Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Edge

"The Edge...there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over." - Hunter S. Thompson

I subtitled this blog "Surviving the Edge" because I do feel I've been "the edge". It's not something to brag about, and it's definitely not something I would want anyone to envy. I used that term in a conversation I had recently, and I was asked what I meant by it.

It can mean the brink of insanity. "I was almost pushed over the edge." That could be the edge of complete loss of control...physically, mentally and emotionally.

It can mean whatever the hell Aerosmith wanted it to in that fucking song of theirs.

The obvious meaning of "the edge" can be the line between living and being dead as hell. This is part of what I mean when I use the term because of almost dying, but I think it has a bigger meaning for me.

You get to reflect on your actions, thoughts, decisions, mistakes and more as you sit in jail and/or rehab. And it became pretty damn obvious to me that the self-destruction that I consciously and subconsciously attempted to do through heavy drinking and heroin almost ended me completely. And I don't mean death...although, of course that almost happened multiple times as well.

No, what I mean is, I came really close to not being able to come back. I think if I had not agreed to treatment and instead said "no, goodbye" to my family, that would have been it. I would have gone over "the edge" and buried my soul deep inside as I continued to shoot painkillers.

You can see this in the eyes of heavily-addicted street people. They're just shells of themselves, hardly recognizable to their families and dead to the world around them as they grift to get their next fix. They no longer want help. They're way past trying to get high. They just want to continue to not feel.

Losing my mind...losing my life...losing who I am. I put myself really close to all three. And that is what "the Edge" means to me.

I'm able to recognize some people who have been to that edge and somehow made it back. They have a slight hollowness in their gaze like something or someone took the naivety or ignorance-is-bliss portion of their being, and they haven't healed the wound or filled that space.

However, I think the longer you fight and the more you move forward, the less and less you have that scarred look in your eyes. For me, I find myself becoming stressed about trivial aspects of life and irritated about absolutely ridiculous things on the Internet. And that's awesome, because it gives my mind a break from the heavy shit.

It's the trivial and the ridiculous that can save us from constantly dwelling on the harsh, brutal reality of life and pain.

I need to remember that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Now, What Did We Learn?

This completes blog #30 in 30 days.

So...did I have a massive creative breakthrough? Did something within me change? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?

Whatever, dick.

I learned I can write about pretty much anything if I have to. I think I opened up more about what goes on in my head in the middle of the night. Doing this every night confirmed that expressing my thoughts, even in "blog" form, is healthy for me.

I learned that I do this for me...I don't have to post every single thing I write on my Facebook or Twitter account (you're welcome). If I've learned anything from the damn Internet and entertainment in general, it's that it is about the art you create, not the quantity of views, likes, shares or retweets.

I was reminded that caffeine is not inspiration. It just makes you urinate more and have stress-related dreams.

I discovered I write better when listening to either Radiohead or Trent Reznor w/ Atticus Ross.

I also learned that you should start with a longer guard size when using hair clippers for the first time.

Close shave.
If I consider all this...even the hair thing...then I have to keep doing this. I think writing here is part of this new life that I'm's a new pattern, and for junkies and alcoholics like me, healthy new patterns and habits are a very good thing.

So, keep coming back. I'll be here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


So, you could look at my night in different ways. One way would be that I tanked my set at the show I did, waited 30 minutes for a bus before I figured out that the buses are on holiday schedule, then had to walk and skate home for an hour and finally hurt my tooth eating old pizza.

Bad night. But not really.

I got laughs but just sucked the second half of my set...but it was a fun show and everybody performing made me crack up. I had a great time. And skating home? Shit, I like doing that anyway. It was a really nice night for it, and I didn't tire myself out, really, even if some of it was uphill. And hey, as I'm typing this, my tooth isn't hurting...and the goddamn pizza was free.

So. It really is all in my head...the feelings generating right now of being a little lonely...a little bored...a little unhappy. All that shit is temporary, and it tells me that I have a choice. I can either wallow in these feelings and sulk for no good reason, or I can choose to not believe my thoughts and go to sleep. Seriously, John...sleep and know that your brain, while currently manufacturing bullshit, will be fine when you wake...just like it was this morning (well, this afternoon).

You don't have to believe your thoughts. I'm off.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened.Wait...No, It Didn't.

I was recently reminded of something this guy said to me, "Boy, I bet you're getting lots of material here, huh?"

We were in county jail. And I don't mean for a few hours. We had been there "for a minute", as the saying goes. When people know you're a comedian, sometimes they'll say that, or something about how I probably have plenty of jokes about them or a mutual coworker/acquaintance. No, I never do, sorry.

But jail? Really? How do you figure I'm going to spin being shit on by wannabe sheriffs, residing with idiots, and eating the worst food imaginable? Hey, everybody...I screwed up my probation, ended up in the clink and hilarity ensued...

I suppose my fellow inmate's inquiry could be turned into a clever yarn. I might get a chuckle or two. No, probably just smiles.

By the way, I don't know if anyone has told you this, but comedians cannot hear you smile. We can barely even see them. Most are not looking at you, or they're drunk. If you find something mildly amusing, please attempt a mild laugh...maybe a giggle. It might just encourage the performer to keep going in the direction of more funny as opposed to that performer panicking at silence.

But yeah...I don't have a lot of jail or rehab bits. You tell people you've been "away" for a bit and for some reason, they can't relate. Imagine that...not everyone in the audience has been away from society for 6 months or more.

It's a shame, really. I think many people could benefit from having their life be put on hiatus for a while. It gives you some perspective. You appreciate what you have, if only for a little while. In fact, I need to do that  right now. Remember where I've been and be thankful for where I am...for my job and friends...for the opportunities to tell jokes...even if they aren't ones about people who want them to be.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

So, What Do You Do...

"What do you do for a living?"
"Why, so you can pretend like you're interested?"

We Americans use "so what do you do" as the cornerstone of opening conversations. The question seems like you are just asking about someone's career to start a conversation. But really, doesn't it just seem like you're really setting yourself up to identify, in your head, how much money they make, thereby making numerous assumptions about that person and their lifestyle? I suppose it's more pleasant than, "What job did you take in desperation to pay bills?"

I actually like the question now. I tell people I wash dishes, and I actually avoid telling them I'm a comedian until later in the conversation (if it continues). When they hear I'm a dishwasher, it makes them uncomfortable, which I find fascinating sometimes. It's like if someone has a "worse" job than you, you feel bad. Then why ask? Finding out what someone does for a paycheck is just a small part of who someone is, as most of us know.

Our society values money over everything. This will not change anytime soon. I have friends who like to come up with clever responses to this question to fuck with people who ask it. I don't want to do that. Instead, I'd rather come up with an alternative question to ask others without even touching their day job. I like the idea of just asking, "What do you do for personal fulfillment?" Of course, that sounds like you're about to introduce them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

How about, what is your art? What do you create? What do you do for happiness?

I think many of us know that money doesn't buy happiness, and that there's more to us all than our job. We should quit talking and acting like it then...especially in our small talk.

How The Internet Assists My Brain In Distracting Itself

Time to write something. What should I listen to tonight? I am definitely in a Radiohead mood. Not Pandora, let's listen to a whole album.

(opens new browser window, loads Grooveshark)

Listened to OK Computer a couple of times this that's a good one. Maybe The Bends? Jeez, which one is my favorite, I wonder...Kid A is their best possibly...Whoa, I haven't listened to Amnesiac in forever.

