Sorry for the lack of updates this week. I have plenty of things to write about but I'm having a serious case of the Why Bothers. I came painfully, achingly close to resolving my Central Illinois problem but fell short, and if academia continues along its current trajectory I might get another chance to get out in, oh, three or four years. So I feel an awful lot like I'm standing before a judge who just banged a gavel and sentenced me to three more years of wasting my life. That's the best case scenario, in which I will be 41 when I'mfinally be able to do things a normal human being does like start making friends, have things to do, begin working my way up from the bottom rung of my profession, maybe not spend the rest of my life alone, etc.

So yeah, that's where this week is at. I'll try to post NPF soon. Except whether or not I do, it doesn't matter. None of this amounts to anything anyway, and I'm basically doing it to create the illusion that I have someone to talk to. Not that three days per week chatting about the banalities of university politics and being ignored by totally uninterested students isn't fulfilling before I drive back home to stare at Netflix for a couple days on end. Have you ever noticed that if you aren't into stupid shit like church and don't like hanging out with your coworkers it's basically impossible to make friends as an adult? Or even to have a conversation with another adult once every week or two? Yeah, it turns out that very few people leave their house thinking "I hope an unattractive, unsuccessful 37 year old man who is alone strikes up a conversation with me." So in advance, please spare me your stories about how I *must* be doing something wrong because people are always talking to you when you go out.

I don't even know what this post is about. It's pretty clear that I'm at a dead end in my professional life and my personal life doesn't exist beyond chatting with people on Facebook that I knew 5+ years ago when I had a life. It is greatly reducing my motivation to do…anything, really. But especially this. Even when I think of something interesting to write about it's like, what's the point? It's not as if it will lead to anything or that more than a small handful of people will ever read it anyway.

I'm not a nihilist, I swear. It's just that everything is pointless.

147 thoughts on “FLAILIN'”

  • I can relate to the "everything's dead in the water" feeling.

    If you're thinking of drastic actions, here's one:
    There's always a plane. It's sunny and hot down here. The beer is chilling in the fridge and we just made a wood fired pizza oven. Sure it's rural where I am, but you can always take a bit of a drive over to the coast and head down to wherever.

  • Right there with you.

    I took up role playing games just to meet people.

    It's worked so far. Best friends of my adult life. You only have to hang out with them once a week, or even less, to maintain the friendship. You never have to talk about personal shit if you don't want to. And if you don't want to listen to other people talk about personal shit you can just tune them out and nobody really cares. In fact if you're not in the mood to talk you can just roll dice and sit there sullenly. If you are in the mood to socialize, at least one other person probably will be too.

    It's a good low-maintenance relationship that ensures you will have somebody to drink with without having to actually talk to them.

  • Ed! We love you!

    But, I know what you mean about making friends. As a 40-year-old who is, at least in some sense, materially successful, meeting new people is basically impossible. And the issue is independent of money. So, yeah, I'm familiar with spending inordinate amounts of time watching Netflix and bemoaning the sadness. Some days I forget and have a good time.

    I've definitely learned a thing or three from the blog, and have sent links to friends before. Your making me if a difference than you might suspect. I mean, where the hell am I going to learn about US territorial claims based on guano?

  • Fuck people. Who needs to meet them? But if you want to meet them, what the fuck are you doing gawking at Netflix? Movies and television, I do not get them. When people go on about them, I'm like, "Is this really interesting to you? You like this shit?" Ditch the Netflix. I swear, you'll be hooking up with good people right away.

  • Faintly McAbre says:

    There are many of us that are not at all unsympathetic to you. As you have likely surmised, I sit at home and drink box wine and watch cat videos. After work, I lack the focus and energy to make it through Netflix. This week I'm not even drinking the good box wine – I'm drinking Franzia, because I could get 5 liters for less than $20. Adulty adults of my age are married, own property, and have spawned. I'm cold leftovers, and I am not, and never could have been, hot enough to be a trophy wife or a cougar; my solid birthing hips did not overcome my personality and occupation. Wish me luck buying that super, super sexy micro-fleece adult onesie (footie pajamas) in a sassy yet sophisticated leopard print. That will show all the world – or at least the world that sees me in them, limited to the audience that sees me taking out the trash, since no one has ever been to my apartment – that I am one hot property. I mean, super hot, since I'll be covered in unbreathable micro-fleece.

    Seriously, drink at home. It removes other people from the equation, since other people largely suck. I've gotten pretty good at home bartending on days that putting stuff in a shaker isn't more effort than I want to put forth, and it removes the misery of other people (whether their presence or absence is the misery) from the equation. As well, it creates a hobby you can post pictures of on social media that people will think is cool, despite the the reality that you are drinking box wine at home alone out of a juice glass in front of the computer watching cat videos from Facebook.

  • Join the movement for a socialist transformation of society. It really helped me out with all that crap. It's not you (most likely) Ed, (neoliberal) capitalism is a just fuckin whack.

  • Well, if you'd like some better beer* and hopefully conversation than Central IL apparently offers, I'd be happy to host one of my longtime favorite political bloggers in sunny** Grand Rapids Michigan for a weekend sometime. Only about a 5 hour drive if Google is to be believed.

    * http://www.experiencegr.com/things-to-do/beer-city/
    **Sunniness somewhat seasonal and not guaranteed.

  • My people! 41 year old single guy who teaches English in a foreign country. I speak the local language pretty well, but certainly not with any great mastery, meaning the only adults who want to talk to me basically want free English lessons.

    Honestly, it's great. It's so simple to pretend I don't speak _any_ of the language when I want to be left alone. (Hell, they pretend they don't speak any English when they want to ignore me so I think it's fair.)

    I really think being a loner is just a hard-wired neural condition. I make decent money, I take nice vacations (by myself), I have good relationships with co-workers and a handful of friends, I go on the occassional date that reminds me dating sucks. I'm not actively working on a human skin-suit or anything, I've just always preferred my own company and my more serious romantic connections have always ended in disaster.

    And I really don't like kids. Getting married would be nice but at this point I just don't see it happening. (BTW, try telling a married dude with kids that you don't like kids and will never have them. He literally might stop talking to you forever.)

    To quote my favorite Maria Bamford joke, "He doesn't like onions!"

  • Come and check out the Philippines, dude. You're gonna see, you can have a very nice life here. Lots and lots of expats. So many people who came for a visit and decided to stay, just like me, a 45-yr-old single childless lonely American dude who was so unhappy in Washington DC and found a way to have a new happy life in the Philippines. Seriously, think about at least coming for a visit to take a look at this place. Email me if you want any details.

  • Second Lofgren's remark. Or find a board games club, if you can't handle pretending to be a 12th-level half-orc ice cream seller once a week.

    More generally, for the love of Odin, please do something which does not involve sitting alone and staring at a screen. Join a club. Volunteer for a charity. Take a class in cooking, or French, or cinema, or cooking in French cinema. Take up ballroom dancing if necessary. As noted by Dean, loneliness will not be resolved by Netflix.

    Also, don't give up on the blog. What your audience lacks in size, it makes up in loyalty and discernment.

  • Dude, pull up your big girl pants and stop your bellyaching this instant. I'm 51, I'm not hard to look at, I have a job and a few friends and I'm still gong to die alone, eaten by my cats. So what? Nobody is guaranteed happiness in life, so we may as well enjoy what we have, warts and all. I think you have a good thing here, with this mom and pop website, and I like your writting well enough to comment here, mostly to tell you to keep up the good work. being single white man with a Ph.D. is not exactly a death sentence, but you know that already. anyway, thinking of you, hope you'll feel better soon and sending you some internet hugs.

  • @wetcasements: Speaking as a married dude with a kid, I more than respect your decision not to have them. My son is an absolute joy and wonder, but also a huge responsibility. Better not to have any kids, than to have them because you thought you were supposed to, and spend the rest of your life resenting them.

    (Before the many single misfits commenting above sneer at me, I too have been lonely and single for years at a time, and I haven't forgotten what it's like.)

  • Are you kidding me? From the sound of it you were probably invited to give a job talk but they went for someone else instead. To which I say: Holy SHIT, you got invited to give a job talk. Being close this time means you're in the conversation at ALL, which is 99 percent of the work done.

    As for the meeting people thing: you pretty much have to join a club or something, but Chicago is PACKED with people and organizations. Hell, you're a MUSICIAN and you're telling me you can't think of a way to meet people in Chicago?

  • There are churches that are not "stupid shit". When I moved to a new town, in a very red corner of a mostly-blue state, I found the local Unitarian Universalist fellowship. Full of intelligent, interesting people, some of whom are my age and good looking. Always getting involved in things that let me work together with people to do some good in the world. And the services make me think without telling me what to think.

