Fuck. 

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re the third wheel literally everywhere in life? I’ve got this darkness in me. I hate it. I generally do a fair enough job of keeping that shit bottled up, but every once in a while it gets out and fucking destroys me. Like now, for instance. I’ve always wanted to see a therapist. When I was seventeen I figured it would be helpful with this thing that constantly threatens to overwhelm me. But my parents decided that whatever was the matter with me would be solved by praying about it, and that it was because of whatever I was listening to or watching on TV. It’s not, though. I watch comedies and listen to happy music because it keeps this shit at bay. Sometimes that’s all that keeps it away from me. I try–really I do–to keep a lid on it, but it sneaks out in various ways. When I drink, I always drink too much because once I let my guard down it comes at me. So when I drink, I drink to the point of oblivion. There are other mildly and not-so-mildly self-destructive behaviors, but that’s a prime example. With the few people who’ve put up with me long enough to be considered friends, I always feel like a burden. I try to offset that by fixing things, cooking, doing dishes, paying for stuff when I can, but I can count on one hand the number of times in my life where I felt like I was honestly accepted. I don’t go in public because I’m a big guy, and I’m constantly in people’s way. I don’t talk on the phone because I lose my train of thought and start to stammer. I’ve built my life around the my desire to not be a burden on those around me.  
And love. What the fuck was I ever thinking, thinking that that was something I could have? I’m broke, homeless, I have no future…I have nothing. Am nothing. All I’ve ever wanted was to love and be loved in return. That’s honestly it. I’d die for the six close friends I have without a second thought. But what I truly want is something they can’t give me. I want to be in love. I want to wake up next to someone. I want to drop kids off at school in a minivan. I want to work through the rough times because we love each other. I want to spend Friday night playing with her hair while we eat cheap pizza and watch Netflix, or play video games. I want to share my life with someone special, and have her think I’m special, too. I want to make her eyes light up when I sing to her, or dance to nothing in the kitchen. I wanna work my ass off alongside her so that we can build a life together that we can be proud of, and then I want to sit on the porch and look back on it with contentment, knowing that even though it was hard work, it was worth it. I guess that’s too much to hope for in this lifetime. All of my peers have their someone. I know that Facebook is only a highlight reel, and that everyone is going through their own shit, but fuck me, it looks like their shit is a lot better than mine. 
My shit…holy shit. I’ve had to start over from zero so many times…I don’t honestly know if I have another one in me at this point. No matter what I do, I always land back at nothing. A few months ago I was looking at buying a house, maybe a car, putting money away to pay off my student loans, but now I’m back at zero yet again. 
What am I doing so wrong that I can’t have love, can’t have money, can’t have anything? Is it something I’m doing? Is it fate just wanting an ass to kick and me being unlucky? Everything I ever touch eventually turns to shit, and I don’t know how to fix it! I’m not one to sit around and expect the kindness of others. I’d much rather figure out the problem and fix it, but I don’t know what it is. I’ve heard “be patient,” “it’ll happen for you,” “you just wait, happiness is right around the corner,” and “you’re fine just the way you are, you’ll see,” for the past ten years. When?! Where is the corner? If I’m fine like I am, then why am I so fucking miserable and lonely all the time? 

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Helplessness, hopelessness, and the past

This recent hiatus has…well…it’s given me plenty of time to sit and think about where all I’ve gone wrong in the past. I hate it. However, if I don’t sit here and get it all out of my system, I’m just going to continue to sink further down this unfortunately bleak rabbit hole. 
Compared to many–perhaps most, even–I had a privileged upbringing. My parents worked their tails off to provide for me. My sister was the best big sister a boy could ever want, and my brother was and is my role model for what it means to be a man growing up in our time. I had friends, some close, some not. I got into fights and I played outside as a kid. In spite of every advantage I was given, I’ve still made a mess of things. For the record, I take full responsibility for myself. I’ve just been examining how I got here. 
When I made the leap from middle school to high school, I decided that football was no longer for me, and concentrated instead on marching band. I should’ve done both. Lots of folks did. Instead, I’ve slowly inflated over the years to the point I’m at now. Over a hundred pounds gained since high school. I forgot to learn that exercise isn’t a punishment to be dreaded, and that perhaps I shouldn’t eat to the point of misery at every meal. 

