So I've got problems and drama as I'm prone to have. Problems, things to update you guys on, and so forth; it's going to be long, but I'd appreciate it if I felt someone related to my experiences. This might be a multiple-trip read for you, I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep this going. I hope it's at least interesting for you. This is mostly stuff I've talked in chat about, but not here. There's a lot of stuff I'm leaving out.
It's really late at night and I wanted to sleep a few hours ago, but I started messing around trying to polish up a track before I finally, but it ended up making it worse, Mediafire distorted the audio or something, so I posted the version I made last November?, it looks like. Five months then? Yeah. I didn't feel too mad about the lost time, because I guess I always found that version about as satisfactory as I felt I could make it at higher volumes or through better sound systems and I didn't add anything significant to the appended version.
A lot of things have happened, some I'm too ashamed to detail to a general public, but I've been on a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging through existential dread to writhing anger. I can start with the more trivial aspects and detail my actual problems if it'll make it easier on you. But each of my stories contributes or detracts a little from my stress, and it's all coming together into something I can't control very well, which is why I made this for you. I'll summarize before the problem part, but if you'll oblige, I'm offering a deeper understanding of my misery.
Trip to U of I
One thing I haven't talked about with you guys was when Eric (T1g) invited me to the U of I campus. It was kind-of a hellish trip. I got to the Greyhound buses two or three hours early because I left right after school was out, and I waited for the Urbana-Champaign bus to come through. When it finally did, I exited the lobby area into the bus area, but the bus door wasn't open and the bus driver wasn't paying attention, so I tried to get back into the waiting lobby, but the door was locked and I had to go back into the ticket purchase area, which unbeknownst to me had formed a gigantic line. I had to go to the back despite just being at the front.
The bus ended up getting full, so we had to wait another three hours for the next bus to arrive since the backup broke down. I ended up getting to the campus around 11pm. I had two hours of sleep the whole time and hadn't eaten. Eric took me to eat, and I played Mahjong with Kevin and co., friends Eric's wanted me to meet. It was great fun, and Kevin ended up insisting I spend the night at his place rather than Chimetals' place that I got a key to, because he'd be somewhere else all night anyway and we wouldn't get to hang out. I talked with Kevin about various stuff and I enjoyed our time together, though we didn't do much when we got to his house, because I was dead tired. I ended up getting four hours of sleep that day.
This could go on for so long, man. I'm shaking my head at putting you through all this minutia. Sorry. But I'm not aiming at a specific point to all this, I'm just relating a story. Anyway, so Eric took me to the anime club after Kevin and I walked to the bus stop. I saw beautiful people on and off the buses, but I typically only turned my head when one reminded me of Betty, because I miss her so much; there are a lot more Asian people at U of I than here in Belleville. I like to pretend she's around and I'm just going to bump into her.
We because Eric asked me to suggest something we could watch on my behest, and I told him that I5555 is the only thing I've recommended him that he hasn't watched yet, other than School Days. We had a good time, though I regretted that the audio system wasn't exactly configured for music. I got to show them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC-X2Ie7HZo, though I regret not mastering it very well for speakers every time I show it to anyone.
Eric got a present from Kevin for his birthday, which was a right glove, since Kevin had gotten him left gloves for his past two, all found randomly somewhere. We later went to a karaoke bar, but on the bus ride there, Eric lost his newly obtained right glove by leaving it on the bus. We didn't find out until after we sang, though I couldn't go long because I'm not very good and my voice is shot pretty quickly. We agreed that if someone was messing up awkwardly we'd support them by turning it into a slam jam. At one point a guy was kinda' messing up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh9WayN7R-s, and at the part where he sings "dat's de ol' stream dat I long to cross" I said "and SLAM", which some guy thought was actually part of the song, so he laughed really hard.
We sang a ton of stuff, and all our voices were hoarse. I tried to buy a can of Coke for a dollar afterwards, but all I had was my card, and the owner came out and was like "Just pay next time" and I stuttered a bit, like "B-but, I'm... I'm not in... I'm from out of town" and he was like "Just pay next time" and I didn't understand, so he leans in and says "Take it, it's free". He seemed like a really nice guy. I got to talk to Chimetals afterwards about Tau vs. Pi while Eric mourned his glove, but he found it on the bus that we were taking back. Eric, Kevin, and I played a really cool board game called Space Alert, which was a real-time cooperative game.
