The Most Slacker Experiences I’ve Had in Austin in My Week of Living Here
1. at the neighborhood convenience store (Pronto in Hyde Park) the other day, I got carded buying cigarettes by a woman who looked exactly like Syd Straw, aka Miss Fingerwood the musical math teacher from Pete and Pete. She handed my ID back to me and said, “Good job,” which I assume was in reference to me being almost 27 but looking 17.
2. outside the local laundromat (the one next to Quack’s, at the same intersection), a punk guy had me thread a needle for him so he could sew a patch on some pants.
I MOTHERFUCKING TOLD YOU IT WAS GONNA END LIKE THIS: Just another case of the blind leading the blind, Just another thing you have to wind & wind & wind; And she says “Love, love, love, I don’t know where I come from.” And why must we be limited By the one natural thing?
I can forgive but I can’t forget The taste of glazed donuts still on my lips, The chocolate sauce as it drips down my hips The significance of the razor, And Eskimo kisses from hell. I can forgive but I can’t forget.
Then Eros (sweet child of the chaos) came to me veiled in tangerine juice and told me not to bite the bullet. He told me, “Feed the birds, but don’t count your chickens, ‘cause you don’t want to end up like Leda, raped by a swan.” Then Eros(sweet child of the Chaos) came to me, and he said, he said, he said to me, “Love is liquid & lust is gas, but you are solid & so am I. Love is liquid and lust is gas, but I still make a pretty good living and I am a solid thing. Love is liquid and lust is gas, but you & me, baby, we go on forever.”
How do you measure bliss? Love is liquid & bliss goes on forever, And she says, “Love, love, love, I don’t know where I come from, And why must we be limited By the one natural thing?”
I motherfucking told you it was gonna end like this: One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready & four to go, go, go, go, go.
—Lola Leviathan, c. 1999.
as I often do at transitional points, I’ve been immersing myself in the more-distant past. I spent a couple of hours the other night digging though old files to find this poem, written upon the demise of my first relationship when I was 16 (uh, ten years ago, Jesus). synchronistically enough, the person it’s about made a Facebook post yesterday referencing a mixtape I made her. so I thought I should share the poem. this is in my top ten favorite things I’ve ever written, mainly for sentimental reasons but also because a) it’s all about my favorite thing, the Boundaries of the Self! and my other favorite thing b) Self-Reliance! and my other favorite thing c) Greek Mythology! d) a lot of it seems really abstract but is actually completely literal, which is so me. e) oh, double entendres.
check out the video linked below. everything Nick Cave does is so over the top and SILLY, but he will never not make me involuntarily hump the furniture. also if that’s actually his ass at that age, that’s reason enough to be a junkie, no?
all fangirlness aside, what’s going on here, racially? this is one of those things I could either be kinda disturbed by or just assume is intended to be sort of tongue-in-cheek and knowing and parodic. like everything. but then, what is ever going on with Nick Cave racially? this is what happens when foreigns try to appropriate American culture: confusion. it’s all so complicated.
ah whatever, I still wanna freak to "Stagger Lee" on the dance floor. isn’t that where we work this all out anyway? it makes a girl long for the simple smolder of "Loverman."
last spring, one of my best friends & I decided that this summer, my last in Portland, was officially the Best Summer Ever. at the time, it was a good excuse to order dessert. but it gradually became a mantra, even a manifesto. I did a ton of things I had never done before, always meant to do &/or been terrified to do, both great & small. I set out to live as I had never lived before, & I actually did it.
the whole time, I kept meaning to look up and share that ubiquitous Camus quote about the invincible summer. tonight, in a motel in BFE, Texas where I am holed up against my will, after spending the evening watching Roseanne, eating cheese sandwiches, drinking High Life & lying in bed with my boyf, I finally did. it’s from a 1952 essay called "Return to Tipasa" which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in awhile. it’ll probably end up on my “favorite essays of all time” list before long. I want to quote it all here. you should really read it. but here’s a too-big chunk:
At noon on the half-sandy slopes covered with heliotropes like a foam left by the furious waves of the last few days as they withdrew, I watched the sea barely swelling at that hour with an exhausted motion, and I satisfied the two thirsts one cannot long neglect without drying up—I mean loving and admiring. For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shriveling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. I had always known that the ruins of Tipasa were younger than our new constructions or our bomb damage. There the world began over again every day in an ever new light. O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.
“This is a love song, which, if you’re familiar with my love songs, means that something is going to have to get broken before it gets done, and then two or more people will have to gather around the broken pieces that remain and try to read them like fortune tellers divining the future in animal entrails. I have some news for the people in this song and for anyone who shares their notions: animal entrails can’t tell you anything. The future will be brighter if you stop breaking stuff, no matter how exhilarated it makes you feel in the short term. What is the use, though, in trying to convince our lovers that the road to ecstasy doesn’t pass through the valley of total damage? It’s not that they want to “learn it the hard way.” It’s that they don’t want to learn.”—John Darnielle on his song Psalms 40:2, courtesy of Jesse Burke (via sheol) (via fuckyeahthemountaingoats) (via therichgirlsareweeping)
release (ethiopium) is the drug… an animal howl says it all… notes pour into the caste of freedom…. the freedom to be intense… to defy social order and break the slow kill monotony of censorship… to break from the long bonds of servitude-ruthless adoration of the celestial shepherd. let us celebrate our own flesh-to embrace not one race mais the marathon-to never let go this fiery sadness called desire.
all honor goes to the runner who would still seek glory in the heart of failure.