    As I told one of my friends who was shocked to find me a regular church-goer: "It turns out I don't hate all churches. I just needed to find one that doesn't suck."

  • Hey guy….!! pick up your duffel bags and hit the road! I'm 70 and never miss your postings, cause I asked you to tell me via e-mail to alert me when you had thoughts to share. It's depression season in the northern regions. A couple months and it will pass. Now that my ancient laptop has fully awakened, I see that you have many more friends that will carry you through…trek on, and peace be with you

  • When I moved to Pittsburgh, I joined my local neighborhood volunteer group. Made a bunch of friends through that. Since then I've branched out to other volunteer groups and I'm meeting more people. I'm not particularly outgoing or good at making friends, but becoming even minimally active with a group that serves an interest you share is if nothing else a great way to get in a room with a bunch of people who will have something to talk about with you.

  • Welp, there are definitely those of us who enjoy what you write both here and on the Facebooks. That's worth more than you are probably giving it credit for. Many of us of a certain age still think that online interactions aren't real, and it's somehow weird to meet up IRL with people you met online. But really, it's not. A number of people in this thread have invited you to hang out already, WTFN do it.

  • I've mentioned this before, but my strategy has been to experiment with hobbies. I've brewed beer, wine, and soda, baked breads from scratch, made soaps and detergents, and am seriously eyeing cheese making. The best part is that if you stick with these longer than a week they usually save money off your grocery bill eventually, and you get to drink the beer.

    I second the board games/ tabletop crowd, some of the most fun I've had in years was with half a dozen nerds, some married some not, around a good game of munchkin. Currently dabbling with SCA, which is basically mideval themed fight club, I'll let you know how that turns out.

    Lastly Ed, I finally escaped my dead-end job this week, and… Nothing has changed. My new position is a temp appointment, meaning I can be fired at will or simply not renewed at the end of the term like a crappy apartment. So, I am starting back off at a bottom rung for a job that may or may not work out. I decided to take the gamble, but it will be years before I will have the security to buy a house or do various other adults things. I would have liked to have had kids, but I don't fancy the prospect of being a 40 year new dad. Anyway, my point being, stop thinking of a new job as a magic talisman that is going to solve all of your problems. You've got to find what makes you happy because the only common denominator from a new job, location, or whatever is you.

  • Delurking to say there are a lot of us apparently flailing around in the dark, sneaking up on 40 with moribund social lives and uninspiring work situations. Ugh. I don't actually have anything helpful to add – I apparently don't have the social stamina to stick with groups of people I don't know for long enough to make proper friends and my social skills are shitty and basically…right there with you. I'm sorry it really sucks.

    For what it's worth this random stranger in Australia really likes your blog.

  • I know that you don't want any advise, but my advise is especially bad.

    A. Buy a Camaro, start lifting and call everyone due. Mesh t-shirts help as well
    2. Sleep with your landlady. Nothing like an affair with a sixty year old Ukrainian whose scary husband has the keys to your apartment to make you feel alive
    D. Start a life a crime. Things worked out pretty well on Breaking Bad

  • Between this and your recent Facebook posts, I'm genuinely starting to worry about you. As others have noted, your writing on this platform has meant a lot to many of us. I've basically farmed out all of my opinions to you…when people ask me what I think of an issue, I tell them to read Gin and Tacos and that pretty much covers it. Please seek help.

  • If that doesn't do it for you try Nelson Ahlgren in reverse.
    Sleep with women whose problems are greater than your own.
    Eat at joints called Mom's
    Play cards with guys named Doc.

  • Go back to standup. Write. You are talented and ascerbic, a modern day Mark Twain. Any hobby you can think of, from knitting to triathlon to moonshinin' has a community. (Also, standup and writing!). Embrace your passions and you will find your tribe.

  • FYI, I've met friends at city-coordinated sports leagues, Toastmasters, and while hiking.

    I don't have friends from work.

    I feel like this post deserves an "it gets better", but while I'm qualified to offer a data point, I'm not qualified to write the post.

  • Ed, in the same vein as role-playing games, but more up your alley, find a game store or something where grognards get together and play strategy and tactical wargames. Twilight Struggle, for instance, currently the most critically acclaimed board game in the western world by some metrics, is an amazingly fun time waster, has nothing to do with vampires, and doesn't require painting miniatures.

    Hell, I've even got an extra copy I could send you.

  • Hope you can escape from "Can'tgiveafuckistan", I've halfway done it, with the help of a good woman. I still suspect the last sound I'll hear will be a rimshot, but I've got good company while I wait for that…

  • Another perspective.

    My 40ish brother's old High School girlfriend started chemotherapy for a very aggressive breast cancer on this past Wednesday.

    Makes money, jobs, and a shortage of meeting new people seem to be a lot more manageable. To me anyways.

  • Also, late 90s luxury European V12s are like $5,000. You can get a nice, sub-100,000 mile e38 750iL or Jag XJS or Mercedes S or W for less than a 2008 Corolla. Then you can drive it until the wheels fall off and make at least 50% of the purchase price back selling the window motors and interior wood trim on eBay.

    Also, that era of the last hand-built v12s gets better gas mileage than you may expect. Expect about 15 mpg, even with a heavy foot.

    I'm in family and professional situation where I often feel alone, trapped, and unappreciated and driving my gorgeous 95% depreciated Bimmer that's nicer than the one Tupac died in always cheers me right up. Plus, it presents enough of an air of 1% that you apparently become invisible to cops even at 25 mph over the limit.

  • I was going to echo Talisker's advice about clubs and classes, because srsly dude, it's Truth. But I get that when you feel like this, you don't have the wherewithal to make those kind of changes. So instead I echo DH, and say, get some help.

    Don't just skim over those words "get some help," like you're heard them a million times before. Pretend it's a new concept unknown to you. Realize the possibility that your current pain could be reduced with the application of expert treatment and advice. That broken bone isn't going to fix itself, and you wouldn't limp around with it for months hoping for the best.

    And *get some help getting help.* you will only have to reach out one time to get the ball rolling, then things can start spiraling upward. As hard as it might be to take that first action, it's not going to *continue* to be so difficult. You can do it.

    Every human in the history of the world has struggled with the existential despair of trying to figure out the meaning of life. You're not alone in that, and frankly your Special Snowflake attitude is starting to annoy me. But this depression thing? You don't deserve that, man. Find a way out. Your readers will be grateful.

  • Hobbies. I never got this until a few years ago when I randomly picked one that seemed kind of interesting. That lead me down a path of spending one day a week hanging out with other people who were at least interested in one thing I was. The hobby became almost secondary to the pleasure of simply hanging out with some different people. Yeah, there have been some "winners" along the way, but at least it's something different.

    My kid recently got a little remote control car, and has been having fun with it. I decided maybe I'd buy one of my own to play along with him, so I started looking around online. Turns out there's a whole bunch of people who get together and mess around with remote control cars. I'm not going down this path (yet) but it made me realize that there are groups of people hanging around doing just about anything together. It doesn't have to be something fancy or high minded. Go buy a friggin' remote control car and hang out with some remote control car people. Why the hell not?

  • So normally I'm not the "Just try [activity]!" type, but I used to read another depressed blogger with a way more dead end job than yours who also lived in Chicago, and wound up getting into Second City and loved it. I dunno if you do the inprov thing at all, but given your history of stand up it might suit you.

    "Go out there and meet people!" suggestions aside, I'll echo what others have said. I really enjoy your writing, and particularly with the apparent continuing growth via Facebook it seems a lot of others do too. You contribute something of value to society, which is a lot more than can be said of many people. It sucks about the job disappointment, but don't make the mistake of conflating that with your worth as a person. And if you need help, get it. It would be a shame to lose you when there are still so many stupid people doing so many stupid things and deserving of so much mockery.

  • moved to a new town 10 years back as over 40 adult. It is hard to find folks to hang with. I don't do church, and am not much of a joiner.

    The gym(which I had never ever been a member of one prior) turned out to be great place to meet folks. It is not full of young bucks tossing iron, rather mostly like minded older adults trying to keep walking or stay a bit healthier. Most people at this gym are supportive and many are interesting. Might be worth going in the front door of a couple and checking out the vibe(lots of latest fashions might be a red flag). As one old guy told me, the hardest piece of equipment for him to use at the gym was the front door.
    Good luck with your depression. Often physical exertion(it need not be exhaustion) is recommended, and useful in such situations. And ask for help from a professional, if you can't do anything else.

    I will be sending lots of healing energy your way.

  • Become comfortable with yourself, Ed.

