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One of my favorite things to do in another state is to hit the local Goodwill. The goal is to at least have fun looking, and at most, find some extremely cheesy, deeply discounted tourist souvenir. Today, I'm in Maine.
I find that Goodwills have universally kicked it up a notch. I did not find a lobster hat, or a tee-shirt with
local aphorisms, or even a pile of gently worn Stephen King novels. They instead had reasonably priced crock pots and active wear by L.L. Bean.
I saw an old typewriter and sheepishly pecked at it. Tangentially, I find myself back here.
In a late night bout of curiosity, I happened to find my middle school bully on a news station's Facebook page. It seems he'd recently been arrested during a traffic stop for having distributable Rx opioids in his sock.
The schadenfreude was surprisingly fleeting, and I found an instant, uncomplicated forgiveness. You don't get to opioid abuse overnight, and I wonder if his childhood was terrible, and that's why he was such a shit to me.
It troubles me, though, to think that if I had found him successful, that forgiveness might never have come.
How quickly I find myself behind. A solemn promise to write daily has now turned into a week of absenteeism. After being turned away in the first week from a site connection error, I forgot, absolutely forgot, that I was even writing a batch this month.
This is truly amazing, as much of my daily internal monologue is framed from a memoirist standpoint, trying to attach meaning and depth to my environment and experiences: how I perceive them and how I process them, and how to put it into expertly crafted sentences. You know,
I write all day, except I don't.
It's early this month, but let's do this! BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork
BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork BORK Bork
To my utter delight, my nephew, aged ten, has discovered The Simpsons. (He is now the age I was when I too became a fan, and also the same age of the age-less Bart Simpson.)
I feel a weird pride, as if this is proof that I have helped raise him right; that he has acquired a sense of humor that spans low and high brow; that he is now of the age to appreciate satire, and snark, and wit, and of course, fart jokes. He now has the most important tools to navigate life. This is his pop culture bar mitzvah.
I witnessed my cat catch a mouse this morning, and I ran from the room, my own squealing echoed by that of the mouse. It was some real
Silence of the Lambs
I have complicated feelings toward the silent inhabitants. Rationally, I know they can carry disease, that they can infest. This is why I agreed to snap traps a year prior, only to witness one in action, which was also succeeded by me running out of the room in terror. (I moved on to "catch and release" traps, but failed to catch even one mouse after that.)
So when I got a cat, I figured I had my own organic, all natural mouse trap: cats catch mice, that's what they do; it's the law of the universe, it's the order of life. I was very zen about it.
When I did venture back in to the room, the mouse was no where to be found. I figured she had toyed with it and sent it maimed back into the walls of my house, but when I polled my cat owning friends, I learned that it's not uncommon for the cat to swallow one whole.
"And what did you see, Clarice?"
I'm a few days into running regularly again, and the motto so far has been:
it doesn't have to be pretty, you just have to do it.
There's something to be said about giving yourself permission to
("The master has failed more times than the beginner ever tried.")
What I'm trying to say is, after coming back to 100words from sporadic training,
and actually writing daily like I'm supposed to
, DEAR READER, you're almost guaranteed to see some shit this month.
Let's start break that seal today. My legs are sore and I'm huffing as I cross the word count.
Unsolicited, I've been offered a very nice career advancement opportunity. This would require me to relocate back to New England. I'm genuinely terrified by that prospect of having to move again. My thoughts fluctuate into irrational territory. (
Don't they know I have a cat
a dog now, and that I can't just up and leave? I have two couches now. TWO. What will I do with them?
) The mechanics of it give me chest pain, and I find it hard to objectively consider the offer. I want to hide under the bed and disabuse myself of Hard Adult Choices.
I love reading books about writing. I'm not sure what is the exact appeal; maybe I'm looking for some familiarity, or some secret "trick". Maybe I use it like some sort of Writers' Anon support group. The best ones, I find, interweave the author's life experiences with writing tips. Part memoir, part how-to.
DEAR READERS and ASPIRING WRITERS, half the battle is showing up to the page. So get your shit together, for real. Waiting on your Muse to inspire you is not good practice, for she may not show up even after three hours of Law and Order.
Congrats on your first steps, ASPIRING WRITER. You've committed words to page. But really, what does it all mean? Early drafts are no place for this sort of existential pondering. Keep punching those keys, or dragging that pen; do not look back. The polished manuscript is formed by editing, which comes much later. For now, keep your mind free of toxic thoughts. Do not reflect on the futility of life, that misspelled word or misplaced comma, or that a meteor could land on your house tomorrow and no one will see that first draft anyway.
