world’s gone mad

When I view the world through the kaleidoscope vision of anxiety it really does feel like every minor setback has a worst case scenario and that somehow these scenarios would result in my immediate imprisonment, death, or social embarrassment. However, because I’ve spent so much time worrying about absolutely nothing, I’ve had a weird ability to remain almost completely calm when there’s actual stress or when everyone else is freaking out. As a sort of psychodynamic defense mechanism, I liked to make fun of when everyone else goes crazy.

And there was no better time to do this than the Mizzou protests of 2015.

It’s been less than three years since the massive campus protests in the fall of 2015, but it feels like an eternity. For those who weren’t there, well, it was all over the news so they probably caught news of it somewhere, even if it was just by a racist uncle at Thanksgiving. I’m not going to try to get into the specifics of the protests because that’s not a rabbit hole I’m willing to jump into and backlash I don’t want to deal with, but essentially a group called Concerned Student 1950 protested treatment of African Americans on campus (Also, at some point before the protests someone apparently smeared a swastika made of shit on a bathroom wall in a dorm, which is less racist and more, “what happens when someone takes bath salts). The university president and chancellor resigned, and it was a whole ordeal.  And the campus LITERALLY burned to the ground.

Except it didn’t.

Yeah, there were protests and tension and all that jazz, but I can say for certain that nothing was ever that bad or dangerous. Honestly, for a nervous little dude like me it was kind of fun. Because everyone went insane. Seriously, I had a blast on the days when the protests were supposedly at their worst because it felt like campus was in the apocalypse. Everyone stayed inside. The library was empty. No lines at dining halls. Classes got canceled. And there I was strutting around like it was my job. And I loved seeing how crazy everyone else got.

The most famous show of irrationality came from a crazed-looking “professor” of some kind named Melissa Click who demanded a student journalist leave a protest circle. On public ground. Where press was allowed. Because First Amendment. Anyway, when the journo refused to move, she asked for some “muscle.” This made the school look awful, but from my perspective it was hilarious. Especially when protesters made supporting her their cause. Like, this lady was basically worthless. I’m pretty sure she taught a class about Twilight at some point. Good times, good times. But this wasn’t the best incident of craziness from my perspective.

Some of my best friends were part of the student paper, which I previously said scared me during freshman year. Considering the University of Missouri is filled to the brim with people trying desperately to be journalists, everyone thought the protests would be their chance to catch the scoop, and I got a front row seat to watch the insanity in the paper’s Facebook group. On the night the group went mad, supposedly all sorts of shit was going on across campus. It wasn’t, but you wouldn’t know that by following the group.

One girl in particular was the source of some of the hardest laughs I’ve ever had. Every rumor she vaguely heard about became something worth mentioning as a possible lead to follow. At one point she proclaimed that none other than the KKK were marching through the school Greek Town. Twitter was all in for this rumor if I remember. People genuinely believed the KKK was around. They weren’t. Obviously. I mean, it makes sense given the nature of the protests, but any amount of logic would show that no, the KKK probably wasn’t there.

But wait! Then the girl came back to the group with an even more severe claim. “THERE ARE SNIPERS ON TOP OF CORNELL,” she proclaimed in all-caps. Who was responsible for putting snipers on top of the business school? No one knew, but this was a serious claim. And it was just a rumor. A rumor that was clearly false. But she thought it was actually worth following, even when other people in the group kind of made fun of her for it. More power to her for following what she believed though, I guess? Regardless, following the drama that night was the best reality show of the decade.

Maybe I’m insensitive for laughing about people who were genuinely afraid in a trying time. But y’know what? I don’t really care. In a time when I was constantly afraid and nervous, I got to experience a world that was crazier than I was. And I loved it.

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radio killed the journalist

Previously on Twenty-Something White Guy Talks on the Internet, I thought I wanted to be a journalist for reasons that I don’t really remember. I guess it vaguely makes sense because most of my closest friends (and more importantly my girlfriend) graduated from journalism school, so there’s something I like about it. There’s a lot about it that just wasn’t for me though.

Regardless, even though I wasn’t that good at it in high school and didn’t even like it all that much, I still went to the University of Missouri as a journalism major. For those unfamiliar with journalism education (or Missouri I guess?), the Missouri School of Journalism is regarded as the best there is. It also has a reputation for being intense and intimidating. Due to the appeal of the J-school, Mizzou is crowded with freshmen journalism majors. A fraction of these actually go on to become journalists.

