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A Day in the Life.
I can't believe you're actually reading this.
Like seriously, the only reason I'm even posting this is because...
Even bad traffic is still traffic, and if I'm gonna spend an hour or two writing about what the average day looks like for me, I might as well publish it somewhere.
I'm not afraid to say that assuming anyone would want to read this would be hella narcissistic, and while I am a self-diagnosed "Narcissistic Penguin", I would never dare to assume anyone gives a damn.
But if you're bored, or... and this is even crazier, want to know what a normal day looks like for me...
I don’t sleep.
I don’t know when it started, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a creature of the night.
I live in a perfect place, where the shadows find no borders, and there isn’t a whisper of the light.
I am alone, enshrouded by silence, surrounded by peace.
Here in my nocturnal paradise, I am the king.
Under the watchful eye of the full moon, I am alone.
I close my eyes, and feel the wheeze of a fresh breeze roll over my bare skin.
Calmly, I reflect over the events of the day.
Squinting, I remember the scorching relentlessness of the morning sun...
It had started out like every other Monday, the unforgiving croaking of my alarm clock blaring in my ear, blades of sunlight slicing through the serene shadows of my room, disturbing my slumber.
My eyes flickered open, and for a minute, I stared blankly at the ceiling.
Taking a deep breath, I forced my eyes closed and prayed for some of the sleep I took for granted a few hours prior.
I buried my face into the pillow, contorting my body and throwing myself into different positions until finally, defeated, I groaned and abdicated my throne.
Craning and cranking my body, a series of satisfying snaps and crack ripple from my neck and wrists as I shook off the dust.
The alarm continued to taunt me from my bedside table until I silenced it with a distressingly inadequate and unsatisfying slap.
I stumbled around, carelessly crashing into furniture and the debris cluttering my room as I picked out the outfit for the day.
In the corner of my bed, my cell phone began to buzz and beep happily, and I felt a bit of energy shoot up my spine.
“Perhaps…” I allowed myself to hope.
I sprinted over to the wretched resting wasteland and dove for my phone.
Forcing my thumbs to enter my passcode, the beeping and buzzing stopped and I searched desperately for the notification.
I eventually learn that the source of my phone’s distress is an e-mail.
We noticed you haven’t been posting very much this week, and we’d like to remind you th…”
Irritated, I tossed my phone against my pillow.
It seems like I spend just as time writing as I do reading e-mails from people telling me that I should be writing… And I spend plenty of time writing.
Frustrated, I flipped open my archaic laptop and opened a word processor.
Typically, I spend anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour every morning on my computer, typing away about this, that, or the other.
Sometimes I’m lucky, and I remember what I dreamed about the night before.
The nightmares were my favorites.
If I am a creative individual, then my best work is wasted on the “hours” I spend sleeping.
If you go to see a scary movie, you’re watching someone else’s nightmare. And while it might still scare you, you’re still seeing a product through someone else’s eyes.
You can ignore the horror.
You can make it a joke.
You can take away its power.
A nightmare is different.
In a nightmare, you’re playing poker with your life, and everyone else can see your cards.
All of my best horror stories once woke me up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, transforming my closet into a cavernous dwelling place for my darkest demons.
However, on this day, I wasn’t so lucky.
If I had slept at all, my brain didn’t bother to cook up a creative story.
The blank page stared at me expectantly, the writing cursor taunting arrogantly.
“C’mon Mr. Writer, write something!” it mocked.
It wasn't a tone I'm unfamiliar with.
It’s a very strange concept for most people that I have a real passion for writing.
Everyone from strangers to my best friends has taken a turn swinging a bat at the pinata of my career ambitions.
“We can’t all just sit around, jerking off and writing about football”
“You gonna write about this? Can’t wait to not read it!”
“Some of us have real jobs”
“You know McDonalds is probably hiring, right?”
My favorite anecdote is one about a time when I wrote a story about one of the aforementioned nightmares, and my father read it.
He came into my room, and insisted that we go for a ride.
We must’ve been in the car for twenty minutes before he pulled over and looked at me.
I’ll never forget the way he looked at me that day.
He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t sad, he just looked concerned.
“So… I read your story” he began, cautiously.
