Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA, Post 1, Pt 1 (Austin)

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA Post 1, Part 1 (Austin)

When I started pre-school as a kid it wasn’t long before I knew something was different and wrong with me. I was broken.

I didn’t know how to talk. I would say things, but people would just look at me, and then my mother would translate for me. I would end up participating in multiple developmental reading programs and I would have many private speech tutors until the 7th grade.

By the 7th grade, the only letter that was still fucking with me was the letter r. I hate the letter r. Fuck r. I love the word kangaroo though. Kangaroo was the first and last r-word that I pronounced correctly during my experience in institutionalized speech therapy. It hasn’t occurred to me until this moment, but I said kangaroo and then I bounced out of that program. Ha ha.

It’s terrifying going through life as a young kid when there is only one person that can understand you. I would talk incoherently, and my mother would translate for me. This went on for years to a degree, but there was slow improvement over time. Very slow.

My mother became the “room mother” for my pre-school class that year and then she assumed the same role at the various schools until my family moved to Georgetown. Then, I was on my own and really, really scared to talk out loud. At my new school when the kids began to look at me funny, I told the other kids that I was from another country. They soon found out that I was lying, but what an imagination for a silent kid.

I needed speech therapy badly, but in order to participate, the children with the speech issues were herded together and removed from another required and fundamental class, like math, reading, or English. So, you have the slight improvement in speech, but now you fall behind in other classes. Now, I couldn’t talk correctly, and I started falling behind my other classmates. FML wasn’t evented yet, but I must have felt the equivalent.

For example, I was too scared to go trick or treating. I couldn’t say trick or treat correctly, and I didn’t want to be made fun of. I skipped a year, but the next year I ended up just growling at people. I could sound like a little monster and growl, so I was one for Halloween. I went as a little monster and growled for candy.

I’m just now beginning to focus on this part of my life and how the process of institutionalized speech therapy, and just having the inability to communicate with others, has correlated with my anxiety, but I think it needs to be done.

Thank you for listening.

My parents never owned guns and that’s why I’m still alive.

My sophomore year in high school was and still is the worst year of my life. Four classmates of mine stole a boat from a house down the river. I saw them in the boat that day and they told me that the boat belonged to one of their uncles. Later that day, I saw someone towing that same boat down the river, but the boat was in really bad shape now, like it had been looted. The person asked if I knew whos boat it was, and I told him that it belonged to my friends.

About a week later the police came to my school and I was interrogated by the police and the principal regarding the boat. The next day I showed up to band practice in the morning and my life changed. My seat was with the other tuba players, but this morning my chair was pushed away from the other chairs and directly on the chalkboard behind me, written in huge letters was the word “NARC”. The kids that stole the boat had told everyone that I had informed the police that they were smoking pot and that in turn, the cops had busted them for weed.

Then it started. The threatening phone calls to me. the sexually violent calls to my mother, the dead cat on my yard, being punched in the halls, slapped on the back of the neck, kids would sit behind me during football games, while I’m holding my tuba and threaten me. It was hell. All my friends left me, I was sometimes even escorted from class to class by an assistant principal and sometimes a teacher, but nothing happened to the children that were doing this to me. The scariest part was lunchtime at school. I couldn’t leave campus and I had nowhere to go to, but I found a place to hide.

I made my lunch every day and then I would open up the band hall door with my knife, by moving the locking mechanism with the blade. I then opened the door, closed it and locked it behind me. I would find an empty up-stairs practice room in the adjacent choir practice hall and I’d step into the choir practice room, lock the door behind me, turn off the light, and hide in the dark shadow, where no one could find me. I felt so safe there. I would eat my lunch in the darkness all by myself. Just me, the narc that everyone hated, alone in the dark shadows of a locked practice room that was not big enough to fit four adults. That lasted for months, but the kids were looking for me and they knew the band hall lock trick also. I would hear them hunting for me as I sat hidden in the darkness eating my sandwich. No chips. Chips make noise.

Then, a band director caught me, and I got into trouble for breaking into the choir hall. I began to miss a lot of school, I stopped marching in the band, claiming a back injury, and I had to go to summer school again. But summer school was in another town and they didn’t know me. I made some friends and having that time in summer school really helped. I was liked again and met friends that were nice, but I had changed and my trust towards people had been altered. I started to drink and experiment slightly with drugs. They made me feel good. Finally, something made me feel good.

Why didn’t I fight back? I was under 5 feet tall and scared. My parents obviously knew something was wrong, but I didn’t tell my parents the extent of my abuse and what was going on, because who the fuck wants to tell their mother and father that they are getting beat up and are too scared to go to school. I’d rather have shot myself in the fucking head. Better yet, I would have loved to have shot those four motherfuckers in the head. I’m so glad that my parents didn’t have guns.

I’d be dead and so would those four other kids.

During my mid-20s I became a real-estate agent. It was the perfect plan. I had just flunked out of college and I was lost, depressed and about 6 months away from my first weekend long coke binge.

This was B.C. (before cameras), so you could get away with murder if you worked in a bar (late night parties until the morning with the doors locked) or in real-estate, it basically meant that you were never going to be homeless, but not necessarily due to personal monetary gain. When I became a real-estate agent they gave me an MLS key that would open the lock boxes all over Austin, of any vacant house that was on the market. I fully took advantage of this.

I had parties in a few vacant homes and met my first big dealer, who is dead now. That was the worst decision of my life, getting hooked up with that dude. That’s the closest that I ever got to being a straight up bad guy. I was right there on the edge of no turning back. He was out of Tarrytown in this crazy house where a local, bass playing legend was dealing heroin in the basement apartment.

I saw kilos go in and out and beatdowns every once in a while. I fucked up once and got beat down in front of about 6 people. I did the last line of coke that was on the plate and apparently that was a no-no. That house was part of my life for about 2 years until the dude got busted. I overdosed in that place once, but I was lucky and came out of it.

Well, gotta hit the books.

