Not Cover Story Pandemic 2: 2 Much
What a time to be alive.
If you’re new to the podcast and looking for a regular episode of the show, this isn’t that. You should check out something else first.
Hello, Kakos Industries shareholders. It’s me, Conrad again.
I have written and rewritten this post several times over the last year or so. I’ve wanted to talk to you. I’ve wanted to tell you what’s going on. I’ve wanted to update you. I’ve wanted to share fun thoughts and anecdotes, and walk the thin line of gallows humor. I’ve written whole scripts. I’ve fleshed out ideas. I didn’t record any of them. I’ve decided that this one has to be it. It has to be the one that goes up, and that is with whatever is in it for better or worse. I may not even edit this script. Future Conrad who is reading these words can chime in to let you know if I’ve revised or not. Maybe not too much ad-libbing. No one wants to have to update the transcript with your thoughts, future-rad.
I have revised this script.
I think it’s fairly obvious when I say that things have been incredibly, unbelievably, mind-numbingly hard for the last eternity or so. I think that’s true for me and it’s also true for you. I think that’s true for everyone, even the people with everything. The pandemic has materialized into the slow motion catastrophe that many of us predicted. We are approaching the tricentimation of the US population. This google doc didn’t give me any trouble for the word “tricentimation” just now. I thought I invented the word, but it’s not even underlined in red. Upon clicking “define” and “explore” I do not see another use of the word. At any rate, this is so unbelievably sad that we likely can’t comprehend it. I’m well beyond the belief that any of this could have been prevented. I feel confidently now that a certain portion of the world’s population knows immediately what everyone else is going to not do to avert a crisis, and then they don’t do those things also. It’s like the collective subconscious. The collective apathetic disobedience. Certainly things could have happened differently, but it’s hard to imagine anymore what that might have looked like.
I think that one of the hardest parts about the pandemic so far is that it has been another time in my life where a little bit of the remaining magic died. There have been moments throughout my life, traumatic or otherwise, where those little pieces of the magic go away forever. Some of the magic is naive and guaranteed to die, definitely. Some of the magic we want to cling to as long as we can. Some of the magic we know we’ll lose in due time. It’s an inevitability. This particular sliver of magic was part of an already ailing sliver of magic relating to the world’s trajectory. When we are children, we experience the entire world as brand new. We learn history as though it all just happened in the moments before we arrived. It feels like civilization moved at tremendous speeds and only began to slow down when we showed up. And the trajectory of that history looks relatively positive. All of the worst moments of the past were already triumphed over, or healed, or at least are in the process of being healed. We look back at dark times and thank our lucky stars that we’re not living in those times. We’re living in the good times, and they’re only going to get better. It’s easy to imagine the pace of the future moving at the same rate as all of that history that preceded us. Lifespans, technology, society, all getting better exponentially.
But we’re living in a time that isn’t necessarily getting better. At least not right now. Or perhaps the progress just feels painfully slow. Certainly, the pandemic isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to the world, but it is a microcosm of the greater tragedies of the commons that are happening all around us. Some problems seem to require the consent of nearly every person on Earth to solve, and we all now know how difficult that is to attain, even when it’s painfully obvious what needs to happen. I don’t need to remind you of everything awful you’ve seen on your news feeds in the last two years. I don’t want to dwell on the external, because it’s out of our hands. We are not governments. We are not social pressures. We are not economies. We are people.
I hope that all of you have been well. I know, statistically, that’s unlikely. I hope that whatever you’ve been dealing with is getting better, or at least there is some light ahead, or at least least that you have strong support in some aspect of your life. In terms of the external, I have been lucky during the pandemic. I have not yet been infected with Covid-19. I’m jinxing that right now. My family has been relatively safe. I haven’t faced any financial hardships. All things considered, I’ve been okay.
That being said, my mental health has been trash. It has been so fucking awful. The oscillations I’ve experienced between depression, obsessive spirals, anxiety, and a few days of decent mental health in between has been truly shocking. The loneliness has also been intense. I haven’t been isolated during this time. I spent a lot of the time before vaccines living with family. But even now that going out and doing things is more possible, the feeling of being alone in a crowd, or just alone in my head is rough. I think part of the reason I’ve had such a hard time writing this document is that I think I’m at the bottom of one slump and then there’s more, and whatever I wrote seems inadequate or bullshit, or more likely that it’s just going to bum people out, and I typically prefer to bum people out when I’ve got a point to make. I haven’t had a point to make. Using flowery language to illustrate the depth of my frustration and agonizing existential boredom isn’t going to do anyone any good at all. I know, I know, we do Evil. I got a day pass to say the word “good”.
