Bigsley the Oaf


Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on March 16, 2011

I wonder if I will ever be happy? Nothing seems to be working.

I was unhappy as a child, for various reasons. I cried a lot. No one understood me.

I was unhappy through adolescence since I was horny as hell and no one would touch a pimply brat like me.

I liked math and science and shit, I guess – I was good at it, anyway. I liked talking about philosophy and staring into the void. I liked trying to figure out how anyone thought anything at all. I read a lot of philosophy, but I always got sick of it pretty quickly and put the books away.

I dated a girl named Anne, and that seemed to work for a little while. But, one day I found out that I didn’t actually know anything about her, and I was just in love with love. Well, that’s what she said, anyway.

I went to MIT and was pretty unhappy. I drank for the first time and made out with Jen Chia. That felt like happiness, and I was young, so I didn’t even have a hangover the next day. Man, she was good at making out.

I dated Emma, and that felt like happiness for a short while, but then it was quite unhappy for a real long time.

Senior year I almost had enough credits, so I just drifted along and studied Japanese. I wasn’t even very good at it. It really didn’t make me happy. I had given up on Math. I dated Shaunalynn and Kyrstin that year. They made me happy for a while, and I’m grateful.

I was so bummed out I didn’t even apply for any jobs and ended up going to Japan.

I was seriously unhappy in Japan. I cried in front of my boss. I was extremely lonely. I went to parties, just to spend time with people. I had no idea how to interact with Japanese women. I didn’t have sex for a year.

I returned to the US. I spent a little time with the parents and then went to Boston. I was pretty happy there. Life in Boston was sane. I was living with sane people. I was having some adventures. I was making enough money to get by. Life went slowly, but grew.

I met Jen. I was happy for a while. She lived in my room and we had sex for a whole month. It wasn’t even a problem. Then she left.

I came to visit in March and was seriously happy. It was beautiful in San Francisco. Sunny and warm, and there was tasty food, and ample sex. I was smoking at this point, so that was good, too.

I moved to SF in May, 2009. Before moving, I saved up lots of money. At one point, I had over $2,000 in twenties in my closet, not to mention the money in my bank account. But the move was expensive, and I went into debt. When I showed up in SF I had no friends here. Well, sort-of-friends, maybe. They became better friends, later on.

Jen and I tried to learn Haskell together. That was nice for a while, but then turned to shit.

I got a job in July, 2009. It was OK for a while, but I actually hate programming, so that was that. I don’t know how I can ever be happy as a programmer. My boss (Huned) was (is) a good guy and taught me a lot about Rails and how to stick up to bullies. Too bad I didn’t pay more attention – the latter information would have been more useful after he left the company.

The job was pretty good for a while. Having money was nice. But then we started accumulating stuff, moved into a bigger, more expensive apartment.

We got married. I’m not sure my wedding day was happy. It was very stressful. I was worried that everyone would have a bad time. I have no idea if they did. I was worried that everyone was just there out of some sense of guilt. A number of my friends confronted me before I got married and expressed their disapproval. I’m not sure why they came.

People said nice things during the wedding. I don’t know why. I don’t know if I believed them. I said something about protecting Jen in sickness and in health and all that. I’m not sure why I said that. It’s not that I wouldn’t do it – it’s just that the fact that I would do it is not particularly important to me and has/had nothing to do with the marriage, in my mind. There were too many words on that day.

Life was not happier after marriage. Life has not been particularly happy, since. We go through some good periods, but mostly I just mark the days. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of myself. I am tired and I am fairly sure that at this rate I will never confront my demons.

I work out a lot. I eat healthily. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t even have coffee. I’m not even working, so I’m not stressed, but I waste time and I feel bloated, mentally, stagnant, mentally. I am increasingly nihilistic. I don’t see what the point is. I don’t know where things are going. I don’t know why I’ve done most of the things I’ve done in my life. I increasingly have the desire to leave, but my life is growing increasingly clingy.

I’ve been stressed out about the tsunami in Japan. I don’t know why. It’s really brought out the worst in everyone. I hate every reaction. Donate money, feel, empathize, fuck! Leave me alone, you puerile motherfuckers.

Anyway, it’s alright. I have no desire to be happy, really. Happiness is just something that comes and goes. There is nothing stable, nothing intransient, nothing eternal – I believe this. Why would happiness be any different?

There are no keys, there are no doors, there is no secret to unlock, nothing happens – you just get old, and bitter, and burdensome – everyone starts hating you, then you give up and die.


3 Responses

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  1. Graham said, on March 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I just read this and am really struck by it. I miss you. I feel much of the time that I am a failure, however you want to judge it. That we are all failing, somehow, at some cosmic game. I want to respond immediately so I can give my first impressions without being weighted by second-guessing and rationalizations.

    I don’t think that happiness is something that one can have. I *do* think that it’s something that one can experience. You know that cliche about life being a journey, and since I know you’ve read Infinite Jest you also know DFW’s spiel about how cliches, e.g. “One Day At A Time”, at first appear meaningless but over time reveal something unironic and deep and true about existence. Exercise is also this way. Being fit isn’t a state but a process. And I feel that happiness — or contentment or community or the sense of belonging to something important or loving someone or being an ethical person (or whatever) — is also like this.

