12/12/13

a day in the life part million.

Before we begin: Does the new theme decoration make you nauseous? Perhaps I’ll have changed it before you read this, but right now know that the background is bright red slabs of meat with a real life bloody bathroom scene as the header photo. I can explain: I don’t have photoshop installed to tone down the reds. If anybody wants to help me design something prettier, by all means, come at me.

Never mind this crippling fear of the blank page followed by an avalanche of projections into a bleak and unrealized future. I went to bed with this “never mind” in mind and tried to wake up in the morning still thinking it, but the mind wanders. I had three dogs to walk today. I said to myself, unconvincingly, “I choose to be a dog walker!” This is one of the new head tricks I’ve learned, in a nutshell: Act like your life isn’t horrible.

There’s a coffee shop about a block from my new studio in capitol hill. I don’t like it because the drip doesn’t taste good and you can’t get anything bigger than 12 oz (classic joke: The food is terrible, and such small portions!) but it’s on the way to the bus and I’m trying to be a good sport.

Inside the soundtrack featured christmas music sung by harmonizing black voices, and I was listening to the music while staring at the girl’s hair in front of me. She had hair that looks like she tousled it in the morning on purpose, like if you snapped a picture of Kate Moss when she first stepped out of bed and she still looked good.

The girl with the hair said, “Is this Beyonce?” and the man behind the counter with the skinny tshirt, beard and glasses confirmed, “It’s Destiny’s Child.”

It was just as I suspected, and in my sudden commitment to be vulnerable and genuine with the people around me, I said to everyone, “I was really enjoying the music, and it caused me to confront my true self and my previous beliefs about the entire holiday season and the meaning of Christmas.” I pointed to my heart while saying this.

The man behind the counter corrected me: “It’s pretty horrible.”

The other guy handed me my shitty 12 ounces of coffee and said, “Yeah, it’s bad.”

Let me just reaffirm once more that the music was gorgeous, I mean empirically, you’d have to be some kind of monster. I thought, “Am I on candid camera?”

Out loud I said, “Then why are you playing it?” but no one heard me.

The girl with the tousled hair agreed with the coffee workers that the soulful, joyous rendition of “here come the bells” was terrible. “I like the RUN DMC Christmas album,” she said, and followed that with, “Are you playing this on vinyl?”

It didn’t seem like she was kidding, but how can that be? They said: “No, compact disc,” and the three of them talked about vinyl right up to the moment I walked out the door.

That’s actually what unfolded during my first attempt at openness with people in my neighborhood. I’m like a raccoon who climbs out of his hole at the first thaw with a longing for spring only to immediately get hit by a truck.

On the way to the bus downtown I thought to myself, “I need to start saving my money so I can go on vacations, have experiences and meet new people.” Shortly after on the sidewalk I ran into a panhandler for probably the third or fourth time, but she tends to only remember me if I’ve got a dog in tow. She’s a tiny, pretty thing, and she’s always nice and I always give her money. She said she needed four more dollars to get a subway sandwich, and I handed her five dollars out of my empty dreams fund.

She said thank you and told me I was tall. Being told I’m tall usually feels like a pin in my belly but I’m starting to recognize that people think they’re giving me something nice when they say this. They think they’re complimenting me, so with this new information I have to sort of pull out the pin and clean off the blood.

The odds suggest the girl is a drug addict, which is fine. I am happy to give her five dollars for whatever is going to make her feel good. What I find is that I’m craving to know her better. What kind of drugs? How did she get into them? Will she ever change or will she die on the streets? I know that she’s special. I’d like to follow her back to wherever she goes at night and crawl into the sleeping bag next to her, but I hold back! This is why I’ll never be a crack addict; I’m too shy.

You’re reading the words of a girl who’s interested in change and right action. I joined a cult recently. I hope it helps. It’s not my first choice for a cult because I think it’s a little corporate-y, and they’re super aggressive about trying to turn me into a little soldier who recruits other members, but overall I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor, at the moment. Think of the kind of compassionate capitalists with glazed over eyes you see in the crowd of a Ted Talks video, these dolts who have just discovered for the first time the value of mindfulness, and that’s the kind of peeps my new cult is largely made up of. I think I’ve got something to learn from these people. If you think I’m selling out, well. The girl from two weeks ago who didn’t join this cult hasn’t finished a story in over a year and a half, so what the heck. Let’s see if this helps.

I’m single again. Lost another one to God, what else is new. Going to Detroit this weekend. I tried to go to the post office but the line was too long and I couldn’t understand how to buy stamps out of the self service machine. That’s a true story. If you’re still waiting on a free letter, what can I say? LoL. Keep waiting. 

02/12/13

celebrities I’ve talked to or sort of talked to on the internet.

