The most important thing I learned in college (aside from my social security number) was networking. If you know enough of the right people, you can make anything happen, and usually on the cheap. Be bold, be nice, be generous, and you never know when a total stranger may give you the chance of a lifetime.
So apparently Mercury went into retrograde yesterday. Yeah… That fits.
Yesterday morning I had another of a series of bizarre dreams in which I’m cooped up in a small space with a bunch of crazy and annoying people I don’t know. I’m attributing these dreams to:
a) The fact that I’ve been hanging out with a guy that I really like, but cannot figure out… and
b) The fact that it’s August. Slow walkers, hordes of prosti-tots, loud Jersey women, pretentious dicks with black AmEx cards and the world’s worst drivers have all convened on Martha’s Vineyard for a free-for-all. Every local I know is either practicing “zen parking,” seething with road (and sidewalk) rage, or hiding in the woods with their cell phone off.
Yesterday was also the day that I woke up in a frenzy of anxious productivity and started slaying the Unpleasant List like a champ. I got all of my errands and unpleasant phone calls done, deep-cleaned the bar like a crazed maniac (think Monica from Friends) without being asked to, and stayed up until 4:30 a.m. brainstorming on how to fix the Biggest Problem In My Life.
A friend who owed me money that I wasn’t chasing came through with the best timing in the world and paid me in full at a moment when I was grasping at every possible source of cash (see: Biggest Problem. Note: Biggest Problem needs lots of money I don’t have to be thrown at it).
Two of my best girlfriends have had MAJOR SHIT happen in the past couple of days, and I’m not talking good shit. My niece, who I love more than anything in the world, is spinning around frantically in her own particular orbit, trying to figure out what to do with her life, and there have been facebook posts that indicate that Mercury has SNAFUed her SNAFU even more. My best guy friend, who’s 44, is apparently dating a 21-year-old with awful tattoos–and he’s a tattoo officionado. There’s a stranger on my couch, and the cat is completely out of his mind. I can’t stop sneezing, but I don’t feel sick. It’s August, and I’m tempted to put socks on because my toes are cold.
And the boy, as usual, texted just when I’d given up on hearing from him and shifted into “another one bites the dust” mode. Go figure.
Mercury, you’re winning. I don’t know which way is up, and I hate you for it… but I’m thankful for the good surprises. I’m not accustomed to many of those.
Take it easy on me this weekend, though. I need it to be a good one.
So I’ve been feeling a bit like a bull in a china shop in my own life recently– in a general sense, and also particularly in certain social and work situations.
For starters, my second job, the fine dining “insurance job,” is in a restaurant where the actual bar has about four square feet of working space, no running water at the outside bar, and cement floors. For a dropsy, loud, occasionally profane person such as myself– and also for anyone accustomed to a loud, spacious, fast-paced bar with no “decorum” standards–this is an awkward combination. I like the money and the staff, but I feel like I don’t belong, and it’s an uphill battle to convince myself to go every shift.
Also, as usual, my personal life is a clusterfuck of bad timing, awkwardness and self-doubt, which I think is exacerbated by the fact that the peaceful self-acceptance and motivation that I found in Vieques ran away with a quickness as soon as the stresses of hometown life, family and work flooded back into my life.
I’ve had a couple of really self-centered down days this week– days when I knew I was wallowing in pointless and imagined hurts, and making it everyone else’s problem. A friend called me out on that tonight, and I’m grateful for it.
I don’t feel any less like an awkward robot… But she brought my self-awareness back. It had been most certainly on vacation, while self-doubt and self-pity were working overtime.
So I guess I’ll end with a Jack White lyric that just sort of sums it up: “I just don’t know what to do with myself…”
And that’s okay, too.
So I’ve been without reliable Internet since the end of February. (You didn’t think I’d split for that long on purpose, did you??) But I just discovered that–of course!– my blog server has an app for iPhone. God, I’m disgusted with myself for even saying it.