When I arrived at Mizzou as an adorably naive freshman I knew I needed some sort of journalism activity. Newspapers were always appealing to me even though everyone I talked to insisted they were dying out. This made my first destination the student-run newspaper, The Maneater. During the first week of classes, The Maneater had an open house for prospective journos. I worked past my anxious logic that told me to avoid it and went to the newspaper’s office, a relatively official-looking newsroom with what I thought to be diligent student journalists behind expensive Mac desktops. The veteran Maneater showing me around told me generally what to expect writing for the paper, and I quickly became intimidated at the idea of it. Even so, I signed up for their email list and got a weekly update of stories they needed covering. There were a few times where I ALMOST worked up the courage to take a story. But I never did.

Instead, I went next door to KCOU, the student radio station. I have nothing against KCOU. The students who run it do a good job, I think. I don’t know how student radio stations normally work. However, they never seemed as intimidating as their newspaper comrades. I had no previous radio experience, and radio seems even more dying than newspapers supposedly are, but I signed up and started helping out.

For some psycho-analysis of a random blogger, I used to have a problem where I’d kind of put myself out there, but always in a way that was so low risk that it wouldn’t actually give me a chance to succeed either. This is evident in my first two jobs for KCOU. My vague goal was to become a sports reporter, so I joined their sports team. I was one of four freshmen who wrote NFL columns on a rotating schedule. Basically, I got to have a column once a month. My second duty, a more regular role, was being on-air for one (1) minute every week. Yep, the station does something called the Sports Minute, which is exactly what it sounds like. For one minute every few hours a sports person comes in to give a brief rundown of the biggest news in sports. My unintended motto for my Sports Minute was, “Gotta Go Fast!” I didn’t realize it initially, but when I was on-air, I spoke like an auctioneer. I had sixty seconds, and by golly, I wanted to squeeze as many words as I could into that. I got better as the fall semester went on, but I could have improved a lot more, a lot quicker if I just asked the sports director or assistant sports director for help.

Now, these two tasks were valuable in their own ways, and I guess they were kind of fun, but by doing only those I missed out on a few actually important tasks I could have done. When one thinks of sports radio, they probably think of calling games. KCOU did just that. They sent crews to Mizzou football, basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball games. Basically, there were endless opportunities to call games for those who wanted to. At our weekly sports meeting they basically handed out the job of calling out games to anyone who wanted one. I hid back when they handed these out. I also avoided anything involving interviews. I was bad at it, and I was afraid of embarrassing myself by messing up. My solution to this was not doing it at all. It was more of a Band-Aid than an actual solution.

So that was the first semester. I did the bare minimum to say I was part of KCOU, and to say I was doing journalism would be an overstatement. At the end of the semester I met with the sports directors to talk about improving and whatnot. Like I said, I had avoided doing this before under a problematic belief that no criticism was better than the potential for negative criticism. As one would expect, the critiques they had were not actually painful, and they were all things I knew. I needed to slow down on air. I needed to actually call a game. They helped me out by scheduling me for a women’s basketball game sometime after winter break was over. Additionally, I signed up for another weekly segment. This time though, I would be on air for five (5) minutes a week. Yeah, spring semester Ethan was serious about radio journalism.

How’d calling a game go, then? Oh, not well at all. First and foremost, it wasn’t like I actually embarrassed myself to a live audience. Sometimes KCOU called games live. Other times KCOU kids went with recording equipment and called games mostly for personal portfolios, and that’s what I did. Well, theoretically it’s what I did. I, uh, well I forgot to bring extra batteries for our recording device, and it died early on in the broadcast. Oops. Honestly, it was a mercy killing because my time calling the game was painful. It sounds super easy, doesn’t it? Just watch a game and describe what happens. Maybe it was the pressure, or maybe it really is just more of an art than one would think, but I couldn’t keep up with the action. This was my one and only time calling a game. I didn’t want to try again.

On a happier note though, my five-minute weekly segment, Overtime, was actually a good time. I came in to the studio for their daily half-hour evening news show with a script I spent most of the day writing. I got to watch how they prepared the show, and the crew was fun to interact with. I had calmed my on-air nerves magically at some point, and in time I was spending five minutes giving sports news without much of a sweat. Again, there wasn’t much journalism happening here, but it occupied some time and was fun.

