Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 20, part 1 (Austin)

This is part of an ongoing series. Please start from the beginning which is post 1 by clicking here.

Now, if we go back 20 years or so, I remember getting up to the hotel room, I guess it was a hotel room. It had that industrial carpet that is common in the “recently remolded” or “under new management”, “less hookers and higher class!”, “Sheets have 5 stains or less!” types of accommodations. I crank the AC as hard as it will go and throw my beer in the refrigerator. The room check-in was 3pm. It’s 3:15 ish. I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for it to turn 3 pm. I wanted plenty of time to go over my stuff, but that’s not what I did really. I didn’t study. I didn’t really know how to really prepare like a student would. I know that there are a lot of very successful people that know how to study or how to read and learn from that reading, absorb the information, process it, all of that correctly, in an effective and efficient manner without the help of an education, but I did not have that ability to the extent that I do now. I personally probably really needed the structure of college to build a repetitious, habitual, process of…

I’m trying to say that school isn’t a necessary variable for success, but for me, I really needed that structure and forced series of reading with the accountability, and then the GPA which would be acting as the dependent variable. There are independent variables and dependent variables. (for the sake of this) The independent variables are what causes and then the dependent variable is what you measure, or the outcome.

I was up in my hotel room, AC blasting, I pop open a beer, get my bounce sheet-paper towel roll contraption out and place it next to the TV that is on the built-in desk near the Domino’s Pizza ad and an advertisement for the show. I go to the ice machine and I notice that they have a flier on the wall by the elevator. It’s a flier for the comedy show. My name is on the flyer as the opening act. Holy shit, I’m famous. Does this place have a bar, because I’m a local celebrity in these parts. Where are the comedy lot lizards at? Nope, none of that here. The bar isn’t open yet and I wouldn’t even walk into the showroom, but we are supposed to check in with the comedy club contact. The bartender is cutting limes, bitching about the bar-back that called in sick and then I hear a waitress talking about having to train a new person on tonight’s shift. I guess that they usually split tips, even when someone is training. It’s still 2 hours before the show so they must be managers or dating a manager, but I ask if they know where I can find the comedy night contact. This guy comes out and I introduce myself and he just says what time the show is and to be here 15 minutes before it begins. He then turns around and walks away. Did I piss this dude off already? How? Do I remind him of someone? Did he have a bad day?

I go back up to my room and worry about that while I pace back and forth, and I write my set down on a tiny piece of paper. I’m doing 15 minutes’ worth of material, but I feel the need to write it down on a list. Why? It honestly is just a list of joke titles and maybe a punchline. It is shocking to me now, but I had to write those joke titles down on a piece of paper because I didn’t think that I could remember them, so I just wouldn’t even really try. My brain was mush from all of the drugs that I had done, and it was for a time. I just couldn’t think that straight, maybe from the narcotics, maybe something to do with genetics, I have no fucking idea, but I now have a bachelor-of-science in psychology and I understand the undergrad amount of knowledge regarding the plasticity of the brain. It seems so crazy for me to say that as I sit here just days from my last MBA class, but I felt like I was an idiot with a messed-up brain. Why try? I mean really…why even fucking try. Seriously. Listen to me. Yes, you. Stop I’m back in the present day and I am talking to you as an individual. Person to person as if we are sitting together having coffee. I look up and you ask me what is on my mind. I say. “If someone has a lifetime of bad grades, low scores, and failed classes, why would they ever try hard on any type of cognitive test or any test for that matter? Isn’t easier on your ego to just not try at all? At least you can say that you didn’t even care about it enough to try. You failed because you didn’t care, not because you are stupid.” Once you conclude, to yourself sometimes even out loud, while in the shower or after banging on the desk at work. “I’m so fucking stupid; I can’t do anything!” Said in a loud voice sometimes, but then also in a very soft voice just before tears start to well up and the memories go toward the epic failures or those little moments where the wrong words were muttered that could never get taken back or erased once they are set free in the airwaves or on the computer screens of friends and associates. Those mistakes in life that we have promised to ourselves to just finally let go and heal from, but they still hurt, they still make the eyes begin to blink and the low coughing to begin in an unsuccessful attempt to keep a good day from turning into a shit one, just because the memories of the measurable fuck-ups and “I’m so stupid” moments just keep coming at you like a pitching machine aimed at your head with a full bucket of balls sitting right next to it. “Just keep them coming.” “I deserve it.”

