I don’t know what the job is called exactly, but you know the guy or lady who picks the songs for a movie’s soundtrack? I think I would be very good at that job.
I mean, I assume most people think that about themselves, but I would be very, very good at it, is what I’m saying.
I already do it a pretty fair percentage of the time in reverse, where I just imagine the type of movie or scene I would set a certain song to. Like, this song? This song would be so good for like a Lock Stock or In Bruges type of movie – you know, like a violent dark comedy from the UK – in which one guy is chasing another guy to, like, murder him or something, and they’re running through the streets of I guess Venice and they keep shoving people and fruit baskets aside, eventually barging in people’s homes and creating total bedlam in their wake.
Anyway, my point is, I was walking home last night, and this song came on, and I started running, and I ran so hard my shoes literally FLEW OFF, and I fell over and slid like 5 feet on my knees. With great power comes great responsibility, is what I’m getting at.
After I finished my taxes, I immediately bee-lined it to Mission St., where I a) bought a thing of peaches in light syrup from Walgreens and b) used said peaches as a chaser for a shot of Jameson at Iron & Gold.I have weird coping mechanisms, I guess is my point.
Soooo the 15th was the day that taxes are due for people who are too big of fuck-ups to get them done on the real due date. And I am one of those cool, next-level fuck-ups who doesn’t even start until that day in question.
Hello, I am Nate Walsh. I’ll be your host for the evening.
Taxes have been a Thing with me, pretty much since the moment I moved out here. The freelance lifestyle affords a lot of amazing benefits – particularly time and freedom – but it comes with a few challenges as well, and taxes is a big one. No longer a simple matter of blasting your W-2 into a thing and getting on with your life, when taxes are your own responsibility, you have to do things like set aside money and save receipts and hire an accountant. Or, if you’re like me, none of those things.
My parents, bless their hearts, have been sweating this for nigh on 18 months, warning and hassling and eventually full-on begging me to get my shit together. But I had a weird block about it.
I think a lot of it is just that I find money kind of repugnant, and I don’t like to think about it.
Which, you know, you always tell yourself that you’re not a stereotype. Like, “Oh, I’m a writer, but I’m not one of THOSE types of writers. All moody and distant and weird. Always running off on ridiculous whims. Terrible with finances. Yeah, good thing I’m nothing like THAT.” Yeah, whoops.
It’s just something I don’t like to think about, though, money. It makes me feel bad and uncomfortable – billing people, paying bills, thinking how much I owe on things. It gives me a knot in my stomach. So I stall and dodge and delay on it for as long as humanly possible.
Which, as it turns out, is like until 12pm on October 15th – at which point I become pure molten chaos.
Picture me, if you will, as a sort of demented, Beautiful Mind-style math genius, surrounded by huge, chaotic stacks of printed-out bank statements and credit card bills and Amazon receipts, panning through the piles like a madman, trying to find another couple of pen purchases or whatever that could conceivably transform what I owe from “world-endingly bad” to merely “nightmarishly bad.”
By the end of it – a good 10 hours – I started speaking aloud to TurboTax, like it was a dopey, disobedient menial laborer. It means well, TurboTax, it really does, but as it turns out, it’s still tax law, and tax law is pretty fucking complicated. Poor old TurboTax can only dumb things down so much.
There is literally no way I got everything right. There were too many forms, too many boxes, too many numbers, too many things I didn’t know or couldn’t figure out, so I just took my best stab at it.
I actually thought I had a pretty good long con going there for a minute. I was going to list my occupation as “Writer / Party Planner,” see, and then I could deduct all the stupid party shit I buy on Amazon – koala masks, lifesize Michael Jordan cutouts, goth makeup – and pass them off as “office supplies.” But, by the end there, I got pretty scared, and got rid of all of that stuff but the name. Still, silver lining: If it’s on file with the GOVERNMENT, it has to be true! Nate Walsh: Official Government-Sanctioned Party Planner. Watch out, bitches.
