i don’t really understand how venn diagrams work, ok?
Yesterday was one of those days where my serotonin levels took a reallllll dip. And, while I’ve certainly had a lot of practice in dealing with such things, that doesn’t make being a sad fucker any less unpleasant.
Basically you’ve got this lovely little nonstop news feed in your brain, and oh hey guess what the top story trending topic whatever is How Bad You Suck At Everything.: Job, relationships, friendships, future prospects, basic adult functionality – all the big hits!
I will say this, though – depression does do some weird things for my creativity. Being low is actually a lot like being high, in that my brain suddenly starts generating a whole shitload of content, and it all seems very deep and profound at the time, but winds up being utterly silly and terrible after the fact. Don’t worry – I have of course long since learned to stay away from my blog when I’m down in the dumps – it’s my industry’s equivalent of “don’t drink and drive” – but I still wrote like 3 drafts yesterday that are definitely never going to see the light of day.
But, the real fun part is, because I have an “artistic temperament” and all that (i.e., I am inherently dramatic and terrible, all the time), the bad ideas actually extend to real life, too, all theatrical and morbid and odd. Some of yesterday’s included:
- "I should decorate my room in Halloween decorations! Skeletons and shit!"
- I wonder if I could jump up and run lengthwise across a parked car. Or a moving car!”
- "I should start wearing V-neck shirts when I run. Also, other times!"
Thankfully, we are winding back to (relative) normalcy and my usual degree of bad thoughts and ideas. Fun while it lasted, though!
(No, it wasn’t.)
You know how sometimes you get the genius idea to cure the hangover from one substance by using a different substance? Well, Julie drew a brilliant Water-Cycle-style chart connecting various chemicals + hangovers together that IN NO WAY DESCRIBES MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE MOM, but is pretty great all the same.
all you sniffling indie kids / hold steady
I saw The Hold Steady at a festival once before (Summary: I was drunk, and there were brambles), but festivals don’t count. This was my first real experience with them, and I wanted it to be great.
You know what that means.
The endless wait.
The thing about showing up 3 hours early to a concert so you can be in the front row is that you have to then spend those 3 hours with the other people who were obsessed enough to do the same thing.
You know, weirdos who awkwardly lean around you to see which new distortion pedals the band has added for this tour. (Related question: What’s sadder – pretending that you know which pedals the band used last tour, or actually knowing which pedals the band used last tour?) Fortysomething women who make it a point to refer to all the band members by their first names, as if they’re actual friends you don’t have to pay to hang out with. Aimless obsessives who spend literally every bit of their spare time and money to follow the band around on every stop on their tour.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – I can’t talk. I was right up there with them, and the skin is still healing on the tattoo I got based on one of the band’s album covers. But still. The shame is at least firmly recognized, trust me.
The thing I love about The Hold Steady is that they get high-minded about low-culture, and that they’re split right down the middle about everything. Bars, parties, fights, shows can be great,and they can be terrible – and pretty often a mix of both. People can surprise you with their beauty and their poignancy, but they can also be some hoodrat townie trash, too. Shit’s as fucked-up as ever, but mostly that means we’ve gotta fight even harder. We are our only saviors, so we gotta start it off with a positive jam, we gotta arrive at a unified scene, and we sure as shit gotta stay positive, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t get discouraged along the way.
You know me, I’m weirdly obsessed with sincerity, and I guess I like these guys so much because it just seems like they really do mean it. They’re living and dying over every bar and every fight and every hookup – so much so that they’re heightening the mythology so it’s all weird and interconnected and quasi-religious. And they fully acknowledge that things get grimy and shitty and awful, but they still recognize that the only way to keep going is to keep your head up. It’s hard-won positivity, and therefore means a hell of a lot more to me than those weirdos who seem preternaturally cheery all the time. It’s just one more fight in the long list of ‘em, but really, it’s the main one that matters.
Sorry, I’m maybe blowing this a little out of proportion here, but you see what happens when I really, truly love a band. It takes over a little bit and becomes more than music, and something closer to a philosophy or a lifestyle.
So, yeah, this wasn’t just a concert for me, I guess. It was a bit like coming home.
And so yeah, I went a little overboard, I guess you’d say.
Basically, I mainlined double bourbons in the hours leading up to the show, so that, when the time came, I was in total nightmare demon shitshow mode.