Reading Anthony Kiedis's memoir (a long tome that at in ebook form was close to 1000 pages) left me uneasy. Of course, we all expect the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And it delivered in spades. Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, lived the rock and roll lifestyle arguably since age eleven (and was at least being inadvertently groomed for it before then). He fell in with other misfits, discovered music, bounced around groups and members before settling into their current incarnation. His was/is a lifelong career a lifetime in the making.
You don't hear of many straight edge accountants who make it in music at middle age. If you don't have that bug--or talent, or drive early, it's probably state college for you. I don't believe in pre-destination, but the music life seems to be for the kids.
So at middle age, all the completely unrealistic fantasies I had about what I
do are crashing into a realistic timeline, and even though I don't want to be a 36-year-old rocker, I also don't want to think it's no longer possible.
In true to RO fashion, the next few entries aren't quite on the specified date. I tried, people.
Today, I'm in Seattle. It's my first time, and I've underestimated the level of elation its provided to "90's me". Being a teenager in Ohio notwithstanding, I was in deep. I hung out at the (now) chain Starbucks. I listened to all things grunge. I had a choker and flannel phase.
I fully intend on hitting the grunge hot spots. A few decades late, and possibly sad in my earnestness, I give zero fucks. It's 80 degrees and I will rock that flannel, goddamnit.
I've brought my passport, and should I end up in Vancouver, I fully intend on hitting anything X-Files related. "Nineties me" was ashamed to admit I stayed home Friday nights, both taping and watching new episode (then re-watching over the weekend); 2017 me is far enough removed from the awkwardness of being a straight teenage nerd that I can embrace it ironically. (But not. There's no irony. I still fucking love it, except seasons involving agent Dogett, whose name I've likely misspelled but who doesn't get the dignity of me Googling it to spell check. You don't exist either, Reyes.)
So much of this heavy nostalgia comes not only from being in the incubator of my formative years, but for reasons I discuss later in the month. But it's got me thinking about nostalgia. How is it possible for one to remember a time so fondly and yet also fully acknowledge it was a pretty brutal, painful time? I know emotion plays a big part in evolution, how tying the emotional parts of our brain to the primitive parts of our brain reminds us how
we felt that time we went to wake up that sabretooth tiger.
Memories are forged in emotion, along with the senses. We know what song was playing when we lost our virginities. We smell a random passerby's perfume and suddenly we're being warmly embraced by grandma again.
This is really putting a crimp in my plan to become the world's first beneficent sociopath. (So like, a robot?)
I'm not interested in being crippled by past memories in current situations. I don't need a memory that keeps me up at night that reminds me not to pet a sabretooth tiger. I need a good night's sleep, and a home that's nowhere near tigers.
I find that I don't write much fiction these days, and I haven't read much fiction.
I did read a fantastically written fiction book finally, something that I had been waitlisted for at the library. The sentences were expertly crafted, and I often stopped to re-read them. The plot however, seemed high-brow, mostly because it made me feel stupid. I long ago lost my ability to deconstruct literature, so I headed over to goodreads to get the cliffs notes.
I'm slightly comforted that I both assumed most of others said, and that they too found the ending to be quite WTF,
Summer is speeding away and I've not taken advantage of it. Of course expectations are high: when bearable temperatures visit only three months out of the year, it's hard not to feel the pressure to be
at all hours.
I visited a lake cabin for sale today and it took monumental self control to not call my bank and immediately throw money at it. The lake was shimmering and boats pulled happy skiers behind them. I looked at the listing price again and internally whimpered as if I were a dog separated from my family during dinner time.
A yearly tradition: Fall and cold air arrives, I drive fast on less travelled country roads, put the heat on high and roll the windows down. I blare Soundgarden. I sing loudly, and badly. (I used to smoke, too; this combined with the screaming, gave me a rasp; I was trying to hard to emulate Chris Cornell's.) And I just drive.
Late August, the tradition is upon me. I have to begrudgingly reflect; something I've been avoiding. Chris is dead, everything is in the past tense now, and I can't reflect when I don't know what to think, and everything seems trite.
I'm trying not to be emo about this. I am not the 16 year old who cried when Soundgarden broke up. I'm the 36 year old who thought, now that Soundgarden is back together, I should go see them live, but maybe not this time.