(opens new window, googles Kid A vs Amnesiac)
(ends up on message board reading opinions from 2001 for way too long)

Get the fuck out of here, they were both recorded at the same time! Thom Yorke is brilliant. Ooh, I gotta post that one I like...which song is it?

(new window, pulls up Wikipedia, searches "Amnesiac")

Oh right..."You and Whose Army". "I Might Be Wrong" is a close second I think.

(new window, pulls up YouTube)

Seriously...if I was a musician, listening to Radiohead would make me throw out songs I write. Gotta be irritating. It's like me writing a bit and then making the mistake of listening to Louie.

(searches Louis CK on YouTube since that window is already up)
(watches Louie clips for way too long)

Wow. I'm just amazed...rednecks at a DC show heckling. Rednecks are forget that. That was from 2006...that was just when he was starting to break out of his usual act...A lot can happen to your life and your art in just a couple of years. It really is amazing that...

Wait, it's already 3am? What the fuck happened? Shit.

So...Amnesiac then? Yeah, I'll listen to that one.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Will That Be Smoking or Whatever It Is That Blue-Tipped Thing In Your Mouth Does?

One of these pictures does not belong:

If you said the third pic because it's an animated gif, then that means either you are being a smart-ass, or you actually like Stephen Dorff. I hope it's the former.

It is definitely picture # 4...and not because Dorff isn't in the league of the other three (and he isn't). It's because he's using an electronic cigarette...and he's trying his damnedest to make it cool. It isn't.

I really don't want to put anything with a neon blue tip in my mouth. Like ever.

I don't see anyone ever thinking or saying, "Wow, the way you inhale and exhale odorless and non offensive  vapor is sexy."

Electronic cigarettes are not cool. They just aren't. I doubt they ever will be. But cancer and emphysema are also not cool. So yeah, I get using them to help you quit smoking altogether. Just use your battery-powered nicotine dispenser as needed, and try not to pretend you're having a real, life-taking, smelly cancer stick. They are as badass as nicotine gum or the patch.

I would try electronic cigarettes if I could get an option for vapor that smells like stale cigarette smoke. If you can't annoy a clean-living nonsmoker once in a while, what's the point?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bed bugs.

Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of people and animals when they sleep.

That's a pretty disturbing sentence. Did you know that they are found everywhere in the world, even in 5-star hotels because cleanliness of a living condition does not determine whether they are there or not?

I know this, because Tyler knows this. Also because Tyler was bit to shit all last week.

It's been really annoying, because they start slowly, just one or two bites at first. And you think maybe you were bit by a mosquito. Then you think, well, maybe the house has fleas. After a couple of days, they get really brave, and they've apparently told all their friends to come over. It's about this time that you see one, and at that point sleep is ruined for the evening...especially when you discover more in the cracks of the mattress.

However, diatomaceous earth is a soft sedimentary rock that you can buy as a powder, and it rains hell on those little vampires' world. It slices them up like tiny little razor blades and dries them out so that they slowly die of dehydration. And yes, that does make me smile.

The slow torture and death of these little bastards may go against a buddhist nature, but I think if Siddhartha Gautama had dealt with bed bugs in his time, he would have written the first Precept as, "I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life...except for bed bugs. Fuck them."

I would also like to suggest parents do not tell their children, "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite." It will screw with them when they find out they're real, and no normal person "lets" things eat them while they sleep. It's just an awful saying.

They're all gone now. My room is clear. But now I am psychosomatically fucked. Any little itch freaks me out, and I have to check every inch of myself, the floor and the bed. Great...I get to have meth addict symptoms without using the drug.

Sleep tight, everyone.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John Rabon vs Bum Redux

He was swaying by the trash can at the Walgreen's on South Lamar. It was 2:30 AM. I was the only person around. I should have been prepared.

By "prepared", I mean ready with a firm but non-threatening "no". Instead, I was reactionary and had that urge to tell him off. I'm not sure why I do that...why people in general do that. You don't have to be abusive or insulting immediately like you have to "win". You're going to walk away from the guy and go to a residence with a secure place to sleep and go to the bathroom. You're need to get the ego involved. And besides, John, insulting the guy isn't going to make him get his shit together. He's obviously fucked up...he won't remember you anyway.

Bum: "Hey, can you spare some --"

Me: "Fuck no, man...I'm broke, and I'm working my ass off! I just washed dishes for 9 hours tonight!

Okay, not that abusive, but I'm steering this in the shit's-going-to-go-down direction.

Bum: (slurs something I don't understand) "...Hey! Look! I'm..."

Me: (walking away) "Fuck off! Jesus."

Totally uncalled for, and I know it...yet I stop and look at him. He starts staggering towards me, raising his voice. Scraggly beard and trucker hat. But not in a hipster way.

I see him walk towards me and I flash back 5 years to the time I punched a bum in the face. That time was a tad different...I had been up all night and loaded with alcohol and ritalin. Also, that guy started yelling and cursing first. This time, I'm instigating.

I realized I was tired and had very little tolerance in effect. Obviously.

Bum: (yelling) "Hey! I washed dishes too, you know!"

I shift on him now that self awareness has set in.

Me: "Well, what happened?"

Bum: (stops walking, and looks like he's thinking, or attempting to) "I, uh..." (slurring and indistinguishable words)

Me: Look, I'm an alcoholic heroin junkie, all right, man? Sober almost 9 months. It can be done."

I walk away to silence. Then I hear him say one more thing.

Bum: (still yelling): Yeah, well, GOOD LUCK!

I don't know if he meant it sarcastically or sincerely. He probably doesn't either. Doesn't matter.

Good luck to you, too.


Not really happy with myself about that exchange. It should have been much shorter, or I could have talked to him a bit. However, I stopped antagonizing and ended the exchange...and I didn't physically assault him, so there's that. Baby steps, John.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Giving Back? How About Just Giving?

One thing I've discovered is that getting clean and sober does not make you a better person. Big shock there.

No, what happens is that once you're sober, you become acutely aware of how much you suck. "Wow, I'm am a douchebag. Yikes. If I gotta be around me all the time, I need to change some shit."

That's where my weekly projects come in. I've worked on empathy (with some success) and passive aggressiveness (that one needs work). They need to be ongoing, especially improving my diet and that whole smoking thing.

This week may be challenging...and I'm kind of irritated and ashamed that I think it'll be hard. I want to perform truly selfless acts daily. I say "truly selfless" meaning helping someone else without the desire for anything in return, including recognition or thanks. That means doing something without anyone knowing but yourself...and to fight your ego that says, "what's the point?"

In recovery, the saying goes, "we keep what we have only by giving it away", which is fine. Help others stay sober keeps you sober. But I feel a bit differently about this.

I don't want to do a bunch of good deeds to outweigh the bad ones I've done. Initially, that's what I was thinking. Now, however, I want to help other people because frankly, there's a lot of shitty, selfish people in the world. Me, me, me...I sure as hell was for a long time. I don't want to be one of those people that do good things because I'm trying to get into heaven.

I just think it's time to stop being a taker.

And since I don't have philanthropist money, and I don't wear a mask and a cape (not in public anyway), I need to start off small. Just do something positive, something right...something for another human being. It's the least I can do, right?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Closing Time...Cleaning and Talking Out of Our Asses

We were listening to Pandora while closing tonight in the kitchen. "Forever Your Girl" by Paula Abdul was playing. It was a little different from the punk or rap we normally listen to. Discussion about Paula Abdul's past, present and future ensued.