    I know, I know, that's some seriously fucking trite advice, but hear me out.

    Some people simply aren't wired for being social butterflies. I should know, I'm one of them. I detest the party/club "scene", I have zero interest in sports of any kind, and the current pop-culture hot items do nothing for me because I've been reading/watching/playing fantasy and sci-fi since the 80s, so I've seen it all before.

    I tried going to social settings. I tried venturing into the big city and doing "what normal people do". I tried online dating. None of it did anything for me, none of it was fulfilling in the least — and in the case of the online dating thing, nothing actually happened because it turns out that a non-rich, non-ripped nerd is not attractive to the kind of person that uses online dating sites.

    So fuck it. Fuck all of it. Fuck everyone and everything, and just do things that interest you. For me, it was video games, weightlifting, and a small-displacement motorcycle after saving up a bit. Try *not* caring about being social for a little while, see if you like the loner life more. Some people do, some people don't. There is no 'right' answer. There is no way that you are 'supposed' to be.

    And you never know. Once I stopped actively looking and just did my own thing, a wonderful relationship and a couple of decent friendships happened to fall into my lap. You become substantially more attractive to other people when you're not obviously forcing yourself to do something you hate.

  • "So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." From Mitch Albom’s ‘Tuesdays with Morrie'

  • A lot of people read you and like your writing, Ed. Me among them. I won't tell you not to feel sorry for yourself, for if you don't, who will? But don't let that be all you feel, and if it comes to that, I've got one word for you:


    Love and kisses,
    your true pal

  • WWID? (What Would Ivars Do?). Anyway I would say you're welcome to watch Netflix with me in Champaign, although that's probably less exciting than your current Netflix situation. FYI Die Hard plays at the Art next weekend. Unfortunately, no Kubrick in the foreseeable future, although I've been asking/pestering the GM to show Barry Lyndon!

  • I live in Chicago and also have no friends of my own. I don't know shit about sports but I pay enough attention to politics and enjoy your writing. Also I'm a big ol' homo and make an excellent wingman. Just sayin'.

  • You're staring straight into the jaws of a midlife crisis. James Hollis (wrote The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife) has done useful work in this area, and he has a website.

  • Dude, forget about identifying the signs of fascism. You have the signs of clinical depression. Get some help! Start talking to a professional who deals with this stuff. It doesn't have to be this way.

    We all love you on this site.

  • When I was 36 I gave up. I don't live in Central Illinois but I did live in Central Missouri for a long time. Now I'm up here in Boston.

    Anyway, I gave up. I had a couple of friends but largely nothing. Every relationship I had blew up in my face. Not the same as being in the middle of nowhere but despair tastes the same.

    So: I went looking for things that I enjoyed. Just me. Nobody else. I took a course in SF writing at adult ed. Started flying kites. Got a cat. Whatever took my fancy. The trick, for me, was deciding screw everybody else. I was going to do what pleased me.

    What surprised me was that as soon as I did this I started meeting some new people. I think it was the act of giving up that did it. The fuck it, whatever, attitude was helpful. After all, I was my own person at that point.

    I still worked. I still brought home a paycheck. I got a pet turtle. But I turned my life around to please me and nobody else.

    Surprise, surprise: at 38 I was married.

  • Exercise. Join a Community Chorus. Sign up for Dance Classes. Lots of ways out of this. If none of these are available in whatever Midwestern hell hole you live in (I only come by this site once every 1-2 months, so I miss some of the details), then take a lesser paying job in another part of the Country to tide you over until a better opportunity comes along.

    Life is short, we all have these phases of what's the point, but they should pass.

  • Ed –

    I'd love to write you an actual letter (well, in the form of an email), but I see no way to do so.

    Sorry to hear you are feeling down. Just know that there are actual humans reading this stuff that think it matters. Despite being dopamine's "only natural predator", it still manages to bring a smile to our faces.

  • I don't know if this will make you feel any better, but that's not exactly a problem with being rural. I see it (and feel it sometimes) here in the vastly expensive Bay Area.

    Our jobs, especially the techie ones with lots of bullshit buzzwords and conferences and white papers, require us to maintain a persona that you love your job and your coworkers and your clients and your social media posts are all about how awesome everything in the industry is. And after the second day of a conference (where I'm totally not getting laid) I really want to just go to my hotel room and look at cat pictures because it's not fun at all and I'm sick of pretending that this is fulfilling in a non-career sense.

    And since I'm one of those tech people, maybe there is a technological solution. It's like Uber, but for friends. Need someone to play video games or go to paintball with? Just tap on your phone and they'll send a frat bro. Probably get a pool rate if you need sassy girlfriends to have brunch with or watch Scandal while drinking cheap wine. With our premiere service, you can even get a drag queen as your wingman, so everyone you meet can think you're interesting and dynamic and out there because you know people boisterous people who clearly don't play by society's rules.

    I'm sure there have to be some lonely, unfulfilled venture capitalists out there.

  • Ed, you're awesome and one of the best current writers I know of.

    Two things that saved my life and I am not being the least bit dramatic about this. One: A small dose of Lexapro a day. I was the kind of depressed that makes you not necessarily want to jump off a bridge but it was incredibly hard to keep social contacts. I still get low times but the highs are still there and the lows are a lot less deep. It took away the crushing need to stay holed up for weeks at a time and it made my terrible job (which I've since left) a lot easier to deal with.

    Two: Having a dog. I can have the worst day, come home and this lovable doofus corgi mutt will be the happiest to see me since the last time I left the house. Having those ears lay flat and seeing that tail wag when I go to pet him is the best pick me up a person could ask for. You don't have to talk to him if you don't want to so sitting together and silently watching WWII movies is always an option. We walk around the hood once a day so we both get a little exercise. And… women love dogs. Dog parks are a great place for pets and people to get out and socialize and at least where I live there's one park that has a liquor license. Go visit your local humane society or petsmart on adoption days. Having something alive that loves you yet won't get upset at you on your depressed days is pretty great.

    Also fuck therapy… well anecdotally it didn't work for me. Anyway, good luck. People care about you. This election season is the worst I can recall in my 43 years. I've had to turn off NPR as they've been fellating Trump and Cruz lately. Maybe try a whole no politics week of posts. I personally love the random Cold War shit. Especially the giant Soviet radar story.

  • I've found political activism to be a pretty decent adult social outlet. I recognize that that's a hopeless idea in Peoria, but Chicago has opportunities, I'm sure.

  • I wanted to add my commiseration, but most of the good stuff has already been said. I hope you like schadenfreude — I'm 55, lots of debt (partly from going back to school in my late 30s to get out of a wretched job), live in a small, dull Ohio town (after living most of my life in a mid-to-large city/suburb), only friends I can count on are my cats (who, like like Nikolic has already said, I expect to eat my bloated corpse). I too sink into the depths of despair at times, but I've come to realize It Just Doesn't Matter. Things are shite, but I'll enjoy what's okay — the cats, Michigan State sports, reading (when I'm able to focus my mind), Paxil, etc. Yes, easier said than done, but . . . Good luck. We all love your stuff. Keep writing. Keep thinking. And keep bitching! It's good for you.

  • As others hsve said, it's depression season. Get outside and enjoy a winter activity.

    Not into winter stuff? If you are not to far from a coastal area, buy a cheap used sailboat (seriously, older 25-29 footers are not pricey), learn to sail and in doing so, you'll find yourself meeting lots of folks. And you'll have a new lifestyle option for the future.

    Get outside. Do both.

  • II was depressed and even though I've been off medicine for ~20 years it never goes away. I'm 40 now and have a good job, young kid, and a new house, and it all feels like debt and burden most of the time.

    This too shall pass.

    Getting a sun lamp a few years backed seemed to help me quite a bit in getting through the winter. I don't use it as regularly as I should, but even having it out in the winter helps remind me that it's winter and a lot of the shit going on in my brain is being shaped partly by the gloom of winter.

    I don't know if this helps, but I thought of you yesterday when the Cardinals were on TNF and the Blackhawks had a game at the same time. I didn't have a great night myself and ended up not going out to watch the games, but seeing that doubleheader made me wonder what you were up to and had me thinking of trying to meet you sometime to watch a game. I have no idea if we'd get along, but fuck it…what's the point of reading and enjoying something on the internet if you can't try to bring it into your real life.

    Also – I totally second or third or whatever trying out a roleplaying or board game or card group. There's a "Saturday Strategy & Euro Boardgames" group that brings in ~40 smart people every week. Even if it's not your thing you're obviously smart enough to fit in, it's at a bar, and it's an easy thing to drop in/drop out of. If you're especially crazy you can even learn bridge like me and be able to hang out with 80 year olds instead of our aged peers.