1. This one time in 1999 I aol instant messaged Wiley Wiggins, the star of Waking Life. He was in the middle of a chat with someone else and half the sentence bled over so he had to talk to me. It wasn’t a very good conversation.

2. Again, sometime circa 1999, Matt Bellamy of Muse was on tour in North America with the Foo Fighters. I had just bought his first album and I mentioned that I liked it in my aol profile. He messaged me pretending to be someone else. He asked me questions about the band Muse and I was like “yeah, I like them a lot.” Then he switched over to the official Muse aol name and was all, “Aha, it’s me!” and I was like “Oh, okay.” Understand, Muse were not yet the arena rockers you know them as today. We chatted off and on for a couple of weeks. He was actually very boring to talk to. His tour didn’t come through Detroit, but he said he’d put me on the list and let me backstage for their Wisconsin show. I decided not to go because I figured we’d both be pretty disappointed when he found out that I was an obese teen.

3. This kid I used to talk to a lot in Canada got into an email fight with Will Wheaton around 2002 over whether or not Will Wheaton was still a relevant fixture in pop culture. My Canadian friend felt emphatically that he was not.

4. I’ve met and/or talked to a lot of who I would consider famous authors, but it would actually be pretty tacky of me to list them here, given my target demographic and the likelihood that a person like J. Robert Lennon may still have time in his life for google alert. God, I love J. Robert Lennon.

5. I dressed up as Andrew W.K. a couple of years ago for halloween, took a picture of it and put it on twitter. I think he favorited the tweet, which is, I mean. I feel like he could have said something to me or at least thrown me a retweet. I had blood all over my face.

09/6/12

my domestic situation so far.

The house I moved into has a white picket fence around it, which is hilarious because inside we’re living out a Raymond Carver story, the early years, the stripped down Gordon Lish horror show years, but with YouTube. We listen to a lot of sad ballads on YouTube.

Earlier in the week, my roommate Jesse encountered a nest of wasps who unmercifully attacked his foot with their sharp stingers, and their poison has been coursing through his veins ever since. He hobbles into the house after a day of working, his body broken. Jesse is a ball of thorns wrapped in thick, dark skin. He grits his teeth and says, “I run on hate and pain!” I think he is speaking literally. When I touch him, I can feel hate and pain brewing under the surface. I’m trying to find the most prudent way to love him.

Jesse’s an orphan and a roofer and he stares at me for what I consider to be uncomfortable lengths of time. He tells me I move through the world awkwardly, which I already knew but it’s always devastating to be reminded. He said to me, “I feel embarrassed for you sometimes,” and well, that makes two of us.

The first week I lived here he asked me where he could read some of my writing, and I told him about this blog. I watched him read through every post, and he laughed in a way I found uncomfortable and a little terrifying. Every day since, he asks me, “Have you updated your blog yet?” He says he wants me to write about him. People often don’t mean that, I find. Actually, most people don’t even say that. We will see.

Jesse is almost always mad at me, and I find it frustrating and exhilarating. I keep trying to learn the rules, but they’re always changing. There are no rules! He’s got bright white teeth and expressive eyebrows. He rotates between a few torn up t-shirts and camouflage cargo shorts. Jesse stares at himself in the mirror constantly. I find him egotistical and difficult.

When I watch Jesse pick the best cucumbers out of a pile of cucumbers, I start to fall in love with him, and then he opens his mouth and says something. So far we’ve managed to avoid the awkward situation of meeting a person on craigslist who then immediately becomes your live-in boyfriend by not calling it that. Fool-proof plan.

Here are two more facts about the house:
1. An old woman who lived here for 30 or 40 years before us fell on a knife in the kitchen and died. The little kids at the elementary school across the street thought she was a witch. I’m pretty sure her ghost lives here.
2. There was a piano before I moved in, but the summer subletters stole it.



01/4/12

let’s not make a big deal about the new year, 2012 edition.

Here’s some lists for 2012!

Social lessons I learned in 2011:

1. You know, I don’t think men like it when you are very blunt and autistic about sexual things. Like, say you’re hanging out and it seems as though things are moving towards pants coming off… I used to think they would find it very refreshing if you made an abrupt announcement like, “It’s about time for the pants to come off,” but now I think maybe they don’t like that! I think it has something to do with romance or something.

2. Regarding the art of small talk: Now, I find that people are very boring and are always saying boring things to me, and yet, when I try to reciprocate with more boring, the other person looks bored! I will start talking about how I saw a series of books from my childhood at a Salvation Army. I will tell them how it reminded me of being young and that I considered buying some of the books, but the plot thickens when the books turn out to be pretty expensive, like two dollars a book or something, at the Salvation Army! And the person’s eyes glaze over and they start interrupting you or talking to someone else in the area. The lesson is that even though other people are boring all the time, you still have to not be boring. It doesn’t seem fair but we learned a long time ago that life wasn’t fair, right?

