Most of my creative projects have been collaborative. From highschool theatre stuff, hanging lights & listening to the Dead Milkmen in the light booth, to scrytch & the band Pillory Victrola as the 90s wore down, to the B3 review collective & the band TruckStop WHORES in college, to my main activities the last few years, by far the most time I've spent and most work I've produced has been in collaboration with other people.
Some of this is by choice. My politics foreground collaborative activity as both the way things actually are and the way they actually should be. Also there is somethng deep but uncontroversial about the proposition that It Is Fun to Make Things with Your Friends.
But it's not all guns & roses and beers before masterpieces. It's a relationship, and like all relationships, there are what I honestly can't bring myself to talk about any more explicitly than to call them "rough patches". Like all relationships, it's easy to do/say/be the wrong thing, and when the relationship involves heavy creating of artifacts, it turns out there's even more easy opportunities to put your foot in it and hurt someone's feelings, b/c you never know what element of product or process somebody will have invested themselves deeply in, so that an offhanded criticism or even just a failure to mention something that was important to someone else can prove a deep cut indeed. And, like all relationships, the quorum required from its participants is obscure; which is to say: it takes two to tango; it takes one to derail a marriage; just one person in the right wrong situation can poison a collective essentially permanently; anyway, the point is, when you're collaborating with someone? You (sg) are uniquely vulnerable to them in an awful lot of awful ways. And so is the work you (pl) are doing.
Which brings us to where I am in essentially all of my current projects.
Or, to put it more accurately, where I am in essentially all of the projects I must admit to myself are moribund.
Note: While I'm extremely frustrated and unhappy with the realization that most of my favorite outlets for the past couple years have ground to a halt and are no viable, it is not my desire to bash on any of my collaborators; I don't mind taking a reader, if there are any, into the kitchen, but I hope to stop short before airing my dirty laundry.
So where we at?
No Headlines is going strong--after a long, long hiatus, we dropped our third podcast last night, and have at least three more outlined with lots of material recorded. I'm in the middle of a big tantrum about the project right now, but I'll get over it myself in a couple days here.
the Wart never really happened. Sad, b/c I had high, high hopes for this comic book project. Tyler Stripes is a wonderful artist--the problem was mainly that I was intensely depressed when this began, and was incapable of finishing anything. Then I moved to Oakland. This one is definitely one for the So Sadly Fucked file(s).
Selavy is ongoing. Probably the best thing I've ever done. It grinds slow, but does keep grinding. KGLS is working away on her next joint, and I've had the occasional flash lately on continuing some of the stories.
tldrx2 never quite got off the ground, but I still have high hopes for an upcoming collaboration with Erin P. And at least now I know why nobody does text-heavy projects on Tumblr; b/c Tumblr is the worst text-editing interface yet devised.
Reviewiera continues, more or less. Maybe the most successful collaboration in some ways, in that what was created was twofold, both a body of work that I'm proud to have had a hand in and a space for conversations hewing to a historical/personal perspective that I think is interesting and valuable. I think the best posts are in the past, alas, but at this point, simply having kept the fucking thing going since 2006 is enough to keep me from slipping under the surface as I trudge thru the Swamps of Sadness. R.I.P. Artax.
Super! Hero! Shared! Housing! is the one that hurts the worst right now. A little over a year ago, one of my major goals was to "double the existing amount of S!H!S!H!". This didn't come close to happening--which is basically okay, b/c the one I did do was, I think, pretty great. Anyway I found the writing of it more satisfying than not.
No, the pain here is the simple and ancient pain of being shut down before you felt done. Tinzeroes kind of unilaterally decided that his latest multi-part epic deserved to come out before my finished-first piece; he then spent essentially the entire year working on his multi-part epic; he then finished only the first part; he then, as mentioned before in this space, retired his notebook.
I don't--and can't--blame him for this. He never signed a contract to want to work on S!H!S!H! forever.
And it's not fair for me to feel like "I still had stories to tell there!" when I have produced exactly one such story since--ahem--31aug2009. (A far cry from a far cry from my plan to produce one S!H!S!H! story every two months during 2010. Selah.)
And yet I would have loved to have seen that last one illustrated.
Clear the Crease exists, though the ancient archives apparently don't, and goes on, which is cool. Makes me happy. (Mainly just trying like a motherfucker to not end on a bummer here.)