  • I am a 48 year old woman with no children or family and I can completely empathize with what you're experiencing.

    As we age, I think that socializing becomes progressively more difficult, especially if you've removed yourself from the normal American trajectory of marriage -> mortgage -> children -> grandchildren. Not following this expected path in life can be extremely isolating in our culture.

    Also, I've been to Big Al's.

  • I can empathize. Older than you, too long in one job which I totally acknowledge I am mediocre at (at best). Don't even really "believe" in it anymore at all. It involves dealing with CITIZENS who are definitely insane, a congenitally sarcastic boss who did not get his promotion and so is really unpleasant now. Personal life? I have always been too antisocial and repressed to have one, thank you very much. Because of my own irresponsibility I have far less money than I should given my pay grade and benefits.

    Now I have jimmied my right shoulder in a minor bicycle accident and I can't even do the gym rat thing. Afraid to request the MRI….I am toxic afraid of doctors and surgery terrifies me.

    Sorry to riff off your post in my own selfish way.

  • Sluggo and Dan ftw on this post.

    Ed, having read this blog for a few years now and seeing that you fall in the trough of depression at least once a year, I have no advice. You know you have clinical depression and I suspect you know how to seek help and from whom to seek it.

    But, I have to tell you that what you do DOES matter. You bring a wry smile to my face every day when I am sitting at my soul-killing job. Now, I get that you probably think "so the fuck what, this middle-aged woman in NM gets a grin out of my writing, why should I even care about that?" and that's fair. But what you do does matter to me and to a lot of other people. So there's that.

    And…you are not unattractive.

  • I wish I had something witty or clever to say or even advise to give. I don't… Hang in there. This too shall pass!

  • Cotton Dreadworth says:

    I actually didn't mind living in the Normal-Bloomington metroplex when I was out there trying and failing to finish my diss so that I could keep my dream job. Being ten minutes away by bike trail from the downtown Amtrak station and three hours by train to Chicago was nice. But my social life was about the same as yours, except that I was drinking Bud, not Coors Lite.

  • Oh, and even though I know you despise happy positive shit from the commenters when you are down like this, I do want to remind you that you cannot predict the future. You really never, ever know what is around the corner. True, what is around the corner could be worse, but it could be better, too. My sister said that this thought is what kept her going after her husband and son were killed in an automobile accident. She said that when she thought about killing herself because each day was too goddamn painful, she also just kept wondering what life was going to hand her next and she was gambling that it could be good. I am not sure I would have been so curious myself…

  • Just want to chime in as another person who looks forward to every single post you write.

    And, I guess, to second the advice to try meditation. It takes commitment, but it will really change your life for the better.

  • It doesn't help pay the bills, but I do very much look forward to your posts. If you ever need a place to stay in central NJ let me know, tho why you'd want to vacation in central NJ I have no idea.

  • Sounds like someone is jonesing for another Green Street Smoked Meat-Up. Or we could do steaks this time. Bavette's is run by the same guys, and we can bring our own wine.

    Seriously: it's crazy that this many socially inept Chicagoans read your blog, indentify with your loneliness/isolation/intelligence/portal-sense-of-humor and don't meet more frequently. Who's with me here?

  • I'm guessing by the number of responses to this post that I am not the only one who has you bookmarked for a daily blog check and who follows you on facebook. All to say that so many of us enjoy reading your words, and that there IS a sort of connection with people we have these kinds of conversations with even if they are virtual. And when we feel those connections, we naturally want to try to help when a friend is feeling hopeless.

    I have nothing new to add, but so many of the caring suggestions others have written up thread are very good ones and I hope you read them all and take them to heart. Because we all do give a shit about you.

  • Bluto: Hey! What's all this laying around stuff? Why are you all still laying around here for?

    Stork: What the hell are we supposed to do, ya moron? We're all expelled. There's nothing to fight for anymore.

    D-Day: [to Bluto] Let it go. War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.

    Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

    Otter: [to Boon] Germans?

    Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.

    Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough…
    [thinks hard of something to say]

    Bluto: The tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
    [Bluto runs out, alone; then returns]

    Bluto: What the fuck happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…

    Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic… but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!

    Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.

    D-Day: [stands up] Yeah, I agree. Let's go get 'em.

    Boon: Let's do it.

    Bluto: [shouting] "Let's do it"!
    [all of the Deltas stand up and run out with Bluto]

  • Nancy the math teacher says:

    It's easier to meet people who share a common interest with you. I've been able to make some new friends recently (I'm almost 60) who also deal with special needs as I do. Since we "speak the same language" that breaks the ice, and we can learn to talk to one another.

    I agree with commenters above that you may be clinically depressed, Ed. Very intelligent people can be in denial about the need for treatment. There are drugs as suggested above, and there is cognitive behavior therapy which has been proven the most effective. You might consider something like that.

    Sluggo gave me a good laugh this morning. The quality of your commenters is a testament to the quality of this blog and I'm pretty sure we all value what you do here. I know I do.

  • I have a really similar career trajectory to you, Ed, and at my last job I had a lot of "work friends" and not a few "student friends" but really not very many friend friends, at least not that were local. The big thing that's helped with that since I moved was (re)joining an activity: I'm heavily involved in the local community theatre (and moderately involved in a couple other things), which has helped me build and sustain actual friendships again for the first time in a long time. If theatre's not your thing, make it be something else! But yeah, just "meeting people" is damn near impossible at our age without some sort of reason/excuse/mechanism to do so.

  • I remember when I took early retirement around seven years ago, our older son told his therapist, "I'm worried that if Pop doesn't go to work every day, he'll be lonely – because Pop has no friends."

    I joined the local Masonic Lodge, made friends, and rediscovered my love of public speaking. Not a solution for everyone, to be sure, but it reassured the kid. My dad was something of a loner, to the extent that a father of seven can be; that's probably where I got it from.

    More personally, I think we get to see a side of Ed that the meat space people don't. That's why we look for his words of wisdom, spleen, humor and general edification.

  • Ed,

    First off, sorry to hear work has screwed you over. I know the feeling, and it's not fun.

    I see lots of helpful suggestions above, suggesting you get out and meet people. Fuck that shit. People are horrible, nasty, brutish creatures.

    Revel in your depression, Ed. Fuck the world for all its worth. It doesn't deserve you. Find some way to squeeze enjoyment out of not giving a shit, just going through the motions of doing things that feel only slightly better than doing nothing.

    Eventually you'll punch out the other side of your depression and feel better. Or not. Depression fucking sucks. Clinical depression so much more so.

    That's all the bad advice I have to give, not that you asked for it. But everybody else was doing it and I didn't want to feel left out.

  • I have no useful advice, because at least once a week I feel the same way.
    Yesterday it took a turkey sandwich and three brownies at 9:00 at night to get the blood chemistry hit to allow me go actually sleep through the night, unlike the night previous, which was an Anxiety Attack About Fucking Everything lasting until dawn.

    Bored and feeling pointless coupled with fear of becoming a hobo. So annoying.

    Fortunately there are people like you online who know what it's like.

  • I've been reading your blog for a few years now but have never commented. I gave up internet commenting years ago as it started being a fool's errand. But you seem like a good man and need some encouragement.

    "Many of the UCB Basics apply as much to life as they do to comedy. Telling the truth, for instance, especially in a monologue. Nothing is funnier or more universal. Stay in eye contact and listen, intently to your partner is another basic. Don’t initiate conflict or answer with a “No.” Nothing ends a scene quicker than conflict or the word ‘no.’ Establish who, where, and what you’re doing as quickly as possible. They call this “gifting.” Because it gives the other person information to work with; to expand and build upon. Don’t make jokes. Play the game. And finally, my biggest problem: Act at the top of your intelligence. So far, I have given very few signs of any intelligence at all. Oh. And then, there’s that motto: Don’t Think. Act. I should turn this into a fucking bumper sticker. Because if there’s one thing that continues to sabotage every aspect of my life/future, it’s the fact I waste so much time thinking versus acting."
    -F Word Brenda, Nov 2011

    Don't. Just. Sit. There.

    Need an action plan? Here's one:

    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
    -Robert A. Heinlein

    I suggest invading Antigua. Now get busy.

  • The thing about depression, for me, is that you can only spring back up once you've hit the bottom.

    Hard part is knowing when you've hit the bottom. This year I went so much deeper down that I thought I could.

    But I did hit it finally about six weeks ago. We are talking a downward spiral since August 2014. Bad news. But! Like Dante, I realized it's especially bad now due to age (also mid-thirties). I actually started reading The Inferno again… made it a metaphoric endeavor. It helped. Couple week-long benders here and there also had… well, some effect.