The difference between crack and freebase is zip code. I learned that in Austin. If you were using cocaine that way, back then, it was crack on the east-side of town, but in Tarrytown it wasn’t crack. It was freebasing. It wasn’t a crack house. That was a big house with a Porsche 928 in the driveway. Yeah, the one like in Scarface with those fucking headlights that flip around crazy and shit.

This wasn’t crack head central. This was a house with drug-addicted call-girls (heroin) going in and out of the residence for Mike to fuck. This was a house where local musicians or a random local celebrity might be seen at some weird hour. Mike was a weird guy. Mike had been burned over a lot of his body during a misunderstanding involving a mason jar full of gasoline, a match, and Mike. Apparently, Mike had pissed some people off years before. They rang his doorbell and when he answered the door, they smashed a mason jar, that was full of gas on Mike’s head and lit him on fire when he was out cold.

Mike had burn scars on his body that would poke out from under his shirt and reach toward his missing ear. Mike had scars, bitches, cars, coke, and everything figured out. Mike knew it all. I was set playa, I knew Mike.

I’ve never known depression like what I experienced when I flunked out of college the first time. I was a budding alcoholic that didn’t understand the panic attacks, what they were, or even what to call them. I was just crazy.

I would sit in my bed at night and rock back and forth with my eyes closed, but they never really closed. The light always was able to shine through my eyelids. Not really of course, but that is what it felt like. These bright lights going off inside my head while I tried to sleep.

As I was laying still under the covers my body felt as if it was inside one of those parking lot, amusement park rides called “The Zipper!” That is what it felt like. A less violent version of “The Zipper!”, but while trying to sleep and with a job to try to find the next day.

I tried medication, which just made me a zombie. I loved it for about a month or two, but believe it or not the zombie life has its drawbacks. Booze helped a lot if I drank enough, but I couldn’t drink enough and function, plus it didn’t help me with the depression.

The depression was the loneliest time of my life. High School sucked, I had made some friends in college, but fucked that up, and in my mind EVERYONE was doing better than me in life and now the Dallas Cowboys are doing training camp in Austin and throwing another hundred or so well-paid young men in the mix to fuck up the already dwindling possible female alcoholics and soon to be addicts to party with on 6th street.

I was 23 years old and I was just over it.

I was always a Bar-back, never a Bartender. Well, I did bartend, but not for very long and not very well. I don’t perform well when people are looking at me when I’m not 100% sure of what I am doing. I get distracted and so nervous during those close encounters with people.

You wouldn’t think that working on 6th Street would be so stressful, but back then you would generally be working with an annoyed bartender who knows EVERY line from the movie “Cocktail” and sits there practicing bar tricks, discussing the importance of well cut bar fruit, making sure the bar-back had enough Zima stocked or two rows of Corona, labels out, ice topped off in the well, and making sure that the bar-back is in pain by the time that the shift is over. Then you have to worry about the roided-out security guy that wants to play “nut-check” as some type of non-erotic testicular tapping that is prevalent in these jobs. It’s just stupid.

I could make a drink so smooth at home, but if I was on 6th Street trying to bartend I just had such a hard time remembering what and how much went into a drink that I just couldn’t do it under the allotted time. According to the regulation Olympic stopwatch that was usually being used for some reason during a bartender test.

Why do I mention my inability to bartend under pressure? I had just flunked out of college, which is a shame that resonates within the family and spills out of the house into the street for everyone to see and discuss. Loved ones begin doing amazingly fast calculations regarding how much money they spent and wasted in order for the college dream to be crushed by my alcoholism and these panic attacks that weren’t called panic attacks yet. It was called I’m really broken, and I don’t know why. It’s important to emphasize the destruction of self-efficacy. Self-perception and self-efficacy is where “fake it till you make it” can really fuck you up. It’s like a cat pretending not to look hurt, so that it’s not mauled by other animals when it’s assumed weak. If you fake it till you make it when mental health is concerned, the ending can be really fucking bad playa. The end. The inability to bartend wasn’t the only issue.

My first impressions are just awful. Multiple Migs has a better first impression than I do. I now just try to say as little as possible without seeming like a complete douchebag and I’m not doing well at it. I need more practice, but I don’t like meeting people. It’s scary as fuck to me. I have to practice first impressions due to my anxiety.

Then, when the meeting happens things need to be very close to how I imagined it, while practicing it. Everything in its place during that. Nobody just coughed or said something just before I said hello. I have their name written down three places, but now my shirt is stupid and I picked up a snail on the sidewalk outside and moved it to the bushes so that it wouldn’t get crushed, because since I know it’s there and it does get crushed then it’s the same as if I just crushed it, but I didn’t wash my hands before I shook his hand. His hand will smell like a snail. I hope that wasn’t a stinky snail because then he’ll think that I have stinky snail hands. How do I bring that up in a casual way? “You know I actually pick up snails to save them from getting crunched. I’m a good person. That’s why your hand smells like snails.” “Smell your hand. Snail?” “No, I actually asked if you were able to find parking ok.”

Unfortunately, that’s not far from one of my first impressions. It’s just awful.

So, I barely graduated high school, flunked out of college, I’m having panic attacks, ulcers, and I can’t bartend. I’m not smart enough. By this time, I’m just panicking. WTF am I supposed to do? I’m worthless and my first impressions are horrible, which leads to fucked up interviews. I have no chance in life, matter of fact, the only time that I’m cool and fun is when I’m drunk, but that’s only until I pass out. Then I’m just me and I suck. I can’t do anything, and I shake sometimes while trying to sleep. I’m 23 and I just hate everything that there is about being Steven Kendrick. Why did I have to be short, stupid, balding, and without anything in the world that was going to turn it around. So, I just drank every night until I blacked out, until the next day started. Then I would put my dirty Maggie Maes shirt back on and go to work as a barback. There was this girl that I met though, and she knew this dude that would make money taking polaroid pictures of people while they were on 6th street. He sold all types of things.