Eric, Kevin, and I wanted to play Melee at another guy's house, so we went to his apartment, but it was about 12 around that time, but daylight savings kicked in so it was actually 1. Eric went home early, and I stayed in the guy's apartment with Kevin playing Melee in the most sleep-deprived haze I've been in in recent memory. I was smiling the whole time, so much that my teeth hurt from my cheeks pressing in on them. I got to talk to a guy who's watched thrice the amount of anime I have, only if I may be cynical, it's because he has much lower standards for being interested in a show, and spends his free time much more than I do on anime nowadays. It was still fun talking to him. He helped me order a pizza from the only place that wasn't closed, 'cause I was really really hungry.
Pizza arrived, I share it around a little bit. The apartment's small space is really apparent to me by this time. The place was a mess to begin with. Change scattered on the carpet, random detritus flung everywhere, a kind of ghetto feel to the whole thing, though all the inhabitants were Asian guys. We played Melee in this cramped little kitchen that could comfortably fit maybe two people, but five? of us were back there. Kevin has a guy who spars with him and teaches him things about Melee, who he calls "shisho", or "teacher", with a connotation that he's a master of combat, I believe. He's actually educated in the Japanese language, as some of the people in that apartment were. Calling his superior in Melee combat "shisho" is the most charmingly nerdy thing I encountered there probably.
Anyway, we made idle chatter about tier rankings, Brawl vs. Melee mechanics, physics and math, and like I've described multiple times, the place was a mess. I was crammed in this tiny kitchen playing Melee on broken Gamecube controllers, one of which had an unidentifiable substance greasing the stick (he said it was superglue, but it really felt like grease) on this 20" monitor and there weren't enough chairs for everybody, but I felt like I fit in there more than I do anywhere here.
After that I think I slept and had to go home near-immediately, again with subpar amounts of sleep. If you didn't know, U of I is the university I was going to SWIC for, struggling to maintain a 3.0+ GPA against my aggressive ennui with the education system. I resolved to drop my goal of going there if I was rejected for the third time with a 3.014 GPA, for reasons I'll explain in a bit. But I said while walking through a hallway with Eric, "You know, as frustrated as I've been wasting all this time in school, I wish I would have at least wasted my time here". I really loved what little I could experience of that place.
My Remaining Friend
This next bit is about a guy I've told multiple stories about, Nate. Any stories you might have heard about him are probably not very good, involve weed somehow, or perhaps his bipolar girlfriend. I've known Nate for a long time, and in fact, he's one of my oldest friends in this area. That's probably why it's so hard to be his friend, because we really don't have much in common anymore other than the common desire to be friends, though his desire is stronger than mine. I sometimes sit in his room thinking "I wish I could just get out of here and not come back". The issues aren't as bad now but here's a summary.
He got into weed. He dropped out of high school a couple weeks after he was able to, which I counted on but hoped against. He got a GED, and spent most of his time trying to make quick money, though his idea of quick was getting famous by becoming a competitive gaming champion. He's been on-and-off employed at various places, never held a girlfriend long, faked a brain tumor to break up with the most well-off girlfriend he's ever had, and always talks shit on them once he's broken up with them. Amongst one of those girlfriends was a girl named Christi, who cheerlead at my high school and previously attended a Catholic high school.
She was bipolar, and they dated when he was like 13? 12? I don't remember. He broke up with her on her birthday. Later they got back together. I was there, I watched it happen, I stood on her back porch when we talked to her and they rekindled interest in each other. And it got worse from there. Nate absolutely didn't know how to handle her for the longest time when she has an episode. I have too many stories. But Nate fell into marijuana and played video games with her all day, living unemployed under his mother's disability check.