    Just keep at it. You'll realize when you hit the new all time low. And then you will be free.

    In the meantime, don't stop writing. Thanks for all that you've written thus far.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Hang in there!

    Dying is easy…
    Comedy is hard!

    And you make me and others laugh – or chortle uncomfortably, at the absurdity that is this country, and it's politics.

    All we Libtards can do, is, despite the odds, don't let the conservatives and our cowardly, compliant, complicit, and uncritical (at least when it comes to the GOP) MSM get us down!


  • In furious agreement with Xynzee. He's down in NSW, i (and friends who all love us some ed – 'g&t ed says this about that' is often heard in these parts) am in Brisbane. I also have g&t fan buddies down in Byron bay, Canberra and Melbourne with couches and/ or spare rooms. That's a fucking epic east-coast Australia road trip right there! Our roads are great, the sunshine is mostly non-negotiable in these parts, our beer > your beer, and many Aussie women are tall and friendly. A gofundme for the ticket price and it's on. No shit, I have discussed this with people and we could make it happen.

    Serious offer. You got a lot of love down here on this burnt rock. You've given us a lot of free laughs and entertainment and we appreciate it. You want to visit and take a look around some time, do it. If not, just think about the fact that WE WOULD TOTALLY OPEN OUR HOMES TO YOU BECAUSE WE THINK YOU ARE PRETTY FUCKIN GREAT.

    Also, Christmas, man. It's depressing enough here, in summer. I don't know how y'all get through it at all in the winter.

  • In the immortal words of Kingsley Amis:

    Life is mostly grief and labour
    Two things get you through
    Chortling when it hits your neighbour
    Whingeing when it's you

    Ed, If you'd stopped in at our little pub in Calgary last summer you'd now have at least three friends. I am very well acquainted with depression and want to second what others have said about the positive effects of exercise. Also look into cognitive therapy. Self-help that works.

  • Dude, I was where you are now several years ago. PhD, academia – although I was non-tenure track, I was in a situation that had a better than average chance of becoming one, years in school, degrees from 3 different Universities (so why they hell can't I meet anyone?). Indeed, it was depressing, and lonely. I'm getting ready to sound like a commercial, but here goes: "then I tried online dating, and I met my mate." This was early in that scene, around 2003 when I think eHarmony was the only game in town.

    Anyway, a definite introvert, although not unattractive (so I'm told), I was constantly wondering if I would be alone forever, why can't I meet someone when I'm usually around tens of thousands of students daily, for years? Just want to say, hang in there, man. You're not alone feeling this way. You WILL meet someone, but you DO have to take every opportunity – even if they're once a year, every two years – to try. One of your two friends or colleague has a party – you GO. One gets married, and later they go bowling with a bunch of friends, you GO. But otherwise, do what you can. The online dating scene has become kind of a cliche, but at least early on it worked and I have to think that the ones that aren't free and require at least some level of Q&A to feed the algorithm (the more in-depth and time-consuming, generally the better) do work. Be honest in your responses though – you don't have time to find out months later that you aren't compatible because of religion of something huge like that.

  • I hear your pain and it's familiar. I'm a 39-year old, over-educated, divorced guy who hasn't made a meaningful new friendship in 15 years. In my "It Gets Better" video to you I would suggest Meetup.com. I've used it to find activity partners for rock climbing, mushrooming, and board games. It beats sitting at home masturbating.
    Oh, and keep writing. We'll keep reading.

  • I know this is worth nothing to you at this point but I like what you write. It's not pointless to me. So thanks I guess…

  • "I'm not a nihilist, I swear. It's just that everything is pointless."

    Put that on a coffee mug and I'll buy it.

  • Born and raised in the SW Chicago suburbs.

    When I bought a light box, it changed my existence. SAD is a thing, even for people who just get a little down, not get all the way crushed.

    I love your shit, Dr. Ed Man. I want nothing but happiness and success for you.

  • At the risk of sounding like It's a Wonderful Life, you've touched more lives than you know, Ed. So many others have said it better than I could, so I won't even try. You've got people rooting for you, and many of them gave you excellent advice, including finding a hobby (alone or with a group) and asking for help. Can you visit your school's health center to get some help with the wintertime blahs? (Is it even worth stopping there?)

    Be well. Be happy.

  • Emerson Dameron says:


    As I read it, Ed was *going* to return to Chicago but got stuck in P****a instead. That's got to involve a significant mourning period.

    You owe your "fans" nothing, but I do hope you find this place a sanctuary and will return after sufficient mourning. If all else fails, quit your job and become a misanthropic interstate trucker. I will show you LA's finest taco joints.

  • Spot on, Ed! I'm in the same boat. Old (61) ugly woman in China, can't hang out with my workmates much because I'm their boss, and not a big expat group in my current city (so no clubs or social groups.) Western men aren't the least bit interested in Western women over here (not even the young, pretty ones) so I'm not getting laid (or even hugged) any time soon.

    Mostly I wouldn't want to be a kid again, but I've got to admit I miss the days when you could just walk up to someone and ask "Do you want to be friends?"

    If it wasn't for my dog, skyping with my daughters and illegal downloading, I'd jump out the fucking window. Oh, and alcohol too.

  • Oh, and for all of you who are suggesting depression…there IS a difference between clinical depression (which I have had and have had treated successfully) and just plain loneliness. I know you all mean well, and I'm not saying Ed ISN'T clinically depressed, but please recognize the difference.

    And Ed? For the record, your posts are one of the highlights of my day. So you ARE appreciated out here in the ether.

  • Right, hope this is just Christmas BS/darkness/light seasonal depression. life sucks, yes. but we only get one. you write wonderfully pointed stuff. love it for a long time. as i had read "Action is the antidote to despair", think Joan Baez said it.

    do hope you continue to write. YOU make a difference.

    take care, come to NO for Mardi Gras on Feb 9 and lose/find yourself in the madness. the party starts in Jan this year.

    Depression is a horrible place to be when you live in the USSA with all the inherent hatred and fear and idiocy of the Right/Fascists who have run this Country into the ground since St. Reagan. so i understand the pointlessness of living in America.

    You can always move to a saner country or join a group or whatever.

    Just keep on keeping on, it does get better, lol.

  • K, my two cents.

    Love this blog, read it often, have for years, would miss it, and you, immensely if it was gone. You've created a great space here, for many.

    Recurring episodic depression, currently compounded by SAD. Start taking 2000 – 3000 IU Vit D daily. In 2 – 3 days you will start to feel better physically, and then decide if you need professional help for this episode. This isn't a personal anecdote, it's a professional recommendation.

    This is a personal anecdote – take up riding. Western not English. There will be many riding stables in your area. Check out a few before you pick one. This is a relatively solitary activity that can lead to as much companionship (human and non-human) as you are comfortable with. And in my experience there's nothing more substantive to spirit and body than getting some easy exercise in the fresh air. Some one else here mentioned sailing, and I think that would work equally well, just not year round in your location.

    Last, take up the offer of at least one of the commenters here to meet IRL. Add my name to the list of potential hosts if you'd ever like to trade small town Illinois for small town Ontario for a few days, close enough to TO for you to check out some urban fun too.

    Keep on swimming, my friend.

  • I can't give any worthwhile advice. But you're one of the few web voices that is authentic, thoughtful, and worth checking on every day. I miss days without a gin and tacos fix.

  • This might be the most depressing post and comments thread I’ve ever read for three reasons: (1) so many people out there admitting to being in the same shitty place in middle life yet can’t figger out what to do, (2) the stream of validation and advice that to depressed folks just rings false (or worse), and (3) the undeniable truth of it all. The adult realization that the world just doesn’t care fer ye ought to be freeing, but instead it’s like love-starved children pining relentlessly for the affection of a parent that just isn’t there. So not to pile on or anything, the but world, oyster that it may be (our not), isn’t waiting for anyone. Moping is worse than acting (choice of action largely irrelevant), and although acting may not solve anything, at least one gets busy. Points for the summer drive to Alaska. And FWIW, I’m among the Chicago cohort and find little to recommend here that isn’t present all across this great expanse of a continent we inhabit.

  • Just keep writing; it's your service, and service is what it's all about. You know the extent of your readership and where they live even (!); there's a shit load of ballast right there, lotsa material for reflection. Thanks for what you give to all your readers everywhere. You'll be all right.

  • schmitt trigger says:

    "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."—- Thoreau

    Being alone and alienated is not new. That usually happens to people like you, who are smart enough to see that we live in a Kafkian world.