But there it is. How 21st century of me: I’m writing my blog from my phone.
I’m back. And for the next year-plus at least, you’re stuck with me. Me, and my niece’s Manx cat, who is such a completely insane animal that you’re sure to read about him frequently. He’s half-rabbit and 100% out of his mind.
His name is Osho. He sees ghosts.
Osho can have more fun chasing a plastic portion cup across the floor than Charlie Sheen could have in the biggest little whorehouse in Vegas. And, like Charlie, he leaves a disproportionate trail of destruction in his wake. Anything that isn’t glued down is in imminent peril.
3 a.m. most nights, Osho and I are the only ones awake in the neighborhood. I talk to him more than I ought to. I also find myself hysterically laughing… alone. I’m convinced that the cat is the reincarnation of someone who did a LOT of drugs: Timothy Leary, maybe, or Hunter Thompson. I’d say Keith Richards, but Keith–miraculously and yet unsurprisingly–is still alive.
Perhaps this cat’s antics will entice me to really learn how to use the “videocamera” feature on my fancy phone. YouTube, here we come.
Aside from the cat, I’ve felt compelled recently to write about music, and art, and food. Also, I started writing a book while I was in Puerto Rico this spring– I might share some of that, too. Then again, I might not.
Either way, I’ve found a way to continue sharing my narcissistic wee-hours blather with the interwebs. So I’ll write something legitimate soon. I hope.
I’ve become quite accustomed to five o’clock in the morning. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve been to bed before four in a full week. I’d like to say that this is due to a string of truly epic parties—but that would be a lie. Only the first of those seven nights, my last night in Puerto Rico, even comes close to qualifying. One other was due to a tangential conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, but sadly, the rest can be attributed entirely to LOST and Guitar Hero.
Yesterday, my roommate and I left my house for a total of twenty minutes, to get “supplies” (read: cigarettes, food and shampoo). The other fifteen hours and forty minutes we were awake, we sat in the living room in our pajamas, watching LOST. The highlight of my day was when the checkout girl at the liquor store told me I could have the plastic disco-ball Absolut bottle I spotted on a table (sparkly!). The lowlight was that at the end of the night, I was almost out of weed.
It’s official. I’m becoming Seth Rogen.
The other night, while I was drunk and very upset, a friend told me that perhaps if the Vineyard is a place I continually feel the need to run away from that it’s not the place I’m supposed to be. And I told him, the truth is I want to run away from everywhere. No place feels like home. I want to run away because I want something internal to be different, but I know that physical movement is not the key to making anything feel better.
Still, the conversation got me thinking. I have been planning for months to stay here on the island year round and return to Emerson in January as a commuter student (two days of classes, stay on a friend’s couch). I have spent the winter and the spring healing in the presence of some of my closest friends–friends who are so important to me that they have taken the place of the family I no longer have.
I came home because I needed to survive the most devastating loss of my life, and it was the only way I knew how. But now I’ve come back to the old familiar restlessness, the urge to get away that’s so strong and so constant that each time I return from a little vacation I begin counting the days until the next time I can leave.
The truth is, when I think about it, commuting is a ridiculous idea. And when I was in Boston, the reason I was miserable was because I was overloaded, overwhelmed and terribly worried. And then I was gutted and broken, and not even the close friends I’d made over the several years I’d been there could console me. That was a job that only the lifers could manage. I knew that around my lifelong friends from the island, I could be a sloppy crying mess and it wouldn’t make a difference. I knew that I’d feel like being around them even when I didn’t feel like being around myself–and I was right. I wouldn’t have made it through the winter without all of them. It was a quiet winter, the best it could have been under the circumstances.