And yet it moves. Queen City Fall may get some art from my old pal Forklift Jihad, though Tinzeroes evidently had no interest in providing any, so maybe that'll get me fired up to complete the beast. And maybe some other stuff will start, live for a while, then die.
Another long, detailed dream, crashing in somebody's RV, across the street from the shop I worked in. Spent the night scribbling in my reporter's notebook with an archival-quality India ink pen, then watching porn; in the morning, my last morning in the borrowed RV, I kept running porn, glancing at the clock, knowing I was gonna have to clean up, knowing I was running late for work, knowing I wasn't going to get to come back before the owners showed up, not changing what I was doing, 7.50, 8.05, 8.30, looking out the window at my work, looking back at the tv, then waking up.
A couple months ago, I was talking to Tinzeroes, & he mentioned it had been a big moment for him to break down and take his Super! Hero! Shared! Housing! notebook out of his ditty bag. Just admit to himself that it wasn't happening. I'll talk more about this conversation in a while, but it got me to thinking, and I did some reorganizing myself, dropping off the big notebook I had been carrying and moving to a small, tall, skinny (4x8) top-bound thing. Suitable much more for quick notes than for extended excursions--but fuck me it'd been more than a year since I'd done an extended excursion anyway. It's a tough step. While I've been struggling for productivity, I've also been thinking about the people I read, and for the first time in years, wondering if I've got anything close to what it takes.
(One of the things I've been making notes on is a listicle about Things I'd Rather Do Than Write. One of these things, apparently, is turning the lights off in my room so I can see the rain under the streetlights for an hour or so.)
I never used to think that--shit, somewhere in the archives here is me calling myself a better writer than Thomas Pynchon--and I don't like thinking that, but I remember Harry Crews talking to Jim Knipfel and saying "You know...I just always thought I'd be better." So here we are, dead of winter, 36 fucking years old, nothing finished, ever, and: maybe I'm not going to be better? Maybe I'm not going to be better.
Just want to put this somewhere, and Clear the Crease doesn't seem like a great stopspot for it. I think the journalistic culture is better now for including the space for things like this, a beat writer waxing eloquent (-ish) about social awkwardness and the death of a colleague he never knew. Maybe it's just my interest in newsrooms, or my overall orientation, which says that there's always something magic & interesting behind the veils everywhere going on in the kitchen, or my let's-all-revolutionize-ourselves-and-beltsand-this-worthless-world-into-a-utopia bent, but I'm glad I read this one once.
Oh, man, we'd brought our own hash bong, you know, and after a while this one chick came up to me and was like HEY I THINK YOU NEED A GLASS OF WATER and I was all like WELL MAYBE WHAT I NEED IS A RIP OFF OF THIS HASH BONG (mimes doing a bong rip) DUDE I AM SO GLAD CARL WAS THERE TO SEE THAT SHIT IT WAS SO ON POINT IT WAS MY FUCKING ZINGER OF THE YEAR DUDE...SAVED THAT SHIT UP AND JUST FUCKING NAILED IT.
2. Guy next to me at coffee shop RIGHT NOW is wearing brown leather twin shoulder holsters. Not gun-sized, though, like 2-decks-of-cards sized. Hand tooled. Shiny brass rivets & loops holding the whole thing together. It goes well with his cords-and-fur Mongol hat and old-man pinstriped suit pants (cut into raver proportions).
Been writing a little. Lot of hockey stuff on Clear the Crease and a very well-received review of FreeDarko's new history of the NBA. And I'm working on a thing that will answer questions like "why do I write about sports, anyway" and "what are we gonna do now that civilization has fallen". So yeah.
I didn't get copied on XX's email, so I'm not sure exactly what he/she's got to say on the matter beyond the verbal interactions (s)he and I have had. I note for the record that "the old tool didn't allow us to put information here" strikes me as a poor argument for wasting the opportunity to put information in this prime area of a slide.
I am more sympathetic to the argument that each module should be consistent; however, as I've argued to [a third party], consistency is only a virtue when what's consistent is itself virtuous. Which is to say: I'd rather be inconsistently good than consistently bad...
I'm not gay. I wasn't gay in high school, either. But, believe me: it doesn't get better.
You are who you are going to be already. You'll look back and most everything about your life now will make sense, on intellectual and emotional levels.