    I was once very surprised about listening to a Billy Joel interview, who discussed his very frequent bouts with depression. He mentioned that the best cure for him was to write music. He used his talent to bleed off the depression.

    I hope I don't sound corny but….Ed, you've got talent. And you use it very effectively. You have a very loyal following. It may not be as large as Kim Kardashian's but every bit as loyal.

  • Rural Resident says:

    Don't know where I'd turn if I couldn't look forward to G&T posts to help keep my sanity.
    I live in rural northern Wisconsin and am watching this state go down the drain. Have you ever regularly attended local and county government meetings to meet people and actually watch government in action? Not that it will improve your outlook on life, but it is fascinating in a "watching a car wreck" kind of way. You can watch the players like a live soap opera or you can critique all the ways stupid people as government officials f*** things up. The experience might even add material for a stand up comedy routine or to share in the classroom.
    To put things in perspective, get outside and away from people. Stare up at a star filled night sky. Take a walk in a forest. Stop to listen, smell and feel the sun on your face or the coolness of the winter wind. There is a bigger world to appreciate and fill you up than what can be gotten out of a career or social life.
    Keep calm and carry on

  • Nobody else seems to have mentioned this, so I will.

    G&T is free and ad-free because you made that choice and have stuck by it. In these times, I see that as highly fucking commendable. You are better at this than many, maybe most, professionals who make comfortable livings doin it. Maybe it's time to review that decision? I'd pay and/or deal with ads for my G&T fix, no question.

    Like I said, I really respect that you do this for free. But you wouldn't lose my respect, my 'hits', or my proselytising your writing to others, should you choose to charge/advertise.

    I don't know if trying to make a blog pay would be more or less soul-crushing than your current gig, but you could (theoretically) do it from a beach somewhere.

  • This was painful for me to read because I can relate so much. I spent all of my adult life up until 17 months ago engaged in a fairly serious alcohol and drug addiction that left me homeless and suicidal and horrifically lonely. I have many friends now through recovery, and without it I don't know how I would interact with anyone. So tick up your drinking, or start shooting speedballs, and then get clean, I guess is my advice. But seriously get professional help. I've been a regular reader for about five years and you make a genuine impact in my life. I've felt before like you were my only friend. The way I feel about Kurt Vonnegut and other people I've never met or contacted. You mean something to me.

  • Ed, I wish I had some great advice for you but I don't. I didn't get married until 42 and it wasn't because I was loving the single lifestyle so much.

    It's also tough being single in your mid 30s. It's that awkward age between young-and-single and divorced-with-two-kids. Most of your contemporaries are paired off at this point and it can be a lonely time.

    If you don't any kind of an exercise program you might try starting one. Exercise can help improve your spirits as well as your self image. Plus you don't want to add diabetes to your list of troubles.

    Getting involved in some sort of activity might be a good way to expand your circle of friends. Even a church isn't a bad place. Try the Unitarians or the Congregationalists. They are about as liberal as they get.

    I enjoy your blog very much and wish you the best.

  • What mothra says,
    and what Charles Ng says.
    Had I not recently won the "someone for everyone" lottery, I would hitch-hike up there and take care of you myself.
    But especially what Eau says. I will chip in either way.
    Whatever you decide, thank you Ed.

  • Hey Ed, I wrestle with the same shit and I'm married, liberal arts PhD commonly under attack, likely doomed to lose my job in 3 years, etc.

    I don't have any advice, but whenever someone of my students starts panicking about having a career, the American dream, etc., I talk about Diogenes, who lived in a barrel in the Corinthian agora, didn't write a word or have a penny, and when Alexander the Great came to meet him, Diogenes snarkily asked him to stop blocking his sun. Alexander walked away, and as his friends laughed at Diogenes' bizarre behavior, said, "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."

  • I too rely on this site for intelligent, eclectic info and insight. You've created a community far flung individuals sharing ideas about dealing with an increasingly insane world. You do good and are appreciated.
    My (unsolicited) suggestions: big YES to the natural spectum light box. We have one, have'nt pulled it out this season yet, but this reminds me to dig it out of the closet. Helps produce vitamin D, suppliments are OK too.
    Also, I notice you usually post around 1am. Think about changing your sleep schedule. After 15 years on swing shift, I developed shift work disorder. Depression, fatigue and low on give a shit. Melatonin or diphenhydramine are safe and helpful. I quit that job and go to bed around 10:30 each night. Still waking frequently, but feeling much better.
    Shout out to Loneoaks' coffee mug suggestion. I'd buy one too.
    As my Dad would remind me, "illigitimi non carborundum".

  • Just joining the voices here saying "I wish you felt better!" and "Don't stop writing!"

    I get actual Aha! moments from your blog (which is rare these days because I've lived longer than everybody and seen everything and know more than anybody and they can all get off my lawn). The most recent one where that happened was the one about churls. Fascinating. So don't stop writing. Really. Don't. Please!

    And I really do wish you felt better. I do know wishes aren't horses. Barbara Kingsolver said once that there are times when all you can do is get up in the mornings and keep your hair combed.

  • Longtime follower, first-time commenter. As someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression my entire life, I can relate to what you're going through. I didn't get married until my late 30s, and from experience I can say that having someone to vent to after a soul-killing day at the Salt Mine only takes one so far. Having no real friends to speak of nearby, I too lead a life of Quiet Desperation. As for kids, we chose not to have any for many reasons, but chief among them was a firm conviction that we did not want to subject our potential offspring to the pointless existence that life in the US has become today. Actually, being single frees you up to do what I would do in a heartbeat if I weren't married to a die-hard New Yorker: chuck it all and move to a warm, sandy beach somewhere and spend the rest of my life writing and bartending. As with so many others here, your blog helps me keep going. You are not alone in your misery and you are appreciated more than you know!!
    PS. That offer to move to Oz sounds pretty good to me. Go for it!

  • Hey Ed, delurking to say, yeah. I've had depression and anxiety my whole life. I'm 50 now. Some things that have helped me:

    Helping people (by which I mean animals, because people suck). There's bound to be an animal rescue place near you. They always need volunteers; if you don't have the energy for that, you can drop in occasionally and take dogs for walks, or cuddle cats, or just bring the guinea pigs bell peppers and parsley.

    Exercise! Seriously. Even walking. Or biking. You don't have to go to a gym or talk to anyone. Raise your heart rate and sweat a bit for 1/2 an hour a day or so. Drink a lot of water.

    If you think you might be clinically depressed, you can get Prozac or Wellbutrin or whatever through your GP; you don't have to go to talk therapy or a shrink for it. Talk to your health services or doctor and tell them how you're feeling. If you are depressed, this would be your first step.

    If you're up for it, cognitive behavioral therapy is brutally hard but it works.

    You're a great writer and I value your blog.

  • Ed,

    I hope this post is more like a shout out for some advice than a cry for help. Work isn’t who you are, it’s what you have to do. Compensation is unrelated to either. Fuckface CEO’s sweat less than the minions who clean their offices.

    Outside your 9 to 5 you possess a special knack for “touching” people with the words you write. A little before your time, but Mike Royko from the Chicago newspapers of my youth. Clay Thompson out in PHX has been a pretty decent replacement. You top them both.

    If you won’t consider the whole shrink thing ask your family Doc for some meds. At least think about it.

    If you are in a rut, stop digging. Put the shovel down and cancel Netflix. See the previous 116 suggestions, or go to the laundromat to do your wash. Begin planning the Ed Lauter Film Fest. Anything. Call John Cole and find out the best ways to extract cash from this Blog.

    Friendship is over rated, but flailing over it ain’t sweet either. Make some stranger laugh (besides us here). Compliment somebody. That’s all I got that others haven’t touched already

    May peace be with you

  • Please don't steal our Ed you damned Friendly Aussie Ninjas!

    As so many have said, if location allowed I would try hard to be your friend. You're pretty great. Shoot me an email if you feel an urge to stay in the Florida sticks (family guest-house). South but not as far south as the Ozninja clan. But…hang in there. You know that.


  • And to add, if you stop writing here that will be totally fine, if that is what you need to do. You will be missed a lot but do what makes you happy, and if the blog doesn't do that any longer I don't think any of your readers would begrudge you your peace of mind.

  • Ed, HOBBIES and volunteering for something you actually enjoy doing. It gets you off the couch and out of the house. Hang in there buddy.

  • Ed, you are correct that everything is pointless, at least in the long run. But focus on the things that you love and be positive and people will be drawn to you. Or at least you will make the best of this futile existence. Depending on others to give your life meaning is a fool's errand.

