I can’t believe it’s already November. People in the retail industry, like me, always dread this time of year. It means Black Friday is upon us and once that hell is unleashed, it essentially doesn’t let up until January 1st. But even then it’s usually a few months before the blitzkrieg of returned merchandise dies down.
It didn’t even feel like Halloween. I had to work on that day and no one mentioned it. And I didn’t see any customers dressed up. This might have even been the first year no trick-or-treaters came to our business for some candy.
They say the older you get, the less and less magic holidays hold. It’s completely true. For example, the past few Christmases haven’t been great. They weren’t necessarily bad but they also didn’t feel special at all. Was it Christmas or just another Thursday?
I guess a lot of that magic just comes from being an ignorant kid. You don’t have responsibilities or bills. You eat your Pop-Tarts, watch your Saturday morning cartoons, and yearn for Halloween candy and Christmas gifts. And you dress up for Halloween and your parents add to the excitement of Christmas with the ritual of carols and Santa’s cookies. You believe in the jolly fat man.
And then you don’t believe. And then you grow up and get a car and a part-time job. And sometimes you get a girlfriend or boyfriend. And your relatives get married and have children and scatter. And the magic gives way to the reality of the world, which consists of more than math homework and hot cocoa. It’s sex and alcohol and apathy. It’s 401k’s and caring for a new pet or newborn. Your interests change and your focus isn’t so much on unlimited presents but the unrelenting pressure of being an adult, to take care of yourself, to become stable.
Your jaded family try to preserve some of the fun for you when you’re a kid but once you grow up, you know being good won’t get you anything anymore. You know we’re all just wearing a costume every day of our lives. You begin to see with more clarity that we’re all always at least a little bit unhappy.
I didn’t even see that many horror movie marathons on television, with the exception of the SyFy Channel and AMC. Heck, AMC didn’t even start showing those movies until the 15th or so. Couldn’t even dedicate an entire month to the cause of cut up teen composites? I didn’t even see any Halloween episodes of Roseanne, which has become a yearly tradition. But I watch horror movies 365 days a year so it’s not as if I missed out on anything.
I guess I just feel like this lack of celebration has followed me. As I’ve gotten older and started to care less about the holidays, it seems as if the rest of the world has as well. Am I the only one or does this happen with each new generation of degenerates? The holiday specials become less and less prevalent. Less and less time and energy is dedicated to decorating and celebrating. And as we put out decorations for one holiday while another is going on, it starts to feel as if everything is swirling together, losing its own sacred individuality and significance. I can’t enjoy Halloween without Thanksgiving bearing down on me and I can’t even enjoy Thanksgiving day without having to report to work to help people Christmas shop. It’s all happening too fast for me to process.
I suppose when we feel the magic slipping away, it’s our job to wrap our hands around it again, to make it special for us, even if it’s not for others. ‘Cause there aren’t many special things in life anymore. You’ve got to grip tight to the traditions that tether you to the happiness you once held. Being festive is fun. You gotta break up the monotony every few months with special gifts and gratitude, costumes and candy, resolutions and reindeer.
So while we’re hurdling toward Thanksgiving, I can still catch up on Halloween. I have a stash of candy left over and thank goodness for Neflix and their old-school horror movie collection. ‘Cause you never really have to stop celebrating something you enjoy.
“So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun…”
-John Lennon, Happy Xmas (War is Over)
People say I’m negative and it makes me feel bad because I never intend to be. It’s just what comes out. But after spending the holidays with my family, I’m starting to see they err on the negative side as well and that, perhaps, I’m not just a total asshole and much of the negativity I express is simply an inherited trait from a previous generation of buzzkills.
Does that let me off the hook?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
On Christmas Eve my mom’s mom came over and we had Christmas at my house. I sat there and watched as she tried to form a coherent sentence, a skill she’s been struggling with for the past several years, which has recently been accompanied by an accumulation of physical ailments that have put my mother in a tizzy as she’s had to take my grandmother to the doctor and get test after test to find out what’s wrong with her and then test after test to see what will treat what’s wrong with her. And naturally most of those doctor’s appointments fall on the one day my mother has off from work.