You'll mark the changes: you'll gain access to a vast range of legal drugs and trade a regimented routine dominated by school and immediate family for a regimented routine dominated by work (if you're lucky) and the quest to use your genitals pleasantly with others (leading to new forms of dominating and immediate family). Your tastes will mutate and morph, some. (But in the middle of the night, staring down the same sleep-annihilating cold, empty misery you discovered when you were 12, you'll occasionally reach for whatever you were actually listening to that fall.
And from time to time, whatever that was will come on randomly, when you weren't expecting it, and you'll be trebucheted back into a time and place you loathed, a time and place you were sure you'd escaped and maybe forgotten. It'll ruin a couple hours for no reason you'll ever be able to explain, probably in the car, where there's no escape and nothing to do but stare out the window and wonder what happened to progress and improvement and everything other than endless cycles of oppressive incapacity and lack.)
I don't know why you'd expect otherwise. What, in your mind, is the governing equation here? Time plus horror doesn't equal anything but time and horror.
The idea that there's a place that will open up where none of the grinding awfulness of your guts and the surrounding will be there anymore, that's a fairy tale. Despair knows no borders.
Lot goin' on at Castle Collision lately. New job. Another office gig. Research component, which is a super-interesting change of pace. Or a change of pace, anyway.
Couple new projects getting underway. They're a formal challenge for me, as they are not fiction. Not entirely sure I'll be giving all of them away here, as I have with pretty much all of my other projects for the past four years, but we'll see.
The first is a memoir bit, focusing, as they will, on one thread running thru my life. This project, in a development of tremendous excitement, will be illustrated by one of my main men from college, a wonderful cartoonist I will identify only as Forklift Jihad. The main unifying thread? Oh, that's easy: poop(ing).
Canada forwarded me this link, which is a seriously terrific site on Canadian B movies. In honor of Emmeritus, I will be trying to make sure that no scene takes more than two pages, and that every 6 pages there will be some kind of major catastrophe. So that's kinda exciting.
The second is another collaborative project with a old college buddy. It's hinted at here: TLDR2x
But I think there'll be a lot more content up there--of quite a different form--sharpish. Don't want to say too much at the moment, b/c we're still hashing things out and I'm still trying to coax her out of her rabbit hole.
Having a job again is doing a lot to mitigate my depression issues, which is terrific. I'm not working out basically at all, which is abysmal. Writing a lot, not reading ANYTHING and I keep wanting to just say fuck it and blow off nights getting plowed and playing video games. But I keep not doing it; this is progress.
This latter point means in practical terms that, because right now I have The Awesomest Girlfriend in the World, I spend a lot more time trying to keep my room clean than I used to. I mean, sure, I hate living in filth as much as the next ageing rocker dude with a half-ton of indispensable media crammed into a tiny space, but I have never minded navigating piles of paper trash. Clutter doesn't bother me. Items are for accumulating; horizontal surfaces are for harbouring items. Piles of shirts on the couch both bolster* the cushioning properties of the cushions of/on the couch and facilitate shirt-selection activities in the early afternoons that plague me by superheating my hovel such that without hesitation or recourse I must find clothes and flee a space that's often comfortable and pleasant but that in the afternoons is basically just a goddamned oven except how it's big enough for a man.
For some reason, I have an incredible ability to sleep in an imaginary cylinder that's exactly one Collision long by one Collision shoulder-span in diameter, so it never bothers me that the vast swathes of bed-space that I'm not sleeping in are covered in discarded magazines, comic books, manuals for over-challenging video games or whatever. And let's not even get into why I can't use my turntable. (Okay, okay: it's because it's absolutely covered in shit. Usually shit=unpaid bills & other unopened mail + empty cases for non-vinyl media + > 2 empties + in years past a spit cup.)
Most of the time, this bothers me not at all. Then one day a couple times any given year it bothers me and I, like Allie Brosh, decide to clean ALL the things. In practice, cleaning means a savage sortie into the kitchen, with angry counter-swipes, fridge-detritus-annihilation, and usually a half-dozen trips out to the garbage/recycling. Half-dozen trips is, for the record, in no wise an exaggeration. My roommate and I generate a lot of recycling.
After the dishes end up piled high and drippy, clean as they'll ever be, after the counters glister pristine under no empty tuna cans and littering wrappers, after the apartment again has a supply of clean forks, I turn to my own space. I'm usually pretty beat by this point. My endurance is legendary, but that's the kind of endurance that allows me to stay up drinking really really late or the kind of endurance that allows me to plan to sit through the entire Cremaster cycle in a single day: it's the kind of endurance that's endurance for good and pleasant things. When it comes to cleaning, if I can manage to fight past my ADD-fueled brain hunger for an hour or so, that's pretty good.