He's a dealer now, and he's constantly driving everywhere, getting less than optimal sleep and chugging red bull. This at least gets him active and gets him income, but he's laughably terrible at managing money and maintaining a clean household. I'm still hanging out with him because he's just about the only person that's both conveniently close and on in-person hangout terms with me. It's a matter of convenience, of familiarity, and of guilt, because I know how much he's fucked up his own life and I'm the only thing near him that shines bright enough for him to look up at, and he knows he doesn't have as bright a future as I do. I care about him as a friend, and I've tried to help him help himself, but it just never worked when it came to doing work.
He's been teaching me how to drive-- he's incredibly agreeable to whatever I want or need. He'll drive me places I need to go, he'll pay for my things because he has an excess of money, he'll pay for my food. Perhaps this in specific isn't because it's me; the poor are the most generous, after all. Once he gets a lot of money he doesn't pay attention to how fast he spends it, even if it's on other people. But he has said that he only has a handful of people he likes in the world, and I know I'm one of them. Another long-time friend, Josh, has all but abandoned communication with him. Nate says he doesn't care, but almost always tries to think of a way to get him back. It's comical in a sad way. All he has is Christi and his drug friends, and he's responsible for Christi breaking ties with her parents, so he's in a sad cycle of a miserable life with her amongst his other problems, but he feels so responsible for her he can't bring himself to put her in external care. I have too many stories.
So with the driving, he'll let me drive his mom's 2014 Altima, and even says he'll teach me stick shifting, but I can drive an automatic, so it's more of a thing we'll only ever need to get around to in a specific kind of situation. But I've been learning to drive by driving him around on drug deals. He's got 12 hour work shifts for dealing, because it's a morning to midnight kind of business, and your reputation for speed, reliability, and quality is everything.
One time he was letting me drive home, and while we were just making small talk and laughing, he suddenly says,
"I'm going to suffer for the rest of my life."
"Wait... what? Are you serious? What do you mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean."
"Sometimes I wake up wanting to kill myself."
"... What? What is that?... Are you quoting something?"
(Sometimes he'll sing violent songs or something, and we maintained a somewhat casual tone)
(laughs) "... Yeah, sure."
"Well... suddenly getting all dark on me there." (nervous laugh)
I knew exactly what the hell that was. It was a cry for help, as loud a one as I've ever heard. And I have no idea what to do about it. He's not the kind to discuss emotions seriously for long. So I just keep heading over.
My dad, last semester, worked out of town, and he stayed in an apartment with roommates. He's 60-something years old and makes less than $16,000 a year, which is below the poverty line. My stepmom makes about $25k, which is above poverty for one person. My stepmom is normally a demon of a woman; just extremely unpleasant in most facets. She's humanized herself more recently, because I've started talking to her normally about basic intents, actions, where I'm going, when I'm going, etc. and clarifying my boundaries in that I don't want her to throw away anything I have. I told her my room being messy doesn't affect her, and throwing out my things doesn't improve her situation, it only worsens mine, so she needs to respect my belongings and quit exploding into rage for things like leaving the toaster oven door ajar.
My dad stopped paying rent for the apartment, and he, as usual, is working slowly at his job. He's a hypochondriac, honestly. He believes he contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from the mercury in flu vaccines, because he believed himself to contract it shortly after he obtained his shot. He is considered a "vaccine truther", one of the many ignorant people who believe vaccines cause autism and a host of other problems. He doesn't believe I'm lactose intolerant, he thinks my stomach bacteria are weakened by processed foods and GMOs, which might as well be the cause of earthquakes and miscarriages, because he blames every health issue on them that I can think of, as if people didn't get sick until the invention of corn syrup. He's quick to lecture me about the same thing he did the week before if he's so much as seen the silhouette of a Coke can.
I'm not really sure what's up with my dad, but I do recognize that he has problems. In fact, I think he's one of the most influential people in my life, if only for how much I don't want to end up like him at all. He didn't know what he wanted to do in college, so he went into the military, which paid for his dental technician training. He makes false teeth, but that's not the bad part. He's extremely sensitive to criticism. He was born of my grandmother's baby boomer sons; the youngest of about 9 boys I think? If someone picks on him he's quick to retreat. We had a cushy home in Florida while he was working at $20+/hr for four months before we moved back to Illinois because he thought his coworkers didn't like him. Same deal in a town called Marion; wonderful house, felt he was getting picked on, bailed a $20+/hr job to move to Arizona. Moved back because of the heat. He bounces around jobs on what looks like a crazy whim, and he gets slower and less work recognition every time he does it. He said he learned his lesson after he left a job that actively wanted him there, but I don't think he'll ever learn his lesson. He's adverse to learning, about technology, about the future. I would say even about himself and others.