Cook #1: I think she's aged really well, even with all the booze and pills...

Cook #2: Yeah, well, Nick Cannon says she doesn't look that good in person.

Cook #1: Oh, well, if Nick Cannon says it...

Cook #2: Hey, he was the first African American on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Me: Really? So...he's like the Rosa Parks of Shit.

Cooks: ...

Cook #2: Well, you got me there.

(Nick Cannon was not on the Mickey Mouse Club. Just saving you a trip to Wikipedia.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Typical Saturday I Suppose

I went to Newgrounds, which has been a mecca of flash games and more since the late '90's. I've wasted many hours of productivity when working in a cubicle on this site. I was in the mood to kill zombies, so I searched "zombie" and there were 780 results. I proceeded to play several...Last Stand, Endless Zombie Rampage, Zombie Trailer Park...and so on. I have a massive headache now...but at least my desire to waste an assload of time has been satiated.


Half-Price Saturdays, every week without fail. Saw these DVDs next to each other in the clearance aisle:

I bet all three are equally brutal. All four, actually, if you count "Failure to Launch" lingering there in the background.

I purchased "Constantine" for $1. I'm a huge fan of the comic...not really crazy about Keanu Reeves' attempt at the role of a blond-haired and jaded British guy. But it was a dollar. And demons, hell and stuff. And Shia Lebeouf dies in it (spoiler aler--oops, meh). The good outweighs the bad.

And it was a dollar.

I'm not blond or British. Whoa.


I also bought Neil Gaiman's American Gods to motivate me to finish the William Gibson book I'm still attempting to read. Get off your phone, John, try fucking reading. Words With Friends may be Scrabble and require using your brain a bit, but it feels like a waste when I have a book in hand. It's almost like my brain is fighting anything that might need thought and concentration. Stupid brain.


On Facebook tonight, I received a couple of weird messages from friends and read some questionable status updates. My confusion subsided when it dawned on me that it's 3 AM Sunday morning...people are drunk as hell.

Mmmm...drunk facebooking. I need to keep a mental note of a few of these updates...I'm wondering if they'll be deleted by this afternoon.

I used to wake up hungover and go through my phone, deleting text messages and my call if that would undo the emotional, slurry rollercoaster that the people on the other end of those conversations endured. Sure, out of sight, out of mind.

I made the decision to quit drinking the last time I deleted my cell phone call log. Personally, I'm amazed phone karma has not come back on me yet with numerous drunk dialings. Oh right...I changed my number on most of you. Good call, me.


Laundry, bookstore, beans and rice, two movies, zombie games, Pandora radio and online drunk watch. And that's my Saturday.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Stupid Brain.

The fucking bus did not show up Thursday afternoon. Instead of getting to work 20 minutes early, I was 15 minutes late. I was, needless to say, upset.

I had been late before due to missing a bus from a probation meeting. I was sure I was getting written up. 

That thought magnified in my brain and stressed me out. This was not beneficial to me as we were busy as shit that night. I did not have a good shift all because I was stuck in my own head.

I built up a speech in my head to tell the chef at the end of shift. Here's how the conversation went in my head:

Chef: "So, John...I wanted to talk to you about earlier..."

Me: "Listen, man...I just wanted to let you know that I am sick about coming in late. I've been through the wringer, and because of my bullshit, I have not always been the most timely employee. Great worker, but I used to have excuse after excuse and slide by being late or sick through office jobs.

"And when I'd go to work, I'd be hungover or still drunk, or maybe I'd be high. It was bad, chef. Not happy with that. So now, I'm doing all the right things...and moving forward I now know I have to come to work even earlier to have a fail safe...if I miss one bus I can catch the second. It sucks that I was late due to no fault of my own, but I don't want to sound like the old me of having excuses and blaming others. So, I'm down with you following whatever protocol you need to do, written warning or write-up, whatever...just know I'm going to give you my best, and I will do everything possible to not put you guys in this position again."

This is how the conversation actually went:

Chef: "Looks good. You can still catch a late bus?" 

Me: "Uh, yes, it should come by in about 10 minutes."

Chef: "Great. Have a good night, man."

Me: "...Okay, night."

Yeah. Don't believe your thoughts. And remember to breathe.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A "One-of-a-Kind" Series

"From an executive producer of Dexter and The Mentalist, comes Motive, a thrilling crime drama with a unique twist focusing not on who did the crime, but why the crime was committed in the first place."

Ah. The "motive". I get it.

Hey, doesn't every show that has good guys going after bad guys reveal the bad guys' motive? Even "Scooby Doo" has that "I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids" moment. I don't quite get the uniqueness that your show is supposed to have, according to your ads you're attempting to pound into my brain on almost every channel.

Oh, I see! You reveal the killer right up front to eliminate any questions (or interest) the viewers may have so that they can just sit back and watch for a suspense-less hour of television.

It's not about who, it's about why? Ah, so your one-of-a-kind show focuses on the intent of the criminal, wouldn't you say? And wouldn't you also say that this criminal is being hunted down by the law so that they can restore peace and order?

I agree, it is a unique show...for ABC.

At least you have at least one big name star to carry your program. And yours is...Lauren Holly, from "Dumb and Dumber" and "Down Periscope". Nice.

Wow. What a hunk of shit. Thanks, Canada.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Skate or Die, Indeed

The worst part of all the terms of my probation is not this breathalizer that's protecting me from me. It's not the weekly night class or random drug tests. It is the monthly court appearance I have to make.

It has nothing to do with court itself. I can't take my skateboard there. And then when it's over, I have to go to work without skating...then come home after my skating.

The best part of my day more often than most is the time I get off the bus and skate for 20 minutes to work...sun shining as I cruise down Cherrywood listening to Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Morphine or the "Fight Club" soundtrack (I know, it's an obsession...shush). I'm free during that time. I have no worries or concerns...nothing weighing on my mind. I let everything truly go.

And the thing is, I really am a very shitty skater. I am not good at all. I'm lucky I don't almost kill myself every day on a curb, rock or slight incline easily conquered by grade schoolers.

"Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

Shut up, Alfred. I'm almost 40. I think I'll lie here in the street for a few more minutes, thank you.

Anyway...yeah, I'm awful. But since it's for personal enjoyment and not for competing in the X Games, I'm going to keep skateboarding.

It's so important to me that not being able to bring my board to work is a deal breaker. I had a job opportunity that I turned down for a number of reasons, the biggest being that I'd have to get up at 6am and get home at 7pm...but it was the fact that I couldn't bring my skateboard that sealed the deal on that. I know that may sound ridiculous to some of you, but it's taken me a long time to get to a place in my life where I know what I want, what I don't want, and what I fucking love to do.

I recommend that to anyone. If you find something you enjoy doing, keep doing it no matter how shitty you are at it. Who are you trying to impress? It's for you. Isn't that what matters?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Message to the FPIA Finalists from John Fucking Rabon

Bear with me. I am going to sound like an old man giving a "when I was your age" speech.

In 2005, I had a tight 7 minute set that I thought was the best I had ever constructed. In the FPIA finals that year, I did very well...multiple applause breaks, big laughs...just killer. When they announced 3rd and 2nd place, I thought, "Oh was still a good set. I'm not going to win. Am I? Nah...Maybe?"