By the end of the school year though, it was clear that journalism was not going to be my career. I just didn’t like it. And I mostly did KCOU for journalism experience, so I had no plans of coming back the next year. For the last month or so of school I didn’t go to their weekly meetings. That was how my time as sports journalist ended, not with a bang, but with a… lack of meeting attendance.

I’m glad I did KCOU though. It was a fun experience, even if just for seeing how radio stations work. The experience it gave me didn’t really prepare me for anything I do now, but hey, I was nineteen and dumb. At least it gave me something to do and a story to tell later. Plus, this wasn’t the end of my KCOU story, weirdly enough. Yeah, it popped back up in my life sophomore year. But that’s a story for another day.

Ooh, a cliffhanger.

Ethan Tyrrell

your content sucks

Look, I’m not trying to be a dick here. I’m not trying to stir any pots, state any out-there opinions. I’m just trying to tell you the truth. You need to hear the truth, and the truth is that your content sucks.

I know. I get it. We all want to believe we’re special, funny, talented, quirky, one-in-a-million, etc. You started making videos in high school. Your friends told you they were great. You amassed almost 500 subscribers. That has to be more than at least 90% of accounts on YouTube. And because you want this, you have to be on track to getting it, right? You were never meant to have a conventional job anyway. Workplaces aren’t for dreamers. No, you were meant to be among the trees and the mountains, pencil in hand, notebook open across your crossed legs. Nature speaks to you more than it speaks to most. You hear songs in the wind, feel love in the leaves, and these sensations translate to paper like oil to canvas.  It isn’t just a hobby; it’s a duty. The world needs to know what you’re thinking. You write poems on your blog, post artsy photos on Instagram, and of course produce your regular videos on your YouTube channel, with each one having the potential to be THE video that gets the attention you deserve.

Except it never will. You can post as many videos as your little heart can make, write  as many poems as most poets write in a lifetime, and portray yourself as a coffee-shop-frequenting creative all you want, but it won’t get you the fame you feel entitled to. Because frankly, your content sucks. I’ve seen trees described like you’ve described trees before. His name is Robert Frost, and he beat you by a century. There are photographers who have produced better art with a single click of their cameras than you have in your entire portfolio. And your videos. There are millions and millions and millions of YouTube users, and do you know how many of them thought they were going to be the next big thing? I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but I think it’s reasonable to say that one out of every ten thousand people who produces content for YouTube is actually able to sustain a living out of it. You won’t be one of them. Your content sucks.

Listen, I know it’s tempting to see tangibility in success when someone else finds it. “YouTuber X got a million subscribers, and their videos are like mine but worse.” It may be true. Maybe you’re better than they are. But it doesn’t matter. Success online comes at random. It’s throwing darts with a blindfold and hoping something hits. Except your success doesn’t even correlate to the quality of the work you make. It doesn’t always matter how hard you work. Sometimes you find an audience; sometimes you don’t. And you most likely won’t. Your content sucks.

Okay, maybe your content doesn’t suck. I’ll give you the possibility that my judgment is what sucks and what you’re producing is in fact as good as you think it is. Please, just listen to me. Success and fame come to so few people. Sure, it’s not impossible for you to break through and become the next big thing online. But the odds are lower than low. Don’t quit your job. Don’t drop out of school. Don’t force your parents to continue supporting you while you “figure things out.” Don’t drop everything you know and move to one of the three cities accepted by artists.

And don’t use the positive affirmation of your friends and family to confirm your belief that you’re the best thing to happen to art and entertainment. This is why what I’m telling you is important. In a world of negativity, your content receives nothing but positive feedback. Your like to dislike ratio on every video is outstanding, and every comment you receive encourages you to “keep up the good work!” This is not a realistic take on your content. A neutral audience is not going to treat you as nicely. If you find an audience, they’re going to criticize you. They’re going to note how unoriginal you can be. They’re going to tell you that your content sucks. And you need this negativity. You need someone to challenge the unchallenged beliefs that guide you.