That's why the kitchen or the bathroom are pretty easy: you crank the HEAVY TUNES and you just fucking scrape the schmutz off shit. You can't get too distracted when you're naked in the shower, grimly grinding a half a salted grapefruit around the brown Pangaea shapes and soap scum--at least, not as distracted as you can get when you're like "I'm going to pile up these magazines somewhere other than on my floor-mattress no wait I should actually put them in that cardboard box over there but if I do that I should put them in order and I don't remember this cover story so I better read that real quick because after all I already paid for the goddamned magazine and if I don't read it it's like they're ripping me off" and then it's 2 and a half hours later and you've moved the pile of magazines from the bed into the only clear floorspace you had before you started cleaning.
Your legs are stiff and sore b/c you've been sitting cross-legged on the floor for 150 minutes, in strict contravention of anything that resembles a good idea for your 35-year-old ass and it's all of a sudden late enough in the day to start drinking without any guilt at all. 12 hours later, you pass out on your mattress on the floor, magazines still festooning the once-clear floorspace, four videogame cases newly strewn and a metric shit-ton of empties generated and discarded, abandoned soldiers leaking where they fell.
Morning comes, about 3 hours after you pass out. You ignore it, lumpish, inert and miserable on the mattress. Luckily, you're pretty together this year, so you've been mostly on top of your laundry situation, rather than sleeping mostly on top of your actual laundry. And it's summer, so you're just sheet+blanketed, instead of sleeping in your sleeping bag on the mattress, like you do all winter every winter because you threw away your comforter when you moved to California, because: hey, it's California! Eventually you manage to secure the remote and wave it around in despair until your Sony-pile starts cooperating and filling your room with whatever nightmarish skronk will actually get you off of mattress. You get off of mattress.
You slip on a glossy magazine cover, noticing that you managed to pull your hamstring a little bit by sitting crosslegged the day before and you begin to feel a quiet itch atop your mouth's roof, the kind of itch that only the barrel of a revolver can scratch.
Before medicating yourself with a lead pill, however, you finish the inch and a half of beer that's left over from last night. After pissing thickly (you can just tell it's sickly sweet from all the yellow beer) you wander into the kitchen. It's clean! It's wonderful. You decide to celebrate with a fantastic and huge breakfast because it's clean and you are a world-class cooker of breakfast.
You quickly discover that while you're possessed of a clean and inviting kitchen with no festering piles of empties or anything, you haven't bought anything except Queso Ruffles and beer for a couple weeks. You have 2 eggs and an onion left. You drink one of your roommate's beers while you contemplate whether or not you can go to the store to buy groceries without a breakfast.
You totally can't.
You crack another one of your roommate's beers and fry half an onion. Halfway through the process you fuck it and crack the two eggs onto the onion-bits and start burning the stale corn tortilla you found on your shelf in the fridge over the open flame of the burner. Half the tortilla will crumble away because it's stale. The other half will be unevenly distributed between carbonized and clammily moist/raw. Cover the tortilla fragments in egg/onion goop and take a couple sad bites. Drench it in hot sauce. At least you still have hot sauce.
Drink a huge amount of water and feel kinda water-balloony. Remind yourself that you've got a LOT to do today; you can't just grab a beer and watch one of your Star Trek DVDs.
Grab one of your roommate's beers and put on a Star Trek DVD. Just in the background--it's better than the radio and you'll seriously never manage to sort through all your records to find something to listen to. Watch the first 20 minutes of Nemesis, remembering that everybody thinks it sucks but that some bits of it are actually pretty okay. Go back to the kitchen to reload your water. The cutting board is balanced on the sink under a half an onion and your dull knife. Your water filter pitcher is empty. Use your roommate's. Refill yours but not his. Go back to your room.
Sweep all the magazines into one undifferentiated pile and shove them in a cardboard box. Take out all the empties, including the two that you peed in the night before because you couldn't be bothered to go all the way to the bathroom. Put all the videogames back in their cases, and stow those. You have now restored your room to the condition it was in before you started cleaning. You have also destroyed the kitchen.
When you get back from peeing again, you realize your room has a really weird scent to it. Open the blackout curtain and shove the window all the way open. Realize there's so much work to do that you seriously can't contemplate doing it without a cup of coffee. There's no coffee in the house. Realize you can't leave the house looking like you do.