3. People don’t like self deprecating humor as much as I thought they did. It makes them uncomfortable. Jokes should be situational, or maybe based on manipulating language or exposing basic truths in new and pleasant ways. Turns out nobody wants to hear how fat I think I am.

4. This list is silly. I learned a lot of other more important things but I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Books I read at the MacDowell Colony from Nov-Dec of 2011:

1. Smashing Laptops, by Josh Wagner
2. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
3. Blueprints of the Afterlife, by Ryan Boudinot
4. Preston Falls, by David Gates
5. The Heart Beneath the Heart, (long essay) by Rick Bass
6. Ray, by Barry Hannah
7. The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock

Books I started but didn’t finish:

8. In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders
9. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
10. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
11. The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano

Movies I saw in theaters in 2011, listed here without comment or Ceremony:

Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Another Earth, Take Shelter, What’s Your Number?, Conan the Barbarian, The Muppet Movie, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 50/50

There might be more, but that’s all I can remember.

My top 3 Favorite Blog Posts from 2011, written for me, about me, and chosen by me.

1. Whatever, about depression and the animal kingdom.

2. Sorry For Being Weird, a post about being sorry for being weird. (Honorable mention, its followup: Sorry for Being Sorry about Being Weird.)

3. how I spent my writer’s vacation, authored drunk alone in a cabin in the woods.

2012, yo. Let’s do something cooler!

Happy Time Music Playlist for 2012, affectionately titled: Bring Me a Higher Love. These songs are handpicked to bring me a higher love in both romantic and divine realms of existence.

1. “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood

2. “Something” by the Beatles

3. “You Are the Sunshine of my life” by Stevie Wonder

Talking Book is a concept album that begins with idealized love, goes on a detour into the black man’s experience, dabbles in the loss of idealized love and heartbreak and then finally ends on a note of “try, try again.”

4. “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anywhere you Want” by YACHT

5. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

Fry always sings this in the shower. It’s adorable every time.

6. “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

7. “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons

Sigh No More is a concept album about rejecting romantic love for something more heavenly and divine, and that’s why it’s my favorite album of the last decade. In case you were wondering what I thought about it.

8. “Foxglove” by Murder By Death

9. “Everything’s Alright” by Jesus Christ Superstar

10. “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty

11. “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads

12. “This is the Day” by The The

13. “The Greatest” by Cat Power

This song is probably about suicide or something, knowing Ms. Marshall. I haven’t bothered to listen closely to the lyrics. Let’s just say it’s about me being the greatest.

14. “I’m the Man Who Loves You” by Wilco

15. “Happy Man” by Sparklehorse

Yeah, I know he fucking killed himself. Whatever.

16. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher” Jackie Wilson

07/20/10

10 Days of Sober Repentance, Music, etc.

2. Religious Observances

On Wednesday I leave for 10 days of Vipassana Meditation outside of the already very rural Onalaska, Washington. You can read about the place I’m going and what the program is like via their informative and stimulating website. In brief: 12+ hours of daily meditation, no talking, no Interneting, no writing, no reading, no drinking, no smoking, no lying, no cheating, no acoustic guitar, no meat, and no dinner. They feed you delicious vegetarian meals and give you a mat. Also, it’s free. Why would I do this? If you don’t understand it I can’t explain it.

I’ve done it once before a couple of years ago in Brighton, Michigan. It was difficult but not impossible, and I was revived an empress. On the one hand, in grand Buddhist tradition I am interested in detaching from the results. On the other hand, my hopes include, but are not limited to:

1. Safe travel to the center and back. (What’s 10 hours on the road in a rickety 95 Saturn to an artist?)
2. I want to remember what it’s like to sit still and shut up for a second. Many, many seconds.
3. How to be alone.
4. Perhaps this sounds trite, but I want to come back a better person. Look, I know I’m not a monster now, but we could all be better, couldn’t we? Do I have to be so sarcastic and acerbic all the time? Do I have to hold on to petty resentments and act like a child when I don’t get everything I want? Just saying, I can do better. You deserve love, world, and I am here to love you.
5. A little fucking discipline, if you please.

This next list is a little absurd. Why not mix in a little new age mysticism with my old school meditation practice, before it’s too late. Set it and forget it like a rotisserie chicken, here’s some shit I’d like to manifest while I’m gone. Just leave it on my doorstep for when I return.