“Oh yeah? What did you think?!” I exclaimed, excitedly. Despite giving him the information years ago, my father hadn’t bothered to look up any of my work.
“Are you okay?” he asked, “Do you need to see someone?”
I was taken aback.
True, my story was been sad, but it was supposed to be, it was based on a nightmare.
“Uh… What?” I stammered.
“I read your story… And I can’t think anyone who would write something like that is in a good place. You’re not gonna kill yourself ar-“
“No. I’m fine, it was just a story”.
What a support system.
And yet, at least I knew my friends and family put in the effort to pretend to have good intentions.
The little cursor didn’t.
The cursor was the enemy.
The cursor wanted me to fail!
“It’s too early for this” I sighed to myself.
Glancing at the alarm clock, I noted that if I went to the gym at that moment, I would probably have the weight room to myself.
I took a deep breath and decided that writing could wait.
Relieved, if a little ashamed, I slammed my laptop closed and gathered my things.
Hoping against hope, I unlocked my phone one more time, and breezed through my messages again.
It was still too early.
I’m not a criminal.
Seriously, I’m not…
I mean, there are a few laws I ignore... that I probably shouldn’t.
Chief of these offenses is that I often drive with headphones on.
I love music.
Depending on my mood, I can listen to almost anything.
Well, almost anything… Never really wrapped my head around country.
I love music. It helps me think, it gets me to focus, and it makes my entire life feel like a movie.
However, despite how friendly my car is to the environment, it’s not very sexy.
No power windows.
No power locks.
And despite having a port for the auxiliary cable, I’m better off listening to the music blaring from someone else’s car.
I’m still very attentive, and I usually keep an ear free for planes, trains, and automobiles.
I arrived at the gym, and to my relief, the parking lot was mostly deserted.
I emptied my pockets of everything but my phone and car keys before heading in.
Forcing enthusiasm, I made small talk with the women running the desk, flashing a smile or two as I signed in.
I casually strolled back into the locker room, sneakily scanning the rest of the gym with my peripheral vision.
Thankfully the weight room was almost completely deserted.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a little company, as I’d like to think I’ve befriended most of the people who come to work out, but having access to all of the weights and benches?
No waiting for some idiot to get done doing curls in the squat rack?
No getting stuck spotting some big hairy guy on the bench?
It’s like having Disneyland all to myself.
I play something heavy and groove based and start working out.
Forty-five minutes and a quick shower (over the clothes, mind you) later, I’m panting and limping towards the exit.
The women at the desk make a complimentary comment about working hard and seeing results and I managed to gasp a “thank you” before I stumbled out to my car.
The Best Part of My Day.
Then my phone goes off.
Exhausted, and sprawled across the backseat of my car, I tried to stop shaking long enough to unlock my phone.
But I'm glad I did, because finally, it’s a text message… from her.
The first text my girlfriend sends me in the morning usually sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Sometimes, it’s an apology for falling asleep without saying goodnight.
Other times, it’s a distress signal, as she's had a terrifying nightmare, and doesn’t plan to write about it!
However, usually, it’s something snarky and frustrated. Most likely a story about work.
These texts are my favorite.
They’re not girly.
They’re not frilly.
They’re just her being her.
She’s not trying to be cute or charming, but to me, she is anyway.
I usually try to comfort her, and then we hit the ground running.
Today, it was the latter.
Today it was a story about how one of her managers had done something ridiculous first thing in the morning and, “It’s too early for this, and I just wanna go back to sleep, and I haven’t had my coffee, and bskdjdfgsdfgz”
I loved when she spoke in gibberish.
I also loved when she made it clear that she wanted coffee, because that gave me my opening.
I peeled myself off of the backseat and pulled my lifeless body into the driver's seat.
Desperately rolling my window down, I rolled out of the parking lot, trying to pick up any kind of breeze and get some fresh air into my lungs.
Eventually I reached the local coffee shop, a tiny version of a very popular chain, and I limped in.
No matter how many times I order, I never quite feel comfortable ordering her favorite drink.
See, she doesn’t just want coffee, two creams, two sugars.
She wants something flavored and full of ice.
Whatever swagger or machismo I had earned by looking… and frankly smelling, like I had just left the gym, goes out the window when you begin an order with, “Can I have a medium iced” anything.