Hold Steady shows get a little moshy, I guess – not the malicious kind, really, but people are just too excited and can’t be made to hold still, and I was in a goooood place for all of that. The whole show I was thrashing around like a sweaty goblin, screaming songs at the top of my lungs, grabbing my head and my heart in desperate ecstasy, smushing into people, standing on everyone’s toes, hugging total strangers when the right songs came on. I hesitate to use the phrase “religious experience,” but I’m not entirely sure what else I could call it either. It was less a concert and more like some sort of drunken rock-and-roll faith revival tent.
And it’s great to be around people who are as into it as you are (and this includes the lead singer, Craig Finn, who prances around doing nutso arm maneuvers and screaming so loud and so hard that the front row probably should receive spit ponchos when they are arrive). I go to concerts alone pretty often, and while there are some downsides to that decision, it’s a pretty deliberate choice on my part. I don’t casually attend shows; when I come, it’s usually because the band in question is some sort of weird integral part of my life, and I need to get out there and express that part with people who feel the same way. I can’t really handle “casual fans” when I’m in that place – people who are OK standing in the back or who don’t sing and dance their hearts out. It kind of harshes my buzz. I need to be down there with the actual crazies, because they’re the only ones I know for sure will mean it as much as I do. And so yeah, maybe I was exactly where I belonged.
After the show, when I was paying my (exorbitatn) tab, a complete sweaty, drunken mess, multiple people came up to me to comment on my passionate, frenetic dancing.
"I wish I liked them as much as you do, man."
"Hell, I wish I liked anything as much as you like them.”
Which I am taking as a compliment, and not a comment on my sad obsessive lifestyle.
I’m almost 30 now, so I definitely paid for my revelry the net day (and some of the day after that, as it turns out). I’m sore from legs to neck, my hearing’s fucked to shit, and I’m pretty sure I burned off all of my serotonin for the week, so I’m being a real sad fucker about everything. But holy shit, man. Totally worth it.
And yes I am totally staring at the ticket page for the Hold Steady’s show in Sacramento tonight, so yeah, I guess I do see how these obsessives get started.
AHHHH WE GOTTA STAY POSITIVE
On Saturday night, we went out dancing, and Mariam said every woman on the dancefloor was doing side-eyes at me.I suspect this had less to do with my overt hotness and more with the fact that I was dressed in a homemade Bad Grandpa t-shirt and was aggressively dancing alone, touching my hair.
in which i drunkenly attempt to act out jurassic park as fast as possible at a talent show
(SPOILER ALERT: It is like 5 minutes too long, and borderline incomprehensible at points.)
So, I was 3 or 4 days into my visit to Panama, and I’d yet to make much of an impression on anyone, because I am a socially anxious introvert and a human disaster, and there hadn’t been much in the way of Alcohol Parties yet, and that’s pretty much the only way I know how to rapidly connect with other people. Fortunately, on Saturday night, the researchers were having this semi-regular event called the Coffeehouse, which starts off as a potluck, then sort of devolves into a slipshod talent show.*
This was my chance.
I needed something that would show my deep, insane love for weirdo pop culture, along with my charming(?) makeshift drunken sloppiness. Sadly, interminably long Grateful Dead covers and Allen Ginsberg poetry readings were already taken, but luckily, inspiration was all around me.
I don’t know if I mentioned it to you guys, but Panama is basically Jurassic Park all the time everywhere:
WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH
This had a number of terrible side effects, like the theme song playing on an endless loop in my head, or assuming every rustle in the bushes was a velociraptor, or trying to insert the phrase "Hold onto your butts" into casual conversation as much as humanly possible throughout the entire hike,** but mostly, the movie was top of mind for pretty much the entire trip.*** So yeah, it seemed pretty obvious what I needed to do: Drink a bunch of rum and scream dinosaur roars at people until I had friends.
(In Panama, the main rum is called “Ron Abuelo,” which I know actually translates to “Grandpa Rum,” but it is way more fun to call it “Grandpa Ron” and imagine it’s named for an irresponsible grandfather who secretly gets his grandkids loaded. I mean, just look at the little picture of him! That is seriously one bad grandpa.)
Unfortunately, because of my busy social schedule (which included crashing a child’s fairy party†), I didn’t have time to really prepare or practice beyond my initial assembly of notes. Fortunately, there was a solution for this: More rum!
