Announcing the Mild Discomforting of 2018!


Welcome to the latest entry in the Big Whoop, the blog where I write about the powerful, transformative, life-changing effect watching the popular children’s film Inside Out had on my fragile psyche. That wasn’t always the focus of the website. We used to have a bunch of stuff on American pop parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic and actor, memoirist and musician Corey Feldman but since I saw Inside Out this website has been all Inside Out all the time. And the page-views have never been higher! 

As I wrote in my article about the film, watching Inside Out allowed me to better understand the curious and unique architecture of my brain, and how I’ve protected myself during times of intense stress and uncertainty, which, for a veteran pop culture writer and depressive in 2018 is pretty much all the time, by shutting myself off to the things that have historically given me pain and reminded me of traumas and rejections I haven’t gotten over. 

It made me realize that my way of dealing with pain involves locking that pain away in the fetid crawl space of my psyche and hoping that I forget about it before it causes me any further duress. I try to make my life, home and website Happy Places because there is so much darkness in my life, and in the world, that I try to protect myself by focusing on the positive and violently repressing and trying to ignore and deny the negative, as well as the in-between. 


I’ve survived forty two years of depression, anxiety, loneliness and awkwardness by staying within my comfort zone, by compartmentalizing and making everything about my work and my family, two areas where I have control and feel comfortable and unselfconscious, where I don’t worry that people won’t like me and that I won’t have anything to say. 

My fear is that as I get older I will drift further and further into my comfort zone and away from engaging with the world outside my family, my work and the internet. I already feel like I a halfway-hermit, a relative recluse. I worry that that will only grow more pronounced as I get older, and that the further away I get from regular social contact, the scarier and more intimidating it will seem. 

So I have decided to embark upon the Great Discomforting of 2018. No, wait. That sounds a little too intense and stressful. Instead, I am going to embark on the Mild Discomforting of 2018. Every day I am going to do something I’m at least a little nervous and uncomfortable and anxious about. It doesn’t have to be anything big. On the first day of the Mild Discomforting of 2018, for example, I listened to both the regular and Pro Version of the Hollywood Handbook episodes taped live in Chicago, even though they were taped at Onion Fest and hearing about my old employer has historically made me anxious and brought up a lot of painful, messy emotions. 


I’m going to try to do tiny things to expand my world and move ever more confidently outside my comfort zone so that I don’t end up an old man scared of the world and addicted to comfort and avoiding unhappiness. I know firsthand that trying to avoid unhappiness entirely can make you absolutely miserable and trying to block the many, many things in life that are complicated, and dark is a sure-fire invitation to crushing loneliness. 

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