No, you don’t and I wasn’t stupid. I just had very low self-confidence. I needed to know that I had something. That I had a chance. Anything.

But an MBA? Not a fucking chance in hell of that. But…here I am just 5 days away from my very last MBA class. I’m that same dumb-ass, I just laugh and smile a little now when I call myself a dumb-ass, because yes of course I do stupid shit all of the time. But I don’t believe for one second that I’m stupid. Bahahahahaha are you motherfucking kidding me? I’ve seen so many students flunk out, just quit, buckle under the pressure, change majors, change universities, and even change MBA programs claiming that this one was too demanding. The MBA program has been extremely challenging, I really had no fucking idea what I was in for and when the dude from Ohio State, well he has at least one degree from there. He’s an engineer and now about to have an MBA. Anywho, this motherfucker says that the MBA program is a bitch even compared to his master’s degree in engineering program. Maybe he is just trying to make us feel good. Ha ha. Maybe the school brings in ringers like that just to make the regular mofos like me feel better about their choice of MBA degree.

Back 20 years ago in Beaumont, Texas I’m just trying to remember these jokes that I’m supposed to tell and drinking a beer before the show. I go throw up. I can’t do this. I’m just too nervous. I’m just too stupid to even remember my own jokes. I throw up again. (Yeah, yeah, mom’s spaghetti.)

Ahhhh. My first sips of espresso. I just had them. I love feeling the caffeine start to hit. I really love almost everything about making a shot or two, always at least two, I mean…my addiction monkey will not be pleased, and it will become agitated if he only gets one. I love grabbing the coffee beans out of the bag or container, having them in my hand. Smelling them…and I’m not sure why, because I can smell them just fine, but it is just an instinct to shove them just as close to my nose as humanly possible. I buy mine down the street at the little hipster place. They were roasted the day before. I used to get the Ruta Maya espresso beans located in Austin because I have loved Ruta Maya for years, but then when I moved into this ninety nine year old under 700 sq ft house in Houston I wasn’t as close to the store that carried Ruta Maya coffee beans and now I get them down the street. I got lucky on this batch. They were just roasted. I think about coffee a lot during the day. A lot. and I still love I love the grinding of the coffee beans in the grinder. That smell of freshly ground espresso beans. I love tapping down the grounds and heating up the boiler of my espresso machine. I love the crema.  I’m not talking about or referring to those coffee drinkers that use an automatic machine or the time it takes to insert a tiny pod of coffee into a plastic container. I’m not dissing your coffee method if that’s what you are doing, but that’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m not discussing the process involved in The steps that must be done. The care of the machine, the warming up of the glass. My leg is now twitching like an addict as I type. Nervously shaking. But I’m becoming aware of those addict-like mannerisms, so I stop. I’m not even done with my first cup of coffee, yet I’m already thinking of how much I’ll enjoy my next cup. Not even half-way done with my first cup, already thinking of the next one. Sound familiar to any of you reading this? I need that second cup now. Leg twitching again.

BTW if you LOVE espresso, seriously consider buying a used La Pavoni on Ebay even if it leaks. Just buy a seal kit and you will have a kitchen that smells like a coffee stand. Seriously, all you have to do is replace the seals every blue moon on those. They will last a lifetime and that thing helped me give up energy drinks. Those things are fucked.

I’m sure that it sounds relatively naïve and stupid for someone to think that they have a shot at becoming a professional stand-up comedian, but for some reason I did. It must have been the drugs and booze, because when it all comes down to it, the variables needed for comedic success just aren’t there for me. The biggest one is that I don’t really care for people that much. I mean that in the nicest way and I do like people, just not people. I have no idea why I chased stand-up comedy for so long other than I was addicted to the rush of it. The high of it. The danger of it. The acceptance of alcoholism and addiction as being almost an occupational hazard was pretty fucking cool also. and I’m sure that things have changed some and not every comic ends up where I did. I wasn’t even a big deal at all in the comedy scene in any city that I performed, no TV spots, no big headlining gigs, nothing like that. I was really funny sometimes and I was just awful at other times. Why keep going? I’m an addict.