It’s not just me with the crappy luck. My whole family is cursed with it. Which might be one of the causes of the negativity.
And then there’s my dad sitting with my uncle, watching the nightly news because that’s a great source of entertainment to have going on while you’re carving the turkey. With the bombings and school shootings and rape and murder that gets scrolled across the screen, who doesn’t feel like cuddling up next to the tree with a big ass cup of cocoa?
So my dad tears into another conspiracy theory about the Obama administration and my grandmother talks with her mouth full and my sister is off in her own world with her husband and my mom’s running around tired trying to get everyone fed and I try to help but I just get in the way and have to listen to these people go on with their racial slurs with slurred words and I feel completely foreign here. These people are my flesh and blood but they are not my brain nor my beliefs and it makes it hard to feel good about any of it.
The next day I go to my dad’s mom’s house and she’s not doing much better than my other grandmother. She’s still mentally alert but also physically deteriorating. She coughed these intense, dry coughs the entire time, a hacking that made my shoulder blades twitch. Meanwhile, people are showing up late and liquored up, reeking of cigarettes and cheap wine.
Then my dad starts in about all the animals hanging around, the dog who’s blind in one eye and the other dog who probably has cancer and won’t last much longer. Then he talks about our dog, Sam, and tries to guess his age, insinuating he’s also old and also won’t last much longer. And I just don’t understand why he has to talk about such things during a time that’s supposed to be cheerful. Why put a black cloud over the proceedings when they’re already dark enough with a choking matriarch and a slew of unruly Angry Birds-addicted children?
And then I see these shiny happy families on Facebook and Instagram, polite children and adults who wear actual pants instead of pajama bottoms to Christmas dinner. Families who share Christmas songs instead of YouTube clips of a woman shitting in aisle five of a supermarket. Cousins who bring over mashed potatoes instead of moonshine. And it hurts even more. My family won’t ever be like that. Sure, no family is perfect, but ours isn’t even palatable.
I think about the young ones and I hope they turn out better than their parents. It’s unfortunate that the cousins I grew up with couldn’t learn from their parents’ mistakes. I see them following the same path. And I fear their children will do the same. I’ve seen one of my cousins grow up from a baby into a tall and pretty girl. She could end up okay if she’d just stay in school and not get pregnant. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask but we’re a fertile bunch and it doesn’t take much to get knocked up.
But really, it’s hard to say how anyone will turn up. I thought I did everything right. I made excellent grades in high school and did not curtail my cirriculum with drugs or alcohol or sex and followed my dreams of being an artist, which resulted in a pile of student loans I couldn’t comfortably pay back and days of unrelenting loneliness and rage.
I know I’m new around here and some of you who haven’t followed me over from OD don’t know me too well so you might fear I think I’m above these people. Don’t worry, I’m the biggest piece of crap out of all of them. It’s not about thinking I’m better. It’s about thinking I’m disconnected. I don’t agree with some of the choices they’ve made but they seem to be far more comfortable with themselves than I am with myself. And maybe being content with your choices, whether they be good or bad, is more important than trying to play it safe and make no choice at all, like in my case.
They have families, albeit accidental ones. But there seems to be love there. When you look past the camouflage, you can see a closeness. They’re not highbrow, but they’re a family and that’s really all that matters. It’s more than I can say. I’m the odd guy out, the only one not partnered up. They might have Honey Boo Boo caliber class but I’m the Christmas curmudgeon.
The next day they rushed my grandmother to the emergency room because her coughing got worse.
And then we took down the Christmas tree.
“I have heard it said love endures all things, now I know that it’s true,
stronger than the grave, death can’t put it out, here I am, the walking dead,
still next to you…”
-Showbread, George Romero will be at our Wedding
We decorated Valentine bags at work so everyone could put goodies in them. Everyone decorated their bags with sticker hearts and puff paint, which is all well and good but I wanted to do something a bit different.