But for her… It’s worth it.
Walking around the place where she works is always really awkward for me.
While I’ve befriended several of her co-workers, there are a few I just don’t get along with.
I believe in killing your enemies with kindness.
I believe that most people think I like them.
This could not be further from the truth.
I am completely indifferent about the majority of the people I encounter on a daily basis.
The reality is, the only sure fire way to know if I like you or not is whether I give you a hard time about things.
If I’m mean to you, it means I consider you a friend, and am willing to do a little verbal sparring just for giggles.
It takes a lot to make me like or dislike you.
The easiest way to end up among the latter is to lie to me.
While I’ve done my fair share of fibbing in my time, I’ve never done so maliciously.
I firmly believe that you should “live and let live”, and that going out of my way to make someone unhappy will have consequences for you down the road.
If everyone thought this way, the world would be a better place. Just saying.
On this day, I happened to see my least favorite of her co-workers, a guy who used to be my friend.
We smile and I greeted him like its 2013 and he hadn’t gone out of his way to make my life miserable yet.
I wish I could say I don’t hold grudges, but hey… “Fool me once”.
We made small-talk and chatted, before I headed towards her office.
Like I said, kill ‘em with kindness.
I knocked on her door, but nobody answers.
I tried to turn the doorknob, but it didn't budge.
I paced awkwardly until I spotted her rounding the corner, and walking straight towards me.
Recently, I was asked a tough question.
I was asked how I would describe “conventional beauty”.
And that is a tough question.
Because to me, “conventional beauty” is an oxymoron.
What is beauty?
“Something that’s easy to look at” is such a stupid answer.
Never liked “easy on the eyes” either.
Anything can be easy to look at.
I imagine a large white wall and I think, yeah, that’s pretty easy on the eyes. It wouldn’t strain my retinas to look at a wall for a while.
My humble definition of beauty is something exceptional.
Something rare or almost magical in its uniqueness to the world.
So how could something that is defined by its rarity in the world ever be conventional?
What defines what makes a person beautiful?
The appropriate curvature of a body?
The symmetry or size of facial features?
How it compares to an idea that’s widely promoted and shared?
If we can accept that each individual is special because of what makes them different, how come the same can’t apply to what makes someone attractive?
And if we’re being honest, how come it can’t apply to what someone finds attractive? Because in all reality, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty truly is subjective.
And to that point, how does one experience beauty?
Do you see it or do you feel it?
See, I think you feel it.
I feel this way because I’ve had the privilege of laying eyes on the most beautiful girl in the whole world.
And I wholeheartedly believe everything I just said about beauty and it’s relation to individuality too.
I truly believe that you can’t call something beautiful just because it fits an “idea”.
So when I say that my girlfriend is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life, understand that I’m not just saying she meets expectations. If anything, understand that she exceeds expectations.
Understand that I’m not just saying she fits a mold or satisfies a commonly approved checklist.
Understand that the moment I saw her, my senses were overwhelmed, that my jaw dropped and my heart stopped.
Understand that I feel the same way every time I see her now.
On my very worst days, when the camel’s back is irreparably broken, and the straw that broke it is a distant memory, a glimpse of her in a crowded room is enough to make me smile.
And some days, usually on days where I bring her coffee, I get lucky and she spots me too.
She tries to hide it, but every once in a while, our eyes meet and for a split second, I swear I see her smile.
I’ve never done drugs once in my entire life, but man…
When she smiles at me, I hit a high that Charlie Sheen only dreams of.
My fingers go numb and lightning shoots up my spine.
The whole world wildly wobbles around us and for a moment, it’s just me and her.
I search for the words, but despite spending the majority of my life buried in books, none come to mind.
Thankfully, she usually fires off some snarky soliloquy and suddenly I’m back on my feet.
She always tries to act cool, calm, and collected but whenever our eyes meet, there’s this spark.
There’s a spark that says maybe, just maybe, seeing me wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to her either.
There’s a certain effortlessness that surrounds her at all times, regardless of what she’s doing.
Whether she’s hard at work, fast asleep, or slaving away at making me fall harder and harder for her, she does it without breaking a sweat.
Everything about her is her own.
