viking

This is the longest number of days I’ve ever written in a row. I figured if I was ever going to write something worth reading, I had better get started. Forty is on the horizon and you don’t get to call yourself a writer unless you write.

I don’t exactly categorize blogging as true writing, but it’s useful to hep develop a habit of working. There are a few pieces and paragraphs I’ve put down in the last 100 days that I quite enjoy. I’m not sure what I’ll do with all this.

So, what have I learned from this experience so far? Let’s do a top ten list.

  1. Lots of people have the same experiences. All of the entries I thought were almost too personal seemed to resonate the most. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about very intimate subjects. It’s reassuring to me that these things I thought were so wrong are common.
  2. Writing about politics is great for traffic, but terrible for the spirit. The posts where I shit on Sanders or Clinton or Trump are easily the most popular. I think I was hitting the right voice because I was regularly getting likes and shares from people of radically different political backgrounds. But it was making me miserable. I don’t like  the irritation and anger I feel towards events that are totally out of my control. So I stopped (sort of).
  3. People really like angry self-help. There are a few entires that I’ve banged out quickly that have kind of a nihilistic Tony Robbins vibe. I actually really like the self-help genre, especially the older books that more or less tell you to stop being a loser and that if you fail, it’s your fault. I think that’s commonly known as tough love.
  4. Writing in the morning is better. If I had my druthers, I’d go to sleep at 8pm and get up at 5am. Every time I write early, it’s crisper and needs less editing.
  5. Writing stoned is a mixed bag. Most of the entries I’ve written under the influence of cannabis are terrible. However, a few of the best sentences I’ve written have been inspired. Hemingway used to have this idea that you should “Write drunk and edit sober.” I think this might be backwards, or at least need some kind of tweak. I’d probably get the best results by writing sober, editing later sober, an then punch up some of the boring spots later in the evening with the help of the Devil’s Cabbage
  6. I don’t like most blog writing. I’ve tried reading other people’s blogs and most of them are terrible. The ones that do have promise are often mired in the author’s own terrible efforts to promote their work. I post my entries on a few social media sites, but I feel any of the energy I might spend on other promotions would be better spent on better writing. The difference between being a blogger and a writer seems to have a lot to do with bloggers having promotion strategies that are pursued as diligently as the actual writing. This seems wrong to me.
  7. The best praise is from other writers. I love to hear when people enjoy my writing, but the times it means the most is when that praise comes from people who write (even other bloggers).
  8. Writing every day isn’t that hard. Seriously. Anyone can do this. The trick is to set the bar very low. My rule is three sentences and a picture. I don’t think I’ve written under 500 words a post since I started.
  9. I really like Brain Pickings. The closest blog to what my goal blog looks like is Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. Her life is basically a few hours of reading classics and a few hours of writing about their relevance to modern problems. She’s less autobiographical than I am, but her personality comes through and her choice of material is great.
  10. This is just the beginning. 100 posts is a good start, but it’s not even a 1/3 of the way through. The first hundred didn’t blast past. It felt like a grind. Imminently doable, but definitely slow going in places. It’s nor time for laurel resting.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for me today. I stayed up late watching TV and am suffering mightily for it. See you jokers tomorrow.

viking

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Tomorrow I will write my 100th post. This marks the longest stretch of creative work I’ve ever done. Some of it has been good, some of it not so much. It’s been creeping towards a consistently earnest voice, though, and that’s my jam.

The advice column has been my favorite thing to write. It always ends up being too much about me because I’m prone to autobiographical narcissism as a tool for self understanding, but it does allow me to get out of my own experience a bit and think about others.

Anyway, here goes number 12.

Is it ok to be angry?

 Yes. Yes it is. It’s a completely natural and underrated emotion. The thing to be careful with about anger, other than potentially turning to the Dark Side, is that you do not say or do anything you might later regret. This takes discipline.

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Keeping a furious rage kindling in your heart without lashing out or appearing to be a twat is not always easy. Whatever you do, don’t be verbally abusive to people you care about. And don’t write checks your ass can’t cash when dealing with strangers.

I give two thumbs up to riding rage waves, but it has to be done in style. Quiet, slow building anger, the kind that Clint Eastwood displayed in The Unforgiven is what you’re going for. Not a toddler with a full diaper or girl caught with a fake ID fit.

How do I know if I should quit drinking?