Because in the end it doesn’t matter how much you believe in yourself. The world doesn’t care how unique you consider your thought process to be. Your poetry is mediocre, your prose doesn’t stick out, your music is lost in the flood of SoundCloud, and your videos are unnecessary rehashes of everything else on YouTube. Your content sucks.

 

happy truck month

That’s right, ladies and gents! It’s time to get on down to the local Chevy dealer and get your hands on a 2018 Truck-o-rama Truck because it’s Truck Month. Was last month Truck Month? You bet. Will next month be Truck Month? You’re damn right it will be. Truck Month today, Truck Month tomorrow, Truck Month forever.

I first caught on to the insanity of Truck Month while watching football. America’s favorite way to suffer permanent brain damage is also a hotspot for advertising, with beer and cars taking center stage during most commercial breaks. And what kind of cars does middle class want in their garages? Trucks, that’s what. And every truck commercial wants you to know that NOW is the time to buy a truck, because it is indeed the month of trucks, Truck Month.

After a few years of hearing commercials proudly assert that it’s Truck Month, I realized that there doesn’t seem to be a distinct time period that makes up the holiday season. Maybe it’s just different companies having different truck deals, but frankly I’ve seen a lot of truck commercials, and I’d say more than half of them have given that sacred phrase, “It’s Truck Month.” So from there I made it one of my many comedy bits, lowering my voice and giving it a bad Southern twang to state, often without much context that it’s Truck Month.

It’s a pretty versatile bit too. Truck Month does not merely mean talking about trucks. It is also intended to mock the culture that comes with huge-ass trucks and the presumed struggling masculinity of those driving them. Is there a truck taking up three spaces in the parking lot? You’re damn right it is because it’s Truck Month, and these brave truck-driving men and women of America need the extra space. They don’t want your Prius parked near their marvel of God. Is it really necessary for the truck to blow so much smoke out of its exhaust? Hell yeah! The atmosphere doesn’t need less emissions; it needs more trucks emissions because it’s Truck Month, mothertruckers. Does a truck really need six wheels if the driver seems to mainly use it to drive around town? Why does your car NOT have six wheels when the all new Ford Six Machine has six beautiful tires and is on sale during Truck Month. And lookie there, it just so happens to be Truck Month right this very moment. I’m sure most truck owners are good people, but frankly it’s fun to make fun of people, especially for stereotypes that most people don’t seem to target. So please, feel free to use Truck Month in your next comedy routine. Just don’t ruin it.

“But Ethan,” I hear you not saying. “Is it ever not Truck Month?”

Good question, loyal listener. Good question indeed. And I’m about to answer that because I’ve been doing some digging into the subject. The officially Chevrolet website, seemingly the hub for all things Truck Month, gives no clear indication of a timeframe for the holy season. Bold letters proudly state Truck Month, but whether it’s last month, this month, or next month is up for interpretation. This is a dead end.

However, one of the top results for a Truck Month search states that Truck Month has been extended from all of March through April 30. Thank goodness for that. I was getting worried Truck Month was going to end. This gives us a general timetable of both March and April, two glorious months of trucks.

But hold on. It’s currently July, and I swear I just saw a new commercial that stated that it is currently Truck Month. Does this mean that Truck Month stopped in May and June but picked back up for July? Or maybe this entire time has been Truck Month. There are no clear answers in the world of trucks.

Then I simply googled the question, “When is Truck Month?” because I’m certain that others have had the same questions. No links gave any clear answers. I found myself on a Ford (yes, changing companies now) fan forum, where someone looking to buy God’s favorite automobile posed the question of when Truck Month was. Answers were all over the place. Someone claimed all year was Truck Month. Another person claimed that it ended in July but provided no evidence to support the claim. Again, no clear answers and no reason to believe it is ever not Truck Month.

So there you have it, truck enthusiasts. In my expert opinion, it’s Truck Month. And it will always be Truck Month. So head on down to the local Chevy dealer, local Ford dealer, or whatever dealer you want, and sign your life away to drive a beautiful new truck.

Official Truck Expert,
Ethan Tyrrell

journalist (in training)

Looking back I don’t really know what made me want to be a journalist. I think it was the product of wanting to write for a living and recognizing that I needed some practical means of doing that, even if it meant writing stuff I didn’t actually want to write. Then when school pressured me to say what I wanted to be when I grew up I just said, “journalist.” But I went for it. For a little while in college, but mostly in high school. And boy was I a great journalist.

