Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Being Inconsolable

The last few times I was around a friend who'd recently experienced death from a loved one of close family member (or, if lucky, both) -- actually, all my life -- I've always felt that worry of saying the wrong thing that would set them off, that would remind them of the inconsolable loss that they could never get back. I'm currently experiencing grief. And right now, you can say anything to me. Nothing can add to what's already going through my head. If my grandma was proud of me, if she thought of me, what the last thing I said to her was, how I acted the last time I saw her (how insulting LOUD I talked to her in the retirement home, if I'd been inadvertently or carelessly condescending, if she'd noticed it), where I thought I'd be in my life when my last grandparent died, how I'd respond to my parent the last time one of their parents died, what the last romance novel she read was, what the last romance novel she read did to accumulated inner life. I'd like to believe I'm thinking about it all. Nothing's outside the realm of inconsolability, be it the responsibility I had to her, or what I'm thinking what family means to me now. You can say anything to me right now.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Slouching Towards Angeles, Day 1

Cataloging the trip from Austin to LA:
  • 3:00 p.m.: Despite having a shockingly (for me) organized packing that involved going through the New Year countdown on a particularly miserable New Years Eve, I still departed later than expected.
  • 4:15 p.m.: Ignored/forgot the constant protestations to stop in Fredricksburg and get gas. This in lieu of being warned that West Texas is sparse on gas stations, that there's a time portal somewhere along I-10 that takes you back to the 1800s, and that there's Injuns in them thar' hills.
  • 4:35 p.m.: Freak out, get off phone, turn around.
  • 4:55 p.m.: Get gas in Fredricksburg.
  • 5:15 p.m.: Pass the location of the original freak out.
  • 5:17 p.m.: See gas station.
  • 6:00 p.m.: Beheld my last Texas sunset for a long time. Which was nice that Mother Nature granted me such a watercolor masterpiece. The light very literally faded around the source, then brightened in a half-circle flare, a patina of unnaturalness that I took as being specifically just for me and my moment.
  • 8:13 p.m.: See my first mountain.
  • 8:43 p.m.: See brilliant moon behind me.
  • 9:01 p.m.: See mountain illuminated by moon and distinctly find myself thinking of No Country for Old Men. Text people to ask if Anton Chigurh is going to shoot compressed air into my temple.
  • 11:15 p.m.: See first hints of Juarez in the distance.
  • 11:35 p.m.: Can't see anything but Juarez.
  • 11:41 p.m.: See these glowing lights in the sky. Never figure out if they're a crane, a distant downtown, a UFO, or hallucinations. Almost halfway!
  • 11:52 p.m.: Mentally note to change the shoot locale of my future post-apocalyptic dystopia movie from Gary, IN, to Juarez.
  • 12:07 a.m.: Hit downtown El Paso. Avoid eye contact with other drivers. My White Liberal membership card gives me a frown from inside my wallet.
  • 12:17 a.m.: New Mexico!
  • 1:08 a.m.: Decide that I don't want to pay Friday night rates for a motel, even though in the middle of nowhere it's the same as a normal night anywhere else.
  • 1:17 a.m.: Go to sleep in a car that's about 69 degrees inside.
  • 6:56 a.m.: Wake up in a car that's about 20 degrees inside. Cocoon myself further in the sleeping bag.
  • 7:37 a.m.: Can't breathe anymore of cocooned sleeping bag air. Star Day 2!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Whatever (the Hell) It Is

To quote the opening line of Greil Marcus' review of Bob Dylan's Self-Portrait: What is this shit?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Adventures in Sleepin'

Comparing & Contrasting the Two Instances in My Life Where a Male Roommate or Roommate's Male Guest Crawled Onto My Bed While I Was Sleeping

When did this happen?
1st instance: 2000; I wanna say spring. The night before Brad-Daede moved out.
2nd instance: 2009, last night.

Male roommate or roommate's male guest?
1st instance: Roommate's male guest. Over the years we've called him "Sam," as will be explained below.
2nd instance: Male roommate Lucas.