This has been brutal. If you’re feeling the same way, then I just want you to know that you’re not alone.
Let’s do some recap.
When the pandemic first hit, a colleague of mine shared an article about just how bad things were going to get, and so far, it was right. Armed with that knowledge, I got some DIY audio equipment projects. I sometimes solder in my free time when I can convince myself that the solder fumes won’t kill me, which isn’t always. Since then I’ve built a handful of microphones, including the one you’re hearing my voice through right now. I’ve built microphone preamps as well. I’ve done just a ridiculous amount of eBay shopping as a coping mechanism. My guitar collection has grown. You’ve heard most of them in the Kakos episodes. I try not to buy things that I won’t use.
The house I grew up in was sold during the pandemic. I was living there at the time. We had to move just before the holidays in 2020. The house has since been torn down and I’m not sure what I feel about that. I now live on my own, which is different. I used to really love being home alone. When I was younger, I really liked the times when no one was home and I could play my drum set without worrying about what anyone would think. Now I’m alone a lot of the time, and I have no room for a drum set. It’s actually in cases behind me as I record this. I designed this recording booth to hopefully fit the drum set, but I haven’t had the time to find out if it worked or not. And I can’t say I love always being alone.
I responded to the sudden changes in the world initially by doubling down on creativity and work. I needed to do things. I needed to make the best of things. I needed to capitalize. Many of you watched the Never Rad live streams. If not, they’re still on YouTube. I really put a lot of pressure on the Never Rad team to create things with me in a time where all of our creativity was flagging. I insisted on trying to make some sort of improvised actual play with the team, but that didn’t work out. I also made a point of getting The Hollow Below done. I had been sitting on the scripts for a couple of years at that point. And then I did something else weird. I wrote a book. It’s a science fiction novel. It has nothing to do with Kakos Industries or Never Rad or the Hollow Below. It was an idea I had and I wanted to see if I could do it. So in August of 2020, I wrote a book. Forced myself to sit down every night until I got it done and then I did. Right now I’m in the process of seeing if I can sell it. I have no idea what will happen. I just got a disappointing rejection from someone who actually seems to have read the book, so it wasn’t my marketing skills this time. If any of you have connections in publishing, I am shameless, I no longer care about doing things the hard way. I will take the hook up.
I’ve started probably ten or twenty other projects in this time. I do this a lot to see what comes easily and what I like. It turns out I like a lot of things, but time is becoming an issue. I was recently talking to my therapist and she presented the idea that I was doing Too Much. This idea always sounds ridiculous to me. It’s hard for me to feel like I’m doing Anything At All. I haven’t worked a desk job in many years. I haven’t had a real job in just as long. I spend a lot of time feeling basically incapacitated due to mental health or other things. I am at least partially a professional creative, which means I haven’t really had a day off in some senses in years. I take time off, but it’s begrudgingly knowing that I should be… hustling. And if I was really doing too much, I feel like I should be in a different position, right? I shouldn’t be questioning if I’m doing too much. Someone should want to buy my book.
But for some reason, when I heard that idea this time, I thought, yeah, you’re a hundred percent right. In the back of my mind, I have the hundred projects that I’ve started just taking turns taunting me with their incompleteness. And the math just doesn’t work out. If I want to have some free time and what you might call leisure activities, then there’s simply not enough time left in my life to do everything before I die or become too old to care or actually do the work.
The next section I’m about to read is kind of a combination of things. A mess. By some standards. On one hand, I’m letting things go. On the other hand, I’m not letting them go, and I’m in fact asking for some very specialized help. But if there’s anything that strikes you as something you want to do, or something you can help with, then these projects may someday be revived. Shoot me an email. email@example.com.
It seems inappropriate to ask for help. I do a lot of things by myself. Partly, that’s because I’m always around. I have free time whenever I do. I have this feeling like I should be able to handle everything. I’m oftentimes very capable and sometimes even fast and talented. But this pressure that I put on myself isn’t working. This feels super awkward to me, but we’re going to get through it together.