  • A teacher of political science (correct?) can't figure out how to connect up with interesting like-minded people and find some meaning to life, at the start of a raucous, passionate presidential election campaign? What am I missing? Not trying to be rude, just… seems straightforward what direction to head.

  • I think I gave my suggestions last time (I wonder if it was around this time of year? Fuck Christmas, amirite?), so I'm not going to bother except to mention I trust you've seen the new Bob Odenkirk/ David Cross Netflix show by now. So you know what to do: quit your job, pack your shit, move to L.A. and direct big budget action movies!! (Altenatively, you could be the next Pope.)

    Keep calm and maybe play the drums? Really loud?

  • Well, that was depressing.
    Here, have my ______________________.

    [pint of ice cream]
    [Road Trip!]
    [nice hand knit sweater]

  • What Eau said above.

    I'm a 40-something loner with an apartment and two cats, and you know what? Money helps — it can lower your stress, it can save you time, it can make fun activities more possible. (Plus I'm alone but I'm rarely lonely, but that's more about how my brain is wired than a choice I can tell you how to make.)

    Slap a Paypal "Donate" button on the site; set up a Patreon account and let people subscribe if they want to. I know this site is a labor of love for you and not how you're going to get rich, but if other people love it and want to chip in to support it then let them (us).

  • Ed, I just thank you for this blog. I'm not really happy of course that other thinkers seem to be catching up with my utter fuck-it-all pure pessimism. I hate being the way I am but in a way it feels true and bracing and what the hell can you do.

    So happy I'm 62, so damn sorry you're only 41.

    Anyway we keep slogging together. Wishing you the best as always.

  • This? You trade your probably-substantial digs in Central Illinois for a tiny apt there, and another tiny apt in Chicago. You spend weekends, breaks, summers in Chicago and commute to work in Cent Ill. You hang out with people you probably already know in Chicago, and some of the people from this comment-group, and one thing leads to another. It could happen.

  • Sucks to be you, Ed. You're better off than a huge percentage of the world's population. Hell, your far better off than a lot of people in the academic world. You have a tenure track position at age 37 albeit in one of the armpits of North America. Guess what? There are now more adjuncts teaching than tenure track. A lot are living in poverty and working their ass off to put bread on the table and a roof over their heads. A lot of us are teaching the same entitled snowflakes that could give a shit less about learning anything. We live in fear that we will hurt the feelings of said entitled snowflakes whose parents are big donors or who have other influence and might not be renewed if we don't give an A or B to said snowflake who might not be able to write an intelligible sentence in their native language. Quit your bitching and man the fuck up. At least you're not 57 doing this shit working at minimum wage given the time put in as an adjunct for no benefits while worried that you won't lose you're crappy vehicle, the roof over your head and perhaps face the prospect of moving undrer a bridge and dumpster diving for food while teaching at a university. You have it made and don't know it. Stop with the goddamned pity party already.

  • Rob_in_Hawaii says:

    Aloha! Long time reader, first time commenter. Here's my two cents.

    I'm a superannuated, liberal arts PhD who hopped off the adjunct treadmill to oblivion a few years ago. Then it was into the slough of despond that is teaching in the public school system. Guess it was a thought that I'd save the world one student at a time and I'd have a job I could retire from some day. Instead, what I'd crawled inside was an incubator for psychosis.

    Therapy, Xanax, and Zoloft got me to where I could laugh at the absurdity of it all again, as well as get a gig substitute teaching at a K-12 charter school. Okay job, no worries. But still I wonder every day wtf am I doing, and why do I make way less than I did as a teamster 25 years ago.

    Here's what saves me: I LIVE IN FUCKING HAWAI`I. A mountain stream and rainforest out my back door, nicest weather on Earth, and surrounded by a truly wonderful & diverse culture.

    I figured if you're gonna be stuck in a dead end shit job, why not do it in a gorgeous setting? Now don't everyone move here. But maybe a change of scenery would do you some good. Just sayin.

  • Jack the Cold Warrior says:

    I get it. Been on Welbutrin for over ten years. Still have very down days. I'm 62, disabled, and can't get out much because one bad fall could end me.

    Xmas bad time because my Dad, UVA poli Sci grad and WWII vet and somewhat like the Dad in "BIG FISH"(We are still trying to figure out why TWO generals stopped by to visit him, one was Mark Clark, the other was Benjamin O Davis, Jr) died 22 December 76.

    The other major male influence in my life, my older brother (13 years older) died on my birthday in 2011. He was a 20 Yr Army vet, 2 Nam tours, Silver Star, 3 Bronze Stars w/V, 5 Purple Hearts. Then spent 22 years becoming the JROTC instructor version of "Mr Holland's Opus", only they did NOT want him to retire, he had became the unofficial assistant principal who straightened out difficult students. A bunch of them came to his memorial and told the family how important he was in helping them to a successful life.

    So thinking about my Dad's death at Christmas time leads to thinking about losing my brother 4 years ago, and my Mom back in the 90's. Being stuck in my apartment 95% of the time is very conducive to obsessing on these losses. But…

    Things could be much worse. Thank God ( or Cthulhu, FSM, or whatever) that you are not Syrian, Iraqi, or Kurdish and stuck in ISIS territory. Yes, I know that the US is definitely on the suck side now because I grew up during the Golden Age of the US Middle Class, and since 1981 l've watched conservative ideology drag us back, approaching Robber Baron/ Gilded Age conditions. But we can change that.

    T.R. Roosevelt said " Do what you can, where you are, with what you have". And he did a bunch of good ( along with his faults of being racist, warmongering, manifest destinying). Only person awarded a Medal of Honor and a Nobel Peace Prize.

    I agree with Major Kong and other commenters. Use your faculty privileges to use the athletic facilities your upscale private University provides. Try the indoor pool, weights, etc., find out what you like, then do it 3X /week. It does make a difference and is what I miss most being cooped up in an apartment all day. Stop binging on Netflix, read something ! An early commenter had a nice quote from Robert A. Heinlein. Here's an assignment: Read his "Starship Troopers" and "Stranger in a Strange Land", study his bio and tell us how the frack this guy wrote such dissimilar tomes, worked with Sinclair Lewis and his CA Socialist Party, and was a Hippie icon that invented the water bed, the word "Grock" and yet is also a Libertarian hero.

    Speaking of Libertarian, every time I get in arguments with them on the 'nets, I send them your essay,"THERE ARE NO LIBERTARIANS ON AIRPLANES" which is perfect as far as I see it. I've been following G&T for at least five years, check for new posts everyday, and really like your Facebook page. You are getting a lot of interest and I think you have a lot more to say.

    So gets some sun (real and or artificial), exercise, and find some things to do, and maybe someone's to do it with. And do get some help if the above does not improve your current mental state.

  • FWIW I will keep you in prayer. Which you may not believe in. And some days I don't either. But most days it helps.

    And try something to get outside of your own head. Volunteer mentoring kids in Juvenile detention. Or teach in a local prison. Or volunteer to do some job skills training at a local homeless shelter. These things keep me sane and make me feel like I am doing something to help others.

  • Not going to try and tell you anything. I have been where you are. I know how you feel. I would just ask you to try not to give up.

    Thank you for what you do, Ed. I have learned from you, and I appreciate you as a fellow traveler in the face of our politics gone mad. Thank you.

  • Wow, there are s lot of guys *I* would date on this thread, I must say! Including Ed. I second these ideas: taking the blog commercial; getting some exercise, doing comedy, and valuing your burgeoning fame and writing success. I bet if you thought of a book you wanted to write, you could get an agent and a deal.

  • Well, I'm in South Africa, struggling with a world of odd and often dangerous shit, and I've been reading your stuff for years. This blog is one of the regular destinations for me, for the sanity, lucidity and insight of the bits of analysis.

    I realise that times are shit for you, and I'm sorry they are. I've had some pretty shit times too. It's never nice. That said, thank you for writing. It's helped over the years, tremendously.

    You have my email address. Shout if you feel like it.


  • People who are unhappy in winter who move to Florida or southern Califonia tend to be miserable there, too. Just people watch in those places. There's a reason film noir usually took place in LA. Jointing and volunteering are not sure things and they can take awhile to blossom. Online dating seems to yield mixed results, depending on who you talk to and what their expectations are.

    I felt similarly when I lived in Atlanta, probably the most vapid large city in the U.S. Still, I had good neighbors, reNewed an old friendship and made some new ones. You could say it's bigger than Peoria, but really it's just analogous. Outside of CDC and the universities, the odds of meeting someone who isn't shallow and basically a sales person are limited.

    Make deep lasting friendships does get more difficult with age. A lot of people in middle age make friends by way of their kids. Older people often find that their best friends die and if they have a second team of friends it's often not the same.