I want you to know how I got to where I did. How I ended up at Mike’s house and how I eventually became a crack-head (or Freebase Fanatic on the nice side of town) for a few years. Don’t worry, the ending is really good. I end up getting multiple college degrees, but the path is fucked up and scary as shit. I have no idea how I’m still here in this world. It just doesn’t make sense. When thinking back to those days, I’m about to start my real-estate career and perform stand-up comedy for the first time. Well, the second time, but I never told anyone about the first time when I was 19. I’m also about to become roommates with John Rabon and move next door to a one-stop shop of 24-hour drugs.

BTW- I talked with Rabon before I started writing about our time as roommates and he gave me his permission. Yes, I asked for his permission to discuss that time in our lives. John is a great guy and I feel a lot of guilt in regard to John. A lot.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA…Four Years Without Alcohol

(written over several days  weeks… short bursts of writing) (not part of ongoing series)

Four years! I’ve made it without a drink for four years!!! 

I couldn’t make it past four hours, unless I was sleeping, before I finally decided that I had enough of that lifestyle. Now, I’m making it past yet another annual reminder. It feels amazing to have accomplished this goal… but I’m still an alcoholic and I’m still in recovery. I dove too deep when I went exploring… I’m still fragile. I told someone the other day that I still feel like I’m in recovery. They looked back with a puzzled expression… The wandering mind of an alcoholic…

I was just kind of staring out into nothing, thinking about the abuse… the torment. It just flashes so fast when I see the name of some of them. It will happen every once in a while, on Facebook. I’ll see the “suggested friends” or whatever it says and then the name and a much older face, sometimes an older version of the same bully or sometimes I can’t even tell who the fuck it is, even though for whatever reason they were one of my bullies. I had quite a few.

The redness in my face, the fight or flight racing through my body, the anxiety rush, all hitting, but then subsiding as it does. It subsides faster as the years go by, I hypothesize. Seems to anyway. I just stare at the face and then click on the profile… looks like an idiot. Trump flag flying idiot, still in the small town, no chance of ever leaving, escaping, but blissfully posting about “libtard dems” etc… I think about how lucky I am that I wasn’t welcomed into the group back in school. Thinking internally, “Thank God that I had been abused and bullied enough that staying there, in that small town, made absolutely no fucking sense. No fucking sense at all.”

When you’re a tiny kid with a speech impediment… and you’re the new kid in a first-grade class in some small town in Texas, it’s amazing how a tiny brain knows that they are in a bad situation. You know that shit just aint right. My new school and I was already in two fights my first day. Well, I was getting punched. Not really fighting. I couldn’t speak correctly; I was broken, and those kids beat me up because of it. I was in speech therapy until 7th grade. That’s a lot of hell… and High School was worse. The abuse that I endured for years, the heavy drinking beginning, the hard drug use, the anxiety, the suicidal dreams. It was so bad, but it began to get easier to process as an educated adult with a degree in psychology and a desire not to drink. A desire not to die. 

It’s been four years since my last drink, but I still feel like I’m in recovery. No relapses, but still on thin ice. Strength through fragility… just knowing how weak I am makes me stronger. I know that I’m damaged, in need of repair, shouldn’t be pushed too much… even with the passing of this anniversary I’m an alcoholic that doesn’t drink. I’m an addict.

The time that goes by heals slowly and the days that pass without drinking tend to accumulate like snowflakes or like resin in a pipe… my life has been so fucking weird, so destructive, so anxious, so nervous, so scary to be a part of and to watch from afar. Addiction and education are what stick out when I think of the last decade, the last four years have been just hanging to a life preserver… feeling good about my chances but knowing all the stories about the circling sharks. 

I try not to think about the past too much unless I’m writing, but I think that we all have moments where we drift away, thinking initially about good thoughts… presents during a special Christmas or some crazy times with friends, but then the thoughts begin to become dark… sad, thoughts of abuse, embarrassment, times when I was mean, times when I was victimized… it’s difficult to go there… to that place in my brain, but it’s a bit more familiar now at 50 then it was when I was in my 20s… I’d just drink it away back then, but now it’s almost like I’m thinking about a different person in my thoughts of how I processed life as a drunk. My alcoholism is a war. My war. I’m winning right now… strength through fragility.

This post took a long time to write for very little content. I kept waiting to have something deep to write or some huge epiphany, but instead I just ended up writing short bursts of thought, thinking, “no, that’s not quite it.” And then stopping.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA: San Diego post 2

 That drive from Austin to San Diego was a really long drive. We were in a mid 80s Subaru wagon that had just had some work done to it and the mechanic promised us that it would make it, but we were still concerned. Going across Texas, seeing the hill country turn into the desert… trees disappear for a while replaced by shrubs and cacti, different colors, landscapes, all contributing to the minds ability to wonder… my mind usually goes to self-abusive inner dialogue really fucking quick.

I’ve learned kind of how to spot it now when it begins to manifest and usually I can stop that inner dialogue from becoming the precursor for possible depression like symptoms or, especially when I was younger and certainly at this point in 2002 my mind and inner dialogue could easily contribute to depression. I still have to stop that inner dialogue… which is much easier with a few degrees under my belt. “You’re so fucking stupid.” “You’re completely worthless.” are both things that I catch me saying to myself still. That’s no way to talk to yourself. If I can just remove that negativity… which is a tall order, I’ll be doing so much better, I keep thinking in my head as if those positive thoughts somehow push out the harmful negativity. I have though reduced that inner dialogue simply by not being afraid to spot it, address it, think about some academic accomplishments, and laugh it off. That’s what I do.

Back in 2002 it was hard to laugh on that trip though, but if you ever have to drive across the country with someone, Man-Boobs is your guy. We had some joints rolled up, ready to eat if needed, but we didn’t bring that much weed. Shit, we were pretty broke overall… we had worked at this phone survey job together, saving for an apartment’s deposit and first months rent, deposits for lights, etc… just trying to somehow make it to San Diego where we could just start over.