    Erich Fromm is the first humanist psychologist and defied Freud’s negativity and Skinner’s behaviorist nonsense: he said that an unhappy man is often unhappy because of the insanity of the culture that surrounds him. That apparent personal insanity or unhappiness exists only in the context of that culture. Which I didn’t get when I first read it, but after leaving a culture that I felt was missing the point (i.e. a culture circling the collective materialist/instrumentalist drain instead of spiralling outwards, i.e. Boston, i.e. a culture that doesn’t believe that something can have intrinsic merit, but only in reference to profit margins, i.e. a culture of anti-depressants and stimulants to keep you productive) I did feel weirdly, spiritually relieved. Which is not to say that the issues I have/had with America were the prime mover for going to Montana — that was, like you, a desperate move to not enter the workplace (b/c I was depressed at the pointlessness of it): I eloped. I ran away to some bucolic thing half imagined and not at all realized. And Beth too, was mightily holding up, and came with me almost reluctantly, but running all the same. Running from our parents, from our friends, from responsibility, from the expectations placed on us by others. And the first two years in Montana were no better. Of course I had expectations of the place and those expectations were defied. Sadness, unending, crying jags, drinking too much, and now also feeling the loss of connections broken, but still living in a context of workaday this and vacation hours that. Hatred. Pointlessness. But through it there was an accidental saving grace. The grandeur of the world around me, the geologic world, is a constant reminder to me that it’s all a construct. That all cultures are missing the point. That my sadness is predicated on an imagined thing. That the world as I see it has no value. That the world as it really is *does* have value. So then in this manner I’ve been getting poorer and poorer and making less and less sense to the constructed world. But I don’t really care. I have all this dirt and these trees, and this sky. When my parents first got divorced I would go on long walks around town so I didn’t have to be around my dad and his new girlfriend. Once I walked down to this community playground and laid down on the suspension bridge, feeling weightless, letting the wind push me gently, not really minding the cold. And the exertion of the walk and the cold of late fall, together with the sound of the wind and the dark blue sky: it made me smile. And that’s why — again, unconsciously, only realizing it after the fact, like the way when you’re depressed it all seems normal — I find myself determined to work in a natural context. I almost said natural *setting* but that word implies control, like a setting that a parent made for a dinner table. The implicit order under the apparent chaos of weather and rocks and grass and shit is real. I want to do something real.

    That said.

    I also don’t see the point and I don’t know where things are going, even in my own life. I don’t fully understand, in practical constructed terms, what “doing something real” entails. I’ve fallen out of touch with my father and I’m starting to with my friends, you included. I don’t like that about myself, but I don’t know how to change it. It should be obvious by now that I don’t think that happiness is unattainable. Or to put it another away I don’t think that negative events and negative thoughts, like, preclude happiness. That it’s a state apart and away from other constructed states. Maybe happiness is real and comes from communion with a real world; that is, happiness is the state of doing, not having.

    I’m not going to reread this as I’m trying not to be clever or ironic. Love!

  2. bryan said, on March 20, 2011 at 3:31 am

    Bryan: I think I stumbled upon a few modes/lifestyles that I can reliably be happy in, at least for finite periods of time, and in different ways. Further life progress will be searching for more such modes, perhaps a new steady-state mode, or cycling through the known good modes as well as I can.

    Bizzie: I think you could try exploring mode-space differently. No guarantee that there are many great happy modes out there waiting, but hopefully there are some. If you try some new modes which you are pessimistic about, you might discover new modes to explore. I think you try to create new, universally unexplored modes by force of will/mind, which I respect. Are they actually modes you will be happy/content in?

  3. S said, on April 4, 2011 at 4:20 am


    Don’t even read this. You are smarter than me so it probably won’t help.

    I am deeply saddened to read this entry. I have gone through some similar experiences, obviously not yours, but some things I can say I relate to, as I am still human and capable of the same emotions. I have often asked myself, is being happy a means to an end? Do I need to smile and laugh all of the time? The answer is no. I am OK with being content, even with the trivial and trite things, like playing an instrument, learning a concept, making someone’s day, or loving my fellow human. I am content when I know my friends are doing well. I am happy when I am inspired, even from the smallest things. I would be perfectly happy to give up everything I have to better someone else’s life; I honestly feel like I have nothing to lose. The zenith of my life as far as happiness goes was RTOTF, where every day I would wake up with something to look forward to. Maybe that’s all it takes for me, and only me.

    All I know is what I observe. I observe humans as living approximately 60-120 years, and then dying. Given that’s all the time we have, I would like to think that I can make a difference, if not in my life, then maybe someone else’s life by the time I am dead. I fight every day to keep my head together, from letting the tears fall, and from going crazy. I’m willing to work at something that brings meaning to me and others. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to think that all of this (what you taste, touch, smell, and live) is meaningless, I would prefer not to be an electron that seeks its lowest energy state.

    I really don’t have any advice, but maybe start a new project. You are creative, imaginative, and an HONEST thinker and blogger. Why do you need and idiot like me to tell you? At least you have the self-confidence to write what you think. And you should know people read and respect your blog, and still think and care about you, maybe you should reach out to them more.


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