Anyway, it was a horrible experience, and I am legitimately terrified about how it’s going to turn out. I paid an extra $59.99 for some TurboTax bullshit called Audit Defense™, which they made sound like it was going to be the end all be all of IRS protection, but I’m pretty sure it mostly means some poor slob at TurboTax is going to kill himself when he sees what he has to work with. Honestly, by the end there, I think my plan was to do such a horrible, inscrutable job that not even the IRS themselves could make sense of it. Good luck wading through THAT swamp, fuckos!
I guess my point is, see you in debtors’ prison.
At least I’ll have time to write.
So, continuing our multi-part series of Things I Tripped Hard On While Stumbling Home High From Sushi, we stopped in Alley Cat Books to take a peek at the art, and I saw this pretty awesome little coffeetable book about tarot cards.
Nate Walsh Trivia Buffs should know that, back in the day, I used to dabble in tarot card reading a bit. Mostly it was just a gimmicky way to hit on women, but it was actually pretty fun on top of that besides. I don’t really believe in the clairvoyant power of cardboard rectangles with pictures, but I do think they serve as kind of an interesting little Rorschach Test: Every card has so many details and varied meanings that you can kind of build together any story you want, whether it’s “It’s time to switch jobs” or “You should definitely hook up with a sandy-haired stranger you just met.” The reading says more about the reader, I guess is my point.
Anyway, flipping through the book, I started to think it was maybe time for me to start getting back into tarot, which led to a fun little stoned Amazon search. You wouldn’t believe the insane selection they have – sex tarot, vampire tarot, like 12 different kinds of cat tarot, etc. But of course the deck I love the most is completely expensive and insane: The Grand Bellini Tarot! Apparently the cards have gold gilded edges or something; I mostly like the cute little drawings a lot.
Anyway, now that I’m back and writing again, if any of my loyal readers ever want to buy me a stupid, extravagant present, put this one at the top of the list. God Bless, Part II.
So, speaking of dive bar smell, and completely negating the point of everything I just fucking said about it, here is an entry about a time when I was sloppy and drunken and single. Love meeeeee!
I sat on this for a while as a statute of limitations entry, but I think it’s now fairly safe to say that I won’t be marrying this particular young woman anytime soon.
So, it was a Friday night in early April, and I was still pretty firmly in support of my “NO DATING” policy. Actually, the night in question, I was pretty much in favor of a “NO HUMANS WHATSOEVER” policy, but Josh and Michelle blew into the apartment, a few beers in presumably, and they were pretty keen on the idea of going out and causing some trouble. I did not feel the least bit on-board, but decided to drink warm Malibu and see if that changed my mind any. It did, a bit – at least enough to get me out the door. And that’s half the battle right there.
So, we decide to go on a South Mission dive bar crawl, and I’m mostly just along for the ride – even on my best nights, I still kind of miss the point of bar hopping whatsoever. See and be seen, I guess, is the idea. But the thing to note is – and this is important for the rest of this story – is that I am very, very bad at being a single person at bars. I’m all long con, and no short game – I can’t really approach strangers, I have a pretty surly face in general, I’m naturally kind of aloof on first blush, I’m generally too drunk to remember how to do small talk, and I’m simply not hot enough to counteract all of those other things. So, I’ve kind of resigned myself to just following along and nothing happening, like every other time we go out, when we get to El Rio.
Josh and Michelle run into a group of Startup People they know, and they start one of those conversations where it’s just exchanges of interchangeable startup and founder names (“Oh, did you hear about Blah-Blah from Bleh dot IO? Bleh-blah bleh-blah bleh-blah…”) At this point my move is generally to hide off in a corner and drink schnapps until blackout, but lo and behold, this other group of Startup People has their own outsider – someone just as bored and confused and irritated as me.
So, this is where the game shifts. Because, see, while it is rude to go up and bother a stranger in most situations, it would actually be ruder NOT to talk to this particular stranger in this sort of circumstance.
Shut up, I have my dumb rules, and I stand by them.