Publications were not prestigious in my high school. Not to diss them or anything, but it just wasn’t. My freshman year, the newspaper was a physical newspaper, The Outlook. They’d hand them out when we were in home room, and everyone took one and looked at it because there wasn’t anything better to do. I didn’t work on it then, but I’m pretty sure they kept the yearbook and newspaper classes separate. That meant they actually were able to actually devote time and effort to them. They then switched the newspaper to a news website. This saved money and allowed them to make a better looking product. The downside was that they didn’t have the automatic audience of everyone taking the paper. They struggled to gain any clicks, and as a result they didn’t focus on it a whole lot. They kind of tried, but then they gave up in a yearly cycle. I think the yearbook, Wakitan had a bit more prestige to its reputation, but that was mostly long before my time as a student.

When I first joined, there was an introductory course. It taught wannabe journos the basics of every part of yearbook and newspaper production. Since for some reason I wanted this to be my career at this point in time I took the class very seriously, which was funny because 90% of people who took the course did so because it was seen as an easy elective. So there I was, pencil hovering above notebook, eagerly awaiting insight in how to report in a class where no one else cared.

The universe told me early on that I probably shouldn’t be a journalist. My first story for the instructional course was on a local career fair. I had planned to interview one of the school counselors and two students who had gone to the event. I realized quickly that interviewing wasn’t going to be my strong suit. I honestly think my first ever interview was probably my best. Talking to counselors is designed to be unintimidating, and I was able to ask the counselor every question I had written down in preparation. My student interviews weren’t as good. Something about finding random students was difficult, and when they acted like they didn’t want to be at the interview, I struggled to keep my anxiety levels down. This usually resulted in hyper-short interviews, and I’d find out my audio for the interviews clocked in at less than two minutes. My audio from the interview with the counselor was long and full of juicy quotes though, and I thought I could use this to make my story work.

And then I accidentally deleted it. My phone messed up somewhere along the line, and I lost a lot of photos and other information. Among all this were all my interviews. The student ones didn’t matter; I could go back and find someone else. But I couldn’t bother the counselor again. I also couldn’t fess up to the teacher that I had an interview and lost it. The story I had in the end was not thorough, and it was clear something was missing from it. I hoped it would come across as though it was just lacking due to my inexperience.

That’s kind of how the rest of the intro course went. Journalism is not an ideal field for someone with extreme social anxiety. Approaching people for interviews was never easy, and once I got someone I panicked and tried to get the interview done as quickly as possible, usually at the expense of getting almost no quotes to work with. Plus I was always hesitant to ask anyone in my class to help with anything. For instance, during the photography unit we had to take photos that demonstrated several things, one of which was action. We took photos in the middle of class, so there was little action in the halls. Most people worked in groups, but I, of course, worked alone because people scared me. The result was having to take a photo of myself walking up the stairs on my phone. It wasn’t a great idea, but it’s what I had to work with. I set the phone on the ground and set a timer and positioned myself to be in “action.” A vice principal caught me doing this completely valid albeit dumb activity and thought I was trying to leave the school. Because I always felt guilty for doing things I wasn’t doing, I think I kind of freaked out and probably struggled to actually state what I was doing. He let me go back to my lackluster photoshoot, but he certainly raised an eyebrow. This sure helped me get over my journalism anxiety.

And yet, even though I didn’t really like it, I still thought this was what I wanted to do with my life, and I was happy to get accepted onto the full staff for my senior year. That year began with an obligatory effort to revitalize The Outlook. Yep, for the first month of school we wrote articles for the website. Our teacher claimed this was going to be an ongoing thing, but once we had to start making yearbook deadlines, the website went into the background. Sometimes we’d randomly put up an article, but usually we didn’t. Interviewing remained a struggle for me. Everyone I approached acted like they didn’t want to be interviewed, which I understand, but like, I was polite. Why didn’t they at least have a little respect, answer a few questions? Hell, it’s not like I ever asked more than a few questions. So yeah, my articles were never award-winning. I don’t even remember how many features in the newspaper had my byline, but it wasn’t many.