I always read Lindsey Lohan’s Tweets in other blogs, and I am always so intrigued/appalled/still want to be her best friend/feel really sad for humanity. but mostly, I am left with so many questions. this is no exception. the main question being: upon reading the phrase “Ellen Page in a Mini Coop” do I immediately Google image search that phrase, or do I just die of cute before I can even type words? the answer is yes. I seriously, seriously cannot be at work right now. also omg so excited for that one movie.
my friend Colin and I had this Facebook debate awhile ago about the most ’90s thing ever. well, I found it: a collaboration between REM and Natalie Merchant recorded for a pro-choice alt-rock compilation (1993’s Born to Chooseon Rykodisc). you don’t even have to hear it to know that I’m right. it’s all an elaborate allegory about the rainforest and the AIDS crisis and what’s up with cappuccinos?
what’s maybe even more ’90s is that I have several other pro-choice compilations I prefer, which you should snap up if you see them at Half-Price Books: Just Say Roe(1994)—for the Kristin Hersh track alone, although it’s totally solid throughout—and Spirit of ‘73: Rock for Choice (1995), which features ’90s ladybands like Babes in Toyland, Letters to Cleo and That Dog. as well as my beloved Indigo Girls covering ’70s pop songs.
last night from 2-4 AM I walked around Southeast Portland looking the partial lunar eclipse & having the kinds of spiritual revelations I have at times of great transition. for example, around the time I graduated from high school, I seriously thought about converting to some hippie form of Orthodox Judaism or getting way more into some hippie form of Jesus. these days it’s a little more subtle, & more material.
I saw a lot of surreal things as one does when rambling in the wee hours. like the words “I DON’T UNDERSTAND” written in huge green chalk letters on the sidewalk in front of somebody’s house. the piece of chalk lay next to the words, so I started to write a response. then I worried that the message was for someone specific, in regard to something specific. I’d had enough of confused communication for one night so I walked on. but what I wanted to say was, you don’t have to understand.
when I first moved across the country after college, I was kind of at loose ends. two books I read early on that really helped me were the Doriszine anthology & Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. the one thing from the Rilke that really helped me at the time & continues to stick with me is when he says, “live the questions.” He tells the young poet to “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” maybe that is just really pat & cheesy & won’t resonate with y’all. but I think the important thing is asking the questions, not getting the answers. & I’m applying this to a lot of specific, practical questions, not just abstract ones.
today is my manager’s last day in our department. this is the man I’ve described as “competent Michael Scott”—imagine if Michael were really talented at managing, & had the wife & kids he so desperately wants, & that’s this guy. anyway, he told me we could say whatever we want to each other since he’s no longer my boss. in the context of, he told me I looked like Pippi Longstocking & then told me I could tell him where to shove it. this is only exacerbating the end-of-the-world feeling I already had. it’s mostly good though, seizing the day & gathering ye rosebuds while ye may & whatnot.
“The opening number, “Populism, Yea, Yea!,” sets the tone just like “America, Fuck Yeah” did for Team America: World Police from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Jackson’s scandalous history as a frontier kid, brutal soldier, husband to a woman who was still married and racist Indian fighter are all grist for this wild, surreal ride of a show.”—
Jeez, who knew that Peter Travers (of all people, PETER TRAVERS?!?!), would FINALLY make this connection? FINALLY. (Seriously, I’ve read every review of this show. Or, okay, most of ‘em.)
I mean, I was telling people incessantly, “Ok, it’s like … Team America meets Evita. Except Eva shoots Che halfway through instead of ranting how she’d prefer he’d just go away.” I still don’t understand why this didn’t have everyone in my general vicinity running out to see it immediately …
We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I appreciated the comical commentary on the virgin-whore dichotomy, when you followed Young Money’s “Every Girl in the World” with “The Light” by Common. And when you put the Shangri-Las on a playlist based on Bikini Kill’s “I Like Fucking,” I knew you understood me like no other. I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe. When I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in love L-U-V.
Dear Dan Savage,
You know how a lot of straight guys write you letters where they’re all “I like it when my girlfriend plays with my butt. Am I gay?” and then you had that call on the podcast recently where that lesbian was all “I wanted my girlfriend to fellate my dildo. Am I trans?” Well, obviously those people are ridiculous, and you’ve told them so. But here’s my deal. Former lesbian, in 7-years-long once-exclusive-now-evolving relationship with a dude. We’re in our mid-20s, and yes I know what you have to say about that. But anyway, my point is, the celebrity relationship I most often analogize ours to is Gertrude Stein/Alice B.Toklas. I use songs by Brandi Carlisle and the Indigo Girls to describe our love. Recently I’ve had the urge to quote Thelma and Louise to him. Am I gay?