So, she and I talking, and I’m half-drunk, and still kind of annoyed because 1) Startup People and 2) going out never amounts to anything. And I think these feelings kind of translated to what was a pretty dark, pretty devil-may-care attitude to have during a first conversation with another human being. I don’t recall the specifics, but mostly I skipped the small talk and yelled about death and my mental problems a lot. Which was apparently an appealing quality, at least to her, which maybe should have been a warning sign. But also, I guess I should note, she was hot, and I never just immediately hit it off with people – especially the hot ones! – so hey! Full steam ahead!
So, I start ramping up the drinking, because I understand that if I want to make any sort of forward progress with a woman, I have to basically be cross-eyed drunk. And so, when the rest of the group is ready to move on, I ask for her phone number, which is already a pretty big thing for me. And hey, she actually gives it me! So then, I decide to REALLY go for broke and decide to stay there with her while everyone else leaves.
Things get a little fuzzy here, which is unfortunate, because I am curious how we got to this point – did I do my cool move where I just ask if she wants to make out? – but pretty soon after everyone bails, we have found this dark, mop-filled alcove in the bar by the bathrooms, and we are kissing. Which, you know, yay, awesome, drunken public makeouts! What a cool guy, etc.
But then, like, at some point, pretty early into the makeout, she takes my hand and kind of slooooowly brings it up to her throat.
I am… not fully sure what to do with this information.
Nate Walsh is, it should be said, a passionate and giving lover. And certainly not a judgmental one (except about his own needs, which are all hideously disgusting). But, like, is she asking me to do what I think she is asking me to do? This seems like a pretty bad time for guesswork.
So, we keep going, my hand kind of awkwardly resting on her throat now, and eventually she kind of breathes into my ear, “Choke me…”
Ah, well. That clears that up. Good on you for clearly stating your needs! But, honestly, in many ways this raises more questions than it answers. Namely: How hard does one choke a stranger, anyway? There is definitely a greater than usual chance of murder happening here than with your average makeout activities.
So, I go with what I figure is the most reasonable course of action here and start off slow – a light choking! a soupçon of choking! – and gauge her reaction. She is pretty into it, and I am pretty into people being pretty into things, so things escalate quickly, and pretty soon I am just full-on groping / strangling a lady in a dark alcove in a bar.
(By the way, people, I am a little bit disappointed in you: We were in that alcove for at least 45 minutes, with me murdering some woman by all appearances, and not one single person popped their head in to make sure everything was OK. I mean, in a way I’m sort of grateful, because that’s an awkward conversation to have, but on the other hand, come on, guys! This is Kitty Genovese all over again. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.,” etc., etc.)
Anyway, we do this for a good long while, but you know, we just met and all, so we don’t want to go too fast with things, so then we just go and grab a burrito and I tell her I’ll call and then I head home. (Actually, I do that thing I do when I’m nervous sometimes where I sprint home and kind of laugh and cry a little.)
So, she lives out somewhere hellish in the East Bay or something, so we don’t meet up for a little while, but we’re talking, and she’s pretty smart and interesting and well-rounded, but as time goes on, I grow increasingly worried about our second date. Like, if public choking is her opening move, what’s full-on sex gonna be like? Am I gonna have to chop off a finger for her to finish? It’s great that she is so open and comfortable and can talk about crystal Hello Kitty butt plugs like it ain’t no thang, but I am starting to feel like I am pretty out of my depths here. I am total vanilla white bread compared to this woman.
But, I am nothing if not intrigued, so on to Date 2. I am terrified more or less at this point, so I decide to show up drunk. (They call this move A Nate Walsh.) We meet on a Saturday afternoon and walk around and explore the Mission and talk, and it’s all pretty fun and normal and stuff. But then we go to Delores Park, and we’re just kind of sitting around fidgeting, and it is pretty clear that I am supposed to make a move, but I am a little worried about going for the throat, so to speak. It occurs to me that she might have been pretty drunk herself that night, and that maybe she generally builds her way up to choking, so I start off pretty light and tame. Again, though, a couple minutes in, and she moves my hand up to her throat. Okey dokey! If you say so!
So, like, we’re making out and I am choking her again, except now there are like little kids and moms with strollers walking by us, and eventually I have to stop and be like, “OK, this looks like I’m committing a crime. Can we maybe go back to my place or something?” And she’s like, “Sure, but I’m not going to sleep with you yet.”