Were either males gay, bi-, or curious?
1st instance: Unlikely, though I never knew the guy. "Sam" could be married in a few states for all I know.
2nd instance: Nope, though Lucas does have a bromantic love for his bandmates and romantic love for black-out drinking, as evidenced last night.

What preceded the crawling onto bed?
1st instance: As it was Brad-Daede's last night before moving, he'd decided to throw an intimate chaos-bash. But since he wanted his deposit and was friends with us who were remaining residents, he couldn't trash the place, as he had infamously with his previous, first, parent-paid apartment. Instead, he and about five-to-ten friends went out on our front lawn and started throwing water balloons at passing cars on Washington Avenue. We were in a mini-feud with our next-door neighbors, who Brad-Daede had angered during some notably loud parties, and if I remember right they might have had a strong hand in the eventual complaints. That, coupled with the calls sent in by those motorists unfortunate enough to chose Washington Avenue as a route that evening, led to po-po's on our doorstep by evening's end. When that happened, Brad-Daede O-so-stealthily turned off the lights and the remaining party-people in the house found a different room in which to hide. I, in my basement bedroom, lay still, hearing someone upstairs let the police in and give permission to walk around our house. Then "Sam" chose the basement to hide.
2nd instance: Fuck if I know. It's weird how I don't consider my roommates alcoholics, yet think their being drunk a personality trait. Three a.m. gives their fates the multiple choice option or mating call, mating season, season of defeat, or all of the above.

Most likely motive for the crawling onto bed?
1st instance: Thought the bedroom was empty, hiding from cops.
2nd instance: Thought the bedroom was empty, near being black-out drunk.

My sleeping situation at the time?
1st instance: Wide-awake. I had to work the next day and was mad about something else, which wasn't helped by Brad-Daede throwing an unprompted party just when I thought I was in the clear of his shenanigans. Regardless, it was a move of deep passiveness and too-subtle, masochistic aggression on my part to say, to myself, "I'm going to sleep at 11 p.m. That'll teach 'em." Especially when I can hear everything happening in the house from my room. And especially when I can be a light sleeper.
2nd instance: Got back from Sunday night beer and movies at Scott's, so I myself was in deep buzzed sleep.

My reaction upon realization?
1st instance: I shuffled and said, "What the fuck are you doing?" "Sam" jumped.
2nd instance: OK. This is the weirdest part of the whole story so far. (Sorry, despite Bruno's influence, no latent homoeroticism will emerge non-latent.) You know how you get lost in deep dreams and can believe anything, and when you gradually wake up it takes time for you to readjust your basic identity and worldview? I guess in my dream the Middle East had taken over the U.S. and diplomatic relations were very tense. So as I woke up to the odor of cigarettes and a bear-body at my side, I came to believe the U.S. had, overnight, rationed homes and beds to random citizens from the Middle East. And though I was increasingly uncomfortable, I still wanted to be morally and relativistically above reproach toward the guy in my bed without permission. Yet, I had to get out of this situation with etiquette finesse; after all, I was stuck in bed with whoever this guy was. Literally, the feeling was like waking up and believing you were moved to a prison over night. That's not the oddest reaction to finding some dude abruptly in your bed, is it? I'm sure my inmate readership will back me up on this.

What happened after?
1st instance: Or perhaps this is the weirdest part, if at the very least the most infamous. Right after "Sam" shuffled off, a flashlight beam came down the stairs. Then it moved over to my bed where two cops eyed "Sam" on top of me. "You live here?" Yes, I said. "You throwing balloons?" I worked tonight, I'm sleeping. And then the two exited and eventually left the house, no problems. At some point Brad-Daede left and other roommate Stacey arrived, who calmed me down by playing Nintendo. Brad-Daede returned around 1:00 a.m. and relayed what he'd heard when he'd ran into some cop friends at the Motomart. "'Heard there were some problems at your house earlier this evening. You live in a very "interesting" house, Brad. You have some very "interesting" roommates downstairs.'" Since this was the last night his wack(i)ness could hurt me, we all laughed together in preemptive nostalgia.
2nd instance: Finally awakened from dream logic and still unsure who it was in my bed, I used my phone as a make-shift flashlight. Still unsure, I turned on the room light. Then I started poking Lucas. It took a while. I think he muttered a "Sorry" as he walked out. A few minutes later I heard him bang on the bedroom next to me, which immediately brought to mind the notion of him spooning with another roommate. A few minutes later, I texted him, "Don't ever fucking do that again." This afternoon he left a voicemail explanation that he'd been sleepwalking.