At the end of high school, I had my fairytale sweetheart. We were like peas and carrots, she and I. I’d proposed and she’d accepted. We had a pastor to officiate, and we were planning a life together. But nope, I didn’t know how to treat a significant other. That’s not something I learned for a very long time, and perhaps still haven’t. I didn’t know how to handle feelings like jealousy, and thus became a controlling ass who was constantly throwing temper tantrums. Other things contributed to the decline of our relationship, but this was a big factor. 

When I graduated, I had almost a hundred thousand dollars in financial aid. Free financial aid. Scholarships and grants. Not loans. I attended college for one year and dropped out to go be a hippie and learn about hallucinogens. I’ve noticed that this falls into a pattern of me failing to finish the things I start. I threw away my (essentially) full ride to a private university. 

Continuing the theme of quitting things, I was briefly an assistant manager at a convenience store, quit with no notice. I was a prison guard! Quit. Seriously, though, don’t be a prison guard. It sucks the soul right out of you. I worked assorted fast food and Walmart-esque jobs for a while, never staying long enough to advance. The only job I kept for any length of time was driving a pilot car, but even that killed me. I loved it, but I didn’t–and still don’t–have any idea how to save money. On more than one occasion I had to break out my guitar and sing for gas money to get home.

Three years into my one year off, I finally went back to school. To study the exact same thing I was studying when I dropped out. Only now I’m older, fatter, more out-of-shape. I am fairly proud of most my time at Tarleton. I pledged the fraternity that has kept me from homelessness on a couple of occasions. I finished my degree. Fucked up a few good relationships, though, so we all know how well I’m progressing thus far on the “be a good significant other” scale. 
After I got my bachelor’s, I made the always-brilliant decision to stick around until my partner got out of college, and I enrolled in Tarleton’s master’s of music education online program AND started working at the local cheese factory. I could have stuck with either or both of those and been just fine. Instead, I dropped out of the master’s program in the first few months. I gave myself some BS excuse why, but in all honesty, I have no idea. Gun to my head, I would guess that I was afraid of being found out as a fraud and told to go home because I wasn’t smart enough to be there. Still can’t believe they let me have a bachelor’s degree. 

About six(ish) months after that, I decided I wanted to go to grad school! So I googled “musicology grad schools in Texas” and applied to Texas Tech because they have a good Irish scene and the colors are red and black. Also, it’s in Lubbock, which gets snow about once a year (remember, I’m fat; I need cold). I got everything squared away, got admitted, and then left my job at the factory. Just as I was coming up eligible for promotion. If I’m honest, though, I was a lazy worker. I didn’t mean to be, but I was. 

So, to grad school we go! Gonna get a degree that almost requires me to also pursue a PhD before I can do what I thought I wanted. First day, first class, I was immediately out of my league. Everyone at grad school was so much more advanced than I was. Good heavens, I feel like I faked my way through the parts of it that I actually made it through. I also made the very adult decision to not get a job and instead live off of student loans. What could go wrong? College professors are super rich, right? 

I will say that one wonderful thing came from my time at Texas Tech. I found three of the best friends I will ever have. My people. My tribe. I’d gladly die or go to prison for these folks, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful to have them in my life. 

Halfway through the last semester I attended at Tech, I realized that I don’t belong in that world. This was probably all in my head, but I was (and still am) having this identity crisis. I felt like the people I looked up to in grad school saw me as some ignorant country bumpkin, and the people in the world of horses and tractors and rednecks saw me pretentious and snobbish. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that it probably didn’t involve a degree in historical musicology. So, again, I dropped out of school. I had kept running out of money, and those student loan totals were increasing at an alarming rate. 