When was that last shower, anyways? Anyways. Rummage and root for a black t-shirt that looks clean and doesn't smell because you're not going to put a clean shirt on your dirty body but you're not going to the coffee shop reeking like beersweat and covered in headgrease. While rummaging and rooting, create huge pile of needs-to-be-washed on the couch. Realize you're not as on top of laundry as maybe you'd thought. You're totally fucking doing laundry today. You've got a plan: grab your coffee, clean the room, take all the laundry down to the laundromat, wash the shit out of that laundry, come home to your super-clean room with a whole mess of clean laundry and put that shit away.
It's going to be so awesome. You could even probably do some pushups at the laundromat while your entire life gets sudsy and appealing. Grab your mammoth bag and bike and roll down to the coffee shop.
Better check your email. What's going on on Twitter? Any earth-shaking hockey news? Is today one of the days when the comics get updated? What day is it, anyhow?
Better get a refill.
Write a couple emails. Delete a shit-ton more. Poke around on your hard drive for unfinished projects. Think about moving images from your phone to your hard drive. Don't. Wonder why you take pictures with your phone anyway because it's such a savagely useless piece of shit that generates almost unlookatable images. Now you're hungry.
You decide to go someplace where you can grab a beer with lunch. Then you grab like five more beers after lunch and you're solidly buzzed and have read like half a mystery novel and you feel pretty accomplished as you ride home wobbily.
You walk into a room that appears--yes--to be a teenaged boy's room exploding into yours. Media everywhere. Filthy black tshirts moulder. The smell has not dissipated. It may have concentrated. Somehow a four-hour sojourn into the wide world has plucked the scales from your eyes: your entire life looks and feels like a disaster.
It's too late for laundry.
The only thing to be done, the only thing that can salvage this worthless failcluster of a day, is playing some videogames. Finishing something will give you something to write about, and you could really use that. You never even hit STOP on the DVD player when you left. What the hell. What the hell is wrong with you? You think about firing up the Wii, but that's not going to work because your brain is way too hungry for that little stimulus.
You grab the DS. Restart Nemesis in the background with the radio providing the soundtrack. Fiddle with the DS for a while. Get to some point in like three separate goddamned games where you had to quit because you couldn't get any farther. Be frustrated that not playing the game for six months or whatever didn't make you good enough at the game to beat the hard thing. End up just dicking around with some stupid puzzle game for an hour before getting disgusted with life and disgusted with yourself and tossing the DS onto the bed and firing up the Wii and playing some game for a couple hours that everybody in the entire world except for you thinks is complete garbage. Go to bed mattress kinda satisfied because you made some progress in your game and you have taste and discernment that others don't have and so if you ever finish this one you're gonna be able to write a really really good blog post about it.
Grab a magazine and hop onto mattress. Read a paragraph. This magazine is stupid, so you'll want to abandon it. Do. Roll your eyes at the radio. Stand half-naked in front of your huge tower of uncategorized CDs until your shivering forces you to grab something off the top that you put away because you were sick of it because it was on the top and you've been listening to it and nothing else for three weeks. Put it in. Grab your video game's manual to study up so you can finish it quickly and tuck it and yourself snugly into mattress.
The unit interactions are kinda complicated in this game. Get up and find a pad of graph paper. Find a pencil. Start making charts. Chart-making is some thirsty work, so you'll definitely need a beer for that.
Shit. You're out of beer. That's probably why you knocked off playing your game and started moving towards mattress, hunh. Well, grab another beer of your roommate's. You'll totally buy him a 12pack in the morning.
Once you're back in your room, it's a good idea to pass out with the light still on. Nosweat: you'll probably wake up in a couple hours--that's when you can throw your glasses onto the graph paper and pencil and manual and magazine. Wake up like 5 hours later and ruthlessly triage the mounds of life-generated kipple choking off your room like arterial plaque. All the dirty laundry? Into the laundromat-journey bags. Empties? You--are--out--of--here!
Giant pile of paperbacks in front of the bookcase because there's no room on the shelves for more books? Tidied! Put a couple of them into a box of to-be-given-away, then put that box under the remaining books. Get all that shit off your stupid turntable** and play a record. Whoa. How many records do you have in that box, anyway? Because that's the box of recordsyou bought at showsand never listened to. Shit. That's a lot of records. You should totally record a couple of those onto CDs, so you can dig out your old laptop, the one w/ the CD drive, so you can rip those CDs and put them on your .mp3 player so you can listen to them on your bike.