What this meant?
1st instance: Brad-Daede managed to ride the thin line of bridge-burning and memorable tomfoolery. Most likely because he didn't give a fuck.
2nd instance: Drunk, cigarette-smelling Lucas and/or drunk, cigarette-smelling whomever else have been crashing on or in my bed during nights when I'm not home. In all instances, none of my roommates give a fuck.

How friends spun the situation?
1st instance: For those who don't know I can now reveal that "Sam" was only the second half of the nickname, the first being "Shirtless." That's because Dustin managed to tell the story with constantly evolving details. In one telling "Shirtless Sam" was wearing a mesh T-shirt. In the next "Shirtless Sam" wasn't wearing any T-shirt. Then "Shirtless Sam" was shirtless, and the story became its own organism from there. "Shirtless Sam" was wet (from the water-balloon fight? sweat? being in a music video?) and dripping on me. "Shirtless Sam" rolled on top of me in the confusion. "Shirtless Sam" was overtly gay. "Shritless Sam" was overtly gay, in the army, and leaving for basic the next day. "Shirtless Sam" was returning from a tour and kept dangling his dog-tags in my face.
2nd instance: Unforeseen. Most likely: "Shane's telling another roommate story." Smirks. Polite laughs. "You should move out." Next topic.

Current whereabouts of roommates responsible?
1st instance: Though I haven't kept in close contact with Brad-Daede beyond social network sites, the last time I was around him consistently was when we worked together at WFIE, by which time he'd dropped the -Daede off his name*. If we'd tell a Crazy Roommate Story® people would generally be entertained and puzzled, as Brad himself has been on an upward curve of responsibility and no longer resembled Brad-Daede. He's currently married with a kid and seems well off. The last evening we spent together, eating at a Los Bravos, multiple people commented on how BFF-y we were in laughing and reminiscing.
2nd instance: As of this writing, probably still asleep in the commandeered living-/band-practice-room, not paying rent. Or on the toilet shitting and sweating alcohol, still not paying rent.

*NOTE: For future Brad biographers, I'm being facetious; Brad's temporary name-change to Daede didn't happen until after he'd moved north for school.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Way We Sleep All Summer

For fear of making myself even more uninteresting, I haven't bemoaned (on here at least) (God-help-those-around-me I've bemoaned it in-person) this fact: I've slowly been losing my taste this last year. I've come up with grandiloquent theories about how this is my late-twenties rite, to grow up and lose the shackles of loose identity I've used pop-culture to replace. But really, it's mostly because my computer is dying.

It's so full I download to external hard-drives. For some reason since the data still travels through it it acts like I've used up its last bit of its precious memory—until I restart. And its CD burner's been on the fritz this last year. And it won't communicate with not one, but two iPods. In theory, I am, technologically, almost back at the point I was at right before I owned my first CD burner—only I can still download music. So I have no excuse.

And now, after a full year absence, it remains to be seen and is up for public discourse if or not I've regained any taste back:

7/2/09 I'm Baaaaaaack Mix
  1. "Old Movies" — Mock Orange (Captain Love)
  2. "15 Step" (live) — Radiohead and the USC Marching Band (2008 Grammy Awards, February 8, 2009)
  3. "No Cars Go" (live) — Arcade Fire (BBC2, June 19, 2007)
  4. "J. Smith" — Travis (Ode to J. Smith)
  5. "Let's Give This Love a Try" — John Hiatt (Same Old Man)
  6. "Last Night" — Tom Verlaine (Tom Verlaine)
  7. "One Wing" — Wilco (Wilco (The Album))
  8. "Intravenous Agnostic" — Manic Street Preachers (Know Your Enemy)
  9. "Conjure Me" — The Afghan Whigs (Congregation)
  10. "See If They Salute" — The Streets (Twitter, April 21, 2009)
  11. "Rainin in Paradize" — Manu Chao (La Radiolina)
  12. "I Was Made to Love Her" (extended) — The Beach Boys (Rarities)
  13. "Rocket Man" (Elton John cover) — My Morning Jacket (Chapter 1: The Sandworm Cometh)
  14. "Unknown Legend" (Neil Young cover) — Tunde Adebimpe (Rachel Getting Married OST)
  15. "Unguided" — The New Pornographers (Challengers)
  16. "My Maudlin Career" — Camera Obscura (My Maudlin Career)
  17. "I Google You" (live) — Amanda Palmer (Who Killed Amanda Palmer Bonus, August 5, 2008)
  18. "Sleep All Summer" (Crooked Fingers cover) — St. Vincent and the National (Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers!)
  19. "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed" — Los Campesinos! (We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'll Never Ask You the Truth But You Owe That to Me