We were both running away from shit… trying to escape from Austin, from our old lives, old way of doing things. On the way there we keep ourselves busy by listening to Man-Boobs amazing cd collection filled with jazz, beastie boys, tribe called quest, and all kinds of other artists, or by plotting how we were going to become great comedians and meet lots of cool people, do amazing shows, and hang out in Hollywood. Our friend Mack was still in Austin though, he was on probation for shrooms so he couldn’t leave yet, but we were starting to talk about him coming out to California also. The drive was usually fun, full of joking around, but it was a veneer for us both since it’s not like we were leaving Austin the right way. 

Man-Boobs was running away from local notoriety in a way. Everyone in Austin knowing him from the morning show… from being the morning show dork that got made fun, ridiculed, and then eventually publicly fired. This was a new opportunity, but it was still an escape. 

My experience was different. I had pissed off so many different people in Austin that I couldn’t even keep track of it. I learned later from Mack that there was actually more heat on me at the time than I really even knew or was aware of. It seemed like I had left just in time, but I was running away from myself and my problems without really knowing or addressing my problem with alcohol. I knew that I was a heavy drinker, but an alcoholic? No… my problem was cocaine. Now, yes sometimes I would say to myself “Steven you have a drinking problem.” But that would get lumped into the same category of internal dialogue where “You’re stupid.” or where “You don’t do anything right and no one really likes you.” live. I just lumped any internal dialogue regarding alcoholism there. Now, it’s hard to do that with crack or heavy coke use. It’s hard to not see the potential problems or obstacles created by becoming a coke or crack addict with crack addict really taking that number one position, but I was pretty sure that part of my life was behind me. 

I was leaving Austin under really bad circumstances. I owed people money, a couple of people wanted me hurt really bad… two girls that I had dated were really pissed off at me and their boyfriends were even more so. I’ll never do that again… be that dude. I knew it was wrong at the time, I knew the dudes would get mad. I knew that eventually shit would hit the fan and that there was a good possibility that one of two, not huge guys, but bigger than me and I was a heavy smoker, coke user, alcoholic… not that hard to kick my ass at that point. It’s hard to leave with that much baggage. I found myself looking over my shoulder all the time, wondering who was going to find me out at a show somewhere, it was just awful, but I did it to myself. Well, that’s true but I did these things while really being knee deep in alcoholism. Alcoholism is really bad when it’s not the focus… when cocaine abuse is taking center stage and alcohol seems like a safe alternative. Everything seemed like a safe alternative. Hell, powder cocaine was a safe alternative to smoking crack. 

When I think back to 2002 it’s difficult to admit many of these moments and thoughts but the anthropology of my addiction is fascinating to me. The way that the relationship with cocaine and alcohol resembles a bell curve with their tales ending together, but how do I even think that way? Thinking of Bell curves? Education… going to the University of Houston, so is education the missing variable? No, I was exposed to education as a young man at the appropriate college age… maybe the missing variable is time, experience, but thinking back I’m still glad that I left Austin when I did. I couldn’t escape my problems or run away but I was able to breathe a little easier once my nerves began to settle, but that took a while. Man-Boobs and I had been in Ocean Beach for 12-14 hours or so already I guess and I had already had a panic attack, thinking I was having a mini mental breakdown, in the middle of our new apartment, which wasn’t really an apartment like the advertisement had described it to be. No, this wasn’t a one bedroom… it was one-room, and it wasn’t technically an apartment since they had weekly rates instead of monthly rates… and the neighbors weren’t so much neighbors as they were just out of jail or waiting to score some tweek from next door. 

I had been running away from trouble and when we moved into Ocean Beach, I was about to move next to the last fucking thing I needed to be close to.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA: San Diego post 1

This is part one of San Diego, but it all started in Austin. To go to the beginning click here

I don’t really like change, but it was 2002 and I was just saying fuck it…I was going to move to San Diego and start a new life there. I had a friend who started to work at the Comedy Store in La Jolla and had been telling Man-Boobs and I about it. Yeah, Man-Boobs from the KLBG Morning show “Dave and Chad with Katie in the Morning” and Man-Boobs was their intern. He was heading out to San Diego with me since we really didn’t have much better going on in Austin at the time and Austin hadn’t quite blown up yet. We were both working at a telephone survey job trying to save money to just get the fuck out of Austin, out of Texas… just to try something else, anything else.  

My anxiety had become so bad though at that point that I remember thinking how nice it would be to be able to go to Tijuana and buy some valium. Like a big bottle… just like the bottles that my friend Art used to bring back and then make a pyramid gluing the bottles together in order to display the valium bottle pyramid on his kitchen table when we were doing lines and pills. I figured that I’d buy valium cheap and relax on the beach. Weird thing is I never even went to Tijuana for any narcotic at all. Not even once in the nine years that I lived in Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach, San Diego is or was at the time an amazing little hippie town on the coast of southern California. It’s a magical, amazing place full of amazing people, assholes, beautiful beaches, broken glass, bikini clad women, tweakers, kind locals, mean addicts, nice drunks, drum circles, circling helicopters looking for the murder, 2pm… go grab the Hodad burger. 

I feel an instant connection with any person that has lived in Ocean Beach. It’s just that type of place, but that being said I didn’t know that at the time and I was crying in my apartment on my first night there in paradise. Crying and shaking with my anxiety wrapping around my body as my arms grab my folded legs… I just keep rocking back and forth and fall asleep. Man-Boobs had already woken up and was out exploring. I woke up in a sweat induced panic attack and began to swan dive into an anxious moment just rocking to the beat of my own anxious mind band as Man-Boobs opened the door. “Dude! WTF? It’s amazing outside!… You ok?”

No, I wasn’t ok. I had just traveled from Austin to San Diego and I woke up… still a fuck up. No, motherfucker, I’m not ok. 

Why did I leave Austin? I had to. Too many people knew me and for the wrong reasons. I owed a couple of dealers money etc. But I’ll get to that next.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA: Where are my jeans? Addicts coping with loss…(random post, not part of series)

to read the ongoing series click here

I still can’t find my jeans. These aren’t cheap jeans either, not that you can find cheap ones anymore, but these are above $100 a pair, jeans. I was nervously trying to find them, worrying about it, going through all my stuff with the subtilty of a COPS tv show drug bust, just ripping shit apart trying to find these damn jeans, when it dawned on me… I could snort that, $100, in one night EASY back in the day. I thought about the 8 balls I’ve bought over the years, the money right up my nose or mixed with baking soda… all the drinks, crazy nights… just hemorrhaging whatever cash I had from bar-backing or doing comedy. I stopped worrying about my jeans. Losing some jeans? Pffft. At least it wasn’t money lost doing blow.

