This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Things I've Pretty Much Had My Fill Of (and yes I know that ends with a preposition -- it's 2005 for crap's sake)

Living in the world often bothers me, I won't deny it. If that makes me weak, I don't care, because weakness doesn't matter. Weakness is often good. But sometimes the sheer weight of living in the world for days and days without letting off any steam or even acknowledging in any real way the crap that exists in it causes me to run down like your car's brakes or Steve Nash in the Playoffs. When I become run-down like that, usually some watershed event makes me realize, "Hey, I'm sick of a bunch of crap", and I try to recount to myself the things I am sick of.

One time, in college, I did this for my roommate and his then-girlfriend (now wife). They seemed to enjoy it, probably because I'm normally so stoic. It made me a real person to them. You also may have noticed that I often gripe about things here on this blog. This is helpful to me. It keeps me from going crazy.

Several events have caused me to really want to vent my furnace-like mind lately. You may have noticed my job frustration. That's constant. But remember this post, where I had to give somebody their tip back? That's not so constant. That's downright unique. You may be asking yourself, "Mike, how come you can't just deal with that and move on?" But you saying that makes me think of, which makes my state of mind worse. Gosh, why did you have to bring up politics? Anyway, here are the other things that by themselves were no big deal but together have started to weigh on me:

The money problems I have alluded to a few times on this blog have started to press in on me. It's virtually all tax-related, which makes me mad at the MAN. Where is my tax-money going? To war in Iraq, which makes me think of politics again, and all the crazy people on both sides. Add to my own money problems the fact that the school my wife works at is putting a lower priority on paying employees than they are abiding by church council decisions (a long story which makes me really crazy, so I'm not going to say any more), which may cause us to not get paid* at the end of this month. They're having a voters meeting at church this Sunday, which I'm probably going to have to show up at, which will probably take at least 2 hours, which will ruin my Sunday. I now work 60 hours a week because of my own money problems -- I don't have time to ruin one of my two free afternoons just because these people can't get their priorities straight. Of course, adding to this feeling of utter exasperation is the fact that we don't contribute enough monetarily to church, which I feel guilty about but again, we have no money.
Think about this -- church is the place I go to get some persepctive on life, and all I think about when I'm there is how they're threatening not to pay us.

Good Manager is leaving Papa John's, which is a change. Change at the restaurant is usually bad, at least temporarily. I'm going to have to adjust to a new manager. This is a small thing, but if they get a psycho, I might have a quitting story to put up on the blog. And then what will I do about money?

Did you know there's a network called "Wealth TV"? We were watching it in HD at work. It's all about the lifestyles of the opulent and what you could be doing if you had more money. The real issue with me is I've had it with superficial people who never learned that money can't buy happiness. They walk around like it does -- it's amazing. The ancient Egyptians figured it out, but thousands of years later we still have people who seek after a swanky lifestyle and look down upon those who won't join in with them. But we're just jealous of them, right? It's not just Wealth TV -- we're being inundated with this crap. From Rich Girls to Laguna Beach to Sheer Dallas on TLC to Gastineau Girls to Everything on the E! Channel to yes, My Super Sweet Sixteen. They're just pushing the idea that people used to go to college to get drummed out of their heads -- that people are different (better) if they have more money, and that pursuing outward wealth is better than pursuing inward wealth. And they think that inward wealth means a trip to the shrink or a weekend at the spa. As My Super Sweet Sixteen showed us all, it's parents who let their kids be like this. Grow the heck up, all y'all.

And then there's the plastic surgery that is threatening to make all opulent women look like one of the Barbie Twins. I don't think I need to tell you that the puffed-up stretch-face is grody. Look at Jerry Jones. It's like they don't understand that their lives are empty. You know what I saw on Elimidate last week? A girl who was competing actually said that the guy she wold be competing for "had better be established". What the hell does "established" mean? I guess if you have to ask, that means you're not. No wonder the divorce rate is through the roof -- people are getting married based on level of "establishment". Whatever happened to being open to people and marrying a quality person you like? Was that just me? It's as if they're trying to avoid that whole "for better and for worse" stuff. And don't even get me started on the rich guys these girls pursue and their empty heads and hearts. Let's move on to something else before I project actual bile.