Thanks bro, L
If I were Will Oldham, I would have written this song for you.
omg yes! have you heard my rant about how Lauryn Hill is my feminist role model precisely because we disagree on certain important issues? and because she is an incredibly talented woman who does things her own way. and also, Sister Act II. and also, “Ms. Hill” by Talib Kweli.
[Livejournal memories] : on being careful what you wish for
this is from my Livejournal, posted 25 October 2001. I was 18. that’s senior year of high school, about six weeks after 9/11, almost exactly a year before my then-actually emo boyfriend & I made it official, five years before I moved to Seattle and six before I moved to Portland. I have those bangs now, and those glasses, and I do love soy chai.
after some preambles about my romantic drama…
i watched Dawson’s Creek today for the first time in years. suddenly it hit me that Katie Holmes really is pretty. i kept telling people who said so that she was plain. but she has a certain charm. so does Michelle Williams. oh yes. and the boys are total duds & the scripts suck & the characters say things like “i am adrift on a sea of uncertainty, joey” (actual quote) and die while eating ice cream cones in s.u.v.s. they go to school in boston for free and their parents never really get divorced. and when they come out to frat boys the frat boys hug them. i wish i lived in Dawson’s Creek. no. the Portland Fairytale is even better. i’ll go there. yes. i made up a little song once: “i’m packing up my zines and i’m moving to Portland i’m gonna fall in love with an emo boy who’ll kiss me like a schoolgirl i’m gonna walk in the rain in my cuffed up levi’s drinking soy chai and batting my lashes behind cat-eye glasses i’m cutting me some bangs and i’m moving to portland i’m gonna fall in love with an emo boy and call myself a lesbian i’m gonna protest Le Tigre and the WTO and ignore the starving children back in o-hi-o oh yes i’m packing up my zines i’m gonna fall in love love lvoe with an emo boy…” (that was rather extemporaneous.)
“In the very imperfections of The Sound and the Fury, which come of a giant effort pushed to its limit and still trying, lies a strength we may set above perfection. They are the human quotient, and honorable as the marks left by the hand-held chisel in bringing the figure out of recalcitrant stone—which is another way of looking at time.”—Eudora Welty, ‘On Faulknerian Time’
“I have met the circumstances that are larger than my capacity to be gracious, it turns out. I have come up against the limits of my goodness: someone I love has what I want, and he probably always will. What else is there to do for it? I might as well work.”— Kathryn Chetkovich. this is from an essay originally published in Granta in 2003 and reprinted on my beloved This Recording recently. the essay is about how Chetkovich fell in love with Jonathan Franzen while he wrote & published The Corrections, while Chetkovich herself struggled as a writer & a woman.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”—
this is a true story that happened at the Greyhound station in Seattle on Christmas Eve, 2006 man: are you Irish? me: no. man: are you sure? you got red hair and a green coat. me: I’m sure. but thank you.
it seems that a lot of people I know have come upon hard times recently. here are three songs that really helped me in times when I felt like, “I’ve fallen in love & graduated from college & I still don’t know what my life’s about or even who I am anymore & also The Man is bringing me down more than ever.” so yeah, what I’m saying is, “The Shins actually did change my life one time on I-5 just past the Terwiliger Curves.” I submit, for your downloading & listening pleasure:
a sample: “the only thing keeping us deriding furries on the Internet instead of going to their furry conventions and rapidly exterminating them is the Jewish influence upon society.”
one thing about Weev that’s funny to me—and there are many—is that I find him attractive in much the same way I do Eli Roth, who he somewhat resembles in both looks and being a total dick, & who is one of the more famous Jews around.
thanks to Billy for his creepily in-depth archive of links on trolling.
It’s not that I do this because I hate them. I do this because I’m trying to save them.
this is a really interesting New York Times article from a couple of years ago, written by Mattathias Schwartz. I love this kind of long-form journalism because the means & methods of writing & researching are as interesting as the topic itself: trolls. and the questions trolling raises about justice & security.
I met their friend Kate, who has been repeatedly banned from playing XBox Live for racist slurs, which she also enjoys screaming at white pedestrians. Kate checked my head for lice and kept calling me “Jew.” Relations have since warmed. She now e-mails me puppy pictures and wants the names of fun places for her coming visit to New York.
Lost is the first nerd fandom I’ve embraced wholeheartedly, but the fandom is a big part of why I love it so much. & by that, I mean I love it when really funny people describe to me things I have already seen & I am totally in on all the jokes.
A while ago I shared the poem that made me realize I was an atheist (Anne Sexton: “need is not belief”). I have also extolled Philip Larkin’s ability to express truths in beautiful English. In one of his other Greatest Hits (behind the cut), Larkin describes exactly why I still miss church, even if I don’t miss G-d. (and that’s not all! there’s more! there are songs!)