Monday, February 25, 2013

Houses Don't Have Sex

I think this is the most Southern place I have been so far. Whether or not you think that's correct, it's true. This place is an apex of everything pretty and good and loving that I wanted from the South when I came here, all frosty and doe eyed from the Rustbelt. Here, the light makes everyone attractive, makes their flaws seem sweet. The wood changes the tone of their words so that everything sounds relevant and real. There's the right amount of clutter to make neatness seem unimportant.


 There's a river. If there wasn't water nearby, I don't know how I would feel differently, but I definitely would. There's a bridge down the river that lights up gold at sunset, and later when it's dark, you can see the semi-truck running lights flashing over it in the distance.

And the people that were in the house with me, they are important no doubt, for other reasons. But maybe it could have been anyone, because the house will make you a better person as long as you're willing to succumb to it. I guess if Gatsby weren't there, standing like a guardian or a welcome wagon, I can't tell how much of the spell is him and how much is the house. Like, I know he built it and all, but aren't houses like children? If you build them right, then you no longer own or control them.

I remember crawling into my darling abandoned Masonic Hall, and I knew immediately, I could feel it, that it had become it's own creature. People had left it, and it had developed it's own sentience. And it was sad a little, it was lonely, but tough and predatory and beautiful all the same. This house, it developed it's own intelligence before people abandoned it, it's's like the Masonic Temple was an orphan, a refugee, and this house is a healthy first world child, loved and with a liberal arts education. And maybe I'm all torn up from loving the orphans so much, from feeling the personalities of the Rustbelt all hard and starving for love, and I'm so used to just immediately giving those abandoned building all my love, I've made so much room in my heart for buildings, that this one comes along not even needing my love but swelling into my over-stretched heart all the same and I'm drowned in it.


And so I declare this place the first of My Southern Monsters. It eats the hearts of little girls and boys, and spits them out gold, all wrapped in vines and plant spit.

I don't know why I can love buildings so much harder than beings. I mean, I have heartbeat loyalty, I would never choose one over the other, I think, I'm pretty sure. Mammals 4 Life. But oh thick stone and leaded glass. Surely this is from growing up surrounded by old skyscrapers and packed together Victorians, surely this is a gift, I'm not saying that it isn't. Seeing the life in buildings is a gift, hearing them talk is a blessing. But still, they are scary huge alien creatures, like elephants and mountains. Their intentions are so glacial and foreign. People, our intentions are so fast, we make them clear and act on them almost immediately - though to us it might seem like a lifetime, our lifetimes are so quick and gnat like, we are instantaneous creatures - therefore fickle. Buildings are not fickle, their desires are slow.

It might be different if I knew how to handle them properly, not just break into them with sneaking and smashing, but how to fix them and bandage their wounds, how to make homes for them. Like a lion tamer, earning respect from the creatures he takes care of. Right now I'm still only a spectator, so the house, and the hall, and the church, and the school - they have no reason to pay attention to me - I'm neither threat nor friend. If I want buildings to love me back the way I love them, I guess I should learn to talk back instead of just listening.

But that's what I'm particularly good at - loving things without them loving me back. That's also a gift.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wrightsville Beach Lions