Former hard-core drug use, abuse, addiction doesn’t have a lot of upside, but that is one of them and I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it makes it easier to deal with brief and minor monetary loss when you know damn well that you wasted more money than that in one night of partying many, many times.. My brain always goes to the cost of cocaine, how much I blew on some nights… then I do some mental gymnastics… it’s a lot better to lose money this way than buying coke… this can help when you lose jeans, it can assist in erasing that feeling of stupidity for losing an expensive article of clothing, but that “at least it wasn’t an 8 ball” attitude can be quite the hinderance once you get a Guitar Center credit card. Hmmm nice Strat…at least it’s not an 8 ball. 

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA…(random post, not part of series)

Someone very close to me has recently been given a terminal diagnosis in regard to cancer and I’ve written a few posts, just trying to deal with this situation and without the crutch of alcohol.

Ugh… someone close to me that loves life is preparing to die… it makes me think of my own depression and anxiety, how tough life can be, and watching her trying to enjoy every moment has been a very emotional experience. Going to bed laughing and waking up early, trying to cry softly as the mind wanders thinking of Hillary and her road trip, on old highways and backroads in her Ford van, while also stopping from time to time in order to treat a terminal disease.

A brother and sister that had just met a couple of years before her doctor’s appointment, sharing the same father, kind of. They both knew that they had a dad, sperm donor as they refer to him now, even though he passed away a few years before the two siblings had met for the first time or had even talked on the telephone. The father died before he had to face a quick jury consisting of at least two of his…who the fuck knows how many children scattered about. There are stories of other possible brothers and sisters around the world, since he had been in the service and was known to move around about between the states and among females.

The two siblings had just really begun to get to know each other when she was told. He really liked the thought of having a sister… of having a family. But after one appointment things changed…a timer went off, an hourglass just started to lose sand… and no one seems to know how much sand is there. It could be a small beach… it could be a small bag. No one knows. 

A fleet-white 2006 Ford E350 cargo van full of a week or so worth of clothes / laundry and a futon frame with its accompanying mattress barreling down the highway while a brother and sister spend one first and maybe last road trip together. Of course they’ve been in the same car together driving here or there, but this is a semi-planned out adventure, during a pandemic, when a lot of life is frozen while hers seems to be ending… taking turns sleeping, driving, and spending time around the lost sibling that they were only recently given as a gift, just to watch it be taken away in such a cruel and unjust manner. This same scene plays out every day though. Not this kick-ass van road trip, but a brother loses a sister to cancer every day. It really doesn’t hit you until you’re one of the ones about to lose someone. 

This brother and sister that didn’t even know each other a few years ago sharing the last part of an adventure, talking about the food, the sights, and then time for another round of pills or patches carefully placed on her back. The trip goes on, she to Tennessee and he is on a plane going back to Cali. She’ll be in Tennessee going to a class reunion, trying to get her water damaged RV fixed up, and letting the van get a rest for a bit, then back on the road to who knows where for who knows how long.  

            I cleaned the windows on her huge Ford E350 van this morning, looking over at my tiny Chevy Suburban by comparison laughing to myself how bizarre to have the Suburban being the smallest of the two, which is rarely the case. I cleaned the chrome bumpers, even though they are slightly dented from years of regular use… I can’t control the urge…I have to let chrome shine when applicable… I quickly clean her side mirrors and the chrome Ford badge that rests firmly in the center of the towering vans grill. Check the oil, then help load up an igloo cooler filled with leftovers and accumulated snacks from the last few days, hoping that she has amazing days ahead with good weather and safe travels, knowing that she’ll be back within a few weeks and then back on the road to continue her road trip around the country on her last hurrah. I can’t wait to hear more from the blog posts and the texts.

I just received a text that she’s sleeping at an Alpaca farm tonight in her van. If you would like to read Hillary’s blog you can by clicking here. 

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA (random Post)

(This is a random post, not part of the ongoing series)

Water Damage? Who the fuck rips off a terminally ill cancer patient that is beaming with excitement while enthusiastically describing her need for a good used RV… so that she can travel back and forth between California, Texas, and Tennessee, while stopping for chemo and other assorted bone and various cancer treatments designed to slow the growth and delay the pain? What a piece of MAGA hat wearing shit this guy was… claiming that he knew everything about the RV, it was solid. He’d take it anywhere. 

The thought of ripping anyone off is horrible but taking thousands of dollars…thousands… from an individual with terminal cancer… Fuck you man.

What does Hillary do? The one with terminal cancer? She says fuck it and throws a metal futon frame and a mattress in the back of a cargo van and says fuck it… there’s my RV… and hits the road. Leaves the RV in Tennessee to get fixed and just goes on anyway…smiling the entire time, taking pictures and blogging about it. 

I almost feel as if I’m learning how to live by watching someone as they prepare to die. It’s a mind fuck.

Hillary’s blog can be found here

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA (random post, not part of the ongoing series)

I’ve been neglecting writing lately, but as far as self-inflicted neglect and my life goes…the act of neglecting my writing seems rather minor… just brings a little cognitive dissonance, no biggie smalls. I’m working in a position that seems way below my education and experience level in just about every regard right now, but I try to find my education in any given situation…what I can learn regardless, so it’s not too bad. At least I work remotely and 2020 is weird man. 

I’ve been feeling creative, messing around with music creation a little more, enjoying the relaxation and mood enhancement that comes with some electronic music, the ability to do it all yourself… drums, bass, sample of this, sample of that… it reminds me of the learning process of anything… I love that process, whether it’s academic, automotive, mathematic, comedic, audio, video, business, psychology, that process of turning questions into steps of knowledge. 