Perhaps this was the first decent financial choice I ever made? I decided to be a long haul trucker. I figured I could figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up while making some scratch and seeing the country. Instead, I got teammate after teammate who absolutely terrified me. Ever have to literally put your life into the hands of someone you met ten minutes ago? I had to about seventeen times over. In all that time, I had three honest-to-goodness teammates. Well, two teammates and a trainee. The company would assign teammates based on who happened to be nearby at the time, and it was miserable. I loved rolling solo, though. It had my heart. 

I gave that up because my father had surgery and didn’t have anyone else to look after him and my grandmother while he heals up. Good or bad, that’s a decision I don’t regret. Let nobody say that I ever left my family when I was truly needed. 

So here I’ve found myself. 313 pounds, $95,000 in student loan debt, a degree I can’t do anything with, no job, no money, and practically nothing to show for my twenty-nine years on Earth. This is what I think about when the dark bits of life come at me. What legacy would I leave behind if I went tomorrow? A few funny stories, a questionable browser history, and a trail of failures. 

But tomorrow is another day, I reckon. 

Word Vomit

So. Let’s review, shall we? I’ve been a trucker for about six months now. Life on that front isn’t bad. I’ve had a ton of teammates, some good, some bad, one great dude that’s a good friend now. I’ve been to 44 of the contiguous United States. I’ve been home twice, and once was to make myself officially homeless. Part of the reason I set out on this adventure was for a little introspection and reflection. I’ve realized that grad school as a musicology major isn’t for me. I honestly believe that the whole “publish or perish” nonsense is horrible for schools, at least in the area of musicology. I want to learn. I want to be taught information. I don’t want to figure out how to think critically about fourteenth-century French music. When I first began at TTU, I was under the mistaken impression that I was going to learn everything about music history and then I could go teach music history. That’s mostly my fault for not doing my research. So combine that with the fact that I managed to make an enemy among the faculty (that’s not hyperbole, either. I messed up and he threatened to sue me) and I don’t believe the TTU musicology department is for me. I don’t know what to do with my life. My dreams are currently in the form of three paths. Pub owner is my ultimate goal in life. I want to own a horse ranch. I really want to raise draft horses. Or I want to be a high school history teacher. Is any of that truly realistic, though? Is anything truly realistic anymore? Let’s look at my life. I have a degree in music that would take two years to turn into a music ed degree….or at least one I’d be comfortable with. I have about 3/4 of a master’s degree in musicology that I don’t intend to finish. I’m horribly overweight. I’m broke. Not just broke. I’m almost $100,000 in debt with nothing to show for it. I managed to fall in love with a woman that is completely unavailable. Talk about toxicity. It’s like an addiction. She makes me feel so wonderful about myself. She’s all the good things, and she thinks I’m all the good things. But she’s not single. Not just “not single,” she’ll never leave him. She told me as much. So what in the ever-loving fuck am I supposed to do? Everyone tells me I should break it off. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing, imaginary internet person. But here’s the thing. I can’t. I’m too far in. She keeps talking about a life we could have together. She tells me how much she can’t wait to see me, and how she just wants to leap into my arms and kiss me. What is going on? Is she being cruel? She would never be cruel on purpose. I promise. But is that what’s happening? I’ve been engaged a lot, and I tend to fall in love at the drop of a hat, but I’ve never felt like this. Not just the depth of my feelings, but the confidence and strength she’s given me. She tells me how much she loves everything about me–my singing voice, my tattoos, even the fact that I’m a big guy. It feels so good to have someone say those things about me that I don’t ever want to go back to a time when people tell me to go off myself for being too fat, or that I’ll never be able to find a woman because of who I am as a person. She loves the things about me that I’ve always considered weaknesses, and she positively adores the things that I’ve always secretly been proud of. What should I do? I am simultaneously more in love than I’ve ever been and more broken-hearted than I’ve ever been, and it’s slowly killing me. On one hand, she calls me “my love” and tells me things that melt my heart. On the other hand, here’s a picture of her and her boyfriend playing in the snow together. How in the fuck did I manage to get myself into this? Maybe my life-long motto of “Fuck it, let’s see what happens” isn’t as great for a lovelife. I just don’t know. 