There was a pack of lions swimming in the water. Two adult lions and several smaller adolescent cubs. She could see them only 500 feet down the busy crowded beach. All around her the brightly colored striped tents of the permanent beach vendors, hawking fried things and frozen things, swirled and crusted and crumbling with sugar, were shining golden and red in the dying sun. The tanned stretched out plastic bodies of Wrightsville Beach lounged everywhere, on the splintery picnic tables that had been beaten gray by ocean wind, young people laughing and flirting with each other, old people sitting quietly in groups, and then those angry middle aged people freaking out over everything - their kids, other people, the fact that the earth was turning in space and they would soon have to go home because they were no longer free to stay in the drunken wilds of the beach after dark. People in general seemed happy and good natured until they hit middle age, that weird vast void between being pretty and not caring about being pretty anymore. No one seemed to notice the lions swimming out in the waves, but especially the middle aged people didn't notice, they deliberately didn't notice.
           She was caught between the tide of people not watching, and,the pull of the lions in the waves, and with a short tug she pulled herself out of the thicket of the main drag and onto the empty coastline stretch, into the real sand. Behind her, humanity murmured, in front of her the water was humming, and for a moment she could hear the sound of her own breath before one sound or the other overwhelmed, she hovered on the threshold between the two atmospheres. Then she was free of the swell, and trudged towards the waters edge. The lions were playing only a few feet deep, and a young man stood on shore by them, watching them, a handful of leashes dangling by his side. She instantly resented him being there, it was the illusion of wild lions that had drawn her, now she knew they were only tame cats, but still they were impressive - their dark heavy bodies soaked in sea water, heaving and jumping and all their muscles were defined by their wet fur, monstrous animals with the face of kittens and the joy of killers. The sunset light caught the edge of their hair, and lit it up in gleaming gold neon outlines of their ears and snouts and thick necks, the soft pussy willow tips of their tails. Only predators have the capacity to be as happy as these cats were, herbivores can't relax long enough to smile. She walked up to him, her eyes transfixed on the lions. He smiled at her, also never taking his eyes off the cats.
          "They're yours?" She had to shout a little into the wind. He had coffee brown skin and little black ringlets blowing around his half shell ears. His shoulders were very wide, and he gave the physical impression of being immovable by wind or weather. She could feel his concreteness through her hoodie, as surely as if she was standing next to a pillar of stone, the cold and wet air masking any smell of human that he had. It made sense that he was the lion tamer, if they tried to bite him they would only break their eyeteeth.
           "Sure." He didn't turn his face to her when he answered, and the word almost completely escaped, she had to reach out and grab it from the air. She took out her phone to take a photo, and only this action seem to poke him, he turned and looked at her with disappointment. She was vaguely aware that she very quickly decided she didn't care about his opinion of whether or not she should be enjoying the moment as it happened, she wanted a photo to remember this by, and as she focused the camera and stared at them through the screen, she thought about when she had turned into this person, someone who sometimes didn't care. She was proud of herself, in another time she would have felt a stab of shame, and done whatever his large brown eyes were pleading her to do. But there would be no more boys making her feel ashamed, not lion tamer strangers or anyone. If he didn't want anyone taking photos of his cats, he shouldn't bring them swimming at the public beach. The photos of course bore no resemblance to the scene in front of her, but only because there are qualities of light we will never capture, just like there are qualities of lions and qualities of boys that aren't tangible.
         She watched the rest of the time in silence, until the light was really almost gone. He gave a short guttural bark, and the pack came bounding back, rushing towards them in doggish obedience, the cubs following in kind only because they didn't want to lose their parents. The sensation of lions running at you is hard to recreate without risking death, and the experience of lions running at you with a complete sense of safety is reserved for only very special people, ones who have decided to live their lives in close proximity to beasts - zookeepers and vets, circus trainers. They stood around shaking the salt water off in arcing rainbow spatters while he attached the leashes to the giant collars that impossibly circled their huge primeval necks. She was obsessed with their necks, tendons the size of her arms tensing and flexing underneath the smelly wet animal hair. She had a deep need to lay her hand on them, put her head down against them, be cheek to cheek with their huge quiet faces.
          He took them home, and she walked back towards town. The throng of the beach city had turned to the nighttime crowd, tanned lithe girls in white shorts and shiny cheekbones, smiling flirting boys buying them beers, the few middle-agers left who were nice, well on their way to old people status, already gathered in their social groups. The tents were strung with colored lights, the glows were green and blue and pink, and they cast theatre shadows against the high dark stone walls that separated the sands from the city. She stopped under the colossal arch of one of the dozen walkways, leaned against the cold dirty masonry, and watched the two sides - on the other side of one arch there was the beach with lights and loud wantonness, and then on the city side - streetlights and well dressed women in heels leaning on the arms of their dates, getting in and out of taxis, the antique storefronts lit up like a period movie set. She had salt and sand curdled on her skin and in the folds of her jeans, her hair falling stringy and wind tangled, any traces of makeup she left the house with completely bled off by now, and she belonged in neither of these places, but the only way out was one or the other, you couldn't go up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Church of Instagram

Last night, I was sitting around with two friends of mine. It was cold and rainy, early late evening, like 9 or 10. We had opted to stay in drinking slowly, watching snowboarding movies, and eating Chinese food. I had worked all day, and taken the bus downtown in actual snow, so I was wet and cold and huddled in a blanket. I know I looked bedraggled because when I had stopped to get cigarettes on my way over to his house, the clerk at the Village Market asked me if I was okay. I felt beat up, and happy to not be at work or doing homework. Both of them are smart and interesting, it's really nice to just sit around with smart, interesting people, it's one of the most important parts of my life.