Which, again: Awesome, great! I appreciate the open communication and clearly stated boundaries. I just wish I had a better handle on the hierarchy of those boundaries. I mean, in my mind, letting someone lightly kill you with their hands requires a good deal more trust than simply having sex with them, but I guess that’s just me.
So, we get a ride home and then proceed to have the most violent makeout session I have ever had in my life. It’s more like a wrestling match than anything – hair pulled, people tossed around, power struggles, slapping, hitting, and pretty much a constant level of choking all the while. And it was good, it was fun… but I think we fed each other’s energy a little too much. Basically, we kicked each other’s asses, is what I’m saying. I apologize for the TMI here, but genitals were literally rubbed raw from the caliber of dry humping we engaged in; I couldn’t walk right for days.
Eventually, we kind of stagger out of my room, because I have a flight to catch or something, and we kiss goodbye and agree to meet up when I get back, but I think there was sort of a tacit agreement to never see each other ever ever again. The way things were escalating with us, we would have wound up dead or in prison (or both).
Anyway, that is my cool story. I wasn’t trying to brag. I hope that came across. Also sorry for making you picture me engaged in sex acts. God bless.
So, last night, when I was out having my weed-induced revelations, we were stumbling home from dinner through the deep Mission, and we poked our heads into this one bar to see what it looked like. And ohhhhh man, I caught a whiff of the place, and started tripping HARD on dive bar smell.
I’m not even sure what the smell is exactly – wooden floorboards rotting through from decades of spilled shitty beer? – but whatever it is, apparently I have built some powerful connections to it in my mind.
Mostly, it reminded me of first dates.
(Haha, shut up, I’m an anxious person, OK? Generally I’m only gonna have the courage to meet up with a woman if there is a ton of cheap booze and a whole hell of a lot of low lighting to hide my hideous visage.)
Whatever. My point is, a half-second of dive bar smell, and basically I was awash in Feelings – some sort of Pavlovian response, I guess, from my dating days. Fear, dread, excitement, anxiety, anticipation, hope, defeat, exhaustion, horniness, all at the same time. Forget what Dickens said – those were the best and worst times.
And then I started to think about how I really don’t go to bars at all anymore – dive or otherwise – and I started to think about why that was.
The fact that I no longer have to date, that’s obviously the biggest factor – Single Energy (some know it as “Desperation”) was always the main driver that got me out into the world to explore and try new things and get into dumb scrapes.
Alcohol has grown a little weary, too, I guess – I mean, it’s fun, but it’s not that fun, and I pay pretty dearly for it in the aftermath. It’s no longer the driving force for entertainment that it once was, where most of my plans and jokes and stories were centered around it: All-day bar crawls, complex drinking games, 75% of my tweets, etc.*
I think most of my friends are in the same place, too, these days – more settled down, less infatuated with partying… Growing up, I guess, if I had to put a name to it. It’s weird – you never expect it to happen, and then it sort of just slowly happens on its own.
Anyway, all of this left me feeling kind of bittersweet. I mean, recent debacles aside, I’ve never been more stable, but I dunno. I’m happy. But I’m a little sad that I’m happy, if that makes any sense.
I’ve long had this internal debate about whether it was better to be happy or interesting – basically: how much am I willing to suffer for my art – and I dunno. I guess we’ve kind of completely settled into place on the other team now. And it’s good. It’s healthier, it’s smarter. And it’s not like I’ve gotten rid of my shitshow tendencies altogether. Just… it feels like I’ve given up the good fight in a way, you know?
Nothing generates stories better than being sloppy and drunken and single. Do I miss the process of generating those stories? No, not particularly. But I do miss the fact that they were being generated.
Like, I want to write a book, you know? And when I do, it will have lots of tales of all the silly, stupid scrapes I got into lo these 30 years. But what happens if I want to do a second book? How do you generate content when you don’t have drunken hookup disasters to pull from? I’m not all that smart or all that revelatory in my introspection – I can’t imagine anyone’s gonna want to read 200 pages of garbage like this. I worry that my prose kind of relies on me being a fuck-up; what the hell happens when I’m not anymore? No one wants to hear the new Old 97’s albums.