Why the Hate?

Why do y’all hate so freely and love so begrudgingly? Is it so much harder to love than it is to hate? Is it as Master Yoda said, that fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate?  I’ve had occasion to dip into a comments section or two, and there is nothing but hate! People talking about the election cycle do nothing but espouse hate and vitriol. Why does the personal life of anyone matter? If you found out your doctor had a shitty personal life, would you seek out someone else? Would you–do you–raise your kids to practice hate? The conservatives hate Trump. The liberals hate Clinton. The Bible Belt Christians actively hate the Muslims. The extremist Muslims hate Americans. It may be a naïve question, but why can’t we seem to get along? If a people come to your city or neighborhood, why would you hate them instead of welcoming them? If you go to a neighborhood with your people, why wouldn’t you try to ingratiate yourself with the locals? 

The culture of Hate in this world isn’t acceptable. In this era or unprecedented connectivity, we can’t survive on hate. We as a global culture will fail if future generations continue to follow our example. As a hairy man riddled with tattoos and piercings, I get a lot of looks and grief from the old church folks I used to lead as a music minister. At the same time, I know practically militant atheists who take every single opportunity to attack Christians’ beliefs. Why can’t we just live in harmony? Is it that difficult? The most hateful little man I’ve ever encountered alternates between posting about how great his church is and rallying his friends to actively hate every non-Protestant southerner in the world. Sunday morning, God is good! Monday morning, Send all the mooslims back to Africa!! Of Faith, Hope, and Love, which of those leads to hate?

It’s a simple concept: live and let live. Help when you can, encourage when you can, remain silent when necessary. Have peace in your hearts. 

A night on Rue Bourbon! 

This post contains strong language and adult themes. If my mother ever reads it, I apologize in advance. 

  
Pardon the strong language, but the fine folks of New Orleans don’t  fuck around when it comes to a party.

My co driver and I have been trying to get a 34-hr restart for weeks. Our hours have been running on fumes, and we were getting tired of it, so through a little…strategic planning, shall we say, we finagled one in the Big Easy. 

First thing’s first, I found a Walmart bordered on three sides by no-truck roads, and enough room for one truck to hide out behind the store. So that’s what we did. As soon as we were parked, we ordered up an uber to take us to Bourbon Street for some much needed R&R. Folks, Bourbon Street  ain’t no joke. We show up and start shuffling wide-eyed down the fabled lane, when we decide that we should probably get some food down our gullets before we commence to drinking. So we had a couple slices of so-so pizza and it was off to the races. 

From what I could tell, the signature drink of NOLA is the Hurricane. Served in a fish bowl and containing like four different varieties of rum, it seemed like just the thing to begin a night of shenanigans.

We decided our first order of business was to walk up and down Bourbon Street and kinda get a rough understanding of where everything was. This only served to screw me up more because it repeats about every other block. They’ll have the same bar bordered by the same souvenir shop and the same loud, undecipherable music playing from the identical buildings. Drunk John did not appreciate this one bit. 

I don’t know if anyone knows this about me, but I am easily talked into doing things that I might shouldn’t be doing. This came into play a few times over the course of our evening. The first time was as we were walking down the street, this rather abrasive lady told us that we should take some tube shots. Well, when in Rome, y’know, so we acquiesced to her demand, and before I knew what was happening, she had stuck four tube shots in her mouth and given me some kind of an alcoholic version of the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene. Slightly abashed, we continued our journey. 

Now some folks, like my own dear mother, might be shocked to know that there exists in the world a variety of venues where one can pay a small sum and enjoy the dancing performances of various semi-clad and not-at-all-clad women. Well, on Bourbon Street, they not only let you in for free, but they also let you bring in whatever you’ve already got to drink! Since I was already doing my part to provide clean fishbowls for the pet goldfish of America’s youth, I figured we could go in and sit down for a spell while I finished off my second bowl of pure alcohol mixed with sugar. Wouldn’t you know it, they had drink specials! So now I’m enjoying what I like to call a J&C&H (for the uninitiated, that’s a Jack and Coke and Hurricane) while watching what the most athletic woman I’ve ever seen tap her feet on the ceiling while holding on to a pole with one arm. 