The Kakos card game that I shared with all of you a few years ago in digital format is basically done, but it’s not moving on to the next stage. For it to become a thing, I would need someone to basically run the entire Kickstarter for me, including getting prototypes made. I don’t have the time or brainspace to do it. When I think about it, my anxiety spikes and I do literally anything else. This one is some hard work and I wouldn’t expect you to do it without compensation. That would be built into the campaign.
The various Kakos video game ideas that have been thrown about are also not moving. I do not have the time or brainspace to even learn Twine, let alone a more complicated development environment. If you want to make a Kakos Video game, I am happy to hear you out and do the writing and music, but I have not learned and basically cannot learn to code well enough to do it myself.
I think I have to let go of streaming video games. Once a month for Kakos is fine, but the twitch channel I had wasn’t working. You can find hours and hours of me playing the Witcher 3 and Death Stranding on YouTube if you’re into that. I was trying to make time to play video games by streaming them, so it was kind of like work and building my “brand” and whatever the fuck else at the same time. Not having time for video games all that often unless I turn them into work is probably another sign that I’m doing too much. There’s not really much else to say here. I’m not asking anyone to stream for me.
The Never Rad streams have also fallen away mostly because they were getting harder and harder for me to do. We were hoping to get back into venues again by now, but Omicron hit and I think we all know how that’s going at this moment. We’re working on some things, but nothing I feel comfortable announcing just yet.
I came up with another podcast and video idea, but to be perfectly honest, I think I need an audio editor, and a video editor who can do basic animations for that to ever happen. I have the assets. I have the recordings. I don’t have the time to sit down and put it all together. I actually did sit down to do it, and I shared the audio and stuff with people and they said I needed to do X, Y, and Z. And I was like shit, I had time to do this. I don’t have time to do X, Y and Z. So it never got done.
My second book idea is moody and convoluted and takes place over several generations, and I don’t think it’s coherent enough to ever finish. My third book idea is coming along swimmingly, but I’m convinced no one will ever want to buy it. I’m going to do it anyway.
I have three scripts written for a podcast that will probably never happen. I was a “second rounder” at the Austin Film Festival in 2021 with those scripts, though. That was nice. I didn’t even look to see who won. I didn’t even read the feedback they sent me. It’s still sitting in my inbox. It seems like it might suck to read and I don’t have the emotional space.
This series of really short films I want to make and I keep eyeing the camera lenses on eBay to help me make is probably never going to happen either. When am I going to edit? Who is going to focus the camera?
I have a bunch of emails sitting in my inbox from people I asked for information about running ads on their podcasts and I’m afraid tod do anything with them, but I also have this terrible fear that I’ve never really marketed Kakos correctly and that there are tons of people out there who would love to hear it, but I have no way of finding them, and I don’t really have enough money to advertise as much as I want to and I don’t know if half-measures count. Kakos Industries obviously isn’t for everyone. But it is definitely for some people who have never heard of it.
Then there’s the social media thing. My last one of these Not Cover Stories was all about that. I was on Twitter for like a month before I just couldn’t anymore. I can’t do social media to save my life. Fuck. Somebody please help. I can pay you. Just do social media and make people listen to Kakos Industries. Please. This is your chance to do moody corporate tweets like the teenagers working for IHOP or whatever.
These are largely the things I will be trying to take off of my mind. This feels like a really passive aggressive way to handle this, but it was either just stopping this stuff and not telling anyone or doing this awkward “jk, unless…” type thing.
There is just so much that I will never do. I am becoming aware of how little time I really have and what is possible in that time.
One thing I have always made the time for, though, is Kakos Industries, which is now eight years old as of the fifteenth. I think with the difficulty I’ve run into with other projects it really brings into focus how lucky I am to have this project, and how lucky I am to have all of you listening. The creative world is incredibly difficult to make sense of and get any kind of following at all, and to have you listening means that I’m one of the lucky ones.
I know that this recording is messy. I’m not sure it even really has a point. I think that’s somewhat fitting for how my mind has worked during the pandemic. Messy, chaotic, all over the place, looking for mental stimulation anywhere and not always finding it.
Join the Discord. KakosIndustries.com/Discord
Please follow me on social media. I never post anything. I’m the best follow for that reason. Imagine going to Twitter and seeing nothing. That’s what it’s like to follow me and unfollow everyone else. Are you ready for such a luxurious future? I’m not sure you are. Treat yourself.
Get in touch if you want to edit stuff I’m notoriously difficult to work with that’s why I do everything myself ahhhhhhh goodbye.