Once again, I did feel like I had a chance of making it, even with my style of offensive, drug and party-based humor and I’m just continuing to meet the crazy, drugged-out, drunk as shit comedy club audience members at almost every open mic or show. It’s my own fault, that’s what I’m portraying, that’s what I’m joking about, that’s what I’m asking for, begging for it would seem to some.

The Panic Button Effect- refers to a reduction in stress or suffering due to the belief that one has

the option of escaping or controlling the situation, even if one does not exercise it.

I’m motherfucking fascinated by The Panic Button Effect and you should be too. Seriously.

I was recently reading some back and forth conversation between a former drug rehab worker and a former drug rehab patient and it reminded me of some things that I had both experienced and then read about academically. They did not previously know each other before this conversation. The former drug rehab worker was discussing the different ways that she could tell if someone had relapsed and how she would have to kick some patients out for smuggling in narcotics, of some sort or another, into the rehab facility that she worked.

The former patient was discussing one his experiences at a rehab facility, the one time in his mind when then rehab had worked. He has been clean ever since, but his reasoning is what struck me. He said that he had gone to rehab many times, but it had always failed to work. He hated the loss of control over his addiction among other things. On his last attempt at rehab he really didn’t have much hope of recovery, sobriety, or any positive outcome correlating with his treatment. He did something that he had never done before. He smuggled some dope into the facility just in case he needed it. He admits that he did use some at first, but then he didn’t. He just liked knowing that it was there. He ended up flushing the dope down the toilet on his own accord, and I’m not suggesting at all that this is a representation of the majority of rehab patients’ experiences, but it did remind me of the Panic Button Effect.

I was so scared as a small child. I was really scared of people and of other kids. I would sit by myself and suck on my thumb in a corner during my pre-school years. Just terrified as my mother describes it. She knew that I needed social interaction with other children though and home-schooling wasn’t really even a theory yet. It was called skipping school. My mother would put a piece of candy in my pocket, even though my school was firm on the “enough for everybody rule” both as an institution and among my peers’ social set of accepted cultural norms. I would usually forget that I had candy in my pocket and when I returned home from school, the candy would still be there, and my mom would make sure that I had it for the next day. That little piece of butterscotch candy was my “Panic Button”. I just rarely had to press it.

The Panic Button Effect in this case is also helping ease the unwanted and undesirable complications that arise from reactance as someone has something taken away from the. The Reactance Theory states that basically people generally don’t like to lose freedoms or possessions of any kind. It facilitates the development of cognitive dissonance in the participant and can just be unpleasant in general and creating another obstacle in the recovery process.

When I started to focus on the Panic Button Effect and its relationship with Reactance, I wondered about the Panic Button Effect and anxiety. I wondered what the result would be if someone prepared for a possible or probable uncomfortable, future event, by establishing a “Panic Button” of their own, that was made specific for the event in question. For example if I was worried about an interview I could establish what my worst case scenario was and then construct my “Panic Button” as in my escape route if it goes to shit. What do I do? If I write down the specific steps that I would take to remedy the worst possible scenario, would that preparation be my “Panic Button”? Let’s think about this for a bit.

This post is weird. I started writing it last week, but then the whole school thing, you know…(cough) uh getting that whole MBA thing. (smiling and dancing in my head) Some of this post was written last week, but I didn’t just want to scrap it. So, here is a fucked up, old post, plus some new stuff. My brain is so tired right now. I have this post-MBA, punch drunk type of shit going on. My brain is so fucking tired. Well, here is the older one.

Published by Steven Kendrick

I'm a recovered cocaine addict that used to smoke crack. I went back to school when I was 41 starting by taking one Spanish class. Since that time I have earned an Associate of Arts from Houston Community College, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from the University of Houston, a Grad Certificate in Business Development and Management, and I'm about to earn my MBA in August 2018. I have made the Dean's List and I've also been a research assistant for the Bauer School of Business at the University of Houston. I've finally accomplished enough that I can tell everyone about my past drug addiction.

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