So my one friend recently went on a date with a girl to a mega church. When I expressed my absolutely amazement, because I would never in a million fucking years go to church with a boy as a date, he got wild about it. "It was great, it was amazing, it was so unbelievable, even more so than what we thought it was," he said. "But I don't need to go to church. The sermon was this thing about how if a whore comes to your door, and she's like, struggling, then you have to take her in. I don't need someone to tell me to be a decent person. But, you know, they do."

We all sat around for a moment, gape-mouthed and considering. "That's terrifying," I finally said, "to think that they do, like we actually need religion as a society in order to tamp down the psychopaths who have just never learned what decent is."

"Think how many more murders there would be..." my other friend said.

But also I think it's terrifying we haven't progressed enough as a species to be beyond these primitive forms of crowd control.

And so, with this in mind, I want to talk about the phenomenon of selfies on Instagram.

The other day I asked my coworker if he thought my Instagram feed was too vain.
He replied he thought I had one of the lesser vain feeds. Out of my last 25 photos, six of them were selfies. I think that's pretty vain. It disturbs me that I'm no good at Instagram,  because it takes so long to come up on my phone, and so I can't just like, snap it out. So I take a lot of photos of buildings, and some of trees, and some of myself making stupid faces. My mother gives me shit over it, because they ARE stupid looking, I can see how dumb my expressions are, thank you. But I don't think she realizes how much of our culture IS looking at ourselves now. I think older people write it off as selfishness, but that's just a side of it, a facet of an entire shift in perspective. A perspective that also includes self-awareness, and an evolution of empathy from understanding your own emotions to being aware of other people's emotions. I'm not saying it's better than the last perspective, which was much more nationalistic, and had good parts too, like New Deal parts. There is no right or wrong, when it comes to how societies grow up, it's impossible to pass complete and fair judgement on all people all at once. That's why God doesn't exist.

And so I guess what I'm saying is taking pictures of yourself on Instagram is like going to church, in the most child-like way.

In the spirit of confession, I thought it might be a good exercise to show you a few of them and tell you exactly what I was thinking and doing in that instant I decided to take a photo of myself. This might just be another excuse to be vain, I can't tell , I think that might be one of the first sacraments in this new world order, developing the ability, the wisdom to know when you're being too vain, and I'm not there yet. That might be the demarcation of taste here too, taste in what you like about yourself and therefore other people. Isn't there something about how babies are supposed to look at themselves a lot in a mirror, to develop their concept of self? That their body is a controllable unit? Isn't Instagram just looking at ourselves in the mirror and studying ourselves harshly? I just can't get behind that being a bad thing.

Unfortunately Instagram only tells you vague times of when you posted a photo, so even though it would be really interesting to know what time or day it was, all you get is an annoying "1 wk" label. I had worked all day, and I had been wearing the same makeup for 48 hours. I had a bunch of homework due the next morning, it was after 9pm and I had to do this paper and then get up at 6am to catch the bus to school. I had gotten compliments on my nail polish all day. I have also been trying to cut gluten out from my diet and this was only a few days in. A co-worker had given me a Sammy's Millet and Flax pizza crust that was expired, and I bought some mozzarella and prosciutto, mushrooms and garlic. My roommate and I devoured that pizza, and I was feeling extremely grateful to find such a good pizza crust. For some reason, the light of my computer screen always makes my eyes looks extremely blue, and because I didn't want to do my homework, I was taking photos with my phone of my face instead, idly, flipping through the entire Marina and the Diamonds catalog. And...I just liked this one a lot. I just think it's a good photo. I have pretty eyes. I have the worst hands though, it's impossible to make them look good. And that color blue? I wear blue like every day now guys. Bright bright blues. I live in that hoodie.