You start in on this project.
Shit, now you have to pee. Are your sideburns too long? Too wide? Shit. What's Genevieve gonna think of your sideburns? Shove the to-be-recorded albums in between the bags of to-be-done laundry on the couch. Cram those mounds of bagged laundry onto your bike's rack and tie them down there. Prop the heaps of records in front of a speaker. Look around. Gaze in wide wonder.
You've cleaned your room!
*You'll get that in the morning.
**Oh, fuck. That's your get-your-check unemployment paperwork, and it's...three weeks overdue. Well, that's no good.
At the coffee shop. I'm at this coffee shop a lot. I try to mix it up--there's other shops I like better, other businesses I want more to support, and I have a strong and deep anxiety about being That Guy Who's Always at This Coffee Shop--but I'm at this coffee shop a lot.
One of the guys who's often here of a weekend is a crazy man. He's very tall, famine-gaunt, unkempt and in ill-fitting clothes. His style is actually not that far off from mine, with our beige overcoats and collared shirts. He sits fairly still, always, staring at his coffee and slicking back his hair, and giving into occasional verbal ejaculations OKAY! Okay. Images--no, sorry, sorry...bicycles. Everybody ignores him. I've never seen him hassled. This pleases me to virtually no end: he's hurting nobody in the entire universe, except he's clearly a massive danger to 2 or 3 packs of cigarettes a day*, and I'd much rather hear his tics** than some dumb bastard on skype or whatever.
But when he's here, the sounds are pretty constant. Frequent and irregular, he's obviously responding to things that are either completely internal or incredibly heavily filtered and thus unnoticeable to the rest of us. Until today.
One thing this coffee shop brings to the party is a wide range of music played at an absurd range of volumes. Like the proto-crusty chick in big selection of brand-new black punk band Ts, she never gets to play anything. But the little rap kid is usually good for some moderately old-school offerings, the skinny hipster dweebs play skinny hipster dweeb pop and some of them just get bored and hostile and play the radio. But today somebody threw on a Hendrix comp, and the second Purple Haze started up, the crazy dude started bobbing his head, closing his eyes and thoroughly grooving on the music.
He didn't vocalize again until the side ended.
*He reminds me strongly of a crazy dude my gas station employed to work 5 graveyard shifts a week. Apparently Western Gas was compensated governmentally for letting him work there. He was easy to come in and work after: the metal radio station would be blasting and the ashtrays would be full.
When I got fired, I went in super-early one morning to grab a pack of Magna on the way to my new gig and he asked me about Manem, the manager. I shrugged and said "Hey, man, he wants to can me, that's his deal. He can go jump in a lake, you know?"
He gave me a googly-eyed look and said "No, he can go fuck himself."
**Yes, yes, yes I'm not an expert. But he reads to me as schizophrenic, not OCD/autistic/Tourette's-spectrumy.
This is more than a bit relevatory for me. Since I was maybe 19 or so, with friends in bands I loved, I have known, and often repeated, the following maxim:
Every band is somebody's favorite band.
I meant this as a half-hopeful statement, but life being what it is, bands being what they are, it quickly curdled into a bitterish statement about the shoddy tastes of the listener and the desirability of keeping one's head down and expectations low: sure and you'll end up somebody's favorite band, but that somebody will likely be a moron, otherwise unredeemed.
But(1) that above formulation of it--the idea that you in that chair right now could do for somebody else what your favorite *-maker did for you by so making--is the positive and amazing thing I needed to read right about now. Am I likely to end up anybody's favorite writer? Okay, probably not. But definitely not if my notebook and keyboard keep gathering dust. So I'm back to work, or back to work getting, anyway. See you in the streets.
(1) I'm between jobs and struggling to keep myself from an epic situational depression. This is compounded by a giant load of don't-fuck-this-up anxiety with respect to Xxxxxxxx, the girlfriend with the most of the best anyplace. This anxiety sets up blocks that make it real, real hard for me to do certain things--like talk, and fuck--and then the lack of doing-those-things feeds my depression.
So obviously something kinda hopeful and inspiring is Just the Thing.
So this is recent, but not TOO recent. I was still working at 6:30. I'd come in, I was feeling pretty frisky. I think I'd had a really good workout the night before. I had a lot of physical energy but was pretty out of it mentally.