I’m going to refer to “drinking” as a stand in for any addictive behavior in this answer. You might have a drinking problem, but you could have any number of addictive tendencies. Drinking is just the most common because alcohol is everywhere.

One of my favorite books on addiction is Dr. Gabor Matte’s In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts. It’s about the Dr.’s experience treating addicts at a flop-house populated by severe addicts in Vancouver, Canada. It’s like reading a novelized version of the show Intervention. The Dr. is very empathetic because he has his own addiction; he obsessively collects classical music CDs.

I definitely relate to that weird obsession. I am almost powerless to buying obscure books. I currently own more unread books than I could probably read in three years. I was always a heavy reader, but when I quit drinking, I became obsessive about it. That’s the trick to managing addiction. You have to get hooked on something more positive. Exercise is a pretty good one to get hooked on.

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I love romantic comedies.

No one ever asks about cutting back on drinking. The people who need to cut back either do, or they don’t and they end up in trouble. If you’re already asking about this, there’s probably trouble afoot.

There are a few classic indicators you might have a drinking problem that needs attention. The first is that people are telling you there’s a problem. Or they’re expressing concern. If this is happening to you, you probably have good friends that actually care about you. You should at least hear them out. If you feel the need to create an elaborate defense  about how you’re doing fine and it’s just a part of your master Andy Kauffman-like plan to dominate the world, it’s time to come to Jesus. You’re fucking up.

The second indicator is that you’re floundering at work. If your performance is diminished either by showing up wasted or severely hung over, you’ve got a big problem. The best way to keep fucking up and drinking without consequence is to own a bar, but know that your employees will hate you and steal from you, and that you deserve it.

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Leaving Las Vegas is inspirational. 

The third indicator is that you are no longer doing things you enjoy because of drinking. Maybe you skip the gym. You might not meet up with your buddies to play Dungeons & Dragons. When drinking becomes the thing you like more than anything else you get very boring. Boredom is the devil’s playground.

I quit drinking when I was 22. I didn’t go to AA meetings. I didn’t go to rehab. I just quit. This is not the normal route for most people, so I don’t have ay groundbreaking secrets.

Going turkey like I did and staying off the sauce is incredibly rare. I actually kind of have a biological advantage for this. I get severe hangovers. My hangovers involve puking, diarrhea, heartburn, and migraines. The cost of drinking was so severe; it was an easy decision to make. It was rough going for about a month, but mainly because so much of my identity was tied into being a person who would get hammered and do crazy shit.

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Mondays. Right?

I didn’t ever go to meetings myself, but I did have the benefit of being very close friends with some other sober bartenders, most notably my best friend Josh. I really credit him with showing that not drinking was possible. Mrs. Lott is also a non-drinker, and that is huge for me.

If any part of this answer resonates, I think the best thing you can do is look for an AA style meeting. I’ve known people to go and realize they just needed to tighten a few things up, there’s something about hearing a truly awful story from someone who’s fucked up way worse that straightens people out.

What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you as a result of being nice?

I don’t know that anything particularly good happens to the nice, just for the sake of being nice. I’m interested in being kind because of the way it makes me feel. I want to live in a world of kind people, but it’s the times when I wasn’t so nice that correlate to forward movement in my life.

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This is how Woodstock died.

The world seems to be set up as a “kill or be killed” paradigm. What I like most about being nice, and where I get the most out of it, is it’s a big fuck you to the entropy and indifferent cruelty of the universe. It’s a way of saying “I will not bend to this chaos, this hatred.” Unfortunately I bend too often. But I’m working on it. I’m working on being kind. And so should you.

What’s the one thing you’ve eaten, only to regret it moments later?

It’s a toss up between LSD and a cold cow stomach salad I had in San Francisco with my buddy Chef Mike.

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When I was growing up, an old lady who was our neighbor told us she was a witch. To prove it, she told us she had the mark of a witch, a tooth growing from her tongue. When she stuck out her tongue, sure enough, there was a white tooth sticking out of it. She scared us into doing chores for her, like take out her trash. Was she a witch? What was the thing on her tongue?

 Let’s start with the tongue thing. Without seeing it myself, it’s hard to know what was actually going on. I think it would’ve either been a fake tooth prop or some kind of tumor. I looked through a bunch of websites that deal with dental anomalies and malformations, and didn’t find anything that really seemed to match. That said, there’re all kinds of crazy mutations that occur in this world. I don’t think it would’ve been impossible for it to be real.