(Signing up – and clearly a little rum-soaked already!)
In the end, things ended up working out great! I ate a bunch of amazing ceviche, and kept adding rum to my sangria (“Fortified sangria,” I called it), and learned Minimum Viable Salsa. Andy performed the song he wrote as part of his dissertation, and it was super catchy and great. And yeah, even though my performance was sloppy and over-long, it had its intended effect: People now sort of knew me for a thing, and that thing summarized at least some aspects of my personality, and they more or less liked me for it. During the pool afterparty thing, I kept worriedly asking if it was too long, and people were like, “Yes. But that was part of its greatness. It spun back on itself and got funny again. Now pour some of this terrible Panamanian licorice liquor†† in your face.” And I was like, “Yessssss,” and all was at peace.
* Which, if my experience is any indicator, continues to devolve into a salsa dancing party, then further devolves into its final and truest state: An insane all-night backyard kiddie pool underwear dance party that the cops keep trying to shut down but Andy’s friend May keeps charming them out of.
** As time went on, I started to evolve the phrase for use in other situations. So, like, when we were crossing the lake, it was, “Hold onto your boats.” Or when Peter was having trouble picking up ants, “Hold onto your bugs.” I am nothing if not flexible.
*** This culminated in me trying to read the book, which is an utter travesty as it turns out. Michael Crichton, God Rest His Soul, definitely had some cool ideas and did some great research to back them up, but dude could not write the way humans talk or think whatsoever. “Oh, you know what this chapter needs? HUGE EXCERPTS OF COMPUTER CODE.” Jesus Christ, it’s like the fucking songs in the Hobbit books.
† I personally smuggled in like 18 damn pairs of fairy wings from the States – I am coming to your fucking fairy party.
†† Why is it that every culture has its own horrible licorice liquor? Ouzo, Pernod, Sambuca, Jäger. I understand that it’s probably the first thing everyone had around to cover up the taste of the alcohol, but oh man, look what the hell you’re covering it with.
My favorite is when a product is so basic that there really isn’t a whole lot to brag about about it beyond its inherent nature (“It’s a paste made from peanuts!” “Steam your clothes so they look flatter!”), yet they still want to boast, so they do label explosions for non-features:
OH MAN 850 WATTS
THAT IS SO MANY WATTS
THE PEANUT BUTTER COMES IN A JAR?!
THAT’S SO MUCH BETTER THAN LEAVING IT ON THE COUNTER
IN A ENTROPIC BLOB
neighborhood poop signs, pt. 4
OK, strictly speaking, this isn’t a neighborhood sign, as I stumbled upon it when Kyle and I were doing our 9-mile totally-sobes soon-to-be-annual spirit walk across the city to the ocean, but I am still counting it, because it is too awesome not to share.
Main points of concern:
- I like how they clarified (possibly after the fact) with “DOG.” Cat urine is still more than welcome, everyone!
- "I CLEAN YOUR MESS EVERYTIME" is maybe the most aggrieved sentence I have ever read in my life.
So, while I was out in the jungle, I started to lose it, you know, and would get hyper-focused on certain lame, not-very-good concepts. One of which was Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
I started to develop this game (which really isn’t much of a game, because there are only like 50 rounds you can play, maximum) where I would summarize each of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies in character with my terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, using the same repeated template:
"Oh no, I have [X]. It’s funny because [Y]."
Let’s try some examples:
"Oh no, I have baby. It’s funny because I am man."
"Oh no, I have twin. It’s funny because he ugly."
"Oh no, I have kindergarten class. It’s funny because I am cop."
"Oh no, I have to protect woman. It’s funny because I try to kill her earlier. Also robot."
"Oh no, I have to fight Sinbad. It’s funny because jingle all the vay."
I’m not sure if the game holds up across all of his movies, because eventually I got heat stroke and was too busy barfing to keep going, but you are welcome to try on your own, if you feel so inclined!
So, my favorite favorite pop culture blog Vulture is now accepting applications for an “associate editor” – I don’t really know what either of those words mean together, but as far as I can tell, the job mostly involves obsessing about the pop culture I already love in the way I already do, so I am going to put together a probably pretty overdone, entirely too earnest application that won’t get me anywhere.