John Ramsey won in his first year of doing comedy. I had never heard of him or seen his act.

I don't know if Brendon Walsh actually read Ramsey's name this way when he announced him as the winner, but what I heard was, "Jooohnn...Raaaaa....msey." For a split second, I won. That was harsh.

I drank a lot that night. No, I mean, more than I normally did. I considered not doing the contest again, because it was a shit ton of self-imposed stress for a month to have 7 minutes of payoff.

In 2006, I did the contest again. Good showing, but it didn't feel like it did the year before. I tried to put together a set I thought the judges would like. Bad idea. I swore I wouldn't do FPIA again...I just didn't enjoy it. I wanted a contest that allowed me to do 15 minutes. 5-7 could suck it, I thought. I drank alot. Again.

2007. One more time. Tactically, I made the worst error by doing a soapbox bit on school shootings...less than a week after the Virginia Tech massacre. I was pissed off at the media for targeting video games and music (again) as possible causes...and my ego was at its peak in '07, so "fuck the judges", I said. Bad idea. I ranted, made it awkward, won them back, big applause break and laughs. I didn't make it past the prelims for the first time in 8 years. But I felt satisfied about my set, and I was able to enjoy the rest of April as a spectator. Never did the contest again.

What's my point?

Is it that you should stay true to yourself and not perform for the same finals judges you'll see in the years to come?

Is it that this contest doesn't really mean much in the real world or outside of the comedy scene (and outside of April-May)?

No. My point is this: If you do really well next week and you don't win and you feel shitty about it, just remember....fuck you! I had it way worse! You aren't gonna lose to someone whose name is 4 letters different from yours! You're not going to be built up for a split second then cock-punched with reality. You're not gonna hear "Chris Cubagooding" or "Chance Royscheider".

None of you fuckers have names that sound like each other. So suck it up, have a great night, and enjoy the goddamn moment. Break a leg.

Side note: Ramsey's set was far superior to mine in 2005. Well deserved. He's hilarious.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blogging is Passive Aggressive, Isn't It? Oh Well.

My project this week is to become aware of my passive aggressive behavior and attempt to minimize it as much as I can. I dislike passive aggressiveness immensely.

Instead of saying "no" to someone, you say "yes" then fuck up whatever you agreed to because in your mind it's easier to do.

A person disagrees with you, but they can't tell you directly, so they bitch about you to a third party. Then that third party tells you, and you get all pissed off, "He should say that to my face! I ought to go tell him some shit!" But you don' instead bitch about it back to the third party or to someone else. You respond to passive aggressiveness with passive aggressiveness. (And you know, fuck the third party for getting involved and stirring up shit, too.)

Also, being insulting and brutal online (looking at you, Facebook) is passive aggressive. We are all so brave at home when our target is not in the room.

Oh, and hell yes I'm guilty of these actions. We tend to despise behaviors in others that we ourselves do as's why we can spot them in others so easily.

So, how do I combat this behavior? I think self-awareness is always a big first step. Try to be mindful of moments where I fear telling someone exactly how I feel. If I need to communicate something to another person, I need to just do it directly. Avoid gossip and shit-talking behind someone's back.

Or, just let it go. I don't know about you, but sometimes I forget that I don't have to express every dumb thought in my head or every feeling. Seriously, if I don't want to tell somebody what I think about them, maybe I don't tell anybody else either. Gossip and slander is poison.

My old defense against passive aggressive behavior was to become intoxicated and then be overtly up front with people. This rarely had positive results, regardless of what my foggy memory is of these moments. Apparently, my memory of these incidents differs greatly from others around me who were not as drunk. But who are you gonna believe...

But I do like the idea of being upfront with people. I will try to think, before I add a comment on some dumb shit on Facebook, "Would I say this if we were face to face?"

And above all, I will try to maintain my self-confidence and remember that I don't care what others think. I can express how I feel without fear of rejection or judgment.

Monday, May 13, 2013

You are be Recognized as a Douchebag

One thing that really bothers me is entitlement. One of my favorite sayings is, "Your overwhelming sense of entitlement damages my calm." Unfortunately, I have quite a few opportunities to say this every day, because this world is full of people who think they're owed something or that they deserve it.

I've blogged about empathy before, and I want to empathize with others as much as I can, but it sure is difficult to do when they're full of themselves and think they do what they want, like...say...park in the middle of some nice thick grass on the side of Lamar so they can go eat at Matt's El Rancho.

I like that it's a Cadillac, too. Apparently it's not enough to want to hate on them, they have to have a pricey luxury car to really rub it in. "Fuck those empty parking spaces over there. I would have to walk. I didn't buy this car so I would have to walk like a commoner."

Okay, that might be a bit much. But hey, whatever. I resisted the urge to let the air out of a tire or key the car.

A friend of mine (who knows me too well): "So you didn't do anything to the car damage-wise?"
Me: "No, man. I'm not like that anymore."
Friend: "Right...also, because the car was right on the side of South Lamar Blvd on a Saturday. Too public."
Me: "No...yes. Shut up."

I did want to convey that I was displeased with the driver's disregard for St. Augustine, so...

I think I'm going to get a bunch of business cards printed with that saying on it. That way, I can just silently present the card to a loud asshole on the bus...the guy talking on his cell phone while in line at the convenience store...and yes, leave them on the occasional automobile.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


While watching YouTube videos of the very talented Josh Robert Thompson (voice and puppeteer of Geoff on Craig Ferguson's show) doing a spot-on Morgan Freeman impression and voice-over (thanks, Justin), it reminded me of a ridiculous argument I had with this guy in treatment. We were watching "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman":

Me: God, I love this show.

Him: Yeah, too bad he's gay.

Me: Morgan Freeman? No, he isn't.

Him: Pretty sure he is. That's what I heard and it makes sense.

Me: Umm...okay, why does it matter if he's gay? Is that what you think about when you hear his voice? That's probably an issue you might want to look into, because the guy does a shit ton of voice work.

Him: No, it's just a shame, that's all.

Me: I don't really want to get into your homophobic shit, really, or why you seem to be infatuated with gay guys.

Him: What are you sayin'?

Me: You just made a comment earlier this week during X-Men about Magneto being gay...which he is...and that you thought Patrick Stewart was too...I told you not all old British actors are homosexual. Most of them, maybe...

Him: No, but Morgan Freeman is...

Me: I wish we had the goddamn internet right now...

Him: Yeah, you could prove me right.

Me: What did you hear? Where did this come from? He's been married like a couple of times.

Him: Gay guys get married...for like an image and shit.

Me: Okay...

Him: Plus, look, he's got an earring in his right ear.

Me: All right. There it is. So let me see if I can follow your logic. Morgan Freeman is enjoying success in Hollywood, but he doesn't want to "come out" and jeopardize his career, so he gets married for a long time. He has to watch and protect every aspect of his personal life to appear to be a heterosexual male actor to the public...forces himself to kiss his wife, or "beard" if you will, in public...but in the middle of all of this planning, he decides to say, "Hey, you know what? I want to do straight guy stuff 100%...except for this shiny ass earring. I'm going to put it in this ear. I know that goes against my huge cover-up, but I'm gonna throw caution to the wind. Fuck it."

Him: Well...

Me: That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You know what, I hope he is gay, as well as everyone else you like...just to fuck with you.