1. A new bike. Something slick and street compatible that makes me look cool.
2. A couch for our new apartment. And while you’re at it, make that weird broken futon disappear.
3. Chastity and continence. Sort of. (Inspired by @St Augustine)
4. Lord, God, Krishna, could you make me neater? Make me care about the dishes and laundry, because God, you neglected to give me this gene and I’m starting to catch on to how alienating filth can be.
5. Is it too much to ask to be the greatest writer that ever lived? Could you give me the words to say all the brilliant shit I’m thinking? I mean, I don’t want to get into a fiddle contest or anything over it, but we could all use a little more grace in storytelling, and by us I mean me.

Again, I mean all of this in a totally free from desire kind of way. Let me give something back.

3a. Music

These are some songs I’ve been particularly enjoying this summer. I spend a lot of time on an Internet music site called blip.fm where I play music and hang out with my other djs, or “friends,” although let me assure you, I love them like real people. Which they are. You know, sort of. So here’s a list, and if you want, you can follow this list to my playlist where I have helpfully placed these songs for your enjoyment. (Again, sort of. The task proved long and boring so they’re not really in order but most of the songs are there probably. Create a dj name and blip yourself, it’s fun! I’m not crazy!)

  • Lou Reed – This Magic Moment
  • Dépêche Mode – Clean
  • Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
  • Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
  • Kenny Rogers – Just Dropped In
  • Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
  • The Kinks – There’s a New World Just Opening for Me
  • Dolly Parton – Jolene
  • The Strokes – Heart in Cage
  • Lil’ Wayne – A Milli
  • Warren Zevon – Back in the High Life Again
  • George Harrison – I got My Mind Set on You
  • Florence & The Machine – Addicted to Love
  • The Black Keys – Next Girl
  • Townes Van Zandt – Lungs
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
  • Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
  • Murder by Death – Until Morale Improves, The Beatings will Continue
  • John Lee Hooker – I Need Some Money
  • Gene Pitney – Town without Pity
  • Delta Spirit – People C’mon
  • The Mars Volta – Miranda, This Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore
  • I love you all. Who knows what kind of weird mystic will be running this place when next we meet.

    03/8/10

    White men that I admire, deceased. The tragedy of wanting to be loved, etc.

    There’s something happening lately – forgive my hippy sensibilities but I attribute it to the end of the winter solstice. Never mind the whys, point is, it feels like the bleeding, infected openings of fresh wounds are everywhere. Artists I love are committing suicide (Mark Linklaus of Sparklehorse. Why, Mark? I loved you.) I have been of late obsessed with the remembering of other artists I’ve known and loved that went the same way: David Foster Wallace, Elliot Smith, Richard Brautigan, countless others I’m forgetting. Even if they made it through without dying (Thom Yorke, Charlie Kaufman) we’re all so fucking sad. And it’s abundantly clear that making great art can’t save us. Writers, artists, musicians, we’ve got to get this through our head. First of all, fuck your ambition, it’s gross. You’re probably not going to “make it.” Second of all, if you “make it” it’s not going to make you happy.




    So that’s art and that’s just a small piece of what I’m talking about. Some people go so far as to say the only real impetus to even make art is to be desired, or to put it crudely, to get laid. Simplistic? Yes. Annoying? Yes. I would agree only in so much as it seems to me that lots and lots of things stem from a striving to be loved, and wanted, and understood. And we go into this world so fresh and bright eyed and bushytailed, and if we were lucky our parents didn’t horribly hurt us, so we expect that the world is not a dangerous place, and then we get to find out we’re wrong! Fun!

    But I hang with weirdos, freaks, and otherwise doomed persons, so most of our parents did hurt us. I don’t know, let’s say for example your father left when you were three years old, and he never explained why, but he came back sporadically and gave you love sometimes. You might go shopping around to have that experience repeated in every single man you meet, because that’s what you think love is. And whoever these men are, they have their own perception of love based on whatever their mothers did to them, and then you pile into bed and make some disgusting soup of a relationship until you can’t take it anymore. Just for example.

    Oh my god I don’t know what I’m saying. It just seems so out there lately. Everyone’s pain seems raw and on the surface, and I feel weirdly psychically in tune with all of it. I feel like I could look at a waitress on the other side of the restaurant, and I could say to her: “so your Dad was a sex addict and you found the S&M polaroids in a shoebox in the closet when you were 6, and that’s why you want to cringe every time your boyfriend touches you?” Are any of you out there having a similar experience?

    Oh, me. I love men that don’t love me back. Men and women love me that I can’t love. We’re all like dogs chasing cars, what the fuck will we do when we catch them?

    Anyway, it’s the end of the solstice. We’re shedding our winter skin and it’s like peeling a band-aid. Things are going to get better for us. If we could just learn to love each other without all these chips on our shoulders that are really more like anvils, eh? That would be nice.