On a side note here, I would like to say that while I was obviously enjoying the fact that this woman had on scant but a smile, the entire time I was just agog at how strong her core had to have been. At one point I leaned over to my buddy and asked “Reckon what kind of core training she does? I don’t think I’d be able to do that in a million years!” 

Rested and full of respect for the strength training it must take to do the things that those women did, we set off. I didn’t want to carry my (third) fishbowl and my cup of whiskey, so I decided that if I poured the one into the other, it’d be a good idea. This was not a good idea. 

A couple things were happening to ol’ John by this point. After having consumed the contents of two and a half Hurricanes plus a Jack and Coke plus whatever else I’d had all day, I had to pee. Secondly, the alcohol and sugar were making me sleepy. As luck would have it, we found a bar that advertised they had a restroom! But it was only for paying customers. So, being respectful of the rules and sensing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, I got some Jaeger bombs! Also a Long Island iced tea to pay homage to my Buddy and co driver, who is from New York. After finding the women’s restroom and not the men’s, because of course I did, I decided that a Long Island Jaeger bomb was just the ticket, and I again tried my hand at amateur mixology. The result was better than my J&C&H, but only just. 

Feeling energized and with our bladders newly emptied, we again struck out, only to find ourselves on the border of the very-famous LGBTQ area of Bourbon Street. I wanted to venture further, my experience being that drunk gay folks are a lot more friendly than drunk straight folks, but my friend was a little uneasy, especially considering that we were two dudes and I already looked like a Village Person who’d let himself go, so we compromised by having what must have been a lovely conversation with a rather interesting couple of three young men. I seem to recall them being from Missouri, but my memory from that point forward begins to get a little cloudy. 

After a nice chat and respite, and after narrowly missing the projectile vomit of two poor young women, we decided to strike out once again!

This is where the night took a turn for the expensive…

We stopped at a little vendor for refreshments, as I was thoroughly parched after my 100-yard walk, and wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t take credit cards. They had an ATM, though! I decided that my budget for the rest of the night would be $100, so I went ahead and withdrew it there. And got another fishbowl! This time with an extra shot, though, because who needs a liver? Or memories? Well, we’re walking down the road with our refreshments when, all of the sudden, I hear a voice from above saying “Hey cowboy! Show me what you got!” and, upon looking, noticed a very attractive young woman waving some beads at me. Well, ever the gentleman, I obliged the lady and whipped my shirt damn near off right there in the middle of everyone. In return for my display of my pure masculine form, she chucked down some gold beads, which I currently consider my most prized possession.

After intimidating (I assume, because c’mon, who can handle all this?) every guy in a fifty-foot radius, we decided to get off the street, lest all of the women begin flocking, as they do. Well…and here’s where the younger readers (or my mother) might want to duck out of the room for a spell…the nearest place to go happened to be another arena of scantily-clad dancing. Had no idea. That’s a total lie; we aimed right for it. Well by this time, it’s getting late, probably, so the bar isn’t as full. There was a one-drink minimum, so we got a couple shots of whiskey and toasted each others’ health. 

You remember when I said that I get easily talked into doing things I mightn’t oughta be doing? Because I did. Oh boy, did I. 

Since there were few folks at the bar, several of the young ladies who made the place what it was came and sat by us. Well I got to talking to one of them, and coincidence of coincidences, we happened to have a ton in common! She’d ask a question, I’d answer, and lo and behold, we thought the same way. I’m told that never happens at those establishments. Well since I’d obviously found what Drunk John thought was true love, I was more than happy to oblige when she casually brought up something called a “Champagne Room.” 

Y’all, the Champagne Room is where money goes to die. My $100 budget was shot before we even got up there, and we spent two hours up there. 

I would like to take this opportunity to say that nothing illicit or illegal went on, lest y’all begin to think me a dishonorable man. 