It pretty much ended after that...I think because the TV channel was changed to "The Big Bang Theory"...there's a hot girl on that show...I guess it was what he needed to calm down. "Okay, breathe...think sex with with that blond girl..."

Homophobia must be exhausting.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

la ComunicaciĆ³n

I work with Sonia, who is amazing at her job. She doesn't speak English...but I don't speak Spanish, so it all evens out.

When I first started working with her, there were communication issues...but here we are two months later. I enjoy the nights we are scheduled together. She makes me work my ass off to try to keep up with her. I'm always at the top of my game when she's there.

There is very little chit chat, as you would imagine. That's a fucking relief, by the way. An absence of polite small talk is fine by me.

I have the routine of my shift down now...and I know her routine and process of dishwashing, food prep and clean-up. Being comfortable with how your coworker does their job can eliminate most communication issues. I mean, sometimes she'll tell me something, and I don't have to know what she's actually saying. I can just react to where she's pointing and immediately know what needs to be done.

It reminds me of the "Ocean's Eleven" movies where the grease man just speaks Chinese but everybody knows what he's saying, and they respond back to him in English. Even if I don't know what she says, I'll figure it out. She could say something like "Estare de vuelta" (I'll be right back), and I'll just respond with, "Okay. Si." I've stopped asking, "What was that?" because, why, John? If you can't understand the Spanish phrase, how is her repeating it again going to help? "Oh, I see. You'll be back. Got it. I thought you said you needed to iron a sweatshirt and then walk a tightrope."

I can pick up on her tone...which is absolutely hilarious when she gets angry at the front of the house for getting in the way of her working. Some of them are scared of her. I guess there's something intimidating about getting chewed out by a little Mexican lady...especially when you don't know what she's yelling at you about.

Server: "Oh, I'm sorry...(to me) Do you know what she's saying?"
Me: "She hopes you and your wife have healthy children."
Server: "What? Really?"
Me: "Probably not...but I'd watch where you put the glass rack on her station next time."

Some people need some time to get my humor.

We have our moments at work.

Me: "Buenas dias, Sonia."
Sonia: "No. Buenas tardes, John."
Me: "Well, you say tomate..."

I hurt my hand while cutting potatoes into fries.
Me: "Fuck. Pinche potatoes!"
Sonia: "Ah...pinche papas!"
Me: "Yeah...pinche papas, indeed."

End of shift..."Okay. Es very clean. Bye, John."
"Adios, Sonia."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dance, Monkey.

I read a post on Facebook where a guy who said he was a comedian stated that open mics are a waste of time. He said every time he hits the stage he knows he will make money, because he knows what he wants to do with his talent.

Turns out he's actually an actor, because he posted some YouTube clips of him in commercials and on a TV show. I tried to watch them, but the sound was messed up. All I could hear in each clip was the sound of someone sucking their own dick.

He was at first trying to make the point of, don't wait around in open mics to be discovered. Okay. Pretty obvious, but thanks for helping. Then it just turned into a very sad display of placating his own ego. It's all about money to him, I got it. Fucking actors using stand-up to further their career...makes me wish the bottom would drop out in comedy off everybody who don't have the passion for stand-up comedy as an art form.

Because it is, you know. All self-deprecation aside..."I'm just a dancing monkey to sell booze"'s still art. I am an artist...and I need to remember that. New people starting off in open mics here need to ask themselves why they do it. Do they truly love the art form? Do they have a passion for performing in front of people, even if those people are the bartender, the waitress, four other people going up and one of their girlfriends who won't be coming back next week?

 The problem with this guy is not that he only wants to perform for money. Hey, if money is your motivator and your god, that's just who you are. Cash rules everything around me, whatever. The problem is that he was trying really hard to convince other people that what he was doing was the way to go, and that they needed to do the same. That's self-doubt eating away at him, and his ego was trying to protect itself from the realization that performing for money alone makes you more of a whore than an artist.

Gotta watch the ego, man. That's why I posted this on a blog instead of arguing with him on Facebook. My immediate desire to tell him off and be right was my ego trying to run me. A little ego is awesome when performing and writing for entertainment purposes, but not necessarily when attempting to interact with others.

I should have known better than to read posts in a Facebook group anyway. What a waste of time. I needed to interact with real people to wash the social networking funk off of me.

I stopped by open mic night at the Velveeta Room tonight and had a nice conversation with a new guy who was going up for like his 5th time. The kid had the nervous energy as he was pacing outside, and he had that thing...what was it? Hope. Yeah, that's it. Hopes and dreams. It was kind of annoying, actually.

He said his friends asked him if he was making any money...and he stated that it was more like he was paying $30 to do it with all the drinks "and stuff".

Me: "Do you like performing, though?"
Him: "Yeah, it's why I keep coming back."
Me: "Good call. Hang with the comics you think are funny and are writing. Avoid the assholes."

I wished him luck on his set. And I meant it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Random Notes...'til the Break of Dawn

3:08 am
No writing inspiration at this moment. Breathalizer at 5. I'm going to take a shower and see if something hits me.

3:38 am
I am now clean, awake and refreshed. I feel like a new man...a new man who, like the old man, has no fucking ideas to write about.

I got nothin'.

4:02 am
Time for a cup of hot tea. Golden Oolong Tea. Oolong is a traditional Chinese tea...but I bought it because of the packaging...and it sounded fancy...and it was on sale. You stay classy, HEB.

4:18 am
You shouldn't microwave your cup of water with the tea bag in it if the string coming from the bag is attached to the paper label by a small staple. I nearly burned down the goddamn sober house just now. I'd then be known as the Tea Bag Arsonist in the media, and I'd be contacted by all sorts of perverts for the rest of my life.

4:22 am
Why yes... I do giggle every time I type "tea bag". I'm only human.

4:51 am
Browsing Craigslist jobs, because you never know, right? One listing for dishwashers had these lines in it:

-- You must be presentable in appearance
-- Dishwashers with car preferred
-- Bi-lingual or English preferred
-- Must be able to pass a background check. No felons please.
-- Please email resume

Now, I personally am trying to avoid making assumptions. Maybe there really is a well-dressed, clean cut, English speaking individual without a felony who will e-mail a resume to this employer when applying for a dishwashing position. It's a possibility, right?

I, however, gave up on the ad at "presentable in appearance", which was the first sentence. I thought, fuck off...and then I read "No felons", which was the ad telling me, "No, YOU fuck off." Well played, Craigslist Ad.

There is a phone number in the ad as well. I'm tempted to call up and ask, "Yes, I'm interested in applying for one of your dishwasher positions. Should I send a cover letter with my resume?"

5:00 am
Breathalizer. I can now go to sleep, but I probably won't.

5:06 am
My roommate, Bob, is up. He has a new job, so he wakes up at 5 am...just as I go to sleep. We're essentially time-sharing the room.

He's not from here. "What in God's name is going on with that upper deck lower deck thing on I-35?" Congrats,'re one step closer to rejoining society by sharing in the loathing of the I-35 commute. Mazel tov.

Bob: "Why would anyone build the highway like that?"
Me: "Because it, like communism, was a great idea in theory. It, like communism, would have worked if it weren't for the existence of human nature."

5:19 am
Currently listening to Nocturne in E flat Major, Op. 9 No. 2.

You know...Frederic Fucking Chopin?