Remember when I discussed the rats in a box with the switch, the flashing light, and the pellet of food? The rat was hooked up to a device that would measure its brain activity… the brain would have its greatest moments of stimulation just after seeing the light and knowing that the pellet would follow… even more so than when the rat was actually eating the pellet of food! I always thought that was so fascinating… the antici…pation (Tim Curry Voice) was the best part.

Just knowing that part about life helps answer so many things like why some activities might get boring after you actually do it. Like going to a concert, date, or whatever…. Being really excited about it before hand and then not quite as excited when it’s actually happening. Maybe not answer… that’s too strong of a term. It’s still interesting af. I’ve mentioned this about the rats many times… I won’t mention it again for a year or so… I promise.

My mind has been feeling clearer lately…it’s difficult to describe but as time goes by… year after year there are these subtle changes that happen…I usually attribute those positive moments to the absence of alcohol in my life, whether that’s an accurate accolade or not… I’m not positive admittedly, but those moments still go in the win column. Ha ha. 

Those subtle moments of improvement help give way to dreaming of how cool life might be in another few years if I just keep staying away from booze.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA (random short post)

(This isn’t part of the ongoing series)

I haven’t written in a bit, I’ve been busy…but I’m still alcohol free after all these years… coming up on four here pretty soon…just a few months. I’m also coming up on my cigarette anniversary… 11 or 12 years maybe on that one. It’s funny how it just becomes so every day, so just run of the mill… that is why we quit. Well, one of the many reasons.

I’ve been working from home, doing some sales over the phone… meeting during the day with co-workers, customers etc. I’m not going to be talking about that part of my life other than to mention it here… just in passing so that you know that I at least have a job right now. The working at home part was the most important aspect. I don’t like office chatter… the back and forth conversation where you find yourself listening to a conversation that you just don’t care about… and furthermore would rather avoid, but you’re stuck… just like in a line at a convenience store and a horrible song starts to play. WTF are you going to do… “How dare you play this crappy song!” while stomping out in a full Karen like move. I’m glad that I’m office chit chat free for the most part.

I’ve also been busy trying to get better every day. Continuous improvement… like Toyota follows Kaizen… embracing mistakes or imperfections as a part of growth, as a part of development. It’ so different than the philosophy of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”, but actively looking for ways to improve. 

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.

Drop Out, Smoke Crack, Get MBA post 19, part 1 (Austin)

This is part of an ongoing series. Please start with the first post by clicking here!

Holy shit. That was on our answering machine. I made it. I was going on the road.

As the days that remain until I graduate slowly pass and as I write this blog I sometimes just stop and wonder what the fuck is going on? I’m now going through the process of cleaning up after a semester is about to wind down. This semester feels so different. There’s the finality of it all. I’m about to earn my MBA after being in school for so long. I haven’t really organized as well as I should have during this process. I just kind of kept going. I’ve been cleaning the area around my desk and it had becoming extremely messy throughout the past 7 years of this academic trip and I’ve ran across a couple of old assignments from a few semesters ago. I just picked them up and looked at them, but it took me a second to recognize what the contents of the assignment detailed and then I recognized it just a few moments later and my mind wandered off to about a year ago. I was looking at supply and demand equations. I folded them and placed them into a notebook knowing that it will be a long time before I see that piece of paper again, but I bet that when I do find it…that I sit back and smile, thinking to myself “I can’t fucking believe that I did that shit.”

It feels so unnatural to me to be putting my calculator away, my favorite mechanical pencil that has been my “right-hand man” in a way, as I was fighting the quantitative dragon of the day. I bought that mechanical pencil during my stint at HCC getting my associate degree. I wanted a really good mechanical pencil that would keep my math work sharp looking, I really don’t like mushy looking pencil markings. Aahhhh hate them. I just laughed at lough because I really do hate those fucking things. Wooden pencils in general suck. They are fun to chew on or to break though. I’ll give them that. Most transitions are kind of weird though, but I can’t help that this particular transition of mine is just really fucking weird. I feel good though. Old, but good. Ha ha. I actually don’t feel that old, I just feel so tired you just would believe it. The stress of school is just insane, especially when every semester is a huge question mark followed by huge, crushing waves of self-doubt and insecurity. After looking at every syllabus I’ve been handed on the first day of class for the last 7 years… “What the fuck is this bullshit?” “I don’t know how to do this shit.” Then I would start the process. My Tascam field recorder would start secretly recording while in my backpack so that the professor wouldn’t know. I bought the Tascam early on in my Academic career because I wanted to be able to adjust the microphone to hear a pin drop if I needed to. I would record those lectures and then listen to them again over and over. I would read my vocabulary into that Tascam and then I would listen to it over and over. I wasn’t sure about this process until the As, started to roll in. When I made the honor’s list and the dean’s list the following semesters, I knew that I was on to something. But, wait just a minute…I thought that I had destroyed my brain by doing drugs? Ha! Tell that to the Dean…it’s his fucking list.

Go ahead tell me about the cognitive impairment that occurs with hard drug abuse. Uh huh, do what? Oh, I’m just looking at my fucking degrees that I earned about 20 years, give or take, after the fact. I’m the one who was drinking every night, I was the one doing blow, smoking crack, any pill that I could find. That was me playa, the same motherfucker with that associate degree, the bachelor-of-science, the grad certificate, and soon to be motherfucking master’s degree. That was me, the guy with no chance. If you are reading this and you are currently in a bad spot, just realize that you can most likely get out of it. If I did, it’s possible.

You know, really quick right before I jump back in time and we go back twenty years or so to where we left off in Austin, I just want to say thank you to anyone reading this. I’ve had more people reading my blog lately and it’s just so fucking humbling to me when I see that people are enjoying my blog or getting something from my writing. I can’t tell you how much it helps me in my everyday life just knowing that people care enough to read what I type on my MBA 11. (Apple MacBook Air 11 in.) Old I know.