This was two days later, on my way out, but I don't remember where I was going. I was feeling pretty good body-wise, but I couldn't quite bring myself to take a full length shot of myself, I spent ten minutes in the mirror, trying to decide if I was brave enough. I was listening to Marina's Teen Idle on repeat that day. I remember adjusting my bra straps over and over again, to decide how I liked them best. In the end I wussed out, and posted this with some lame caption about this being my expression while I tried to decide if I liked my body. It's interesting to note I didn't.

On Thursday night I stayed up too late and wasted at the comedy club. At 2am, I ate an English muffin. I woke up actually feeling fine, but looking terrible and feeling even guiltier. I didn't have the money to spend on drinking, and I know I did a bad set because of how drunk I was, and I was mad about the gluten. So I went from almost liking my body to using it to publicly shame myself, glasses and all. But it felt really good to have a bad photo of myself out there, because I feel sometimes like every single photo anyone online ever sees of me are these close up face shots, almost all from the same two head tilts, the same two half smiles. It feels like a lie, especially because I know lots of people online that I never see in person. I think this entry is starting to make me come off as a masochistic. 

Sometimes when I wake up, I take a photo of myself just to see how I look that morning, but I never post those. I'm pretty much just using the phone as a mirror, it would be exactly like keeping a compact next to my bed. I keep meaning to go find some mirror app, cause there has to be one right? Someone must have thought of that right away, right?
I just like this picture. I like that it looks like the eye against the pillow is all swollen, like I've got a black eye, when really it's just me getting old and not always looking good in the morning. In the morning when I wake up, I have to sit in bed for at least twenty minutes, putting my thoughts in order. If I don't get that time, then I am scattered all day, I never get it right.
I think sometimes another reason I am looking at my face all the time is because I am getting noticeably older, things are changing, and I'm obsessed with that. Maybe babies just feel the same way. If every day you are supposed to wake up and be prepared to be a completely different person by the end of the day, if you're going to let the universe make it's impressions however it chooses, then maybe it's not so different from the people who take the same shot of themselves every day at the exact same in the exact same way. Just the lazy version of that, not so dedicated.

On Valentines Day I went with a co-worker Bethany to see The Birdland Orchestra, they were playing at school, and I forgot that the benefit of being a student is now I get student rates on all the concerts and lectures that come to Keenan. So these thirty dollar tickets were like 5 bucks, it was awesome. I'm totally going to see an astronaut speak next month. Afterwards we ran into this saxophonist I've seen before, and all three of us went to the most anti-Valentines day bar we could think of, which is a place called Barbary Coast. I hadn't been in there yet, it was on the list, but I'm so glad the first time was that evening. Within five minutes of being there, someone had put Love Stinks by J.Geils Band on, and it WASN'T ME. Anyway, I was wearing all blue again, and I felt pretty good about the way the holiday had played out this year, so there you go. 

I wanted a new facebook profile picture, I had looked at the other one too long, and I had started to hate it, with it's dumb cross eyed expression, and goofy weird pose against my pillow. So instead I took another goofy weird pose against my pillow, and made a dumb looking away expression instead. There is nothing to justify about this photo, my nose looks awesome and I like my hair, and I like the curve of my cheek, and in the end is there really something that terrible about an entire society of people learning to like how their faces look and think that they are pretty? 

Isn't that all vanity is, thinking we are pretty looking? The problem is not us, but all the people who don't think they're pretty. We need to figure out a way to work that into church without making it a superiority thing. God, guys, you make everything a superiority thing, don't you?

Finally, the most interesting side effect of constantly having these photos of yourself around and accessible and out there being commented on is that after a while of seeing them side by side, you realize that every single image up there is of an entirely different girl. And not a single one of them is really me. That's something you can't capture. Silly aborigines, you had nothing to worry about, and now we're going to forget what you looked like eventually. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Update on the State of Me

I look like I have a black eye in this photo, hidden by the pillow, 
but in fact I'm just getting old and sometimes I look all puffy.