The water cooler bottle was empty. I grabbed a replacement, pulled it most of the way out of its cubbyhole, started to bend over to grab it with both hands, then cockily pulled it the rest of the way, and as its base was swinging toward the floor, enhanced by gravity, I tried to do a fast grip change, one-handed.
Of course, the thing slipped, landed on the floor, and immediately burst. Water EVERYWHERE.
I did manage to grab it, flip it upside down (so the crack was vertical) and get it over to the sink. So the entire bottle didn't end up on the floor or anything... And then I went back to my desk.
Last night, I got home about half an hour after I usually go to bed, did some dishes, lost my keys for a while (thanks, pointless way to lose 40 minutes of sleeping time) and then became obsessed with the prospect of the following project:
Stage 1: so it's not a terrible idea for me to make a spreadsheet of my staple foodstuffs, organized both by category (for ease of reading, so say, dairy, breads, etc.) and supermarket layout (for ease of shopping, so say canned, frozen, etc.) (plus maybe what's in season as another dimension)
Stage 2: and but so I don't just have staple ingredients, I have staple recipes, so shouldn't I
Stage 3: also organize them recipes into spreadsheets
Stage 4: and since the whole point of spreadsheets is to organize data why wouldn't I
Stage 5: link those spreadsheets so when I, say, make a tuna casserole it decrements the cans of tuna on the original spreadsheeet by 2, the cans of cream of mushroom soup by 1 and pops up a suggestion to buy more veggies, check the macaroni supply, etc.?
Since I am in the middle of 4 11-hour shifts after 3 of which I have plans, I didn't pursue this idea (read: didn't stay up all night teaching myself how to use Open Office's spreadsheet functions). But it seems (a) like it actually makes a fair amount of sense and (b) like a user-friendly way to teach myself a little bit more about spreadsheets.
Seriously, guy's not even funny. Wants to call himself a "blue-state guy" and call for running people down? Time, Tony, for a quick agonizing reappraisal, followed by a re-education process, built around what I call "patient explaining" and what my pal Lily once called "yeah yeah yeah! patient explaining! with sticks! pointed sticks!".
As always, remember that a real letter or phone call is worth at least 10 emails.
CEO: Bruce Gilbert VP of Operations: Dennis Glasgow Executive VP of Sales: Rick Carmean
Address Red Zebra Broadcasting (ESPN 980) 1801 Rockville Pike Suite #405 Rockville, MD 20852 Office Hours: 8:30am-5:30pm (Monday-Friday) Phone: 301-230-3500
Feeling uncreative? Use the letter I freestyled this afternoon. Fire Tony Kornheiser.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am calling in the strongest possible terms for the immediate dismissal of Tony Kornheiser from your operation. Advocating assault with what is, by any reasonable standard, a deadly weapon is neither humorous nor acceptable. Kornheiser's policy seems to be that he can say idiotic, vile things, and then simply apologize to a high-profile offended party and get on with his career. I disagree. This policy must not be allowed to stand.
It is time to call Tony Kornheiser to account for his violent, abusive, words. Whether or not one is a rider of bikes, whether or not one is made terribly uncomfortable by repeated assertions that all these bikes on the road make Washington, D.C., look like Beijing, it is plainly, simply and absolutely unconscionable to allow someone to advocate using a powerful vehicle to attack someone in a largely defenseless position. Do not allow Tony Kornheiser a venue from which to vomit forth this hostile rhetoric. Do not allow Tony Kornheiser to sully the airwaves and tarnish your organization further. Fire Tony Kornheiser today.
I started the 7th grade a couple weeks late. My folks were fairly explicit about thinking it was a pretty stressy move, moving, & not wanting me around for the process, so I got foisted off on step-dad's mom in New Jersey for a couple weeks while they drove dog, cat & crap from Reno to Shitty Suburb, USA (Colorado division). When I got out there, it was Mom, step-dad and mom's youngest brother, and for a few weeks I guess I sorta had an older brother there: we'd play frisbee or sit around the basement, where we roomed, listening to the radio. I still can't hear "wang chung tonight" w/out thinking about him, or see To Live and Die in L.A.
Those don't come up all that much.