5:45 am
Just spent half an hour at the Berrics' website. Time for a cigarette and bed. I have to work 11 hours. Gotta hurry before that damned sun comes up.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spite Club, a Vague, Rambling History

I created Spite Club in 2000. I was inspired by my cyberspace buddy, the Reverend Tim McIntire, who had a show in Boston called "Thursday Night Fights". His goal with the show was to "bring mean-spirited comedy back to Cambridge", and he pitted Boston comics against each other in competition and edgy political comedy. I wanted to bring something like that to Austin, so I asked him about the show. He wisely was vague with me (let's not just copy the show) and gave me a few pointers. "Fight Club" had been out for less than a year, so the title of the show was not just awesome, it was timely. Sadly, that was the last time I can recall being timely...

The first few shows were absolute train wrecks. Debate shows with no debate...not enough ideas to keep the show going, and a host with 2 whole years of comedy experience trying to keep it upbeat and spontaneous. Awful. "F". I had to redo the show. I would have scrapped it, but the name "Spite Club" was too good to I had to come up with a fucking idea that worked.

And then, there it was. Howard Beecher had a comedy e-mail list (kids, before social networking, old people communicated on a "mailing list" through our e-mail accounts.), and the threads that had comedians arguing and hurling personal insults were easily the most entertaining. So of course, I thought, let's utilize comedians' bitterness and jealousy for my personal gain. In fact, I think the first successful show was between two comics who were constantly arguing online.

Scott and Stacey vs Andy and Leon, 2/21/02. Show never followed format (brilliantly) and they ended it with a pie fight to the theme of "Benny Hill". Photo by Austin Jernigan.

After a successful few shows, I made a deal with the Velveeta Room. The problem at the time was that when open mic on Thursdays started, hardly anyone was there. Comics would all show up late and then some audience members would trail in. So I proposed doing Spite Club right before, and I would introduce the open mic host immediately after the show...for a percentage of  the door that just came in during my show.

The format of the show changed the first few years. Finally, it turned into 3 rounds of competition:
Insult - like a roast without all of that "I'm just kidding, you're okay" at the end.
Trivia - provided by announcer and color commentator Matt Bearden. Wrong answer was a score of -1 unless you drank a shot, then it was 0.
Freestyle - Each comic had up to 5 minutes to do anything they wanted, but they couldn't do their act. Audience voted for best freestyle.

2 out of 3 rounds wins. Loser pays the winner's bar tab.

The show took on a life of its own. It became a great way to gain exposure as a new comic...a rite of passage. Very interesting freestyle rounds, including a video made about me without me in it:

And the insults were...brutal.

I would put together this show for a couple of months every year just so I could have a little bit of booze money, and the Austin comedy scene thrived in it. I put it together, but the contestants made the show. Even mediocre shows were salvaged by Bearden who kept it (and me) going on the back mic.

I quit doing the show after 9 years because I was tired of it, and I wanted to do something else. BTW, that something else was heroin. Good call.

So, no Spite Club for a bit. I went to San Antonio...and rehab. I had a couple of comedians message me to ask if they could run Spite Club since I wasn't doing it. I told them I'd think about it (which is a nice way of saying "no").

Last year, I was approached again. Jake Flores would be hosting it if I said yes. I then actually had an argument with myself not unlike the one between Ed Norton and Brad Pitt in "Fight Club":

"Fuck that. I started Spite Club. It's mine."
"This does not belong to you. You are not special."
"Good point, voice in my head. Boy, that can't be healthy."

So I said yes...because it belongs to the scene. You guys get to evolve it further...or run it into the fucking ground, whatever. Go for it.

Want to see what the show is like now? Spite Club is tonight, Wednesday, May 8th at Red 7 - 10pm.

Show looks epic. I highly recommend it. If I wasn't working and I still liked getting plowed, I'd be there...early.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Project Empathy

I have "Continuing Care" class on Mondays from 6pm to 9pm. They consist of going into group at 6:15, taking a break at 7, going back to group at 7:15 (ish), taking a break at 8, going back at 8:15 (ish) and leaving at 8:50 (ish). Out of 9 classes, we have watched 3 movies and 1 documentary. To most everybody else, class is a breeze and just a weekly pain in the ass. To me, it's disappointing, boring as hell and a waste of my fucking time. It's county run, man, what are you going to do?

I'll tell you what I'm going to do...what I, am doing. Past tense. Present participle. Gah. Anyway...

I'm giving myself weekly projects. I can't rely on Travis County for help (surprise). Two weeks ago, I made a list of all the things I still do that I did as an active drunk/junkie. These included smoking, eating like a college freshman, too much caffeine consumption...even  things like putting off laundry. I wanted to be mindful of all the little things that can add up to slipping into other old habits. I revisit the list every Monday to see what progress I've made on each of these. I'm making headway on some more than others (I'm looking at you, nicotine).

Last week was project 30 in 30. This is blog #8. Huzzah.

This week is Project Empathy. Empathy, as we know from our Google searching, is putting yourself in someone else's shoes so that you can understand what that person is feeling. It is on a deeper and more meaningful level than sympathy or pity. And I do dick about relating to someone that pisses me off during the course of my day. My empathy for strangers can be shit.

Hence this week's homework. Every day this week, I will pick one person a day who annoys, irritates or angers me. I will then try to imagine their childhood, their high school peer group...their successes, their lost, love found...what they're doing today and plan to do tomorrow...and what are they feeling at that moment they are behaving in that manner (that behavior I am not happy with).

After I've apparently written an extensive biography of this individual in my head, can I empathize?

There is a kid in the Monday group who bothers me constantly. He is a mouthy little dork who is white as hell and doesn't want to be. He constantly talks about his girlfriend and his fast food job. I am annoyed by his presence all the time. So...I had to pick him.

I did the best I could. I don't know if I fully empathize with him, but at the end of this exercise, he didn't bother me anymore. He's not even 21 yet. Let him be...whatever that is.

Irritation subsided into passing amusement.

Well, hell...I'll take it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Past Future Present

"The future is there...looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become." -- William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

I'm finishing Count Zero by William Gibson, the second book in the Sprawl Trilogy (Neuromancer being the first, Mona Lisa Overdrive the third). I listen to Trent Reznor's "Ghosts I-IV" when I read them, because I it fits Gibson's cyberpunk world. Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" in 1982, and I dig his vision of hackers as console cowboys jacking into a virtual world...their central nervous system plugged into the Matrix through a deck. It's very cool.

30 years later, we're all plugged the least cool way, sometimes. Porn, arguments in complete anonymity so one can truly be an asshole, memes, an ungodly amount of "likes" for pictures of cats (guilty)...the future is here. But...there are hackers now, aren't they? And I'm sure they think they are cool as shit.

I wish I remembered everything I thought and felt when I started stand-up comedy here. I vaguely remember being a cocky know-it-all who tried to be Bill Hicks in my first year of comedy...much like the new kids in the Austin scene who try to be Louis CK already.

I know I wanted to be confident in my joke writing and my stage presence, and of course, I wanted to be famous. Was I sure I would be successful? Don't remember. Even in the late 90's I knew I didn't want to go to L.A. and do TV...I just wanted to do stand-up. And I wanted to be on the same bill as my favorite comics. I wanted to work with everybody I liked. I didn't want to work in a cubicle forever, and I wanted to live the nightlife. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll.