I was awarded two traffic tickets by the City of Richardson -- one for doing a rolling stop at a stopsign at 8:00 at night with no other cars around, and one for doing 52 in a 35 (in a tunnel with no cross streets for a quarter-mile in either direction. The cop was hiding on foot at the end of the tunnel with a radar gun. Why don't they just call it a toll tunnel and get it over with?). 'Nuff Said.

I found a website filled with drunk Chicagoans who are so cool that they view Christians as some sort of breed of neo-Nazi sheep. I'm not going to promote them, but they are way too cool for me. I guess viewing people as individuals goes out the window when they're not drunk douchbags like them. It would help if you saw the website, I know. Sorry.

I will get more general with it, since that's the order of the day, and tell you that I don't understand drunkeness. I don't understand smoking, either -- or pot, or X, or any drug at all, really. A lot of my day is spent trying to make myself clear on things, since I'm usually in a sort of haze from pillow to pillow. I can't imagine ever wanting to be impaired or more hazy, or wanting to just do things uninhibitedly and not be able to remember it. Is it because you become someone else, someone more fun? I'm mostly referring to drinking here. My wife does drink, and she knows I just don't get it. Part of the deal is that when I get a little buzzed I just want to crawl in bed and take a nap immediately. It's not a very social thing for me, and I don't understand how sociality can be helped by constantly fighting through a haze to get thoughts out.

And then there's smoking. I know a lot of smokers, and like a lot of smokers. But I really don't get it at all -- you're inhaling smoke, do you realize that? I mean, maybe I could understand if they were handing them out for free or something, but cigarettes cost a ton. Is it the looking cool thing? Nobody yet has given me an answer to this, and I'm beginning to think there isn't one, or that it's a big secret that people hope I stop talking about.

And if you're a smoker, and I mention that it's bad for your health, don't assume it's because I think I'm better than you. I don't. If you were sticking an icepick in your eye and getting blood all over your shirt and I pointed that out to you, would that make me a bad person? Would that make me a holier-than-thou hypocrite? In fact, while we're on the subject, never assume I think I'm better than you, because you will be wrong, and I will be perturbed.

Last night when I was delivering a pizza order to this one rickety house, I walked past a man sitting in his car in the driveway. He said "hi" to me, and I said "hi" back. He then started the car and closed the door as I walked by. As I got to the porch, I could tell that the guy said something, but I didn't know what that something was. I rang the doorbell. The next thing I knew, I was being called a M-F'er and being freaked out upon. He apparently had asked me what the price was, and didn't like the fact that I didn't acknowledge his question right away. He came to the door and I explained to him that I didn't hear him, but he didn't believe me. Oh, by the way, and since it's important to him, I will mention that this was a black man. He was sure I thought he was going to rob me or something. He made an explicit point of letting me know he wasn't tipping me, and I left angry. I'm going to speak right now for all white people in America, and I'm going to speak to the black man: This (and OJ) is why we roll our eyes every time somebody cries racism when there is no racism. I understand, postmodernism has taught you that you can never be either wrong or too suspicious. Postmodernism is untenable and based on nothing. Grow the heck up, al y'all.**

Last night on the radio I heard a guy on the radio assert that the appendix was evidence that God was not infallible. Because we know everything there is to know about both God and the appendix, apparently. There is nothing quite like agnostic presumptuousness. And he was so smug about it, probably thinking he was better than us Nazi Sheep. It was his tone that made me angry more than anything else.

There's also the Starflyer 59 iTunes thing; not being able to see my wife at all; working in a closet 39 hours a week; our non-economy that has produced a herd of affluence-addicted spongeheads and given the rest of us a stiff-arm to the jaw; and many, many more things.