I would get to know the guy that the Austin community knew as “Man-Boobs” from KLBG’s morning show extremely well over the next decade or so, but in another way, we didn’t really get to know each other very well at all. We both were shit canned drunk and high for at least the first 5 years of our friendship. It was a hilariously destructive, yet positive friendship. We were best friends sometimes and we could really get on each other’s nerves with both aspects being fueled by a lack of shit to do other than whatever bullshit job we had going on at the time, finding weed, coke, or whatever, and doing comedy. We had just moved into our place, but it was tiny and we were close to being broke after all of the moving expenses, paying the rent for my spot on the floor up the hill and then making sure that we had weed, so food was in relatively short supply at first. But we did have beer. As the old saying goes. There is food in beer, but not beer in food. Meaning if you have to make a choice, go for the beer. We also didn’t have a charcoal grill to cook on. Man-Boobs and I would have these afternoon “steak-grilling” days at his old place occasionally where we would just murder these poor steaks. Neither one of us understood any type of cooking theory such as how to cook a steak and know when it’s done by touching it. Nope, were drunk, stupid, and cutting steaks in the middle to see if they are done. Yep, dumbshits. We would also use two forks, one in each hand, stabbing at steaks in order to tenderize them. I am more ashamed of that than any of the crack smoking for sure. Ha ha.

Man-Boobs was still pretty hurt over being fired and publicly humiliated in a way on-air both during his time at KLBG and especially for how they raked him over the coals after his departure. I mean he was just so well known. I remember that my sister-in-law was very impressed when she found out that my roommate was the one and only Man-Boobs. She wanted to meet him. He was a legend.

I had sent a tape to a stand-up comedy booking guy that had some rooms that he booked, and he called me back. Holy shit, I’m going on the road and they are even giving me a hotel room. I’ve made it! In your face everyone that ever said that I was just wasting my time! In your face!

(Spoiler alert!…I was an idiot. I hadn’t made it. The gig was in fucking Beaumont and Lake Charles, but I sure felt like I made it. I felt like a million bucks. Oh, yeah. It was probably that fat line of blow that I had just done after I got that message. I’m going on the road!

Back in the day, in Austin, one of the comics had written a story about being on the road and it was in the Austin Chronicle. It was very well written, and it wasn’t about some great gig at some big comedy club or anything like that, it was an article in the Chronicle about a shitty little one-night gig in some BFE town out in the middle of nowhere if I remember correctly. I remember reading that article and wishing that someday I would be that guy, rolling a few joints to smoke for a long road trip, opening up a beer once I hit the highway, and being a rolling potential quota-buster for any of the small town’s police department that I would be driving through in my ’83 Toyota Tercel SR5…The T-Cel as the other comics started calling it. I didn’t have insurance for the car, barely enough money for gas to get to the gig, a weird noise coming from the front axle, a slow fuel leak, and a battery that was sometimes iffy. Of course, when I got to the motel, I had to check the door locks several times on my Tercel, just to make that it was locked. I even disconnected the battery cable. I didn’t bring any blow with me, I got scared to at the last minute, but I did bring some weed. I now have a slow leak in my radiator to match the rest of the issues. Fuck. Somehow, when I get my room key, get to my smelly room at the hotel, motel, holiday inn, I feel like a motherfucking superstar. I’ve made it. I’m the opening act for a hypnotist in Beaumont!

Most of my nights were spent sitting on a bar stool at either the Velveeta Room or at Cap City Comedy Club just trying to get into the comedy scene during this time. That was becoming my thing. I was just kind of there pretty much all of the time. I made sure that I always had weed on me and I usually had some blow as well. My depression was still there and so was my anxiety as I’ve said before, but at that point I was holding it in better than I could in my later years. Hmmm. Something just occurred to me as I was writing that. Ugh, never mind. The depression was better for sure. I didn’t want to die anymore really, I mean maybe during binges I may go into an alcohol and coke binge crying session, but that’s not motherfucking depression. I was throwing up a lot before I would go on stage during this time and really that pretty much kept up until I stopped doing comedy, but I used to throw up almost daily anyway. I haven’t in over a year and a half though.

The excitement of stand-up comedy though was so intoxicating. I couldn’t quit. I could be throwing up in the bathroom before a set, hands shaking while holding the mic, feeling like shit after bombing, being told by Howard Beecher that I suck the second that I get off the stage, right after Howard Kremer has decimated me using the back mic (all from previous post). I didn’t care, there was something about finally being special in a way, well, special enough to be handed a microphone and given 5 minutes to talk. That was special enough.

All that abuse that we all endured was really difficult at times. We all loved it though. Have you ever seen one of those Comedy Central Roasts? Of course, you have. On those, people are getting killed onstage and they just sit there and laugh. Do they go home and cry afterwards? Who fuckin knows? Some do probably and get really mad…watch it over and over and fume…others probably just keep laughing at it…at themselves and it never bothers them a bit.

The Austin Comedy scene back then was like living in a real-life everyday version of a Comedy Central Roast. It was motherfucking brutal, but we were all laughing. We all loved it. Well, most of us did. There were some that just got decimated week after week, the ones that end up becoming punchlines. Most of us would have our moments in the crosshairs. It would just happen. Even the two Howards got their moments from time to time getting destroyed by the other comics, but there were as I said, some comics that just got more abuse than others and I’m so ashamed to admit that I was part of handing out that abuse.

I keep mentioning speedballs in this blog. The mixture of heroin and cocaine. Usually injected. One up, one down.