I think they gave me a little time to unpack and get my shit together before I had to wander off to school. My mom was guilt-struck b/c she'd assured me everybody would be new together that year, a 7-8-9 junior high. It was a 6-7-8 middle school, though, and even the insane turnover in Aurora couldn't rupture the stratifications that I walked into.* So I grabbed a hideous turquoise shirt I'd gotten from a soccer camp, packed my shit into a black gym bag (same camp) and went across the street to catch the bus. Not savvy to the inscription of status onto seating, I shoved my way to the back w/ an autistic lack of interaction & eye contact, and placed one buttock on the seat, leaning all my weight on my elbows resting on my knees, pretending not to hear the speculation about me.
The building embodied some interesting, moderately hateful ideas about architecture and adolescents. Shaped like a clover atop a half-cube, there were no interior walls, just mobile barriers that did no job at all of muting sounds from the adjacent class"rooms" and no windows, b/c vistas prevent learning. I checked in at the principal's office or whatever, the adminstrative enclave, got a dot-matrixed printout of some sort and somehow managed to find the room I was supposed to be in. I did get ferociously lost, though, and didn't make it into the room until well after the start of class.
I've long since lost command of the guy's name; some little Philly putz w/ a Kotter stasche and the willful abruptness of the guy who nobody cared about on the east coast who moves west and discovers, then maintains the living hell out of, his identity.
"What does that have to do with me?"
Confused, b/c obviously I'm in the right place, I can pull that much off, "I'm new."
"And what does that have to do with me?" Long pause. I'm blushing, more with frustration and anger than shame. "Are you in my class?"
I just handed him my paper. He told me to find a seat.
It occurred to me only recently that maybe he'd just been fuckjoking with me. Maybe he hadn't been being pointlessly hostile to an obviously uncomfortable and unhappy child. Maybe he was trying to jog me out of my shell, get me to display a little humanity, demonstrate an expansiveness of spirit and interest in these novel surroundings.
And to the extent that that was the case, I say to Mr. Grade Seven: Fuck. You. You had no right. You had no right nor business displaying personality in that moment and demanding same of me. Just say Hi, show me an empty desk that won't get my ass kicked and leave me the fuck alone to navigate the education industrial complex the best I can. In my own way. There were like 8 buses in a row at the end of that day. I had no idea which was which or which was mine. I walked up and down the formation a couple times, but was daunted by the prospect of getting on the wrong one and ending up in hell knows where.
I walked home that day. Next day I wrote down the numbers in the bus window.
*Army hospital, airline hub, Air Force base. Lot of us kids had been bounced around plenty.
I haven't ever quite managed to figure out exactly why I grew up so OCD with respect to text. That is, I've read millions and millions of words in my life, but 2/3 of them (the words) have been the same books, over and over and over. So when I quote some random thing verbatim at length from memory, it's not so much b/c I've got a sticky brain as b/c I probably read the book a couple dozen times.
I read Chuck Eddy's (not very good) Stairway to Hell over and over again for years, until loaning it to my buddy Stevie Blunder about 10 years ago. At one point, he (Eddy) nails "been caught stealing" as "kinda what the Stooges would've sounded like if they'd stuck around long enough to go disco". This is probably the one-liner that really underwrites my claim that most metal bands eventually make their new wave record--and that record is often my favorite. (BOC's Fire of Unknown Origin is probably the prototypical case here.)
And it's funny to return now and again to 1978's state of the art in rock criticism, where grown-ass men, who'd probably describe themselves as liberals (Bangs, Meltzer, Marcus), discuss Bowie or the Stones "adopting/exploring black music". Which was the big-boy faux-insightful version of saying "went disco". (If you stuck around long enough to try 1986's Dirty Work, you'll hear straight-faced reggae played by elderly English art school dropouts and even in 1990 I thought it sucked like an Electrolux.) Skyfish is on record as being totes over Lester Bangs, but I think (a) Bangs was good and (b) the book Skyfish was talking about was bad. "John Coltrane lives" and "A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise" still hold up beautifully as models for how I want to live/write/be.
Probably I'm not supposed to say that quite so baldly.
But these things, some of them, are ours, songs and books and words and b/c we know where we got them we can know where we were before we got them and after.
Walking around today, it became obvious that Portland is still/again my oasis. And I was able to relish my exile.
A town I had loved for a long, long time, and grown angry at. Fled, or abandoned. And now I can love it again. But I can love it without being here. I've said for over a year that Portland is my home, and it's okay to be somewhere else, b/c my home isn't going anywhere. Finally though however I can have a home--where my heart is--but commit fully to the home where I hang my hat.
And the long-threatened biggish Selavy post is finally up, due in part to Canada fixing the computer I bought, then broke. So there's that.