   1) I am a terrible person who only updates her blog once a week now, and when I do that, often it is just to promote my book (which you should buy) or to cryptically talk about things that cause my mother to send me passive aggressive emails in which she begs me to never drink again, or tells me she will never give me another cent if I get another tattoo. I hope my mother, possibly the only reader of this blog left besides Mark, understands that I do in fact censor myself quite frequently for the sake of her heart. Just recently I even uttered the words "out of respect for my mother" at a party. I hope this gives her solace. I understand that my life at 33 and her life at 33 are now irrevocably different, and she must feel some of that separation, of no longer being able to relate to her eldest daughter's lifestyle from any perch of experience. That pains me too, a little. Part of me very much wishes that at 33 I was married to some community activist, with a pretty little blue eyed baby girl, delivering home births and planting an urban garden. The fact that I now know several very wonderful people who do have this lifestyle is nice, and reassures me I'm not a completely sinful bastard. But alas, Mom, I still can't bring myself to get a dog because it means having to come at certain times, and also limits my moving options. So husband? babies? The last email my mom forwarded to me was some chain letter about the joys of having grandchildren, and she very noticeably mentioned that my SIBLINGS might relate to it, which I think means she is at last giving up hope. This next bullet point should assist with that.

2) I recently found myself in bed with a 32 year old North Carolina boy who is kinda country, has smiling blue eyes, is a non-fiction major who wants to write about race, and who raps. Like, musically. Also in bed with us were two huge bear dogs. Dogs that were actually bears, swear to god, giant huge shaggy bear dogs. He is a very nice man, who I hope I will be friends with for a long time, so his nickname here will be The Columnist. When he confessed that the music link he had sent me which I had not listened to yet (because I intended on sleeping with him, and didn't want to be persuaded otherwise by whatever was behind that link) was him rapping, I laughed. It is to his credit that he understood I was laughing out of the sheer weirdness of the moment, and not directly at him. He handles his ego very well. If I was lying naked in bed with someone and I told them I wrote, and they laughed? I would probably hit them and then start crying. I feel like that has actually happened in the past...
He told me he had a crush on my nose. I'm not in love with him, but I do love that.
I still haven't listened to his rap though.

3) This was not the first moment this week that I had that feeling, like I now lived in an entirely different dimension than the one I came from. The dimension made of wood and ceramic tile, instead of steel rebar and stone. The first was actually last Thursday, when I did two stand up comedy mics - first at Nutt St, which I do every week, and then right after at a gay club called the Toolbox. I had just posted a promotion on facebook, and I had this moment of thinking - here I am, I'm 33, I'm single, I'm childless, I work at a co-op and go to school with 21 year olds, and now I'm standing here drunk on Long Islands on the dance floor at this Southern gay club which is located literally across the street from the port, in a sequin dress, a microphone in my hand, telling jokes about dating, and cats to an audience consisting entirely of old gay guys, and comics. WHAT. At no point ever in my life, not as a little dorky child or a weird freaky high schooler, not even during my Raver Kid days, did I EVER conceptualize this is where I would be at 33.  It's not bad, it's just so weird. Almost like there were no clues this was coming, but I guess anyone looking at my nail polish this past year would know differently. Also, I did already own that sequin dress.

4) School is going really well. I love it passionately. I turned in my first horrible terrible no good paper. Every other paper I've done has been an A. This one, if there is any fairness in the universe, will be a D. I'm not worried about it, I know my grade in the end will be fine, but I'm embarrassed about it, because I just read a short story my teacher sent me, and it was really good, and I want her to think I'm pretty good too because she's my age, and if I wasn't in her class, we would be peers. It's weird being friends with your teachers, because when you turn in dreck like that, it feels like I just let one of my friends down. Like, if Sarah had asked me to bring a birthday cake to a surprise party, and I forgot, and then bought a bunch of Little Debbie snack cakes at the corner store to make up for it. So now I'm working extra hard on this next paper, which is a case study of McSweeney's Publishing. When I read through these websites and journals now, I have this strange sense of this no longer being some inaccessible art form. Like, when I watch television, I don't think to myself - I have to participate in this world.  But now any form of literature I read, I'm thinking exactly that, it's a combination of ambition and guilt which causes me to work it turns out. Maybe this is all happening now because that's how long it took me to build up enough guilt in my life to motivate me. Which, geez, between Mom, the Catholicism, the lying thing and the fat thing, how much fucking guilt do you require as my sacrifice, Universe? I'm just a very large river stone I guess, and I require a flash flood of guilt to budge me from the riverbed, but once I start going, there's no stopping my momentum and there's no predicting the amount of damage I'm going to do once I start hitting the villages.
I have started being worried I am a terrible writer. Also, simultaneously, I am worried I am an amazing writer who will never work hard enough to show anyone that. It's like my ego and my shame are inflating at the same rate, and they are both terrible black cloud bubbles that will rub up against each other until the friction causes them both to pop, and then I'll disintegrate into some clear blue vapor or mist. I keep wearing lots of blues, to make myself more real and valid, but in fact blue is the color of skies and water, things that don't hold a shape.