So, thinking about that and flashing forward to does my present compare to my imagined future of my past self? (Did you follow that? I almost lost me there.)

Well, like most of you, I'm not where I thought I'd be at all. I'm not rich, not famous...not earning a living by comedy alone.

I DID live the rockstar lifestyle for a while...without rockstar money, so I have a lot of debt and ruined credit and shit rental history. Addiction issues...broken relationships...some great stories, though...

Good memories. Great memories. Bad ones, of course.

I've been able to open for almost all of my favorite comics, including Louis CK in Seguin...for real. I was able to emcee for Hedberg.

I like who I am onstage. I like what I write and talk about now. I like that I don't slur my fucking punchlines anymore. I don't like being completely aware of the audience now, though. (Comedy would be so much better without all those...people...)

Definitely fine with not getting on the road. Glad I stayed in Austin. I wish I had been involved more when the scene here started to really break out. Wish I had saved all the shit I wrote on my damned website before it went tits up and I jumped to Myspace.

So yes...I'm not what I thought I would be. Not in a bad way...just different. Not completely different, however. I did what I wanted to do, for better or for worse.

I don't know how you feel about your life now when you reflect back to a younger you and your hopes for the future...but I hope it doesn't fill you with regret. We are the collection of our successes and failures, are we not? They make us who we are.

It makes me smile...when I think of myself trying to be like Hicks early on without all the life-changing experiences...without those successes and failures. We all know that Louie didn't get where he is overnight or with smooth sailing. We have to go through some shit to grow. Hopefully when we do, we're wiser and better for it.

If we had no pain, we would all be very blissful, very boring people.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How's That Working Out For You?

"Nothing's gonna put me out
It's backing down and under
I'm down on the upside now
It's turning back around
Turning back around."
-- Soundgarden "Dusty"

I don't know how to really write this out, so I am just going to type away. Bare with me.

I've been without a drink since last August, although my official sobriety date is September 12th, the day I turned myself in. While I have spent most of my clean time in custody and I now have a babysitter in the form of a semi-portable breathalizer, I am doing something I've never done before. I'm following my new principles and lifestyle change, and I'm sticking to my commitments. I'm working my ass off.

I'm not trying to pat myself on the back...I want to encourage anyone who reads this and wants to know how I'm doing it.

After half-assing 12-step programs on and off for years, it finally sank in that if I wouldn't do the work that my sponsor and other recovering addicts said I should, then I had better figure out some other way to change...or die. You see, I couldn't convince myself I was powerless. I just wanted to get fucked up and I didn't care. It was my choice every time. Also, I tried to over-intellectualize the addiction disease concept..."I think it's more of a disorder than a disease..." Yeah...I think it doesn't fucking matter how much or little power I have over my disease/disorder/ego. I think I need to change some shit. Now.

You hear in AA/NA rooms that you need to change people, places and things. I did that...but it was the same old me. I had to change my thinking. Completely.

That's...not easy to do. I started by trying to be positive all the time...which is hard in a Travis County treatment center. Faking positivity...I annoyed the hell out of myself.

Then I read "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, and it gave me a simplified plan:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
3. Don't Make Assumptions.
4. Always Do Your Best.

You can read expanded explanations of each online or in the book. These are not easy to do...but they are easy to remember. I reminded myself of these every morning and whenever I thought of them during the day. They led me to revisit Buddhist principles as well.

I need to remember these daily...keep my ego in check. I'm in a routine now, and it is easy to start slacking on the things I need to do to keep me on the path. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but that is how I know what I need to do. If there is something I don't want to do, that means I need to do it. "I don't want to go to a meeting. I guess I'm going to a meeting. Shit."

My biggest battle is not with desire to drink or do's with my ego.  Wayne Dyer wrote Seven Steps for Overcoming Ego's Hold on You, which I also try to work on daily. Some of them I like to be right and to win. And I loooove feeling superior.

Here's a shot to my ego: I am currently successful with my sobriety due to all of my past failures. Yes, I do not recommend:
-- Going to treatment because you have lost everything, burned all bridges and you had nowhere else to go
-- Getting into a codependent relationship early in recovery even though you were advised against it
-- Eliminating the very last of your denial by being arrested even though you no longer drive, just drink
-- Being sent away for half a year so you have ample time to work on yourself

I really should right a "How-Not-To" book.

How am I doing it? It took me getting to a point where I felt I had no other choice. 

I hope that makes sense. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I Am My Job

In response to my blog from 2011, I Am Not My Job.

Hey, John from 2011, you're still washing dishes. But you are comfortable with that.

Yes, I still find dishwashing to be Zen. However, my current job a little more interactive in the high-stress environment of a very busy kitchen. You have to be on the ball the entire shift. Full throttle.

After being at that job for almost 2 months now, I have to say: Sorry, Mr. Durden,  I am my job. From the moment I walk in the back door until I clock out, I am a dishwasher. My problems, my relationships, my history...I turn it all off when I turn off my phone. And then I dive right in.

I don't know if I would recommend a low paying physical manual labor job that leaves you with little cuts and burns to anyone...but I have absolutely zero stress at the end of the night. I leave, and I'm no longer my job. The kitchen is clean, my head is clear. No bullshit to take home. See you tomorrow.

My counselor in treatment was concerned when I stated I was going back to washing dishes. "Don't you want to aim higher?"

My first reaction was to say, "Well, I suppose I could try for a desk job somewhere, assuming I can explain to them why there's a 6-month gap in my employment. Good call, SMART Program. Rip us away from our jobs and residences for half a year and then say, 'get a job and a place to stay'."

I said, "We'll see where life takes me." Stupid level-headed sober me.

To my counselor and some concerned family members and friends: I'm aware that I'm very intelligent, and that I could probably obtain a higher level job, even with a felony DWI on my record. But, look...I'm not fucking Good Will Hunting, here. I'm not 17 and a math genius. I am almost 40 with addiction issues, a genuine distaste for cloth-covered boxes with fluorescent lighting in a micromanagement atmosphere and a renewed passion for the art of stand-up comedy. I am appreciative of this simple life, and I'm in no itching hurry to find a corporate ladder to climb.

I'd love to update my resume, but I think I'd rather go sit outside and watch the neighborhood squirrels and drink a cup of hot tea. Sounds more my speed at this stage of life.

Oh, and tonight I performed at the Velveeta Room for the first time in 3 years. When I'm on the stage, I am my job once again...I am a stand-up comedian. THE comedian.

...well, unless I'm bombing. Then I am THE comedian who SUCKS.

(I had a good set.)

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Take The Time To Properly Answer the "Religious Views" Field in My Facebook "About" Page

I attempt to adhere to the principles in Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path and the Precepts, and I guess my meditation practice resembles that of a Zen Buddhist.

However, I don't really dig the sangha aspect of that practice...the I suppose I don't necessarily embrace the group practice of meditation. Sometimes I feel like it can be too much of showmanship or one's image. "Can I pretend to meditate longer than the bald guy next to me?" "Ooh, look at me, I'm going 'om'." That's not really the reason I have to calm my freakshow of a brain or why I do it.

And then there's certain Asian traditions I just don't go for, so I guess I'm part of the Western Reform movement? Sure, why not.

And shit, man, then there's Taoism...the wu wei, or effortless action. Yin and yang...natural dualities in and around us, two sides bound together to make a whole. How does that fit in to how I believe or who I am?