Anyway, this is not to be a downer. Just, maybe the lesson here is, don’t hang your hat on being a mess. Because that can only end with you either staying that way (which is pathetic), getting worse (which ends in death or ruin), or getting better (which winds up with you as a pretty boring person without a whole lot of substance to work with).
*I stand by elaborate theme parties, however.
i’m so unclean
Hi, everyone, welcome back. I’m crazy again, and therefore have things to write about again. Good to see you (except, you know, not really, considering the circumstances).
So, as I have alluded to previously, I have been traveling a lot and having lots of dumb adventures (e.g., Burning Man, STL Road Trip, Harry Potter Land, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Costa Rica!), which has been great, wonderful, amazing, so so good, and which I am definitely going to try and circle back and write about at some point in the near future, but FIRST I am going to whine about how hard it has been to get back into the swing of things when you’ve been traveling so much and having so much fun and WAAHH WAHHHHH A-BLOO BLOO BLOO, etc. (That is the sound of me crying, FYI.)
Anyway, first and foremost, this is me acknowledging how lucky I am that these are the sort of problems I have to deal with (haha did you miss my cool writing style, where I presume you are thinking terrible things about me as a person and interrupt my narrative to preemptively call them out? I BET YOU DID), but problems they’ve been all the same. I blew back into the country beat and exhausted and completely out of serotonin, and all of a sudden it was time to Get Back to Business and, like, you know, work and have money and do chores and be a grown-up and stuff.
I did not handle it super well.
See, sometimes this thing happens with me, where I start to spin out on all the things I have to do, and I panic and freeze up, and then I can’t do anything.
Like, I’d be lying in my bed, and I’d be like, “OK, I really need to change Cat’s litter. He is pooping on the ground and stuff, and it is making him an unhappy kitty.” But somehow, in imagining the one task, my head would spiral out to all these other semi-related tasks. Like, “Well, if I’m gonna do THAT, I really should clean my room as well. I haven’t unpacked my suitcase, and there’s a ton of laundry to do, and these sheets are disgusting, and I really need to reorganize my arts and craft supplies, and I should finally get around to hanging that shelf up, and there’s a ton of stuff that needs to go into storage, and blah blah blah, etc.” And my wheels would be spinning so furiously on all these different things that I would just kind of shut down and do none of it, not even the first relatively minor thing.
And it was like that with everything for a while. Couldn’t really work, couldn’t answer emails, couldn’t hang out with people, couldn’t even talk myself into showering.* Mostly I just hid out in my room and slept a bunch and mainlined “Veronica Mars” episodes and peed in Gatorade bottles. (Yeah, cool. Cool.) Eventually, I recovered enough to crawl out to the living room and play video games with Kyle for like 72 hours straight, but we can just barely call that improvement.
So, how did I dig myself out of this horrible depressive hole? Why, drugs, of course! Walking home from dinner last night, Kyle and I split this tiny, stale little joint, and shit just came falling into place.
HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS
MEDICAL MARIJUANA USED FOR ITS ACTUAL INTENDED PURPOSE
AND NOT JUST GETTING ME REAL, REAL INTERESTED IN WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE POPCORN
I dunno, for whatever reason, a couple little puffs just shook a lot of shit loose for me. It was like, suddenly being in this chemically-induced zen state reminded me that I could be in a zen state, you know? That the terrible place I was in mentally didn’t have to be the status quo. That there are good things in this world, and things that make me happy, and things I want to do, and it’s not all bad, hard obligations. I mean, there are some things you have to do, of course, but there aren’t that that many, and if you’re smart about it, you can get rid of most of the bad ones, and optimize for more of the good ones, and reframe some of the in-between ones so that they feel more good, too. Like, instead of freaking out about all the email I have to answer, think of how good it will feel when I’ve answered them? That sort of thing.
Anyway, I know these thoughts are hardly revelatory (High People Thoughts rarely are), but it snapped something loose for me, and suddenly I wanted to do things again, and learn about stuff again, and (buy) (silly) (things) again, and start writing again. (Which I haven’t really felt for a long while. Which is sort of tricky when you are a writer as your main thing).