But hey, the blog's going well. And I appreciate everyone's comments and e-mails very much. If you don't want to see me vent, go back and un-read this post. I'm joyful and content, I really am.

* I first typed "payed", stared at it for a while wondering what was wrong, and finally thought of what the word actually was. The fact that I have to waste time figuring out how to spell words because I'm an idiot is not helping the situation, let me tell you.
**You may have guessed that this was in fact the watershed event that forced me to compose this rant. You're right.


  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger the professional said…

    hi michael. i've been reading your blog in secret for some time now. while it saddens me that my days of stealth reading are over, i found myself unable to refrain from commenting on this one.

    the problem with any argument -- at least for those of us who aren't ignorant -- is that, inevitably, both stances are highly predictable. meaning, for you or i, if we were given the topic of an argument between two opposing people representing major opinions, we could easily highlight the major points of each side without even hearing/reading the actual argument. discourse, unfortunately, is rarely fresh and/or inteligent; rather, different people with the same opinions continually have identical arguments at the same time in different places all the time. ooh la la. get a load of that sentence, will ya?

    in my attempt to respond to your musings about drinking, smoking, and drugs, i hope to provide you with actual thought-provoking clarity rather than be Joe Q. SubstanceUsing 22 year-old -- reciting the opposing stance you have come to know and expect. if i fail to do so, i will have done us both a great disservice.

    the simplest way i've found to describe the joy of smoking to non-smokers is through a simple analogy: in the same way that eating has extrinsic joy for those who are hungry, so does each cigarette have for a smoker. when i'm really hungry, i genuinely look forward to a big, tasty meal. when i'm eating said meal, i feel a grattitude that, while maybe slightly glutinous, is no less enjoyable. the same goes for cigarettes -- it's about the satisfying of a craving. i assume you've worked yourself into a sweat now and again that has left you so thirsty you couldn't stand it. chugging those 11 glasses of water until your belly ached was SO satisfying, wasn't it? smoking a cigarette when you're really jonesin' for one is the same way. now, that's not to say there isn't something intrinsically evil about cigarettes. i began smoking the summer after my first year of college. i spent most of that summer playing poker in a gazebo with friends. a few of them picked up smoking to pass the time. it seemed like an enjoyable enough activity, so i too began to smoke. now, it's important to note that i had already found a small amount of satisfaction in smoking cigars throughout high school -- there's an unexplainable allure to inhaling and exhaling smoke for any teen. so, at the time that i moved to cigarettes, it didn't seem like such a big life decision. sure, looking back, i wish i had never started smoking. but it's NOT because i don't love smoking. because, between you, me, and the rest of your readers, i LOVE smoking like no one i've ever met before. i love satisfying that craving. i love the alone time it grants me when i remove myself from a situation, light a smoke, relax, and be with my thoughts. maybe that sounds stupid; maybe it is. dismiss it if that's the case. but i think my point about hunger/thirst and cravings is interesting, if not slightly validating. and the point about wishing i never started is not so much about regret as it is about wishing i never knew how satisfying cigarettes could be. yeah, they cost money; but to this smoker, at this time in his life, it's worth every penny*

    *(seems stupid to have the footnote asterisk when i'm just going to put the footnote directly under it. but i thought you should know that my cigarettes cost $2.20 a pack. pretty friggin' cheap.)

    moving on (gawsh i hope there's not a word limit. blogger, i swear to benedict XVI, if you tell me there's a character limit after i submit this i will scour my cupboards for as many cans of whoopass as i can find and open each one consecutively until you bleed html code).

    about drinking; unlike you, michael, i don't spend my pillow to pillow time already trying to sort through haze. this is no diss on you, i just don't feel that way. sure, sometimes things get hazy when i'm drinking, and oh baby, have i experienced some regret post-binge, but more than anything, having some drinks is about letting go. to quote the great Lord Frou Frou:

    Let Go, so let go, jump in, ooh well what you waiting for, it's alright, cuz there's beauty in the breakdown; Let Go, ooh let go, just get in, oh it's so amazing, it's alright, cuz there's beauty in the breakdown.

    granted, to the sober layman, there are few things more ridiculous and embarrassing than a slurring, stumbling drunk. but said drunk doesn't feel that way. in fact, if you asked her/him, they'd probably tell you (between sips, hiccups, or piss breaks), to "lighten up and get crunk foo!" i know i would. sheesh. also, a quick note about you feeling tired and wanting to crawl into bed when you get buzzed. don't take this the wrong way, but this is just one of the phases of a maturing drinker. ha. ha. hiccup. ha. i know you're cringing at that last statement. but hear me out. every young drinker goes through phases before they can maturely handle alcohol. some, indoubadidly (sic) can never maturely handle alcohol. but most progress like this:

    Out of Control Drunk (also known as the First Timer): if they get started young, stealing sips of 80 proof booze from an unlocked liqour cabinet, they get quickly find themselves unable to control their actions. vision gets blurry. reality becomes skewed. coordination takes the night off. the first time i got drunk (14) my parents were out of town and, although my sister repeatedly tried to lock me in my bedroom, i continued to escape and do laps around the perimeter of the house in my boxers. you get the idea.

    Tired Drunk (also known as the Second Through Sixth Timer): this is a bummer of a phase, because, like your experience, it sucks. you get drunk, you get tired, and all you want to do is collapse somewhere and be left alone. drinking has no appeal when this happens (unless you're drinking in order to sleep, in which case, well, nevermind). this can still happen, even for the Experienced Drinker. if you've had a long day, are in a quiet setting with only a few people and minimal distractions, it's easy to become tired. i'm sure people who drink alone feel this way often; i have never drank by myself, so i don't know.

    Sexual Predator Drunk (also known as the College Drunk): in my experience, alcohol makes people horny. it also gives them 'dem ol' tried and true Beer Goggles, which increases their chances of scoring the Winning Touchdown in the Big Game. 'nuff said.

    and then finally you have your

    Drink cuz you Enjoy the Taste and Hey, Waddya Know, Get All Happy, Talkative, and Fun Drunk (also known as Me). 'nuff said.

    just so you know, i don't enjoy losing my inhibitions all that often. for me, that's different than the aforementioned "letting go." i've just had some really great random drunk conversations with people that i never would have had sober. 5am, drinking my umpteenth beer, smoking a cigarette, gazing in the general direction of the stars-type conversations that i wouldn't trade for anything. i'm just being honest. take it for what it's worth.

    and finally, to wrap this horrendous mess up, i'll touch on the concept of drugs. i have only done two (2) "drugs" in my entire life. the first is marijuana, the second is mushrooms. although i understand it sounds stupid, both grow and have no added chemicals in them. sure, mushrooms are technically poison, but i'm not putting Borax in my nose or arm and i sure as hell ain't using no needles for goodness sakes. first about pot: pot has no psycheleldic qualities. you never leave reality. in fact, i'd say that when i smoke pot, life becomes more real in some ways. i think about life differently, michael, than i would normally. oh sure, sometimes i'm just staring at a bright color or zoning off on some television show, but that's not what i like to do. i like to smoke pot because i have these great thoughts and conversations sometimes that, again, would never happen sober. pot provides me a different and unique way of examining the world around me. i think that's a very way to enjoy something as controversial as marijuana. i'm not the swollen-eyed, munchie-gettin', "oh totally right on man"-sayin', retard that comes to the door to pay for pizza. maggie and i like to smoke some pot, kick back in some comfies, and play Rummy 500. or we'll smoke some pot, pack a blanket and some bottles of water and go for a walk. your brain focuses so intensely on every passing image and thought that you can't help but become completely enveloped in your surroundings. i can see why so many people find "drug" use irresponsible, weak, dangerous, and stupid, but i really feel like i have benefitted from it. i enjoy the opportunity to step outside of the box sometimes.