I did kind of have fun being on staff though. There’s something exciting about staying late to get work done for a deadline, and then at the end of the year scrambling to finish the yearbook and celebrating when it’s finally done. Plus, I was supposedly a copy editor, so sometimes instead of doing actual work I claimed to copy-edit. I had no idea how to do that, but I did it. I generally liked the rest of the staff, and interacting with them was fun. Plus, my best friend was there too. Basically, I got to see the behind-the-scenes for yearbook production and sometimes gave input of my own. And it was because of this false sense of enjoying journalism that I continued it for one more year, this time at a college level.

Basically, I guess I’m glad that I got the experience of doing this, but at the same time I probably should’ve seen the writing on the wall that journalism wasn’t for me.

And now instead of doing journalism, I’m doing this.

Ethan Tyrrell

powered by 100mg of sertraline

Follow me on SoundCloud @LilSerotonin for lo-fi beats about not having enough of that sweet sweet neurotransmitter in your brain.

Is it true that antidepressants are over-prescribed? Probably. I’m not a doctor, but it seems that way.

But I also know that they have their place. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that my experience with anxiety has been one of the worst. I was always able to function (apart from, y’know, certain social situation) and maintain a high GPA and all that, but I had near constant intrusive thoughts and worries that really stopped me from stepping out of my comfort zone or enjoying life as much as I knew I could. Therapy and whatnot were helpful, but the big issues were not simply things I could work out on my own. The hyper anxious thoughts, which I’ll undoubtedly write about in time, were irrational and weren’t the sorts of things I could just push aside. I could never convince myself that things were ok, even when all evidence told me that it was. After talking with a doctor, I was prescribed Zoloft, or sertraline because paying for non-generics is insane, which was something I previously wanted to avoid because I had heard antidepressant horror stories.

We can debate the efficacy of SSRIs and all those other drugs a thousand times over, but the only things I know for certain is that since going on sertraline I have flown on a plane for the first time, gone out of the country,  applied for jobs and other opportunities I previously avoided out of fear of rejection, and put myself out to improve my social life. Quite simply it’s like that nagging feeling in my head that kept me from actually enjoying anything was kicked out. This is not a post advocating for more people to get medicated or to speak of the dangers that come with medicating because every person is different and I’d imagine results vary all across the spectrum. What it is is a post where I laugh at myself for the quirks that have come to my life since I started taking the medication.

My doctor told me that it would take at least two weeks for the drug to start doing anything, and it took a little longer to get it to its current effectiveness because we had to adjust the dosing as we went. I am currently on 100mg, which is where I’ve been for just over a year. He listed off all the possible side effects, which, like any medicine commercial that uses scenes of people walking with dogs in parks to cover up the terrifying effects they’re listing in the background were kind of scary, but in my roughly year and a half on sertraline I’ve only had one side effect that I know of.

Yeah, I’ve had occasional diarrhea. My doctor told me it was common, and as it was it was nothing to worry about. It was pretty much a daily occurrence during my first month, and it got worse as the dosage increased, which I guess makes sense now that I think about it. I lived on campus the year I started sertraline, and I was able to make light of the embarrassing effect by joking that at least I wasn’t the one who had to clean the bathrooms I destroyed. It usually hit after I ate the first big meal of the day, which was usually lunch because I was never responsible enough to eat a big breakfast. Most of my lunches were at one of the campus dining halls. After eating I’d head back to my dorm. Every time I got up I’d tell myself that that would be the day I would cease expelling my intestines, and then halfway back to my dorm my stomach would tell me “lol jk,” and I’d scurry to the bathroom. One time I was walking after eating, and I ran into a girl I had been attracted to but hadn’t talked to in a while. We started talking, and then I had to juggle between continuing the conversation and obeying what my digestive system told me to do, which was that I needed to find a bathroom. I eventually had to cave in to the latter. Oh well. Thankfully, this hasn’t been much of a problem lately, and really compared to other major side effects that could’ve happened, this really wasn’t that bad.

One thing I can’t blame a medication for is when it explicitly warns not to do something, and I do it anyway. One of the biggest warnings sertaline gives is to not drink while taking it. My doctor, a pragmatic man who realizes he works with a demographic that probably won’t listen to such a warning, gave me an alternate opinion: theoretically one should not drink while taking the drug, but if one does drink, it is better to still take the day’s dose rather than skip. That’s what I did. See, a problem with the good effects of sertraline is that they made it so that I finally was able to go out and actually be a college student, as going to bars previously terrified me. This means that at a time when I probably should have stopped drinking, I actually started drinking more. Oops. It never did anything too bad. In my non-expert opinion, I think sertraline may make it so that I get drunk quicker, and I’m pretty sure I throw up after drinking more often on the medication. Who knows?