Clumsy, tired, irritated, and absolutely perfect in each and every one of her imperfections.
She talks in riddles and laughs in verses.
She’s a walking, talking, coffee-drinking lullaby and she gets stuck in my head all day, every day.
I see her, and it’s like seeing the sunset for the first time.
I see her, and it’s all I see, and all I’ve ever wanted to see.
I see her, and that’s all I need.
I think that’s beauty.
And notice I didn’t once mention a single physical attribute.
I didn’t mention that her big, bright eyes frequently flash between a brilliant green and a pale hazel, and it’s easier to pull teeth than to pull my gaze away from them.
I didn’t mention how every raised eyebrow or pursed lip paints a different masterpiece.
I didn’t even mention how she looks in skinny jeans.
I didn’t mention any of that because… well…
Physical descriptions are easy.
Anyone can graphically describe what someone looks like.
But what they look like to you?
It’s almost impossible.
I’m overwhelmed by adjectives and emotions and all I want to do is describe how her hand fits in mine.
All I want to do is try to explain how amazing it feels to be laying with her head on my chest, an arm casually draped across my chest, and her feet lightly brushing against mine.
Yet I can’t.
There aren’t words, trust me, I’ve checked.
All I know, is it’s one in the morning, and I can’t sleep because she’s not by my side.
All I know, is that I’ve seen a few oceans, a couple masterpieces, dozens of fireworks, hundreds of sunsets, and every star in the night sky, but none of them hold a candle to her.
I was standing there, thinking all of this, as she walked up to me, looking at me like I had three heads.
“You oooookay?” she inquired, looking concerned.
“Coffee?” I offered, embarrassed.
She gave me that half-smile, and I melted.
“Mmk, I’ve gotta go. Thanks for the coffee” she said, stealing a kiss on the cheek before she rushed back to work.
Grinning like an idiot, I did my best not to skip away, giving my least favorite person an exceptionally insincere salute on the way out the door.
Back in my car, my phone was impatiently buzzing and beeping.
Taking one last breath, I cleared my head of warm, fuzzy feelings, and unlocked my phone.
Just in time too.
Tongue. Firmly. Planted. In. Cheek.
I miss having a boss that I see every day.
I miss being able to clock in and out or hide from my boss forever.
I miss feeling like my boss was a physical entity that can only exist in one place at one time.
I lost that right when I essentially sold my soul to the devil this year.
As much as I resent friends and family for mocking my career “choice”, they’re not wrong.
For a second, I want you to imagine something.
Imagine two armies standing on each side of a river.
Choose a side, pick a soldier, and unload his gun.
Choose a bullet.
Now cross the river and do the same with another soldier.
Making it as a writer in 2015 is like having the two bullets you selected meet in midair.
It’s really a shitty situation.
Firstly, you have to be a good writer.
Then you have to have something to write.
Then you have to be able to write that something in a way that other people could enjoy reading it.
Now you have to find a stage to present your work where people will actually see it.
A stage that will provide seats for readers and even give you a cut of the admission.
A stage that will give you readers and cash and let you keep the rights to your own work.
You just became another anonymous face in an endless sea of aspiring authors, hoping you make enough money on AdSense to get a Big Mac without fries or a drink.
In order to achieve the diminutive success I’ve managed to have as a writer, I’ve had to make some sacrifices.
I’ve had to limit what I can write about, reach ridiculous deadlines, and generate enough just enough traffic to play career frogger with.
I’ve gone from writing on half a dozen small websites and editing for one massive sports site to half-assing sports articles and dumping the occasional short story for two.
Chief of my hideous sacrifices is the aforementioned embodiment of my boss.
I won’t pretend I’m perfect.
I, being my father’s son, have a bit of an antagonistic streak. I don’t do well with authority, and I’d rather kiss the curb than suck up to anyone for professional or personal gain.
However, when all I want to do is express myself or use what I think is a talent, and some guy in a suit criticizes my work in a poorly written and terribly (if even) edited e-mail... It bugs me.
"Maybe use less inappropriate languge(sic) in your pieces. People don't like languge like that"
"Did you watch the Stanley Cup Finals? Maybe you should write about hockey"
"The wrestling stuff doesn't get traffic. Stick to football"
Just a couple, completely hypothetical examples of e-mails you don't necessarily want to receive from someone who not only can, but has taken money you've earned off the table.