But I think it might be time for the lost little girl to go back out into the world and live a louder life again. Quiet was necessary, quiet was good, but I miss the noise. I miss the insomniac city, where I wasn’t the only one awake at 3 a.m., and if I was bored I could jump on the train and in half an hour I would no longer be bored. I had the urge to run there, too–but most of the time running to Allston or Harvard or the North End–or jumping in the car with Alana and going to Nantasket–turned out to be a far enough jaunt to make it subside.
So what now? The quiet island, with my nearest and dearest friends and the possibility of re-establishing my life where it first begun, or the city, a stepping stone to wherever it is that I’m really supposed to end up? Perhaps the answer is simple: summer on Martha’s Vineyard, where I can smell the salt air and go swimming whenever I want, and in the winter the only place I’ve known where winter just may be the best season of the year.
If I stayed here until the end of October, I could finish out the season in a seasonal restaurant, and spend some less stressful time with my island friends, and I’d have enough time to readjust to the city and find a job before returning to school.
It makes sense. Now I just have to figure out if it’s what I want. Once again, it comes down to the question that I’ve never been able to confidently answer: Where do I want to be? It has never been a problem of possibility–I can make a life and get a job and make friends almost anywhere–but always one of desire. Fickle, fickle desire.
…or, A Big Fat Raspberry For Dave Grohl, And Other Irrelevant Thoughts.
I’ve just finished a thirty page project in which I had to write about people writing about music. For my magazine publishing class (from last semester, I’m that far behind), we each had to choose a magazine to do a final project on, and since Rolling Stone was not one of the acceptable choices, I chose SPIN. I’ve read SPIN from time to time since I was a teenager, and have enjoyed it, albeit less than I’ve enjoyed Rolling Stone. Doing this project made me realize several things:
1) I hate SPIN magazine. The articles are too short, the subjects are too mainstream, and the writing is unexciting. And the design is absolutely atrocious. Having done my research, I know that this is because there was a major overhaul in 2006, when the magazine was sold. If I knew where Nion McEvoy (the buyer) lived, I’d slap him in the face for ruining a good magazine.
2) I love music (this is not something I’d forgotten, but it was reinforced). While working on this project, I thought it would only be right to listen to music I hadn’t listened to in a long time, thereby resurrecting the music in my own collection the way I wished that Bob Guccione Jr., or someone else who cared, would resurrect SPIN. Because the project took longer than I anticipated, I rediscovered Nirvana’s Incesticide, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Mother’s Milk, Frank Zappa’s Lather, The Pixies’ Doolittle, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell, Helmet’s Meantime, Black Sabbath’s We Sold Our Soul For Rock N’ Roll, The Ramones’ The Ramones, and about a dozen others. In addition, I also listened to a CD from a friend of mine’s band, Counter Clockwise, as I would listen if I were a critic–I played it at least six times during the time I spent on this project–and it turns out I quite like it (big shocker there). I also pulled out one of the two Foo Fighters albums I’ve owned for some time but never listened to. It’s on my stereo right now. I haven’t thrown it across the room yet, but I’ll get back to you after I’ve heard the whole thing.
3) I love writing about music. In picking apart the articles I was reading about the music, I found myself weighing in on it, tearing apart the writers’ assertions or areas of neglect while filling in my own opinions and trying to back them up enough so that they were interesting to other people. One of the most satisfying blog pieces I’ve ever written was a post called “Saving Grace,” and writing for this project made me nostalgic for [[I have to interrupt here to say that song #2 on the Foo Fighters album is tempting me to chuck it at the double door]] the feeling I got while writing that post. I can’t put my finger on exactly what that feeling was–I guess the idea that I had something to say about that particular album that other people might be interested in reading.
4) I can’t wait to get back to writing for my own reasons. Although what I’m doing right now is technically “writing for my own reasons,” it’s something I rarely have time to do, and I’m doing it now only because I’m too inspired not to. I miss the freedom of not having schoolwork hanging over my head, telling me that I have higher priorities than babbling on and on about the petty little things I give a shit about, like why Grace is an album that every human being with a heart should listen to at least once all the way through, and why I just might snap a CD I paid for in half in about two minutes.