    There are realistic things that make a social life more difficult with time anywhere, but you just halve to deal with it and take the long view. If you hate Peoria, look for ways to deepen your out of town friendships. When I lived in insular Bloomington, Indiana, I saw my Chicago and Cincinati friends as often as I thought they could tolerate. Look for ways to develop connections in places like Chicago. I have a cousin who teaches in San Antonio, who makes it tolderable by getting involved with hints in Austin.

  • You should seriously consider doing some open mics on the weekends or something. Chicago has a great comedy scene, even if it isn't mentioned as much as New York or L.A.

    One of the only times I met you in person was at our BKN cookout. We were riffing on something about Hungary and I've never forgotten laughing so much, even if i don't exactly remember what the jokes were about.

    Kick the dirt off of some of your material and give it a go! :)

  • I feel for you. I don't have an answer for you, but can tell you what worked for me when I was in a similar stuck place.
    Volunteering. It took a while to find the right fit, but at least I could talk about what we were doing with the people around me. And doing something nice for someone can feel good.
    There's a letter by Stephen Frye that floats around the internets comparing depression to the weather. It will change.
    Best wishes to you.

  • You are clearly not seeking solutions. You are seeking attention, and pity.

    You periodically bemoan existence in a place that is rendered banal only by your poor outlook and lack of social acumen.

    Try to apply the same degree of intense scrutiny you seemingly possess for things far beyond your pay grade (i.e., national politics, anything beyond velcroing your shoes on every morning) to **your** **own** **choices**.

    Moving – or, more aptly, running away to higher rents and working poverty – will never fix the fact that you lack the academic ability to swim in historically competitive academic waters.

    Try to write that sentence yourself.

    You are the same, sad person. You are sad not because of bad luck, but because of a lack of true skill in your vocation. Positing feelings online is far easier than publishing real scholarship in Political Science. You bemoan the ineptitude of those you teach, yet you, quite literally, **are** the same person on a different academic level. Just because you have a PhD doesn't mean you aren't a flunkie at your level of educational attainment; and you prove that you desire internet 'friends' (read: mindless followers) over professional attainment. You will never be professionally satisfied, unless you commit a scintilla of effort toward publishing. (However, I am beyond certain that you lack the mental acumen to publish on the level requisite to place where you think you belong in academia. Hence, you work at a shitty, mid-major institution that pitches just south of the lowest common denominator in a city that smells like cat piss every other day. And you deserve just that.)

    I pray that you read this, that you might recognize that you are not just pitiful, but that you are also complicit in the maintenance of your pitiful station.

    Good luck ever achieving the verbal abilities requisite to lambaste another individual existence in such profound fashion. You're like 40, right? Your brain should still be developing… :)

  • JustPaasingThru says:

    Ed – I love your blog. Read it all the time. One of the few that makes me feel like I'm not alone in this insane world. Don't lose hope – on days when I feel like life just kicked me I google: I don't quit images. Or I'm so happy quotes. Cheesy as hell – but gets me thru the day. Don't. Ever. Give. Up. And I love your followers. I feel like we all come to The Church of Ed. I sit in the back row and watch. We all get down. Let us pick you up.

    And Mike Greenberg – he is EXACTLY why we need more like you, Ed! He is exactly what is wrong with this country. Self-important hate masquerading as intellect – he is evil. Don't let evil win. Email me if you ever make it to Denver area. Jefferson county is a hopping place to be on politics these days. My kids would love you and my husband would welcome you with open arms! DONT take it too seriously – it's only life.

  • Hey not going to tell you anyway to resolve this, you've run the numbers.

    I've constantly enjoyed your thoughts for going on 8 years now.

    And I was able to convince my partner not to go into grad school and pursue academia because you've convincingly demonstrated how shitty that is. For saving us from a life where disappointment is a good feeling and despair is banal, I thank you.

  • I admire your bravery for admitting how you feel, there is so much stigma in talking about loneliness, too much pretending it is 'depression', which has become acceptable now that almost everyone has it and claims to cure it with pills. I love your writing and hope doing it helps keep you sane, at least some of the time and often enough.

    We live in such a profoundly hideous and sick society and its only getting worse, so I think it is vitally important to focus on finding coping addictions that don't damage or impair you too much lol, or give money to any of the evil forces that dominate us. My firmest rule is no pharmaceuticals, there are better drug options that are far less damaging. And the old standby's of reading, music, nature, cooking, always quality things to overindulge in lol.

    Fitness: I'm a brain oriented guy who hates american sports culture but I have to say throwing myself into the ludicrous obsessiveness required to get down to 10% bodyfat, add significant muscle and be able to show myself naked in life (and online lol) was a surprisingly satisfying addiction for several years. I'm in my late 40's so its still not too late for you. It is a demanding project, which in itself is a good thing. It required a lot of research, which fed my brain too. It also required lots of careful cooking, which is already one of my favorite addictions. It will make you more visible, which can increase the chances you meet someone you actually like, if you are incredibly lucky. I'm glad others here have mentioned fitness as an option, it really can be done in a conscious humorous and un-american way lol.

    However, don't go into it expecting guarantees of much love or even true friendship; you will still be surrounded by the same awful people as now, even if they look better. My forays into the online hookup scene among the beautiful people lasted a few months, interesting in a novel way but only confirmed what I already feared: even really hot americans are just as vapid and repulsive as the ugly ones.

    Until just recently I lived in a big hip liberal city, and yet the people here are still the worst thing about living here. Lefty americans are still americans in so many basic and sad ways. Incredibly disappointing. Making friends has been so difficult I mostly gave up (especially after the few I made moved to other countries lol). So don't fantasize too much about things being better if you relocate away from the flyover zone. But being visible did mean I had sex with more of them than before, something I intend to appreciate before old age makes me terminally invisible again lol. Don't miss your window, as even sex with porn-deformed pill-popping sociopathic americans is still pleasant enough in a basic human way, even where you live now.

    The few really incredibly interesting and genuine people I met through 'social media' were total outsiders: junkies/hustlers/musicians/actors. They make for some awesome days of conversation and I always make time for them whenever they call to hang out, but I'm not nearly brave enough to follow them into that kind of life (and early death, already lost one of these friends). But its good to be reminded that there are alternatives to the 'normal' zombie yuppie wannabes and exhausted obese wage slaves that surround me in mainstream life. And at least where I live the outsiders (mostly) don't carry guns, so just be careful if you explore the dark side where you are lol.

    Even after you realize your new body won't bring the connections you want, it is fantastically satisfying to just look good all the time, even by yourself. Don't underestimate that, really, it is still surprising to me how free that makes me feel. And the discipline required to stay fit keeps you busy and provides relief from even more hours of Netflix lol.

    But don't knock Netflix lol. Or MUBI (great films), or VPN's so you can watch BBC or media from other countries. Far better to spend hours searching for those few precious gems among the vast amounts of media filth, then to take pills to feel numb and talk to HMO sociopaths pretending to offer 'therapies'. Or sit in megachurches with fascists, or in bars with predators.

    Travel: If your academic schedule allows it, take long trips to off-beat areas of the world. My closest (and only true) friends over the last couple of decades have been the other travelers and locals I met in random parts of Asia and Latin America. My trips cost me about $15 per day, I lived for several months on almost nothing (good experience in itself) and you are reminded every waking moment that 'other' ways of living do exist. These friends mostly live far from me but even our online friendship has provided some vital intimacy when life here in american hell has seemed overwhelming. Correspondence is an old and wonderful tradition.

    Local outsiders: The only more 'normal (and not junkies lol) semi-friends I have that live nearby are foreigners, people who are also trapped here in hell. They are mostly academic types, so they read and think and do other weird un-American things. They come from cultures where friendship isn't about efficiency, competition, manipulation, networking, or niche interests. They know how satisfying and necessary it is to just spend many hours hanging out talking about anything and everything. They understand better than anyone else the lonely nightmare of this society. You should look for them as you may have opportunities to meet them at work lol. They will often leave as soon as they can, which is very sad, but then you can write each other and plan visits.

    I don't think its possible to achieve even a fraction of what a fulfilling human life could potentially be, living in this horrific society, and I'll never be rich enough to escape it, so I try to focus on just being stunted and damaged, lonely and addicted in ways that I can laugh at and tolerate maybe 50.001% of the time lol.

    Reading blogs like yours does me huge amounts of good, I hope it helps you to know that your impact is so significant for others. I certainly feel less lonely when I come here to read from time to time. I rarely participate online but this post has haunted me for a few days, I hope it isn't bad form to write a late and longish reply lol. Cheers.

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