They were no doubt formative. In high school, I had "Outshined" written on my backpack in whiteout. (I'm not sure why.) I had band pictures in my locker (and yes, even now I will sheepishly admit I had a distant crush on the lead singer.)
I find it hard to listen now in the aftermath. I am also not sure why.
Not because I was trying to avoid the bandwagoning of radio and media, suddenly playing their music that hasn't graced the airways in a hot minute. And I don't particularly find that disrespectful.
Thirty-six year old me worries about the integrity of the death investigation (a career-related by product), how rock stars live the life from a very young age (both as a fact and a question), and, randomly, how Kim Thayil is holding up.
Weeks after his death, I watch Eddie Vedder perform "Black" live and cry for his friend. I cry too, and suddenly I'm 16 again.
When I finally fall down the Soundgarden compendium YouTube hole, the comments under the videos are an outpouring of grief, each user talking about how he, and his successful bands, have impacted their lives. I guess what I'm doing here is no different than those randos, so it feels a little cheap. (I don't doubt their sincerity--and I too am sincere--but not everything is/should be about the collective YOU.)
I've been avoiding analyzing his death because I couldn't place a finger on how I felt. I'm suppose I'm just sad,
not otherwise specified.
So here's the magic of musicianship (a talent for which I, tone deaf and screaming out of my car, will never possess, and will forever be envious): When was the last time you cried when your favorite author died?
What is it about music that digs so much deeper than writings, or literature? When the nearly incomprehensible lyrics of a song (I'm looking at you, Tori Amos), mean so much more to you than a well-crafted paragraph? When your presence (and absence) in the world inspires graffiti art, tattoos, shrines, hours (and years) of devotion, a religion?
That is coming off as a bit narcissistic*. Let me try that again.
I am in awe of the depth to which one person's musical art can inspire the lives of randos like myself. That is a good, wondrous thing. I don't know why or how that is accomplished. But I want to know, I want to take the pieces of the machine apart and analyze them. I want to distill it down to its simplest pieces. I want to render penicillin from mold, to harness electrons into a light bulb. To then apply this to everything.
*upgraded (downgraded?) to pretension
And with that, I'm done. When the leaves start to change where you live, go take a drive. Roll the windows down, listen to the artist that has made your ears tingle across the decades. Sing loud and poorly (or well, if you're good at that sort of thing). Appreciate how that music makes you feel a thousand different things, all of which you wash over you yet are unable to pin down, like a water droplet in a flood. Be there in the moment, clear your head, and drive home renewed.
Throw in "Tighter & Tighter" for me.
For once since I started running again, it was
. Nothing hurt, breathing came fast but not strenuous. My heart caught up, and the gears were greased. I even overshot my mileage goal (mostly due to poor route planning), but felt I could have kept going. I had quite the endorphin high for a few hours after, and I got a glimpse of why some runners become addicted. I'm writing this all down to remind myself of this. Because as of 11:21 pm, my legs have stiffened, and a low level anxiety has crept in, reminding me I have to do this again tomorrow.
As a reader, should the protagonist, in any way, bring about the discomfort or demise of an animal through callous or indifferent means, I am out. I care not what happens to the rest of the characters.
When I read "The Grapes of Wrath", there was a scene where the protagonist family, whilst in their jalopy (an exceedingly overused word in that book), purposefully gun down a turtle in the road. The metaphor was that the turtle represents the family, and the jalopy represents the outside forces resulting in their dust bowl existence. All I could think of for the rest of the book was,
fuck you fo’ life
I went to an animal rescue fundraiser held at a local winery. It wasn’t overly fancy—I wore marginally disguised yoga pants—but they had a nice set up. There was a band, a cash bar, a silent auction, and a raffle. It was an enjoyable evening for a Tuesday, with the weather mild and a slow buzz. I won a raffle, with dog toys and snacks. I won a silent auction of local wine, and a gift card to an Italian restaurant. I probably spent close to $200,
but it was for charity
So the next day, when I struck a cat with my car, the irony took a backseat to an overwhelming agony that persists still.
It’s an accident,
It is traumatic, easily in the top 5 worst experience of my life, and keeps popping up in my mind daily.
So DEAR READER you must forgive me for ending the month this way. I was hoping not to, but I thought if I talked about it out loud I could atone. But I understand if you look at my entries and think,
fuck her fo’ life.
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