    speaking of stepping outside of the box, i'll quickly end on mushrooms. mushrooms have two components: the stem or stalk gives your body a very intense body buzz. meaning, you feel all tingly and little numb, and little liquidy even sometimes. the cap or flower (the part that you think of when you see a mushroom) has the psychedelic qualities -- the "visuals." this is what makes colors wavy and light dance and freshly fallen snow look like it's glowing. unlike LSD or Acid, when you're on mushrooms, nothing happens that isn't actually happening -- if i'm looking at this poster of the little prince next to me, he won't stand up, walk out of the poster, and start talking to me. that's what nightmares and serious drug users are made of. mushrooms makes you feel very giddy, happy, excited, and relaxed at the same time. again, it's a different way to experience the world around you. i fear, now, that i'm starting to slip into what conservative non-substance/drug users would see as the Standard Argument, and i don't want to lose the trust of you or any of your readers.

    i just want to say that i am not a burnout, a fuckup, or chemically-dependant. i am bright, inquisitive, sensitive, creative, and curious, and i am leading my life exactly the way i want to be, drinking, smoking, and experiencing exactly the way i want.

    as they say, diffrn't strokes for diffrn't folks.

    i hope that a few of these sentences were both clear of typos and interesting to you.


  • At 10:03 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Whew. You see, that's what I've yearned for -- someone to explain this all to me. I do stand by what I said, and my not having any desire whatsoever to get drunk, crunk, etc.

    I think I'm there with you on the cigarettes craving satisfaction thing. This is going to seem strange, but the bottom of my feet itch. I don't know if it's just dry skin or some fungus or what, but there's a specific spot of skin on the bottom of my feet that gets unstoppably itchy once every couple of days. Even though I know the skin will crack and my feet will hurt and I'll even bleed, I cannot stop myself from itching it. It feels sooooooooo good to do it, and if I were thinking about it I would be looking forward to it constantly. I'm also sure the craving for cigs is a more constant thing than that. I will say this: just like I regret what the skin on the bottom of my feet has become, I think you'll eventually regret the health problems you may be causing with the smoking, when you're older. I also understand why wou wouldn't want to think about that now. Not with (i forgot the name of the brand you smoke, but I know it's popular with the "can bums") "brand X" at rock bottom prices! Just kidding.

    And I don't even want to get into me and caffeine. I'm not sure this blog would get even half of the posts I give it without my morning 275-calorie caffeinated sugar bomb. I'm telling you this because I really liked your explanation of a lot of things, and it seriously answered a bunch of my lingering questions -- questions I've had for years.

    There's a difference between getting drunk and drinking for fun, I realize that. I personally will never progress past the sleepy stage, because it just doesn't feel right to me. It's not a moral issue or conscience issue, I just don't feel like me. Also, I've had conversations like you describe never having touched a drop. Maybe i'm just naturally chill.

    Part of it is my age -- I'm long gone from college, and letting go doesn't have the appeal to me that it once did. I'm not inhibited, which may mean that what I really am is boring. You know what? I can live with that, because it's me.

    Ultimately, I would say that all the drugs you've brought up have benefits and drawbacks built in. Believe it or not, I do think that God made marijuana and schrooms with a good purpose in mind. As your former teacher's husband, it's my duty to inform you that drugs are illegal for a reason. People can become obsessed with them or use them to Constantly Forget things they need to fricking deal with. I doubt that this decribes you, but it could. Only you can answer that, and you have.

    In closing, I still think that drugs/smoking/drinking are generally stupid, but so is NBA LIVE 2005 and scratching my foot and any number of other things we all do. I believe that God gives us a certain amount of freedom to experience things He created and Knows About non-destructively and in moderation.
    The trick is to figuring out what stuff we personally need to stay away from, because everyone has at least one thing that they're drawn to that destroys them inside.

    Thanks for taking the time to write all this and for giving me the mental picture of 14-year-old drunk Andrew doing laps around his house in his boxers.


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