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As a connoisseur of the strange and the supernatural, I’ve never heard this malformation used to prove witchery. Though, a “witch’s spot” was used by the inquisition to indentify who was to be burned at the stake. You can get a copy of an old book, The Malleus Malfernacum (The Witch’s Hammer), written as a manual for with hunters during the Dark Ages.

What people believed back then was unbelievably fucked up. But people still believe all kinds of dumb shit. This old lady probably wasn’t a witch, but she definitely was a manipulative creep.

 

 

 

 

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Chewbacca that ass up.

If you haven’t already seen the incredibly viral video of the mom who bought herself a Chewbacca mask, take a few minutes and do so. It’ll bring joy to your life, and if it doesn’t, it’ll be usefully diagnostic, alerting you to a serious case of cuntiness you might want to address with jungle drugs.

Here’s the video for your enlightenment:

People need to do more of this shit for themselves. Other people are not responsible for making you happy. That’s your job chummo. If you have endogenous happiness, you will improve the vibe when people are around you. Who knows, you’re goofy aura might be able to remove some twisted pagan curse off some grump?

There’s this writing book I really like called The Artist’s Way. It’s kind of a self help book for blocked creatives. It’s a very simple therapeutic program that I’ve found to be very powerful for moving into a more creative direction.

Like all self-help stuff I actually like, it’s very simple. You write everyday and you do something fun, just for yourself once a week. The writing part is called “The Morning Pages.” It’s a practice where you sit somewhere quiet, first thing in the morning, and bang out three handwritten pages of whatever happens to pop into your mind. It could be a rant. It could be word salad. It might be the next Twilight novel.

What this does is loosen you up, kind of primes the pump. When you’re in the habit of writing daily. it’s easier to get started. This daily writing in the morning more or less cured me of writer’s block. I’ve had a ton of freelance and have been published more in the last 18 months than I have in the previous 18 years. It all started with this practice. This blog is a version of the practice.

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I am aware that it makes me a bad person, but I find this hilarious.

The other thing you’re supposed to do is called an “Artist’s Date.” You pick a day each week where you will go and do something by yourself that will enrich your creative life. You don’t invite anyone and you keep to to yourself. Something you might not normally make time for is best. Some of the Artist’s Dates I’ve taken myself on have been a solo picnic with Fatted Calf Charcuterie, seeing a rare books exhibit at the SF Library, going to the Jewish Museum to see a Houdini exhibit, rock climbing, and running across San Francisco in a day (it’s pretty easy).

The Artist’s Date’s purpose is to give you fuel for your imagination. Things that take you out of your routine are best. You want to do something so good that when someone asks you what you’ve been up to, you can tell them something other than “oh so busy, like crazy” when all you’ve really been doing is surfing the internet during unnecessary meetings. Keep in mind though, these are for you, not an audience.

The Chewbacca Mask Lady took herself on an awesome date. It had al the right features. It was simple. It was silly. It made her laugh hysterically. And let time I checked like 60 million people have watched her laugh. Incredible.

If you haven’t taken yourself someplace recently, it’s totally worth doing. If you’ve got a wife or some other dependents, it can be hard to escape for yourself. I recommend lying to them. You’re going to the office. There’s some paper work at the DMV you had to take care of. Oh shit, didn’t you have a dentist appointment?

This is the only time you get to ride this oblate spheroid that’s hurtling through space with the universe’s only sentient life on it. Do what you want. Unless of course if what you like is gang banging. Although, who am I to judge? If you like gang banging, just use a condom.

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Cockroach energy
Scuttling necromancy
Picked the bones of dinosaurs
Picking the bones of monkeys
They’re just like us
The monkeys, I mean
Cockroaches have life figure out
*Doesn’t count as an entry.

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There is no career that was made for you. There is no thing you’re supposed to be. There is no formula for true happiness. There are well worn paths, but nothing is really certain. You could be a by-the-books dentist or accountant, save your whole life, and get ass cancer in your 40s.

The best thing you can do is be honest about what you want and go after it as hard as you can. You could be like me and want to live in the library of your own castle in the woods, free of ugly and stupid people. You might want a Porsche. Perhaps threesomes with underwear models are your thing.