I have had a few bad experiences on sertraline though, or better yet I should say that I’ve had bad experiences not on sertraline. From what I’ve been told, sertraline isn’t addictive in the same way a lot of medications and drugs are. It’s not like I wake up and feel anxious until I take it at which point I magically feel better. No, I really usually feel the same before and after I take it. Unless, of course, I forget a day’s dose, at which point I have mild withdrawal symptoms. By symptoms, I mean mostly just one symptom. It’s kind of hard to explain completely. It’s not exactly dizziness. It’s more like, flashes that feel like my head suddenly spun around one time. I know how this feels like because one time my dumbass neglected to renew my prescription for a little too long, and I ended up going a weekend without it. That was fun. Other times I absentmindedly forget to take it. I know sometimes it’s hard to get people to actually take their medication. I’m not like that, honest. Mine truly is that sometimes I get up in the morning and forget to take it. Then, typically at the very end of the day I have one of those dizzy-but-not-dizzy flashes and I realize, oh, I forgot to do that. Again though, it’s not that bad.

Typically my doctor likes to have patients on sertraline for a year and then consider stopping from there. I’ve been on it since February 2017, but he says that’s not an abnormal amount of time. Something about going through major life changes not being an ideal time to get off of an anxiety drug. I guess I do want to get off of it at some point. I mean, I don’t think it’s designed to take constantly forever. But I’m currently in limbo on exactly where I’m going to be in the world, so it’s probably for the best to stay on for the time being.

Yeah, this was truly an intense drug story wasn’t it? I’m hardcore.
Ethan Tyrrell

that time i starred in a student film

Drama kids were one of the worst groups of people high school had to offer. Their exaggerated expressions of how much they went through during the weeks leading up to their shows, their general dramatic demeanor, and their need to sing all the time as though the rest of us would die if we didn’t hear their eardrum-bursting vocals annoyed edgelord Ethan as he distanced himself from any cliques. Real talk though, I was a little jealous. I didn’t want to turn into the type of person who spent their life in essentially a character like some of those people, but I did like the idea of performing. That was something my anxiety just wouldn’t let me do. I felt like under the right circumstances, and y’know without the crippling worries of social pressure, I could have made a fine actor.

Which is exactly why I agreed to take part in a student film that a friend of a friend was directing. I was also a bit tipsy at the time too. It was a friend’s 21st birthday, and we had had a few drinks to celebrate. Afterward I returned to my dorm where I ran into a friend. The timing was convenient because she was just about to give me one of the more random offers I had ever gotten. One of her friends, Christina, was a film student at Stephens College, an all girls school in the same city as the University of Missouri, my alma mater. To finish out her year she needed to make a short film. Stephens is an artsy place, and there was an abundance of actresses available. They didn’t have many guys to fill any roles though. Apparently Christina asked her friends if they knew anyone who would be interested, and for one reason or another I came mind. Maybe it was the alcohol that drove me to say yes, but I’d like to think I was going through on my goal of trying to experience more things at the time. Whatever the reason, I said yes, and that was it. They didn’t ask about my previous experience, which was nonexistent, or anything. With that, I had an acting gig.

My part in the production was going to take place over two days, a Wednesday and then the Saturday that followed. On Wednesday they passed out scripts and did a reading around a table. I’m still uncertain if this is normal procedure for a production, but I’m going to just say it is. I was more fascinated at the time though because this gave me the chance to snoop on Stephens College, a school only a mile away that seemed so distant. I’ll sum up my impressions of Stephens by saying that there is a ball pit in their student union. Interpret that as you will. I met up with Christina, who was the director and writer of the film. She was joined in production by three others girls. As for fellow actors, there were three others, all of whom were theater students, meaning, y’know, they had experience. I made an effort to seem as confident as possible, as though this totally wasn’t my first and only acting role. It was probably pretty apparent though.