5) I want to have my own radio show. It’s something I’ve thought about before, but the desire has been cemented by spending the better part of a month closely reading successive issues of a music magazine and realizing that I care about music enough to want to spend the time and energy to expose other people to the music that I love. In coming up with ideas for potential stories for SPIN as part of the project, I started thinking about the demise of radio, and how much I actually care whether or not independent radio–and the possibility of learning about new music from listening to the radio–survives. I care a lot, and I want to be part of it.
6) I really wish Dave Grohl would go back to reaping the profits from the untimely death of the creative powerhouse behind the band that made him famous. Or maybe fire his entire band and start over from scratch–as the drummer. Having now listened to four songs off of the aforementioned neglected Foo Fighters album, I’m ashamed to admit that I paid four dollars for it in 2003. Yes, it was a clearance sale at my college’s bookstore, and yes I got the CD, brand new and sealed, for only four bucks, but I still want to hide my face in embarrassment because it’s garbage and I should have known that before shucking out my hard-earned $4 for it. Boo, Dave. Boo. I think I might have to listen to Incesticide again just to rid my head of the catchy but obnoxious melody of song #2.
I go away when I feel trapped. I can never afford it, but I do it anyway. Unfailingly, however, the few days I spend in another place, particularly a familiar, friendly place, makes me feel more trapped in whatever place I’m supposed to be than I already did.
I move, and as certain as there will be 24 hours in every day, the moment I leave somewhere, something happens that I wish I were there for. Whatever town I leave behind comes alive in my absence, or perhaps I miss meeting the people I should have met, or witnessing the events I wish I’d been there for. As soon as my exit is complete, I start wishing I’d never decided to leave–but of course if I had stayed, I would have continued to feel trapped, and none of the things that happened upon my departure would have occurred.
I am the queen of terrible timing.
I long too much, perhaps, for the carefree days of my youth. I miss the liberty of having no bills, and no creditors, and no obligations, and no possessions. I am tempted every day to either put my belongings in storage or throw them away, and take what money I have and keep going until it’s gone. I am in my old home, and I want to stay here until I feel like leaving, rather than getting on a plane before I’m ready to go. From here, I don’t want to return to the Vineyard, or to Boston, but to keep going from place to place until I feel I’m somewhat whole again.
But will I be whole again? Will running make any of it any better? Do I feel trapped only because I am battling this epic loneliness called grief, or because I’m truly disenchanted with my surroundings?
I forget what it feels like to have a goal; to want something the way I once wanted this expensive education I’ve put so much time into. Right now, all I want is to feel less lonely, less stranded–and because I’m still possessing of my capacity for logic, I know that lonely goes away only when it’s ready and not a moment before. I can go to school or not go to school, I can move or not move, and the ache will stay until it’s done with me.
This realization does not make me dread getting back on the plane any less. I wish it did.
Yesterday, for a few moments or hours, I was not lonely or sad. I want that feeling back.
Yesterday, I realized that my credit card bills were due… today. Which means that the only way to pay them was to go off-island to the Bank of America branch in Woods Hole and pay them in cash. Rather than simply riding across on the boat (which would have cost 11 dollars round trip), paying my bills and riding back, I decided to give the boat riding a wider purpose. So I invited my sister to accompany me for ferry-riding and chinese food, at Peking Palace in Falmouth (a rare treat for those of us who live on the island, where the Chinese restaurant is nicknamed the “Gaggin’ Dragon”).
After some brief discussion about the weather and the cost of taxis, we decided to bring the car. It would cost about the same anyway, right?
Because with the car, there came the possibility of shopping. Specifically the possibility of buying things that were too large to carry on the boat by hand. I spent enough money to get to California and back.