Stand-up comedy was fun to be a part of for me though for the most part. I think that fun is the right word. When you never make it as a comic, but you played the game for as long as I did, 15 years or so, it seems to affect individuals differently. It’s a weird feeling when you step away from the microphone and just stop going out to open mics as much, especially when it once meant so much. I know what has gone through my head since I abandoned the dream. I have felt a sense of loss and also a sense of gain. I don’t miss looking out at an audience that doesn’t give a shit or that are just drunk as fuck. I don’t miss the general underlying competitiveness of stand-up comics with actual goals. I do miss the ones that I would hang out with sometimes. Not really losers, but certainly not winners either. Man-Boobs and I got along very well usually. He is absolutely one of the funniest, if not the funniest person that I’ve ever seen on stage at one time and also maybe the worst that I’ve ever seen at the same time. Maybe even the same week. Don’t get me wrong. One of my personal biggest weaknesses as a comic was my inconsistency. I would love to sit here and type away that it was alcohol that kept me back from being successful at comedy, but I honestly don’t think that is the issue. I’m an addict, but that wasn’t it either, but kind of. The point is that I was very inconsistent, but Man-Boobs was even worse. Together, well we just should never do shows together, there would be way too much chance for horribly bad shows, mixed with really good ones. The only thing that could be worse is if we threw someone else into the equation. That would happen. Eventually we would get several other comics together that would have some really, really, bad, shows and then a really good one, followed by a series of awful performances, and then a great show, and then really bad ones. Motherfucking powder kegs filled with some comics drunk, high, coked-up, on meth, Vicodin like they were skittles, shrooms, just absolutely crazy shit that went from Austin out to San Diego and even a few shows in Los Angeles. By the end of our run as a group of comics, working together, we ran through bank accounts, credit lines, favors, promises, lies, fuck you’s, standing ovations, standing no-vations as the audience walks the fuck out, and then reduced to a pile of worn-out comics, all with major addiction issues of some sort just trying to figure out what the fuck we had all just been through. Weekend shows that we did with an 8-ball in the greenroom while someone was outside standing watch. Door guys know, they are the ones watching the door. The bartender is doing the line right before ours, the manager is crushing it up with my license on the plate that is on the greenroom coffee table. We had years of midnight comedy shows that would sometimes be absolutely off the motherfucking chain, followed by huge parties, followed by huge egos, followed by all kinds of psychological biases that when mixed with the booze and recreational pharmaceuticals sure did provide a breeding ground for young-ish, kind of stand-up comic wannabes to feel as if they are the real thing and to make bad, or at least questionable decisions. We could almost feel like real comics, bet we weren’t though really, and we all knew it. We were able to get some neat gigs, but also some real shit ones as well. We also had to do most of the promotion ourselves, which was a bitch back in the day. We were passing out fliers, 2 for 1 tickets, hand-bills, to audience members after shows, outside of music venues, posted all over town, all done by us. We were sending out press-releases, putting together promo-packs, just trying to make the break for ourselves, but also enabling each other’s addictions. There wasn’t any type of social media at the time to help, it was just us, some drugs, whoever had a car at the time, and a lot of fun. We were really fun addicts with a dream.

I remember being so happy and excited about that first gig though. I was going to make it. That first gig was just the start. The problem though was that I just wasn’t good enough yet to be able to handle that gig. Looking back, I might have had the jokes to pull it off, but I didn’t have a reliable plan. I didn’t have a map of the set. I had some, “I hope that the crowd will like that jokes”, but at that point I didn’t have any BOOM jokes. The ones where you know it’s going to hit and hit almost every time. It took me probably 6 years to get a few BOOM jokes and they were good and reliable. Here’s the problem. I wasn’t. I keep stressing my inconsistency and as I’ve been writing this blog, since the first post, I’ve been trying to pay attention to myself, my addictive mannerisms, quirks, qualities, contributions, anchors, and those sometimes debilitating  aspects of who I am, the decision making, the choices. I have to sometimes say this to myself. “ERP. Exposure, response, prevention. The world is going to throw shit at me. How do I respond is something that has a moving average that I can control.” Why would I have these jokes in my pocket, these BOOM jokes, but sometimes I wouldn’t use them? I would just go up as if I didn’t have any material at all. And just die. Then, I would feel like shit about it. Sometimes I’d be really drunk while this was happening, but alcohol isn’t the main issue. It’s just there also. It’s convenient.

I wasn’t ready for my weekend assignment as a comedian, my first paid, professional gig. I thought that I was, but I wasn’t. Knowing what I know now about studying, knowing what I know about how much work it takes to get an associate degree, a bachelor-of-science, a motherfucking MBA, I’m shaking my head right now, because I know that I never put in the work that it really takes. I never did. I didn’t know what academic preparation looked like, felt like, I mean I knew what it felt like to go to a 24-hour diner and drink lots of coffee, “study” with a group and then go get a C on a test or fail it, sure I knew that, but I didn’t know how much work it takes to make the Dean’s List for example. I had no fucking concept of that type of academic commitment. The hours that I spent working on my comedy were inefficient at best and completely ineffective at worst. That’s a tough pill to swallow, luckily, I know how to crush that pill, snort it, and deal with it. I don’t need to swallow shit motherfucker.

I did the math and all I basically have to do is show up and give my presentation. That should be enough. It sounds so simple, but it’s going to take another few days of preparation both individually and with the other members of my MBA group project. The class has this weird feel to it now. Everyone there are just days away from the last class of the program and we’ve all been working on the BSG Online business game simulation as part of our Capstone. There are 26 of us that are in the class and we all have horror stories of former classes, past projects, group dynamics that were just horrible, professors that required unbelievable amounts of work to be done, etc.

It’s weird not to have any current assigned reading lurking in the back of my mind or hibernating on my calendar just past the current page where I can’t see it, but I know that its due date is approaching. There aren’t any professors to look up on ratemyprofessor, no textbooks to order, no parking pass to purchase, no folders, notebooks, scantrons, or Khan Academy. No more recording lectures, transferring notes into a speech generator so that I can make my own audiobooks within minutes, no more having to read what they tell me to read.

But, I now know how to read. Wait? What? Of course, I knew how to read, but the way that I read is different. The way that the information is received, processed, packaged, and distributed has changed. I read like I have a master’s degree. That’s how I motherfucking read! I just type like I don’t. Ha ha. Fuck it. I joke around, but I’ve had to read a lot of in-depth business-related material that could potentially cure insomnia in even the most stubborn cases. Hundreds if not thousands of Annual Reports and Letters to Shareholders, Harvard Business Case Studies, peer-reviewed articles, just all kinds of stuff.

I was a lot younger when I started this academic path. I was 41. I would suggest it to all and not wish it on anyone.