the day before. I think that’s why most people like most of their hobbies; they can be traced back to something their dad got them started on.

I bring this up because yesterday I was introduced to the concept of speedruns. The games that took up entire seasons of my childhood, completed with mechanical precision by people who more or less do it for a living. It’s strange to see the most nostalgic parts of my life distilled like that. I feel a weird mixture of jealousy and pity, the same feeling I get when I watch “pro” video game competitions. The fact that you’re that good at this and the fact that I admire it are why we are always going to be on the bottom rung of the social totem pole.

If I say it judgmentally, it it mostly in judgment of myself. Well, that and me not being an idiot and knowing what society expects from a full-grown man. Pro-tip: A career in video games will not land you on the cover of Esquire. Or Forbes. Maybe Rolling Stone.

But that’s all right. It just means we were destined for what we got from the start, the second our collective dads popped in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Blerg?

Well, this is embarrassing. After all the hullabaloo I made about posting stuff, I almost shrugged off making a post today. The only thought I had this morning was a rather childlike “I don’t wanna.” It’s a thought I’ve been having a lot lately, between applications, doing my taxes, and slowly fixing up the house.

God, growing up sucks. You think it’s going to be all staying up late and bacon whenever you want it, but it turns out to be bills and the slow, inexorable hands of mortality and death haunting your every waking thought.

Am I right?

Though, I am feeling better day by day. I’m reading again, and it’s slowly bringing back the creative parts of me that got burnt out over the last six months. Hell, two days ago my friend Kevin and I tried to write a rock opera. We even made it through half a song, a cigar, and two whiskeys before we got bored.

So, slowly getting back to baseline. That’s the cool thing about us humans. Give us three weeks, and we can get used to just about anything.

-Austin

Gettin’ Back on Track

Alright, seriously guys. You need to get back on the wagon, because now your laziness is affecting me. I’m skipping posts because I am infected with your lazy. Fix it.

See, I’m doing it. We can muddle through, even when we have nothing to write. Except I kind of do.

I’m looking for a job, at a snail’s pace. I should be going faster, given how much I need any kind of income right now. But I’m stuck. Resigning from that last job shook me more than I thought. Once the dreams about my grandma died down, the dreams about the ranch came back. Horrible dreams where I’m blamed for constant streams of failures I am powerless to prevent. Gee, I wonder where that comes from.

Shows how selfish I am, though. The second I get any kind of closure from the death of a loved one, I go right back to feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’m dealing with that one like a champion, either.

You ever feel like you need to vent, but you don’t know what or how? That’s where I am right now. Trying to piece together the last three months, while moving forward like a healthy human being.

 

Wet Paint

Pretty quiet week here. I’ve spent the week either getting ready to paint my new house, or actually painting my new house. Two weeks ago the only thing I knew about paint was that it was not a thing I should touch. Or have anything to do with.

Because, as we all know, if you get a drop of paint on the floor, the house will immediately burn down. Still, I won’t have a better time to do it, and no time like the present, as they say.

Doing the DIY thing is a pretty big confidence booster. In retrospect. In the moment, it was kind of just a stream of “Oh god this is expensive and I’m screwing it up so bad,” followed by a string of curse words.

But now that it’s mostly done with? Bam. it turned out well, the living room looks good, and I can take pride in something I did with my own two hands. There’s the lesson, by the way. Do stuff with your own two hands, it makes you feel better. Helps take your mind off of how crappy life can be, too. So, win-win, I guess.

-Austin

Spring Cleaning

No more letters from my grandpa, sadly. At least, none that I can find. Starting a project and then procrastinating until you forget about it is timeless, I guess.

Something strange has been going on these last two weeks. I asked my friend Kevin to help me take a look at all the work that needed to be done getting my grandma’s house, and he in turn asked his mom to come, who has a lot of experience cleaning out old houses. For the last two weeks the whole Davis family has helped me pack, move, and clean a house that has not had a deep clean in years. they asked for nothing in return, and between them and me, we’ve probably logged over a hundred hours on that old house.

I mention this because I don’t understand. I’ve always heard about this kind of generosity, but I’ve never actually encountered it before. All these favors and time and they get nothing out of it?

Well that’s not entirely true. I did give them an old chair and a veg-o-matic. But that doesn’t really cut it, I think.

It’s been a formative experience. Instructive, too. You learn how to treat others from how they treat you. nine times out of ten, that leads to folks treating each other like garbage. this is the tenth time, the time a person can draw their ideals from. A shining example that becomes the basis of how I treat people from now on.