5) I am coming home for Spring Break. I'm still not sure how I'm getting there, but I'll be going up at Reddstone on 3/4 for Chucklefuck, and then the next night I'll be back on the Awkward Sex Show with Carey, so you can come to those to see me. Expect me to be pretty much exactly the same as you remember me, except way more tired and way more broke and pretty happy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Second Party

She was off the entire day before the party, and she didn't accomplish anything. She could actually not remember what happened, it was a blur of absolute exhaustion, alcohol poisoning, and spiritual sloth. Her roommate was driving, they had arranged to leave at 8:30. She had a brief moment of ambition and changed the time to 8. At 7:45, she realized she hadn't even showered. In the end, she was ready at 8:40. She felt bad, because she had told the boys to be ready at 8:30, and she was always late. Instead of getting punctual as she got older, like almost every area of her life, she found herself getting less and less responsible, just letting things take her when and where they did.

          They grouped up when they first got there, because they got there first, of all the people they knew that were coming. There was the initial moment of just walking around looking, saying hi to people they maybe knew by sight, and then we settled into a building outside the main house, which had a large table and a basket of kids blocks. The boys sat around the table awkwardly for a moment, none of them knowing the others all that well.
        "Playing with blocks is not how you get laid," he said to her.
She thought to herself, wrong, that's exactly how you do it.
      Eventually the conversation changed to God and String Theory, and everyone relaxed, the particles between them settling.

        Her roommate and her were standing at the keyboard to the grand piano. She put down tentative fingers. When the key depressed, a low quiet tone sounded throughout the room. It rolled against the windows and light bulbs, and lapped silently against the tideline of their bones. She tried one key and then another, and slowly worked out the first bar to Fur Elise, which she had played as a child. When they were sure they had it right, she excitedly dragged over Sweetgrass and Gatsby, who were probably not as impressed as they pretended to be.

        It was while sitting in the trailer, which was planted in the garden like a very large metallic rutabaga, all lit up in warm orange and yellow lights, laying open in the cold night air, that they realized they had been grouping.

Her roommate disappeared, passed out in some corner somewhere on the property, car keys in pocket, and there were so many places he could be, really it just made sense for him to drive her home so she could go to work in the morning, and the other boys took up the cue and volunteered to crash there and find the passed out roommate in the morning.
       Knowing someone is going to kiss you at some point is a combination of anxiety and thrill.
       "I can't have you come in, my room is so messy you won't like me again."
Which everybody thinks is silly until they actually see my room.

      When she went to work the next day, the back of her head hurt from being pushed up against the car door. She told her co-worker who drover her home that day that she was worried that the soft spot on the crown of her head had never fully sewn up, that there was an open vulnerable spot in the back of her skull. Which made her think about trepanning, and how she had never bothered to look up if trepanning was a real thing or something he had might up to put in the book. Some concepts her brain was okay with not defining as truth or fiction, as if once the idea had been made up that made it truth regardless in some dimension.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Free Books!

Happy February! It doesn't look like that where I am right now, cause it's like 70 degrees here and I'm sitting outside work in a tshirt drinking an almond milk latte with agave and macca. Sorry. If I said I missed the ice sculptures on the Lake, would you believe me? Lorraine the barista at work told me macca is good for the libido and that I don't need anymore of it. I told her she didn't know me. But hey, Valentines Day is coming up, and it's shitty and cold in Cleveland, so maybe you need it? It tastes like malt and is pretty awesome.

 Hey, do you love me? Then I want you to write an Amazon review for one of my books. Here's the kick - it doesn't have to be about the book. Instead, for the next nine days, leave a review for Cleveland is Your Best Friend about something you love most about Cleveland. On Valentine's Day I'll pick my favorite and send them a free copy, and then whoever wins can write me an actual review.