Two things saved me from having to sing for lunch money after last night. One was that the card that I get a portion of my paychecks deposited to, which I save for special occasions like whiskey or souvenirs, got declined. After spending a couple months’ worth of rent, turns out they get suspicious. The other was that I forgot the PIN number that accompanies said card. I just always run it as credit. 

That Chanpagne Room ain’t no joke, y’all. 

So after I was politely and sternly told that I was outta money, I decided to go find my buddy and head back to the truck. Turns out he got bored while I was hemorrhaging money, so he’d already left. I decided then to wander around a bit and see if I couldn’t make friends with someone and hang out for a bit. Drunk John is a social butterfly, turns out. I happened upon a group of guys who were all drunk and attempting to poll the random passers-by about everything from their political leanings to their sexual proclivities, and decided to hang out with them. We polled the masses for a while, amassing a wealth of information that has now been forgotten, and for some reason or another–probably because we very nearly got our asses handed to us by the less-than-jovial boyfriends of women they mistook us for flirting with, even though it was all done in the name of sciencific research!–I decided it was time to leave. Luckily there was a cab nearby who knew right where I meant when I slurred out “Do you know where the Walmart is on Chef something street?” and off we went! 

A very curious thing happens to those who spent long periods of time in a truck. When we get into a car, there is a very weird feeling of being way too low to the ground and of taking turns and curves way too fast. Combine that with a level of drunkenness that could have stunned a rhino, and I was a hot mess the whole way. My cab driver noticed, and so in the middle of the ride, he shut off the meter and we stopped for beignets and coffee! Turns out he was a flatbed driver for years, retired, and runs a cab on Bourbon Street just for shits and giggles. 

So somehow I managed to get back to my truck behind the Walmart on Chef-something street, into bed, and I didn’t get robbed, dishonor my ancestors, get in a fight, or even hurl! ‘Twas a night to (hopefully, one day) remember.

Well, let’s give this a whirl…

The trucking industry–much like every big industry, I’m led to believe–is a very odd thing. Nobody seems to know what’s going on. Ever. As an imperfect soul, myself, I can’t demand perfection from anyone, but I can at least ask for consistency. I’ve only been a truck driver for two or so months, and I have yet to hear the same set of rules, policies, or procedures from any two people. This gives me quite the appreciation for college. The structure of college is such that, unless you speak with someone from financial aid, everything seems to be fairly organized and transparent.

Not the trucking industry, though, it seems to be the very epitome of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

But I’ll quit bitching for the moment.

Because it’s 3:30 in the morning. 

I have yet to share the creation of this blog, and I think it’s because I’ve put some imaginary pressure on myself by creating it. “Since folks enjoyed my Facebook posts, everything I post anywhere has to be good” says I. As long as nobody knows about it, it’s my soundless scream into the abyss that is the Internet. I tried blogging on Tumblr once, but do you have any idea how much porn is on there?! So alas, I abandoned it after only a few posts about how pitiful my life was at the time. You see, I’ve been having it out with depression for a few years, now, and for a while it was winning more rounds than I was. My nights were plagued with anxiety attacks and I could barely will myself out of bed in the morning. It got really bad when I started graduate school. I was among people so much smarter than me that I actually began to wonder if I was developmentally delayed. Despite what I’ve always been told, I’m afraid I didn’t feel very intelligent at all. Add to that the fact that I was in the final stages of an apparently doomed relationship and the fact that I was incredibly intimidated by the overwhelming intelligence of everyone around me–so much so that I could scarcely nurture any friendships–and it was a very dark time for me, indeed. In fact, it was the tireless friendship of two wonderful people several months later that snapped me out of that funk. 

Do you ever feel like your very existence is an annoyance to those around you? Like even though you try your hardest, people will believe you’re a fraud? How about the feeling that wherever you go, people talk and snicker behind your back? Like you only get invited to things because people feel obligated, or when you don’t get invited, that it’s because people don’t enjoy your company? It’s a bitch, and it makes life terribly lonely.