I designed my bag around the Showbread song George Romero will be at our Wedding. It’s about a zombie who vomits up a wedding ring and realizes he ate his wife. He eventually finds her, zombified, and they stay together, despite them both being dead. It’s about how love can overcome all things, even death. It’s actually a really meaningful message beneath all the entrails.
I wanted to draw a vomiting zombie on the bag but then I thought I’d put Photoshop to good use and designed the zombie dude in the program and printed him out. I taped him to the bag, which gave a nice 3D effect. And instead of just drawing vomit, I made it interactive so you can spin the vomit around.
I also created a QR code which links to the song and on the back of the bag, I printed the song lyrics. So you’ve got your physical, visual, and auditory interaction, which I thought was pretty neat.
|Here’s what the bag looks like.|
|Here’s the back of the bag with the song lyrics.|
For the first time, I actually followed through with a resolution. I wanted to lose weight. I did. I didn’t lose as much as I wanted but that’s no matter because I still did it and consistently worked on it all year. I have not conquered my weight and I suspect I never will but I do feel I have a better grasp on it than I used to so I consider that a victory.
But I’m not done. I still want to lose more.
And I want to do more.
For 2013, I want to become more financially responsible. I’m old now and I literally cannot afford to be so careless with my spending.
I want to finish my book (and get published if possible). I’m so close already. I’ve finished writing it and I’ve done a first edit. I need to finish my second edit, write up all the changes, get some “test” readers, take their opinions into consideration, then publish that baby so I can start seeing the ones of tens of dollars roll in.
I’d like to re-discover my passion for drawing.
I want to find God again. This one is a bit ambitious since a lot of people spend their whole lives trying to find God. Not sure I can do that in a span of one year. Maybe I just mean I want to find peace with how I feel about God. Confession time: I don’t think I’m a Christian anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to be but I don’t think it’s fair to the true Jesus followers to call myself one because I would set a bad example to others. But hopefully I can either come around (still waiting for God to come around) or I will just remain agnostic or maybe I’ll go in a completely different direction and become a Buddhist.
I want to accept myself for who I am and who I will never be.
I tried the whole “alive” thing earlier this year and having a pulse hurt worse than withering. I’ve retired the resurrection and have returned to rotting. Sorry to disappoint. I’ve made peace with it, though. I don’t have time to worry about a beating heart when I’ve got bills to pay. I’ll get all that sorted out later when I can concentrate on it. For now, I’ll just continue to coast as a corpse.
Cheers to the new year.
I waited a whole year for this picture.
When I saw the picture of my sister and me together last Christmas, I was heartbroken. I was so big. How did I get that large and not notice? I’m sure I was in denial, sure I could ignore it until things in my life changed for the better so I could focus on bettering myself. But nothing changed and when I saw the photo, I knew I had to be that change.
I told myself I would not repeat that Christmas picture looking the way I did. Long time readers will know I’ve been dieting and exercising all year. I’ve lost approximately 50 pounds. I’ve probably gained at least 10 of them back in the past 2 months (I’ve been too ashamed to weigh myself lately so I don’t know the exact number) due to birthday bingeing but that’s another entry for another time. For now, I want to focus on the positive. Yes, I actually can do that sometimes.
I was excited to take this year’s Christmas picture, anxious to see the changes. It wasn’t as big of a transformation as I was hoping. Sure, clothing and lighting and angles play a significant role in revealing the body but I thought 50 pounds would show a more dramatic change. That’s not to say I’m not happy with the difference. I definitely look better and I’m happier where I am right now. I can mostly tell in my face, which is good. But I still have a belly.
I’m working on it, though. I didn’t put the weight on in a year and it will take more than a year to lose it.
I’m cool with that as long as I’m always making progress.
Starting January 1st, I’m going to begin my diet and exercise anew and at the end of the year, I’ll take another Christmas picture and hopefully I’ll see more positive changes. And no man boobs.
|Left: Christmas 2011 with my sister. Right: Christmas 2012 with my sister.|
Our tree came out really well this year so I thought I’d share some pictures. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/desired holiday of choice/day off from work and/or school.
|Not the standard tree topper. I like it.|
|Moses says, “Where are all my presents?”|
|“Seriously. I’ll lie here until you bring them.”|
|“This is where I want you to put all of my presents. And then I’ll eat the bows.”|
I’m full of cake and milk and malice so bear with me.