A rough inventory:
Bamboo rug for my kitchen
Four pairs of pants, two of which are a bit goofy
A gigundo thing of toilet paper
A ruffly shirt the color of a cartoon mango (yes, I said ruffly)
…and here’s where the evidence of island fever begins to show…
Two “mystery” Matchbox cars (the packaging is opaque black plastic)
Two boxes of Barbie miniature fairies, one of which looks like a less attractive Maleficent
Two whoppingly huge bags of Cadbury mini-eggs
Orange-flavored body wash/shampoo/bubble bath
Heart-shaped Everlasting Gobstoppers
A time-wasting card game that I used to play back in the stoner days of high school
A battery-powered sparkly lava lamp night light
Two boxes of dice
A partridge in a pear tree
Okay, so I was kidding about that last one. But you get the picture.
Thankfully, we didn’t make it to the Christmas Tree Shop. I might have come home with several garden gnomes, a dozen stained glass window doohickeys, Spiderman flip-flops, a stuffed jellyfish and a stray child or two.
My friend Mike, a close friend of my dad’s who later became a close friend of mine, looks like a member of ZZ Top. He’s got a long white beard and a long white ponytail and he rides a Harley. He’s a Harley mechanic, actually.
Due to his natural resemblance to the Jolly One, Mike’s been playing Santa Claus at his church for the past few years. This year, he was asked to ride a motorcycle dressed as Santa for the local Harley Riders chapter’s annual Toys For Tots run–a look that was perfected by the Santa hat sewn on outside his helmet and the dark black ZZ-esque shades he wore. There was a photographer on the run with us, and he took a picture of Santa Mike with a horde of bikes behind him that ended up on the front page of the Calendar section in the local newspaper (I was on the run with another friend, and although we were in the picture–my very bundled-up face and the side of my friend’s helmet–we were so teeny tiny you’d only know it was us if you’d been there). The people who organize the annual arrival of “Santa” on the ferry in Vineyard Haven happened to see the picture, and as their usual Santa had fallen very ill, they called up Mike to see if he’d be willing to do the job. We spoke on the phone several days later.
People are real weird about Santa nowadays, he said. You know in Australia, Santa’s not supposed to say “Ho Ho Ho” because it’s sexist, or degrading to hos, or something. So everyone who plays Santa in Australia is supposed to say “Ha Ha Ha” instead.
And now the Surgeon General says that Santa can’t be fat, Mike said. Apparently it’s misleading to children to present such a positive role model as being obese. So that’s the reason American kids are fat. I always thought it was the fact that there’s a fast food restaurant on every corner and a big screen TV with 500 channels in every living room in the country. Boy was I wrong.
First there were the worries about inappropriate touching (“Okay kiddo, I hope you’ve got good balance because I can’t put my hand on your back to hold you up, I might get arrested”). Then there was the trouble with Hos in Australia (“G’day, Little Dibbie. What’s that? You wunt a paony? Ha Ha Ha!”). Now, Santa’s not even allowed to be round. What’s next, PETA claiming that it’s unethical for Santa to use reindeer to drive his sleigh, or the American Association of Little People protesting the use of the term “elf”?
This is an imaginary character, people. An imaginary big fat man in a fuzzy white suit, who smokes a pipe (or at least he used to when I was a kid, I’m sure the pipe was nixed sometime in the 90s) and rides around the entire world in the span of 24 hours, managing to climb down the chimneys of 6 billion houses–a character sketch which completely explains why most people cease to believe he exists by the age of five. So what’s the big deal? Isn’t there something more important the Surgeon General could be worrying about?
Leave Santa alone, for fuck’s sake. And if someone is willing to put on a terrible, itchy, silly-looking suit for three hours and play pretend so that a bunch of kids can pee on him and yank his beard and spit in his face and walk away convinced that Christmas is something to look forward to, then damn it, leave that person alone, too. We’re raising such a cynical, superficial generation of kids that Santa Claus will probably be obsolete in ten years anyway.
Besides, a skinny Santa would be really, really creepy.