I can tell you that I will, more than likely until I die, flourish in nontheistic "religion", as I have yet to be completely comfortable with anyone's view of a god. I will leave myself open to new views, and I will at least pretend to be receptive to these new concepts. Deep down, I probably will just continue to not give a shit.

In summation, I would have to list my "religion" as: Agnostic Western Reform Zen Buddhist with Taoist Influence.

Happy, Facebook? And fuck off, I'm leaving "Political Views" blank.

Maybe. I still have 26 more blogs to go.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"No Fear?" "Fear?" "FEAR."

I was having a cigarette outside a few moments ago, contemplating what to write about...and debating on when I was going to attempt quitting smoking. Again. The guys here at the sober house told me that the same raccoon comes by every night, checks the outside trash can, occasionally the ash tray, then leaves. They said he was a very large raccoon.

We just met. That was a big fucking raccoon.

What was truly unnerving was not that he did just what the fellas said he would: strolled into the yard, went up on the porch, sniffed around, strolled off. It was that I was about 10 feet away, and he didn't give a shit. No fear. In disbelief, I actually asked him, "Seriously? I'm right here, man." He glanced at me and went about his business. Impressive.

What did you fear in the past that you've overcome or outgrown? What scares you today?

I used to be afraid of bees. At the rehab in San Antonio, there were a ton of them buzzing around the smoking area because the trash cans were always filled with soda cans. You had to either deal with them or not smoke. After 90 days, a bee could land on me and not generate a reaction. Now I find the sound of them fairly soothing.

Due to my control issues, I've always been a horrible passenger. If you've ever given me a ride somewhere in the past, I probably made you aware that while I was thankful for the lift, I thought you drove horribly and I was afraid for my life as I gripped your oh-shit handle.

I had to ask myself many times while I was in Travis County treatment, why do I have to be in control? Do I fear death or just the unexpected in general?

When you take a little trip to the edge and come back, you have to pause, I believe, and really try to grasp how you should be dead but you're not. Maybe that makes you thankful for your life. Or maybe it makes you less scared of dying. Or both. Or maybe you just go right back to doing whatever it is that sent you to the edge in the first place. C'est la vie.

There's some irony for you: I've had a borderline unhealthy obsession with Fight Club and yet the two things I needed to do were the biggest principles in the movie and book. Why yes, Tyler, I do need to quit trying to control everything and just let go. And I do need to let what does not matter truly slide.

I dislike feeling we all do. My immediate reaction now is to confront it when it hits me and challenge my own thinking and beliefs. Sometimes it works, sometimes...the fear resurfaces.

Maybe I over think my feelings at times, but I believe it's currently working for me. I think I'll continue.

My main fears a couple of months ago was being in Austin around familiar areas that would trigger memories and feelings, and disappointing my family. Thanks to Travis County Probation for being unoriginal and lazy...I was forced to confront past history, and I've been very successful with support from many of you. This also helps with that fear of disappointment as well...I'm not afraid of failing my family as long as I continue to do my best.

I don't know what I'm scared of today. I guess I'll discover in time. I do know, however, that I am intimidated by that freakshow raccoon. I'll get a picture next time. He'll probably not care.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ghosts of Breathalyzers Past

On September 12, 2012, I turned myself in to Travis County, thinking I would be held in county jail for a couple of weeks and then put on an ankle monitor or given a portable breathalyzer. As we know, I left Del Valle six months later. My assumptions weren't completely off base, however. I did, in fact, have to obtain the Smart Start IN HOM device. Awesome.

I have three time windows to blow into the device every day: 5pm-8pm, 10pm-12am and the kicker, 5am-8am. There is a removable plastic nozzle that I put on the device, and blow into in during each of these time frames. When I do, there is a camera that takes a picture of me doing so. Take that, clever alcoholics! Science, bitch.

Once a month, I go to the company outsourced to deal with the likes of me and have them upload 30 days worth of recorded BAC levels (blood alcohol content) and pictures, and then they send all of that to my probation officer. That means, if he's up for it, he can browse through 90 pictures that look like this:

Disturbing, I know. Not as unsettling as the first picture I took where I actually was blowing into it. Now, I want everyone to see how long you can restrain your brain from making an off-color joke at my expense. Yeah, not long. I don't blame you. At least I only have to fellate the robot vacuum cleaner for 2 seconds at a time.

I had a breathalyzer on my car in the past 10 years twice...once for two years (late 2002 to 2004), and again from 2008 to the end of 2009, when I sold my car. The first breathalyzer had me blow into it for 3 seconds and then for 2 seconds I had to hum. It had a digital readout that let me know if the procedure was not followed properly. I saw it display everything from "blow harder" to "blow then hum". Once I thought it flashed "tickle the balls", but it was just my imagination. I think.

When I had the second one put on, I asked the guy at the shop, "Hey man, does this one have me hum when I blow and shit?"
"Oh no. It's much better than those old models. You just blow into it, then suck back real quick."
"Ah. Wait, what?"

This is not an improvement, sir. I don't think I like the evolution of this device. What's the next model going to have people do? "On this one, you need to blow into it and then reach around and put your finger in the hole in the back..."

My mother had a concern about me washing dishes and my latest alcohol monitor. She wondered if I handled glasses that had alcohol in them, and if it was possible for me to absorb some of the alcohol in my hands... No. I don't handle bar glasses, and even if I did, not a problem, I assure you. I told her that sounded like a flimsy excuse given to a probation officer as to why someone came up positive on their report.

Seriously, if anyone you know has a breathalyzer and they say they locked up their car because of mouthwash...they're full of shit. Hand sanitizer? Only if you were drinking it, freakshow. One guy in my group in treatment was a pathological liar...and he said he set off his breathalyzer because of taking Sudafed.
"Sudafed doesn't have alcohol in it, bro."
"Yeah, well, that's what happened, okay? You don't have to believe me!"
"Lighten up, Francis."

Three times a day, I am visited by these ghosts of breathalyzers past. My mind becomes flooded with bits and flashes of memories and past actions.

For a short time at the beginning, I would park my vehicle at friends' places so I could go downtown, drink, do comedy and whatever. I would then crash on the couch of these friends, and then leave the next day when I was sober enough to start my truck.

I would call in late to work occasionally because my BAC was too high in the morning, and I failed. Turns out you can do this repeatedly on misdemeanor probation as long as you're up-to-date on payments.

Felony probation is a different matter. The one year anniversary of my best friend's death had me car bombing my way into hot water with Travis County in 2009. I still couldn't start the car at 3pm the next day. I had to do an outpatient treatment program due to that. Ironically, I was a full-blown heroin addict at the time, so I rarely drank. But there I was in alcohol classes.

I think about these moments...and I am relieved at how easy probation is when you're not trying to get away with shit. If you're not a junkie, drug tests are cake. If you're not trying to drink just after 10pm so you can be sober again at 7:55am to blow into the fucking thing, it's barely a hassle. Hell, I'm a night owl. I get home at 1 or 2 in the morning after work, and after winding down and eating, it's 3am. The IN HOM gives me a reason to stay up until 5am, and because of it, 3-5 is my time to write/blog. So...thanks, Smart Start?

Fuck that.

I will, however, say thank you, Smart Start for advancing your technology to using a camera instead of making me jump through innuendo-laden hoops as I exhale into your equipment. Let me know when you have an android app and an attachment for my phone.