But enough about my problems, let’s talk about the movie. The film was a comedy called Anonymity. The premise was that girl was going on a Tinder date at a coffee shop with my character (I had to laugh at that) and that her best fried followed her on the date to make sure nothing went wrong because they thought my character already had a girlfriend. The twist is that that girl is actually just my character’s friend, and she also came to spy on the date. By the end the two spies actually figure each other out, and the Tinder date duo decides not to pursue things further. There’s also a chance the two spies are into each other in the end? It’s kind of unclear.

The read through of the script wasn’t much to talk about. The actors all read it like actors, and I tried to follow suit. It was interesting hearing how they planned to shoot the scenes and everything, especially as an outsider who knew his responsibility to the project was solely acting. That session ended with plans to meet Saturday morning to film. In the meantime, I worked to vaguely memorize my lines. I also had to balance sort of making fun of being in a student film to my friends with actually being pretty excited to be involved in it. Looking excited is for lame kids.

Saturday morning came, and I got ready to meet the crew to film. My lines had mostly been memorized, and I had even made sure my outfit would work for the lighting and tone Christina envisioned. Yeah, I was pretty thorough. We filmed outside a local whiskey distillery whose owners were really helpful and gave the student film crew the use of their place for the day. With the right camera angles, the distillery turned into a coffee shop.

My first scene saw my character, whose name I really wish I could remember, walking up to my date and introducing myself. Even though I had almost every line in my memory bank and I never had to say more than a few lines per scene, I still worried that once the cameras were actually rolling, all of that would go blank. I had previously avoided situations where I could potentially embarrass myself even though I didn’t have any experience that would have led me to do so. It wasn’t like that at all though. The director said action, and I walked into frame and said my first line without any issues.

That’s how the rest of filming went. It was fun, and I never felt stressed. Everyone laughed excessively at that wacky antics of the dramatic actress who played my date’s spying best friend, and I was frustrated that I didn’t have anyone around I could make fun of her with, but other than that I had a good time. The crew even liked the little actions and expressions I did that I thought seemed appropriate for my character. This was, of course, entirely because I was a talented actor and not at all because I was used to being a nerdy loser on Tinder coffee dates.

Speaking of which, that leads to my shining moment in my brief acting career. At the beginning of the movie, in a scene between my date and her friend, my date said that she hoped I wouldn’t be the type of guy who had a complex coffee order. The payoff to this  came in the end when I give an excessively long order in a show of coffee snobbery before she says that it probably wouldn’t work out (my character said he was okay with that and was wanting to say the same thing, so all ended well!). Christina and co. had written a coffee order for me to say, but I couldn’t remember it word for word, so I just did improv. We did several takes of this, in part because people started laughing, but the result was something to the effect of, “Absolute grande triple bean latte splashed with almond milk and a hint of honey with cinnamon and white chocolate shavings.” I was pretty proud of myself.

Filming wrapped up after a day of minimal setbacks. Even to Christina and the crew I didn’t want to act as excited about the movie as I was because, y’know, being excited is lame. I was really hoping that I’d get to see the movie though. Thankfully, they had a sort of end-of-year film showing where all the groups of film students presented their final projects. Objectively speaking, Christina’s group was by far the best. Some of the other films resembled something of similar quality to a YouTube video from 2009. My ego was boosted by being better than most of the actual actors there. At least, I think it was. I know my opinion’s a little biased on the subject. However, I know for a fact that my coffee order line got a lot of laughs from the crowd. Can’t argue with that evidence.

Now, Anonymity was filmed and shot in May 2017. I saw it at the big showing that month, and I’ve not gotten to see it since. I knew Christina posted her projects and other videos on YouTube, but this one was never uploaded. I kept waiting because I knew it’d be fun to show my friends the time I acted in a short film, but it never found its way online. Finally, I thought I’d just go straight to the source and ask if I could have a copy of the file. I found Christina’s Facebook aaannnndddddd…

Yeah, as it turns out she was involved in a bizarre jet ski accident a few weeks back. She seems to be doing fine now, but asking her to dig up something from a year ago while she is recovering from a near-death experience doesn’t seem like the best idea. Someday I’ll get to see it again. For now though, it exists only in memory. Even if I don’t have evidence to prove this happened, and even though I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything like it again, it’s at least something I know I can check off my bucket list that doesn’t exist yet.

And if you weren’t expecting this to turn into a story that ends in a jet ski explosion, well I wasn’t either.

Ethan Tyrrell