So now he's an old man working too slow on sets of dentures in a town he has to drive 70 miles an hour to get to every morning. As a result, he's become really irritable, and is wont to take it out on the people around him. I've not caught too much flak from him, and we've found an equilibrium of just not talking to each other, but we've only been driven farther apart, and I pity him, because none of his children talk to him anymore. I could go more into how much I completely abhor the idea of ending up like my father, but I'd like to make this more concisely about my own problems, since I don't have enough time or motivation to worry about others' as actively as I have in the past. I pity my dad too much to continue talking about him with so much venomous honesty, and I think he's beyond helping at this point.
He'll tell me to get a car, to get a job, that I'm not doing shit with my life, that I "have the luxury" of keeping my hair long. My mom posted some Facebook photo and I guess she jokingly called my little brother (who my dad referred to as "that-- black") and I as her daughters, and I wasn't offended; I didn't even see the image and doubt it exists, but he started saying things like, "There are girls younger than you who already have cars, and a job, you know, why would she say that?" He's really paranoid about my mom. Apparently early after their relationship ended she, or her new boyfriend, smashed one of his storm windows, or something, and he thinks she's some kind of mischief sprite who does stuff to mess with him. There's some hole in our siding and he immediately jumped to that it was my mom, and I told him "Seriously, she's not that petty". She has no reason to do stuff like that, but he legitimately thinks she's out to get him, for many more things than that. I probably put that hole in the siding when I smashed a window in on accident out of frustration the one summer I came home on a hot day without a means to get in, because they don't let me have a goddamn house key.
Sorry about the tangent. He said the daughter joke thing was "sick" and "wrong", and I'm thinking, I'm not offended? But he'll do things like this all the time. Between my dad's paranoia and my stepmom's explosive tendencies, I'm sick of being around here. I don't have a use for a car-- I can't get a job because of school, and I have free transport to school. And he wants me to move out. Does he really? When the job market is this bad, and minimum wage isn't enough to make a living? Does he want me to scrape by and live a shitty life as he did?
Even though he apparently doesn't acknowledge being a full-time student as "doing something with your life", I came to agree with him, for different reasons. But I don't have my own space. I don't have any room to breathe.
Potential, Shortcomings, and Inability to Take Action
I guess I've made cool stuff. I made about 300 dollars at the height of the first TwitchPlaysPokemon run by selling Helix Fossil charms with a +$5 S.S. Ticket bundle. It was cool to find my shop had new sales every day, and thousands of views from the Twitch chat before they banned link spambots, probably specifically because of me, since I made a spambot to advertise while I was at school. Though it was despicable, when I told Betty she started sounding angry like "Allen!! That's... actually a pretty good idea". I was trying to be ruthless in marketing, and I guess it worked. The 300 dollars never lead to sustainable income, and it was soon wasted on a bunch of little stuff in my mental lethargy.
In the past couple months I've also made anfor our first anime club meeting, a a Daft Punk pendant for Betty and I's anniversary, Sims plumbob charm, of music, and various other silly things I could detail at other times.
The thing about my Etsy shop is that I have absolutely no time to maintain it, help it grow, or expand to other things like conventions. My schedule is so horrendously inconsistent because of school. When I get home I'm just a couple hours away from what should be my bedtime. I wake up at 9 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and wake up at 12 or later on Tuesdays and Thursdays, regardless of how early I went to bed, because I'm so exhausted from sleeping so little M/W/F and appreciate the extra rest. When I do make charms and stuff I know full well it's not what I really want to do, it's just something I do to try and make money.
Thing is, I haven't made any Etsy sales since the hype for TPP died down. I haven't added any new items, either, despite having them. The problem is that I need to put them up as a set; my gym badges, the Daft Punk pendants, the plumbobs. I don't want to put something up individually, prematurely, because competition can crop up really fast, as I've discovered, so I need to be the best possible seller exactly when I post up a listing, or at least, that's how I feel. So I haven't made anymore money.