Thanksgiving wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated. We usually all congregate at my dad’s mother’s house, as per tradition. But, through the years, every time one of my male cousins reaches sexual maturity, he knocks up some girl and then has to visit her relatives for the holidays. This has led to a decreased number of relatives who come over. Fine by me. This year, it was mostly my sister and me and our cousin and his boyfriend. We all sat in the living room while the relatives with children sat in the kitchen and the older relatives sat in the dining room.
My sister and cousin mostly talked about drinking. I don’t drink so I didn’t have much to add to the conversation. And as much as I might have residual ill feelings toward my sister, she’s quite the comedian. My cousin’s boyfriend really took a shine to her with her quick wit and sardonic delivery. I’m telling you guys, she’s more cynical than I am. But she’s funny so she can get away with it. I just sat back with my lemon pie and listened.
At one point, some random toddler waddled in and went over to where my sister was sitting and just stared at her. Shannon visibly tensed up as the little girl bore a hole in her head with her inquisitive eyes.
“Who is that?” I whispered to her.
“I don’t know but she’s freaking me out.” Then, she got up away from the girl, cringed, then sat closer to me. The little girl kept staring. Shannon kept freaking.
I’m telling you guys, she’ dislikes kids more than I do. She’s a bitchier, female version of me. I can respect that.
Black Friday wasn’t as bad as anticipated, either. Had to be there at 6AM instead of the usual 3:30AM. I did have an irrational fear of sudden diarrhea, though, based on the enormous amount of fried turkey and greasy mac and cheese I ate the day before. Fortunately, I made it through without any oozing. The five shots of Pepto I did before I went to bed and the five more after I woke up might have helped me out with that.
Surprisingly, I also didn’t have many rude customers. Although, I did have a few gray hairs who came up to me and said something along the lines of, “Excuse me. I have two shopping carts and three shopping bags filled to the brim with clothing and there’s approximately twenty people in line behind me but could you tell me the price of each piece of clothing as you scan it thanks!”
And I’m all like:
|But I did have time for a cold pop.|
It was also ugly Christmas sweater day at work. I looked so hard to find a freaking Christmas sweater. Looked for an entire week. There just wasn’t anything out there. I finally found one at one store but they only had about three to choose from. I guess I lucked out.
I tried to get a coworker to take these pictures and as you can tell, she flunked out of cell phone photography 101. Every time she tapped the screen, I saw the phone move.
|This was the result. Ehh.|
“How about you grip the phone tighter and lightly tap on the screen,” I said.
“Okay,” she responded.
|Not only is it blurry but look at that composition. I mean…really.|
“So, are you hung over or something?” I asked her. I could have done a better job taking the picture myself. With my feet.
I made her drink a big cup of coffee and give it another go. It still required some cropping and editing but I didn’t want to be a creep about the picture taking so I settled with this picture:
|Guess who this girl is??|
Happy Halloween, boils and ghouls. I carved a pumpkin on Sunday…or I attempted to. It turned out crap ’cause I tried to get fancy with it by shading and highlighting and…no. Carving isn’t as easy as it might seem at first. Maybe if I had a couple of pumpkins to practice with, I could have gotten the hang of it but my hand started cramping so I just gave up. Anyway, here’s some pictures of the gutting process.
|Our stray cat who adopted us wanted to help. “Here, gimme that knife. Let me show you how to do it.”|
Went back to work Monday after my wonderful week-long holiday. It was fantastic. I didn’t do a thing and have no regrets. I did, however, eat a ton of crap. Over the course of seven days, I ended up eating a pumpkin cheesecake, a pumpkin cupcake, another pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, pumpkin spice cake donuts, pumpkin spice latte, and a pumpkin spiced danish. Now, my reasoning is pretty simple. All the pumpkin-flavored items are seasonal. If I didn’t snatch up that goodness, I’d have to wait until next year. I was literally eating that stuff like it was going out of style…because it was.