It has to be something that motivates you. It could be really dumb. You may never get it. That doesn’t really matter, though. It’s the pursuit that makes you. This might seem a tad negative, but it’s really not. It means that even when you fail, no matter how chronic a loser you are, regardless of how little your parents did to set you up for life, you can be moving in the right direction.

I believe it is the height of moral action to be your best self. A stronger version of yourself is more useful to the weak. A smarter version of yourself is more helpful to the stupid. When you achieve something, even something small, people will take notice.

 

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Your phone does the job of all of this shit now.

I’m a pretty heavy internet user. Between my Facebook trolling and daily blog writing, I spend a decent amount of time each evening looking up weird shit to stimulate my imagination. I think it might be having the opposite intended effect.

After an hour of looking at content on the internet, my brain feels like my ass does after I eat at Taco Bell: vaguely satisfied, but closer to death and physically & existentially crippled. If I juxtapose this to time I spend walking outside, taking with smart friends, going to the gym, reading an actual book, it becomes clear I should step away.

I was listening to Marc Maron interview Louis C.K. the other day (on the internet! I can’t quit!) and he was recounting the story of how he made his new show, Horace & Pete. I love to hear how the sausage gets made for creative projects and it did not disappoint. One thing that stuck with me was an anecdote he told about trying to get Jack Nicholson to play a role on his show.

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Take what you can, give no fucks back.

He made his pitch and Nicholson asked him, “do you know what I did today?”

C.K. said, “no, what?”

Nicholson replied, “I sat under a tree and read a book cover to cover. Then I went inside.”

That’s pretty much my idea of a perfect day. I’m willing to bet Nicholson spends no time at all on the internet reading about alt-right conspiracy theories and vegan propaganda. He probably has an awesome life. I can’t even remember the last time I had a day to burn reading a book cover to cover. I usually have to squeeze my books in on the side like they’re mistresses.

I don’t think I will continue daily blogging after my 365 day project is up, but I will write everyday. I’m hoping to identify some theme or direction to write about, then dive into that full steam, offline. I might publish once a week or put out longer pieces through Kindle publishing. Who knows?

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There’s no way Bukowski would be on Twitter if he was alive.

I do know that when I write out my goals and ideal schedules “mindlessly surf the internet and argue with strangers” is never on there. I always do best quitting bad habits cold turkey, but I don’t even know what my life would be like if I completely unplugged from the internet. I imagine I’d lose touch with some people, but others I’d probably spend more time with.

The freest period of my life was between 2000 and 2001. I didn’t have a computer. I didn’t own a phone. I was in between homes a couple of times (though not for long). And I was really happy. When I wanted to see people, I’d go where I thought some of them might be. If I was tired, I just slept. If I wanted to go somewhere, I just got on my motorcycle and went. If it broke down, I didn’t go on some forum, I asked someone I knew for help or pushed the motherfucker home.

All these anxieties I’m talking about here are absolutely pedestrian. And being against the internet is in some relation to being against progress and the global community. I’m fine with that, but I also have a serious case of FOMO when it comes to the goings on in the digital world. I do get a certain pleasure in knowing about obscure shit before anyone IRL does. But it never actually does a thing for me.

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Power Archery combines mud runs with the pleasure of hitting a bullseye. It doesn’t actually exist, but it should.

This is quickly devolving into a directionless word salad. This is probably the biggest hazard of daily blogging. Most of it will be unpolished, solipsistic, and petty. Those might be good words to describe myself when I’m being less than generous to my inner child.

 

 

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I’m trying to keep to my plan of not writing about the election, but it’s been tempting. All bloggers become obsessed with page views and mine are way higher when I’m shitting on the turds we have running for 2016.

I’ve still been reading about what’s going on, but now that I’m not really writing about it, I feel a bit better. I imagine if I went on a complete media fast, I’d be in an even happier place. Nothing I do or read between now and November will change the outcome in any way. So fuck it. I’m not even going to follow this shit actively anymore.

Fuck all the parties, even those third party losers. If they got in, they’d be just as shitty. Fuck Clinton’s lying ass. Fuck Trump’s bullshit. Most of all, fuck Bernie Sanders and his bird.

None of these people are going to save you. None of them will make America great. The non-existent arc of justice will continue its death spiral until a comet or weaponized herpes kills us all. I’m going to sleep now. I need it.