And so, the first thing I did with this new positive state of mind was to finally hop into the shower, and it was so, so good to be clean again. :)
Anyway, I guess the lesson here is: Do drugs. Not, like, a lot of drugs, but a little drugs, every once in a while. You’re welcome.
*The one silver lining I will note was that this marked the first time my mood matched that of the song at the top, which is a completely awesome lady punk rock jam about depression. "So I stare at the cat for a while / And the minutes have changed into miles" Hahaha, so good!
Hi, my name’s Nate Walsh, and I haven’t showered since Thursday because I am so cool and stable.Silver lining: You can basically interpret this as the starter’s pistol for Diary-Writin’ Season.
In my USA Original Series “Legal Limits,” every episode is going to feature a black-and-white slow-motion montage set to Finger Eleven’s “One Thing” wherein Ducky’s drunken detective character decides to give up drinking.
Each time it will feature him paging through a photo album, flipping over a table, collapsing into sobs against a wall, and pouring his flask out into the sink. Then, my character (the Watson to his Holmes) will walk into the room, at which point normal speed and color will resume, Ducky will shotgun a beer, and we’ll head out to crack the case.
Every. Single. Episode.
(Also I’m gonna try and work a highly destructive boat chase into each episode if possible.)
(Also I’m not really excited about writing original mysteries, so I’m just going to use thinly veiled plots from Encyclopedia Brown books.)
I don’t mean to brag, but at the last party I threw, Will Sasso from “Mad TV” showed up, and he did a bunch of cocaine and wouldn’t leave or shut up about his Cocaine Thoughts.
Wait, that wasn’t Will Sasso from “Mad TV”?
Why the fuck did we let that guy hang out so long then?
I had a dream I drank en entire thing of NyQuil and then slept for 2 weeks straight and then woke up with short-term memory loss.It was like Memento, except the main mystery was interpersonal relationships and why anyone would bother liking me in the first place.
OK so I know this damned thing is clichéd as all get-out at this point, and I don’t want to be accused of punching down or anything, but man, can we just take a moment and really allow ourselves to revel in how fucking nuts it is that we as a society somehow allowed William Shatner to do a cover of “Rocket Man” with himself.
It’s not even that I think that it’s bad or that it’s silly. (I mean; I guess it sort of is; I’ve listened to it enough times that I actually kind of genuinely love it.) For me, it’s more that it’s just absolutely fucking bonkers: The cigarette, the suit, the crazy ass noises, the complete disregard for the beat, the multiple personalities superimposed into the same frame, everything.
How was this allowed to happen?
I have worked in the creative industry for about 7 years now, so I have at least a fair idea of how the sausage is made: How many people it takes, how much collaboration, how much time and energy and money, all the buy-in you have to get from all the different levels along the way.
And yet. This exists.
I want to do an oral history of this video where I talk to every single human involved in its production – the camera people, the producers, whoever pitched the thing, the damn theremin musician or whatever – to just try and understand how it all came together: Who conceived of this idea, who pushed it forward, who was sucked along for the ride, everything. I want to know this performance back to front, because this is a singular moment in human cultural history, and I can’t even begin to imagine how it made it from start to finish.
"And I’m gonna be … HIGH … as a KITE."
I feel like I have 2 main settings – Experiencing Life and Documenting Life (Well, and maybe Lamenting Life, but the less we say about that one, the better) – and right now, I am firmly in the former camp, choking down big old mouthfuls of existence by the fistful, without a whole lot of time left over to sit down and talk about it.
This will settle down, I am sure, with summer’s end, and then I will finally get around to jotting down that rad Coachella entry I plotted out 5 months ago, but for now ’til like … mid-October, just hold the hell on, please.
(Maybe this is how I finally make my peace with my annually dreaded Seasonal Affective Disorder. I will be like damn self-actualized Persephone, half the year in bloom, half the year in gloom, but using that downtime energy productively to talk about all the things I did when they were the other way around. I am a bear, a flower, a third thing! Yes!)