I also enjoyed watching AMC’s Fearfest, which included a Friday the 13th marathon and random horror movies. I also Netflixed the Saw movies and played some Resident Evil 6. Also, the premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum and freaking The Walking Dead! It was all about the gore and the gluttony and it was great.
It was just nice to relax and enjoy waking up late and going to bed late and being lazy. I didn’t even shave. I’ve been wanting to grow a beard for a while now, mostly because I never have before and wanted to see if I could pull one off. No Shave November is next month and I thought I’d participate but I also wanted to get a couple of week’s head start. I thought if I grew a pre-beard now, it wouldn’t look so shabby when Thanksgiving came around.
And then I went back to work and any energy I had managed to recover last week was gone within the first 15 minutes. But everyone liked the facial hair. I expected negative reactions but they were actually overwhelmingly positive.
Work girlfriend’s jaw dropped and she gasped. I thought it was out of disgust but she later told me it was because she thought I looked really attractive, to the point she couldn’t look at me without getting a little excited. That was a good little confidence booster. And let me just add really quick, because I’ve already said I didn’t want to really mention her anymore, she text blasted my phone the week I was gone. It was actually kind of annoying. It’s like, go text your boyfriend. I’m unavailable over here, being awesome growing a beard and blowing heads off zombies. Back off my dick, ya know?
So, work sucks. I came back with an IDGAF attitude, which probably wasn’t the best because I had to train two new girls my first day back. Work is gearing up for the Christmas rush so they’ve hired a bunch of losers to stand at the counter and struggle to make change for the next two months and I’m over it.
It was also brought to my attention that a lot of drama went down while I was gone. I’m starting to believe that, while there’s always going to be some sort of drama anywhere you go, it seems to be more concentrated in small towns. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I just think that drama, much like pregnancy, is prolific simply because there’s nothing better to do. It’s like, we can either go into the woods for a quick poke or start a rumor about Leona and her body pillow.
I just feel like, why can’t we all get along? What do you get from lying or telling half-truths or flat out making crap up? We all hate our jobs and we all hate the customers so why can’t we come together to counteract our putrid patrons?
I’m just tired of the same crap and feel like I can’t trust anyone there. They’re all so sneaky and it’s unfortunate they spend their energy being destructive. I understand I’m one cynical mofo but I don’t go around tearing people down every chance I get. So, basically, everyone can suck it.
Man, I love October.
My staycation is over.
I had to go to back to work three days ago and not ten minutes into my shift, I broke out into a major sweat. The air conditioner must have broken while I was away. And it does it every year. Every summer, more specifically. Of course.
And maybe half an hour later, a group of scuzzy white boys came in and spat chewing tobacco on the fitting room floor. Our customers are all class.
Yeah, I was back in full swing.
I was so stress-free while I was on holiday. Sure, I pressured myself to write more and work on finishing the first edit of my book (which I didn’t even touch), but other than being my own bully, things were great. Even greater when my parents were gone for two days.
I felt content. My skin was clearer. I was refreshed and much less despondent. But of course, as soon as I walked into that low rent cesspool of losers, the emptiness sank in again. All energy regained in those several days was drained in several minutes, due to the intense heat and intense idiocy of customers and coworkers alike.
It just showed me how much that job is killing me. The mental energy I have to expend to put up with everyone is incredible. It’s no wonder I’m not inspired to write or draw or do anything creative. The first thing I want to do when I get home is eat and then take a nap so I can wake up and go right back to bed.
I only worked two days and now I have another day off today and I need it. I don’t even have any plans. If I couldn’t get anything accomplished in seven days, there’s no hope for a productive one day. But I’m fine with that because although I didn’t do anything constructive, I still did what I wanted, which was….
|You’re pretty much looking at my vacation. Nothing fancy but effective. Regrets? A few. Refreshing? Definitely.|