Which really just adds on to the list of favors I owe them.

The Great Winter of Meh

Alright, this has got be one of the crappier winters on record. There’s enough hardship here at GiTH right now to fill two novels and a soap opera.

Some things didn’t pan out last week. Dan and I were going to debut a big thing we were working on, but through no fault of our own it didn’t get done, and some deadlines were missed. Dan was way more bummed out about it than I was, I think due to losing out on a potential payday.

So that big reveal will have to wait some more.

It’s not so much that things are falling apart, it’s that they’ve slowed to a halt. Dan is in a routine he likes, but not one he wants to stay in forever. Clark doesn’t like where he’s at, but likes the person he might be in a year or so. Me, I’m moving forward the only way I know how. Slowly and with more self-doubt than there needs to be.

Not a whole lot of positives in our collective lives right now.

Except that’s not exactly true. We have a lot to be grateful for. Family that loves us, friends that sustain us, and talent that drives us forward.

I forget that sometimes. We all do. It’s especially easy to forget when life comes knocking like it has in the last month. So this is my reminder to me and message to them. It’s tough right now, but this too shall pass. In the mean time, lean on those who love you, and the winter might get a little warmer.

Feedback Loop

I made a new résumé yesterday, and I’m really happy with the update.

My old résumé gave hiring managers a lot of details, but very little information about my personality and design sensibilities. Sure, the text alignment was spot-on, but my grammar was terrible, and the tenses kept changing sporadically. It was, to put it kindly, a train wreck on fancy paper.

Yet, for some reason I kept using it. Every time I gained a new skill or job, I plugged it into the same old résumé. After all, why fix something that’s not broken?

Well, it turns out that my résumé was very broken, and the “don’t fix what’s not broken” mentality is detrimental to personal development.  I have a brilliant advisor at my university that would have gladly torn my résumé to shreds, but I kept it to myself believing it was good enough. I have a friend that’s a brilliant editor, but I still won’t let her touch my Gold in them Hills posts (because, obviously, they’re flawless).

In reality, I usually have no idea if something is broken or not until somebody tells me. I’ve surrounded myself with brilliant, creative, and kind people, but I’m too high on myself to ask for help. Maybe it’s because of ego, or maybe it’s self-doubt and not wanting to hear the truth. Either way, it’s not a sustainable pattern if I want to mature and start contributing to society.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a group of talented friends that are willing to help. It’s about time I start using my resources instead of relying on myself to fix everything.

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Nana’s Last Christmas

God, I’ve hit the hat trick for late night updates. It should be a wake-up call. This time though, I have a pretty good excuse.

My grandma has been sick and getting sicker this whole month. Memory trouble. When it started, she was remembering things that didn’t happen. Turns out, a string of tumors in her brain is slowly squeezing the life out of her. The breast cancer, it seems, has had the last laugh.

I didn’t tell anyone. Even the other guys at the blog. When they read this tomorrow, or maybe the day after, it’ll be the first time they hear (surprise!). I always isolate to process. It’s a bad habit of mine. Besides, I reasoned, it’s Dan’s first Christmas with his wife, and he doesn’t need a Debbie Downer eating up all his time and attention. Truth is, I’m afraid telling people will make the whole thing real.

I’ve been numb, more than anything. With the stress of the new job, the 5 stages of grief have been slow in arriving. I might still be in denial. Or maybe the early stages of compassion fatigue are forming a soft pillowy callous around the emotions.

I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas. At the beginning of the month I got her a glass rose. It has a glass butterfly on it. It’s gaudy, it’s kitsch, and she’ll love it. But I usually try to get someone something long-term when I go shopping for presents. That seems selfish now, that her possessions will soon return to me.

She’s in hospice now, on medication that is somewhat successful in bringing down the swelling in her brain. She still comes and goes, from what I hear. My work schedule is keeping me from visiting her. I’ll never forgive myself if it keeps me from seeing her before she goes.

We’re trying to give her one last Christmas at our house. She wanted it at hers, but she isn’t doing well enough to manage all the stairs there. That’s what hurts the most.

I ended up getting her chocolate. The best I could find on short notice. It seemed fitting, like a sugary mandala. Beautiful and temporary. Even someone who can’t remember the name of the gift-giver can remember a gift like chocolate. Even if it’s just for a little while.

-Austin