I'm the kind of person who gets motivated by people telling me I can't do things.
I've been the underdog my whole life, and I get some kind of sick kick out proving people wrong.
However... That same spiteful, "chip on my shoulder" attitude can be counter-productive when someone tries to force me to write.
If left to my own devices, I could re-write the entire Harry Potter series (I'd write it so Snape got the girl, get at me, Gryffindors), but with Snobathan McSnob leering over my shoulder, I just wanna play Tetris.
Well... He is the one who leers.
All the sweet air that made me feel so light-headed a moment ago was gone, and in it's wake, was born the crushing weight of unmet expectations.
Despite the fact that I'm actually ahead of schedule, the very same blood I splashed across a contract months earlier is boiling, pounding through my heart, and racing through my mind.
I closed my eyes, and the blinking cursor returned.
I fucking hate that thing.
A Fallen Prince.
As I gripped the steering wheel of my quiet, eco-friendly McVehicle, I tried to relax.
I took a few deep breaths, I picked a calmer song, and I even drank some water.
None of it worked.
Frustrated, I went back to my phone, hoping that one of the texts I had sent myself held a plot or a controversial article idea.
I do actually do that.
If I'm out with friends or snuggled up with the girlfriend and I get an idea for a story or anything like that, I'll grab my phone and text myself so I don't forget it.
The last text I sent myself was, "When George Weasley looks into the Mirror of Erised, does he just see himself?"
Dark, but still true.
I was scrolling through a series of personal notes when the screen lit up.
It was a phone call from my mom.
Of all the people who have doubted and belittled me, my biggest supporter has always been my mother.
At a time in my life where my father insisted I join the military and my friends demanded I throw money at an underfunded establishment to earn a meaningless degree, my mother suggested I try writing.
My mom was always my biggest supporter, my harshest critic, and to this day, the politest editor I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
Whenever I feel like things aren't great, or like I need a pick-me-up, I never hesitate to call her.
So, taking a deep breath, I answered the phone.
Phone calls with my mom can last anywhere from five minutes to five hours.
We discussed my sister, Seattle, those Seahawks, my niece, some writing, and my grandfather before we get to a topic I had guiltily put off until last.
My mother isn't feeling very well, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.
When I was young, we didn't have very much, and for so long, my Mom has given me everything she could.
She and my sister moved away a few years ago, and it's with a heavy heart that I admit I spent a long time resenting them.
Ultimately, they were only doing what was best for them, and I probably could have just gone with them.
But I felt abandoned.
I felt deserted.
And I took it out on them.
And now the woman who had given me everything over and over again could probably use a hand, and I feel helpless.
There's only so much you can say over a text message or a brief phone call.
But I try my best, and by the end of the phone call, I like to think I've helped make her day a little bit better.
By the time I got home, the rest of the day had caught up with me.
My bones creaked and cracked as they begged me for rest.
My muscles burned and groaned in agreement.
My head buzzed and ached as it tried to create chicken salad from... Well...
And my heart panted and strained as it tries to keep everything together.
My stomach chimed in, mentioning that it hadn't been fed, and there should still be leftovers in the fridge from the dinner I made the night before.
The rest of my body agreed enthusiastically, and a small smile settled on my lips.
I'll nuke my leftovers, kick back on my couch, and watch some TV.
In fact! I remember that the special on Kenny Stabler was set to record the night before.
I'll eat delicious food, watch a cool program on one of my favorite football players, and I'll probably be motivated to write!
What a plan.
When I opened the fridge, the leftovers were gone.
I investigated further, thinking it may have been moved, but it was nowhere to be found.
I briefly suspected that someone may have just cleaned the kitchen and made room, but then I spied the month old Chinese rotting in the back.
Disappointed, I grabbed eggs and made an omelette instead.
Satisfied with what was probably a healthier snack, I allowed myself to sink into the ancient furniture.
I let out a satisfied sigh and grabbed the remote.
I sorted through the TiVo, but the special was nowhere to be found.
In fact, none of the programs I had set to record were anywhere to be found.
107 "Seinfeld" episodes were there.
An episode of "Kelly and Michael" about "Losing Weight After 40" is there.