All that work I put into it feels like a waste of time because my real interests lie in creative work for myself, for other people. I want to make music, and make video games, two things that I've held onto more consistently than my other interests, two things that I'm passionate about. This summer I plan to move in with my girlfriend's aunt, find part-time work, and get into the local music scene. I have connections in our local music scene, enough to play a set "any time I want" at a lounge that hosts names of notoriety; the most recent was Terravita.
And my friends tell me, they tell me all the time, that I'm talented, that I've got potential, that I'm a fun, good guy, that I'm special, that they expect great things from me. I hear it so much I take it with a grain of salt. I almost never believe it. I think it might just be from how I talk about what I believe and what I do in my best moments. If anything I might just be good at selling myself. But I feel so trapped. So unable to prove anything to myself, only enough to prove to others that I can start something good, but I've never finished anything. Those charms are about the only creative venture other than some short stories that I've finished, beginning to end. And I still can't follow through with them. I'm unwinding with Nate byin Project Spark; I'm the creative designer just like I want, but I can only work on it on the weekends. It's what I made this track for when thinking up something that might fit well in a cutscene.
I've always been stifled my whole life, wanting to do more but being held back by some arbitrary thing in someone else's selfishness or my own lethargy because of superfluous obligations. I could never play trumpet very well because my stepmom didn't want me making noise in the house. I put faith in the education system even though I was always doing something other than participating in it, never settling on something I really wanted to do because I believed those things were secondary to making a passing grade. My dad didn't even want me to go to U of I; he always asked me why I wanted to go there, even though I wanted to get a computer science degree, which U of I offers one of the best of in the nation. My mom's about the only one that told me I can set my own limits, or that I don't need any limits at all. And in fact, my most recent limitation is that I even need an Associate's degree.
Like I said, I've been bunking down trying to be a good boy and finish college. I said I want to create my own things independently; as a designer, as a composer, not as a gear in someone else's creative machine, but truly independent in that it's something I make for myself, for other people. So say I did get into U of I. I figured that I would probably have to take off a couple years to save up money for the school anyway, because I'm poor. If not, then, I don't have very many classes in my degree to boost my GPA. I'd have to get an Associate's, then retake a lower level of Calculus, and a more simple version of a computer science class in order to erase the two Cs that blemish my record. And I'd still have to pay for those classes, and save for U of I.
By the time I get my Bachelor's at practically 30, I could get a good job at a video game studio maybe. Say best case, something really big like Valve. But I'd still just be doing the same thing I'm doing at school. Working on one thing, thinking about working on another, never really having enough time because I'm preoccupied with someone else's priorities. Then I would just plateau at some point and die silently without a struggle. That makes me way too upset for words.
See, I was never really one for the safe route. I think safe routes have their place in the world, but I don't think safe routes are the ones that give you the most out of life. They give you security, yes, but they don't offer nearly as many opportunities, and not nearly as many unique experiences. The safe road is one traveled by everyone; a systematic, institutional way to keep people in check and happy, and even that's imperfect. I would rather struggle than regret not trying to claw my way out of the muck if only to shape my own life. I've only got so much life left, and it's already about a quarter over.
So I've been frustrated that I have to get an associate's, when all my vigor for the education system has been replaced by bile and distrust. My sociology teacher sometimes mentions things in class that resonate in me; "School isn't meant to make innovators. It's meant to make workers." Education has its place, but it's just not for me. I would rather be doing actual things.
The Head of the Problem
Sorry for this long-winded explanation, again. I hope you're still following me. So all that culminates to a few really simple things. I want to get out of here. I want to eject from this whole mess as soon as possible. I'm tired of this life. I want to join my heroes in the adult world. I realized that the reason I've never sat well in the education system is that I've always been doing something else. I haven't just screwing around playing video games, but I've been doing, practicing, working. And it's still not nearly enough. I don't have anything to show for it. I think practically everything I've done is shit.