Let me give you an example of how they are awesome, though. Today is the 25th anniversary of when When Harry Met Sally came out, so they had all of these features about it, one of which was a gallery of photos from the premiere, during which they took the opportunity to interrupt, literally every other photo, with this picture of Frightful John Cusack.
They just Get Me, you know? And sometimes you just wanna be Gotten.
so i got my first stupid tattoo
(Wait that is not to imply that I had non-stupid tattoos before this, and this is merely the first stupid one I’ve gotten, but rather that all tattoos are inherently kind of stupid, but hey! now I have one, etc.)
So, having more or less survived my trip to Panama with a minimum of permanent damage, I really had no choice but to do some permanent damage of my own – for like $100 (plus the price of Bellinis).
Sherah and I had a catchup brunch, and we happened to be right across the street from a tattoo place that we’d both heard good things about, and hey what do you know, 5-6 Bellinis in, getting friendship tattoos together suddenly sounded like a very good idea.
Devoted readers will recall that I plotted out this very tattoo in a previous entry – except it turned out way cuter than my shitty Sharpie drawing.
One question I never felt has been adequately explained is what getting a tattoo feels like, so I will use my writerly skills to Paint A Picture With Words for you. Imagine someone takes a fairly coarse grain of sandpaper and folds it half and then uses that fold to kind of draw / scrape a pattern into your skin. That is getting a tattoo. It’s all right.
My parents, of course, were concerned (albeit less so than when they thought Sherah and I had gotten matching deer face tattoos) – particularly that this might become a Thing. I am not sure if it will or not – I have to kind of settle in and see how this one goes, I guess – but right now I am kind of enamored with its permanence.
I mean, you get to make so few Permanent Choices in life. Practically anything can be backed out of – marriage, babies, school, career, whatever; it’s not often that you make a choice and have to stick with it (unless you’re a real fuck-up). Obviously I am a tremendously fickle person and can barely pick out my shirt for the day, so I am curious to see how this one thing will hold up over time.
At the very least, you will get to hear the hilarious chronicles of me getting my flesh lasered off in a few years, yeah?
That thing that is like my job and a large percentage of my free time and the thing I pretty often self-identify with, yeah yeah yeah.
*That Whole Thing*
Apparently 3 weeks out of the country is long enough to get some major George of the Jungle syndrome, where I am all mystified by buses and smartphones and foods that aren’t made out of bananas or banana-related byproducts.
I have like 250 pages of things to write, I realize. Bear with me a little, though, as I stumble around and reacclimate myself and fall asleep in parks playing Pokémon Red on a seriously broke-ass Gameboy. Updates are coming! We just have to… allow for them.
god what am i even talking about jesus
Any country where you can get a $4 machete is all right in my books.
(And yes, that is a machete scabbard made out of macaroni and cheese duct tape. I am an INNOVATOR, damn it.)
I am going to be hiking through the jungle for the next 9 days, so if you don’t hear from me, it was nice knowing you and stuff. <3
So, I don’t have a data plan down here, so I don’t have Spotify, so I don’t have music – EXCEPT for this one song I downloaded before I left.
Which, as far as songs go, isn’t a bad one to have by its lonesome for 3 weeks.
I am going to be writing some posts on Andy’s Digital Naturalism blog for the Panama trip, it looks like.
I’ll be sure to cross-link, though, so you don’t miss a single hilarious moment of my life.
Here is my first post, about what I packed for the trip. Don’t worry – it’s just as long and pointless as the posts you’re used to, so you won’t feel disoriented or anything.
I’m on the plane, and I’m thinking, “This is the last time I’m going to be totally safe for a while.”
(Which is ironic, as I am in a pressurized, jet-fueled tube soaring hundreds of miles per hour tens of thousands of feet up in the sky.)
But it’s true. We’re coming up on the end of things that are familiar. And it’s scary – terrifying, really – but also kind of exhilarating.
The safety net’s pulling up for a bit. Not completely – there are still some Friends and Systems and Old Familiar Things in place – but there are still more Unknowns, and there’s more on me than there usually is, it feels like.
And now we see how we do.
And I’m still on the plane, and now I’m thinking. “There is so much left to do in this world.”
This is the first teeniest, tiniest baby toe in the water, really. There are things I haven’t begun to understand, can’t possibly comprehend at this point. And we haven’t really even gotten started yet. But we’re getting started. And then who knows what’s next.
OK, time to get off the plane.