When all inspiration fails, post a mid-year best-of film list.
  1. (500) Days of Summer
  2. Star Trek
  3. Up
  4. Duplicity
  5. The Hangover
  6. The Brothers Bloom
  7. Drag Me to Hell
  8. Coraline
  9. State of Play
  10. Adventureland

Sunday, May 10, 2009

TMI Too Late

Later in the day someone said something that made me remember sometime, where I was on this day of the week a year ago. Earlier in the day I'd distinctly had the thought of how much I've changed in the last year. Part of it was because I read the passage below. It provided one of those epiphanous before/after self-observations. I thought about how I don't read as much, don't think in words as much, don't worship at the altar of articulation anymore.

The below is not where I'm at at all now; but it's where I was for a long time a while back. And I could have used this then.
He recognized his dumb urge to never think about her again even as he failed to stop thinking about her, perhaps because of the energy required to stop those other thoughts. Photography stills in his apartment claimed there had been Eiffel Tower kisses and golden beach sunsets; he hadn't thrown those out yet. He had drawn her portrait a hundred times and shot eight-millimeter video of her and sometimes still watched it when he was home alone and in the mood to mope. When there were animal shows on cable, he would put on the CD of Summer Holiday and mute the TV switching back and forth with the remote, hitting Video Input over and over: Rachel sleeps on her side, her hair fanned out behind her and her arms pushing in front of her, as if she were soaring through the sky; the polar bear rears back and with both fists double-punches straight down through the ice to reach the seal; Rachel bats a dream pest away from her face; the seal is consumed in eight bites; "—I cover the waterfront…"

Lately he watched the animals more and Rachel less and sometimes felt as if all human affairs—but especially his own—could be sufficiently explained by the wily, competing coyotes and babysitting, gnu-gnawing lionesses and fascistic ants. After he was separated from Rachel and returned to the wild, he watched animal channels for hours at a time because they helped him fall asleep. Later, when he was sandbagging the new structures of mind necessary to keep pain from splashing over all his daily activity, when he could consider three years and still go to work, the animals remained. When he was able to think about his past, to consider and not just feel his pain, to calculate how thoroughly Rachel had broken and discarded him, how comprehensively they had misimagined each other, the baboons and orcas offered a certain stabilizing hope for the years ahead, and soon everything seemed explicable by animal behavior. Aggressive Teamsters on a commercial set were expressing threatened alpha status; gallery openings served to tighten group bonds for the protection of like genes. One had to be less heartbroken, since our cousin primates died from emotional trauma or recovered from it quickly. Litters in the wild of almost every species included a certain number of unfeasible offspring, starved by the mother and siblings, or just eaten by them.

Urges that had once driven Julian—to pursue and capture shampoo models, for example—were explained and defused by animal shows. That old behavior was just what countless cheetahs did, spreading seed. More and more of life dripped down beneath him, reduced by the immutable laws and relaxed habits of the animal kingdom. Entire species went extinct; ours would, too, someday, or evolve into something unrecognizable, a higher species that would pay no more attention to our obsessively cataloged feelings than we do to the despairs of Australopithecus, and all of this vain heartbreak that we cling to as important or tragic would one day be revealed—by TV scientists—for what it is: just behavior.
—Arthur Phillips, The Song is You
Nine months ago I would have eaten this shit up.