What appears to be the last two seasons of "The Big Bang Theory" were there.
But the "Justified" episodes I was catching up on?
The NFL Network's Top Ten Raiders?
Dejected, I picked at my eggs before hobbling back to my room...
Where i found my DVDs scattered across the floor, drawers pulled open, clothes unfolded, and posters ripped off the wall.
In a moment of horrifying realization, I scurried over to my sock drawer and reached into the back, where I (obviously no longer) hid my cash.
A noticeable chunk was missing, and only the stale smell of cigarettes remained.
I stormed out of my room, face red, heart pounding, and I interrogated everyone in the house.
I was greeted with the same response.
First, it was a phony concern, and "genuine" ignorance.
Then, when I back off, they got self righteous and acted offended..
As if anyone in this house would steal from each other.
Fed up, I slammed the door and got in my car.
I’ve always loved driving.
As far back as I can remember, driving has always calmed me down.
As an infant, when I couldn’t get to sleep, my dad would drive me around and play music.
It’s a hazy memory, and maybe one I've been told to remember more than i can actually recall, bit it's one of my favorites.
The first time my pet died, I went for a drive.
The first time I got dumped, I went for a drive.
And when of my best friends killed himself... You guessed it.
When I'm driving, I'm free.
It's me and my music, and nobody can stop me.
I tell people I have happy places.
I say I go to the park, or I go to the beach, but it doesn't really matter where I'm driving.
It's all about the journey for me when I'm upset.
I don't know how much money I would have today if I hadn't spent so much time driving.
But it's the only thing that calms me down.
The thought that counts.
I felt my phone start buzzing in my lap and I became instantly irritated.
It was one thing to make my life miserable.
It was one thing to act innocent because I can't prove their guilt.
Hell, if that innocent act included acting offended, good for them.
"The Oscar goes to..."
But it's another thing to call me after I had already stormed out.
I was out of their hair, like they wanted.
Angrily, I snatched my phone out of my lap, forked tongue ready to unleash hell on whichever...
Glancing at the clock, I realized she just got off work.
Taking a deep breath, I answered.
"Heeeeelllo?" I said, drawing out my words to mask my frustration.
"Ryan, I'm in trouble".
I could hear her sobbing and suddenly my heart stopped.
"What's wrong? Where are you?" I said,, turning my car around, slamming on the gas, hoping I was aimed in the right direction.
"I'm almost home. I just... I just..."
"I almost hit a rabbit..."
I lifted my foot off the gas and allowed the car to coast back to a safe speed.
"I was driving, and it hopped across the road, and I almost hit it"
For a minute, I stared ahead blankly, emotionless, not breathing.
Then I cracked a smile, and started laughing.
I proceed to console her on her almost mishap, and even attempted to convince her that the rabbit was probably an alcoholic, and she just scared him sober, and now he can finally go back and take care of his rabbit family.
She told me to shut up, and I smiled.
She called me a mess and my smile got even bigger.
Unlike the wreckage of my room, she didn't actually mean I was a mess.
We both knew it what it meant, and we left it at that.
We talked for a while. I asked her about her day, and I'm greeted with silence.
I grinned as I imagined her face, jaw locked, brows furrowed, and eyes locked on mine as if to say, "Really? You have to ask?".
We talked about everything and absolutely nothing as I watched the sun set.
"Hey... I miss you" she confessed.
My heart leapst at this rare display of affection, but I tried to play it cool.
"Yeah... I guess I miss you too or whatever".
We hung up and I drove home.
Nobody else was awake, and I made my way to my domain, the room of shadows.
I masterfully stumbled over all the crap on my floor and found the way to my bed.
I don't sleep.
I really don't. As I write this, the pale laptop light is the only thing casting shadows in my room.
The occasional text from the girlfriend comes through, and I admire her for trying to stay up, but soon she'll drift off into a caffeine-induced nightmare, and I'll be alone.
5,414 words later, at 5:27 in the morning, I was finally able to write something.
Take that, Snobald McSnobald.
Take that, "Friends"
Take that, Leftover thieves.
Take that, Recovering Alcoholic Rabbit.
Take that, Cursor.
Now if you'll excuse me,
I'm going to sleep.