 If you'd like to win a copy of The Little Book of Sexts, same deal. Nine days to leave the funniest, sexiest review, and my personal favorite gets a free copy. Also remember, at 6.99, it's a perfect Valentine's Day present that is cheaper than wine and makes you look cooler than your average significant other. Get to it my darlings!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Longest Days Are Starting

A friend of mine told us recently about how there is a point in the summer when the phosphorescent algae comes in on the tide. When I picture it, I think it looks something like that video above, the electric lace of a fish thought. A thought about food and getting food, the most primal function of a fish or any living being, and that's what it looks like. So maybe the algae looks just like the ocean's thought patterns - lighting up electric and sparse across the oceanic continents. I love the idea of ocean kingdoms existing, a whole second deeper level to civilization on our little month by month lease apartment planet. Maybe instead of rainclouds and sunsets, they have algae storms in their watery skies above them, that are the oceans deciding what to do with them.

There is so much to learn about biology and geography and sociology and oceanography here, the world is currently overwhelming with the things I don't know yet.

I went to the hall to see the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, starring Mia Farrow, Robert Redford, and a very young disturbingly handsome Sam Waterson. It was extremely boring and they kept adding fake sparkles to Mia's eyes. They hit you over the head with the imagery of the book, the eyes and the shirts and the light were all overblown and overused. It lacked any subtlety. But I'm glad I saw it before the new one comes out, because frankly I think adding Jay Z to the soundtrack is particularly key to success.

I wonder what that thought looked like.

So much of my perception of the South before I moved here was based in Fitzgerald. That's an odd realization to have actually. I'm obsessed with replacing that with actual experience now, and I'm obsessed with ginger these days, I keep eating it and drinking it like I'm one of those people who has suddenly developed an addiction to eating dirt. Which seems unrelated, but I'm pretty sure is a direct consequence of this social tidal pool I've been dropped into. I'm just not sure how yet.

After the movie, we ate fried things at a brewery downtown, and I don't remember much of what we talked about, but I do remember at one point he told me I was such a "doer". I protested, but then I don't think I got a chance to explain why that wasn't true, because the conversation was a speeding train and it took every bit engagement to stay on top of where we were at any given point. But see, that's why I'm not a "doer", because I'm an observer. That was decided last year, sitting up in Lou's Pittsburgh attic late at night after the bar, discussing with him the importance of recognizing what role you have in society. I'm mediocre at doing things. I'm much better about just trying to remember and record them.

Later still we drove up the south side hill, where the lacy mansions lay hidden by trees, and went to his mother's house, where she was up watching tv. He wanted to show me the house, and it was so beautiful, guys. The woodwork, with lattices shadowing up the walls and the white ornate plasterwork, the random huge stained glass windows, and more humble lead windows. So many corners, all the corners and settees a girl could want. I drank Sprite and vodka, he played the upright Steinway in the front hall for a few minutes, and after he passed out somewhere, his mother showed me all the childhood photos of him, we talked about him, his life, how it affected hers. She pointed out he would never date anyone who smoked. I reassured her that wasn't my intention, but also told her that she should feel free to guilt trip me as much as possible about this smoking thing, and so she did. Incredibly effectively. I went to bed feeling like the worst smelliest loser, but also in complete awe of Southern Moms. The place was so full of stuff, books and artwork and glass trinkets. I crashed in the guest bedroom, on a very tall bed, the kind of bed that makes me feel short trying to climb on and off of. I left the door open so the cats could come in and sleep with me, but they didn't.

In the morning the battleship on the river was lit up gold and blue, a thick streak of pale pink in the background behind it, the tower of instruments and wires shining like a pope's crown in the sunrise. One little glowing neuron in the morning's chain reaction.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Soft and Sweet, How the Notes All Bend Unreachable

This photo has nothing to do with this entry, it's a Munny I made a long time ago for a show at Music Saves. But let's pretend its  metaphor for how my heart feels right now. 