I don't even have enough time to sit down and glean some inspiration by hunting new music, watching films, playing video games. I don't have enough money for my inspiration because I'm at school, and school isn't furthering any of my ambitions. I don't have time because school's wrecked my schedule's consistency. I was fine with school when I thought I was accomplishing my goal of getting into U of I, but now that just simply isn't the case. School's kept me trapped under this cycle of feeling like I'm not good enough because of my inability to do the unnecessary. It disrupts my focus on the career paths I started long before I stepped onto my college campus. And I'm so tired of it I can't stand it at all.
I told all this to a guy at the Greyhound bus, and he told me that at least my distractions from school were productive. He told me people like me might get fed up about school but once they're out it'll only prevent them from getting a good job for a couple years or so even if they drop. It's people like him who actually have to worry, who are distracted from school by video games and indulgence. That doesn't make me feel any less trapped though. It doesn't make me feel like I've done enough at all. It just means that I've done anything, and that I'm willing to do something. My accomplishments aren't impressive to me, and they aren't impressive professionally.
I'm taking an indefinite leave of the education system. I have to leave behind my affections for U of I's campus atmosphere and look ahead, because they rejected me thrice and I'm done wasting time. The end of school can't come nearly fast enough. You might just think I'm impatient, but it's a bit more complex to me than that. Summer is a pivotal time because that's when people have the most free time and are more willing to go out and do fun activities. It's where I'd get the most exposure as a musician, in particular. To be a musician, I need to make music. To make music, I need time and focus. I have neither, because I'm at school. I'm guaranteed a spot to DJ in, but I haven't been able to practice DJing, and I haven't hunted down nearly enough good music to mix. Again, worst yet, I haven't produced satisfactorily finished music that would appeal broadly. So my job of choice that also furthers my goals is pushed back a little bit farther.
I would bail right now. Literally right now, tonight, maybe in the morning, if it weren't for that Betty wants me to stay and complete my associate's. She's the only thing tying me to this degree. I know she means well, but like I said, I feel muted, restrained, because of someone else's selfishness. I feel like it's more because she doesn't want to struggle while being with me, rather than for me having a failsafe. So I've been frustrated. Torn apart, practically. I feel so trapped under these artificial expectations; limitations that aren't mine. I have told her multiple times that if she interferes like this with me in the future, I will put my ambitions ahead of her and separate from her if necessary. I have been enraged just by thinking of being in school, and I still have another semester with like two classes, if I don't fail any of my current ones. The thought enrages me.
My anger about still being trapped in the school system despite deciding it was useless to me a long time ago has build on top of all this other stress and snapped me back and forth like a rubber band. The following is really uncharacteristic of me, but it just shows that we all (or at least, I) have the capacity for violence, even if it's only self-destructive.
There was a short period of time, most of last week, that I got explosively angry over the slightest inconvenience. If I was alone, I would shout fuck, goddammit, fuck-dammit, into the air, stomp the ground, kick things. I bit down on my phone with the sincere attempt to break it. I've beat my phone against objects several times, so it's a good thing it's both indestructible and kind of a shitty phone. I feel like this is how people get ulcers. Every moment in class I had to restrain myself from throwing my desk. It wasn't even pure frustration, or I would be crying. It was all primal anger.
I told these things to Betty, I vented to her all the time. I actually scared her when I told her how angry I was getting, with long texts about how pissed off I was at everything, about how much I wanted to get the fuck out of my situation. When we could talk over IRC or Skype she had to calm me down as if I were a wild animal, which I guess I kind of was. I do feel like a caged animal, like a caged animal on a boat headed towards the Island of Mediocrity and Suffering. I don't want an associate's. I just want to life the lid on my cage and hop the fuck out, but I can't. There are no physical bonds tying me down, it's all because of an obligation, because I place importance in her. I love her but my weakest moments are ones where I blame her for all this, where I think that my irrational, incomprehensible anger, is because Betty is holding me down.
And it's not like dropping school is something I didn't think about. It's not a whim, or a hasty decision. This was something I concluded after thinking long and hard about my situation, about my wants and needs, what I can do, who I know. I want to stop wasting my time, because I only have so much left, and I don't know how much at all. There are so many things I don't know.
I don't know when opportunity will call me, but I sure as fuck can't answer it now because my phone is silent during class.