This week I got to see Jeff Mangum from Neutral Milk Hotel, in a converted church, with a just enough people to look full but nobody's crowded size of crowd. Sarah drove in from Virginia, and the next day we went to breakfast with some of her friends from Oak Island, then drove to the beach. It was cold and windy.  I walked barefoot, Sarah had on winter hiking boots. She said being bundled up all scarves and hoods was the only thing that was keeping the wind down around us. We tried to go up on the pier, but it was closed for the season, and lay in front of us, a sharp concrete stylized expanse of block matte color stretching out in front of us, the cruel iron gate bluntly interrupting the lines.

Let's talk about every time I've fallen in love while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel. Three. That's a lot for one band. The only other comparable one is The Weakerthans. I remember David introducing me to Aeroplane Over the Sea, and then there was driving around with the other two. I think I must have listened to On Avery Island in Wellington, OH, driving through, at least five times I can think of.

The bands we become such die hard fans of seems like such a random weird happening. I guess I should start forgiving people who are really into Sublime. I probably won't, but maybe someday.

I like that at least half of the friends I have, when you put on Aeroplane the album, as soon as he says When you were young, You were the King of Carrot Flowers, they all start singing. And not shy singing. They will sing out loud. And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder, and dad would throw the garbage all across the floor, As we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for. And this is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you, and from above you how I sank into your soul, into that secret place where no one dares to go. I can picture at least  6 occasions when I was driving with friends and we sang the entire album together.

I had the pleasant experience of going into a show and knowing some people there. And being recognized in the bathroom by some girl. This town is small enough that happens every once in a while, and it's nice. Between comedy and work, I feel like a lot of people see me but don't meet me.  Everything in the South creeps up on you slowly, there are no *boom* moments (or rather there are just very few of them. Soft and Sweet, How the Notes All Bend Unreachable)

What else did I do this week? Sarah and I went to the beach, and then she had to leave me, but that was a very pleasant morning. Later I went to open mic, and had a set that was fun, like actually fun. The next day I took the bus to work at ten till 7, and it was cold but getting sunny. Work was good, though I griped a lot, because all day the anxiety about the show that night kept building up and up, as I realized I wouldn't have time to go home and I should just take the bus straight downtown. So I did that, and the show was more fun. I left exhausted but full of the kind of lucky feeling deep thoughts that cause you to write weird tweets. Saturday morning Teresa picked me up and we drove around in the sun smoking and talking. We went to breakfast at this small pink creperie on Oleander, down the street from my work. Teresa noticed as soon as we walked in that boys were speaking French. And then the hottest man in the entire known universe took our coffee order. Seriously, just writing that sentence, and thinking of how to describe him to you is causing me to get the shivers and wish I was back home in bed huddled under covers warm and asleep with him. That's a pretty strong visceral reaction. He brought us the coffees to our table twice, and each time it was almost physically impossible to watch him walk back away. We didn't talk about it. We ate our crepes, and then left. I felt terrible I hadn't left a better tip, because we paid when we ordered so I only left the same kind of tip I would leave at a pick up window place. Well, it just means he's going to get overtipped in the future. I bet he makes a ton of tips anyway. Teresa and I left.
         "Think of all the old women who must come in here for him. All the women in general."
          " God, yes, seriously. He must get laid all the time."
          "That's probably all he does. This place is probably just a front for French guys to come over and be gigolos in a rich American beach town."
          Then in my notes, I wrote down that the end of this joke is where I tell this joke on stage and then someone tells him I'm doing, so he comes to see it, and we get married the end.
          Or he'll read the Yelp review I'm gonna write.

Oh god, I just read some of the yelp reviews to see if anyone mentioned him. And they bring up a very good point which is that it's probably a family run business, and that means this guy is probably the owner's son or nephew or something, and I swear this is the perfect premise for a Nicholas Sparks movie, the french cousin and the young American college girl who comes to the beach on vacation, and also this boy is probably 21 or something ridiculous that makes me a terrible person. But he did have a little patch of gray on his temple, so in my heart he's 35 and this is story about the mid life crisis woman who has some coming of age moment at the beach with a man who's had his heart broken too many times.
    Then Teresa took me to work, I worked till close, I came home and watched Terriers with my roommate,  and went to bed. Now I'm back here at work. And then I'm going straight from work to downtown, again, to watch the 1974 Great Gatsby with the gatsby-like builder from my last entry who didn't know what the Gatsby reference was about when he read it, and so if you'd like in on that subsequent conversation, hit me up.