Anonymous asked: Is your collection of short stories available yet???
Not yet. Soon. Excited about it. Apologies for the wait. Thanks for caring, though.
Not yet. Soon. Excited about it. Apologies for the wait. Thanks for caring, though.
Katherine, thank you so much. Don’t tell me anymore nice things or I’ll probably fall in love with you.
Hey thanks so much. That means a lot.
“Oh my God, you HAVE to do it.” The girl saying this is about 5’6” and blonde and has these icy blue eyes and is drinking Shock Top wheat IPA and is wearing a shirt with some Japanese writing that doesn’t look corny and is wearing a ring that has a penny shaped oddly on top of it. She is one of the top 30 prettiest girls I’ve ever seen in my life and top 15 prettiest girls I’ve ever seen in my twenties. Her shoes look purposefully expensive, not accidentally expensive. I like that on occasion. This is the 3rd time I’ve met her. She’s laughed at all the funny things I’ve said each time and rubbed my shoulder when I was talking about my break up, so consequently I’ve probably fallen in love with her. She is currently trying to convince me to go through with an idea I suggested while 38% drunk. Joy Division is her favorite band so naturally I lied and claimed that they are one of my favorites as well and that my next tattoo is going to be ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. When I saw how much she enjoyed this notion, I told her I was thinking about doing it tonight. This leads back to her exclaiming that I have to do it. I don’t really want to do this. I enjoy Joy Division and I do love that song but I would feel guilty having a permanent marking on my body representing a band I only have a minor interest in. I’ve got to stop trying to be a chameleon, blending into the walls of the pretty girls wherever I go. It’s just become difficult since I think I realized that I don’t have a niche and I don’t fit into a specific archetype. I think I missed a year of life in my pre-teens when you’re supposed to form who you are. I always remember feeling slightly excluded from absolutely everyone. Although that is in fact a stereotypical goth mindset, I even felt excluded from the goth kids in middle school. I didn’t like metal past Linkin Park and I was wearing American Eagle to try to fit in with the preppier kids who found me funny but didn’t share my interests. I would act out and try to be funny and showy but I did not remotely belong to the drama kids. I disagreed with their hair and mostly they were unfunny. I didn’t like sports so that took away 95% of ice breaker opportunities. Also I hated Pokemon and all anime so that took away a lot of friendship and discussion opportunities as well. I even felt excluded from the teachers. I remember a specific instance where a teacher I had was talking about The Phantom Menace when it came out and he was saying something about it being so far in the future so they couldn’t do this one storyline another teacher was suggesting, and I laughed and told him that was wrong because Star Wars takes place in the past and he said it doesn’t and I quoted the first line of text from every film; ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away’, to him and he looked quite flustered and walked away. Just always excluded. I didn’t drink in high school except for one time in the summer after tenth grade, I played beer pong and was pretty good, and then played flip cup and was pretty good, and then I just drank some more and I was pretty good at that, and then I was quite drunk and as my once friends were trying to walk me home I tried to run inside one of my neighbors houses to say hello, but they quickly stopped me, so I ventured inside my own home finally and my mom was still awake and I had a brief conversation with her asking if we were going to church in the morning, which was me trying to seem natural, but looking back was quite out of place considering there wasn’t a Sunday that we didn’t go to church since my first Sunday on the earth, then I went to my room and stripped down to my underwear and tried typing on my computer but fell off my chair and found it quite funny, then I called my ex girlfriend, then I went to sleep. But I mean all of that was only out of spite for that ex girlfriend who drank the weekend before, so other than that rarity of a night, not drinking in high school removed me from all the parties which meant I lost a lot of connection and inside jokes. When I graduated and went to school in the city I felt more removed than ever. I look at the city as the same type of system as a camera. The camera adds ten pounds, so if you’re fat, then you’re going to look even fatter. I feel like the city adds ten, umm, degrees? Yes, I’ll go with degrees, ten degrees of isolation. So if you’re already isolated, you will feel exponentially more isolated. I mean on occasion I could hold a conversation in a film class about Godard’s direct influence on Gondry or talk in Political Sociology to the smart older students about how America has gained the badge of being a ‘Nation’ because of the weight of American pop culture on the rest of the world, but mostly I didn’t talk. Moving to Portland was healthy. Although I think that’s where my blending started. I got into a 5 month relationship based on a conversation about the Trailblazers at a basement party where there was too much Dinosaur Jr. playing and not enough liquor. Her name is Grace and she was a wonderful figure in my life who I fell deeply in love with and kind of feel like we never actually met. When she broke up with me, and I drove away from her long driveway, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw her shoulder length light brown hair being lifted up and put into a ponytail to reveal the tattoo of her deceased aunt’s initials. I looked back at the road and in a way felt like those initials were hers and she was just a figure I once knew who passed away and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, and that it was okay because that’s how life works. I don’t know why I loved her. There wasn’t any moment that triggered a deep connection, or something that would make a good scene in a script, we just got to know each other and went to Trailblazers games together and sometimes tried to write songs for our fictional band. Maybe I fell in love with the comfort and normalcy of the whole thing. It was just nice and sweet. I don’t think that was okay with her. I think she wanted me to cut to her core, and I just couldn’t do that, because I don’t think I wanted to break past being nice and comfortable. It’s like a collectable vinyl. It’s a beautiful thing to look at, and it’s worth so much unopened and mint. To hear the music though, to hear what truly makes the physical images as beautiful as they are, the heart and soul of the thing, you have to open it up. You have to ruin it. You have to strip it of it’s face value. So it’s a battle for you, what’s more beautiful, something pretty to look at, or something with heart? I guess for me it was something pretty. That’s why I’m ok with having let that go, it remains something that was just nice, and I can lock it away in my memory untainted. I stayed in Portland for a few more months working for a newspaper and writing a short film. I filmed it. It turned out ok. That depressed me a lot. I think my relationship with the film is how Grace felt towards me. I was what she asked for, but nothing more. Mediocrity is a sad thing when put into perspective. It’s much more sad than something that is awful. Sure, conceptually, I would rather be a mediocre boyfriend than an awful one. At the same time though, maybe I was more damaging as someone mediocre. Just not trying, not showing her how much worth she truly had. I have a problem misrepresenting value, I think. When I was 22 and still living at home I accidentally fell in love with a high school senior. We would go on late night walks and talk about exes and Weezer and how Spongebob is both overrated and underrated. We never kissed or held hands, sometimes we would awkwardly hug. We would talk and talk and talk and then when she went away to college I realized I loved her very much and had never told her. I think she was upset that I never did. We stopped talking. I see her on Facebook now, she has a boyfriend who looks less interesting than her standards but she smiles very genuinely in all her pictures, so I suppose that’s good. I think maybe I didn’t realize the value of her to me. I think I regret not realizing that. I quit my job in Portland and went to Florida to make a documentary about a Hardcore punk band. I remember walking around a desolate town with the bassist and him expressing to me how much impact they had on that town from all the shows they had previously played there. He told me how they would break up fights and play outside for the younger kids who couldn’t get into the shows. I learned that the hardcore community is very much based around being able to connect with the bands. All conversations that I overheard between these hardcore kids would be about what guitarist is in what new band and touring with who and going to what drummer’s friends bar and so on and so forth. They are addicted to intimacy and connection to the bands. Hardcore there is all about high fiving the idols, rather than bowing down. That’s kind of a beautiful thing. It’s a relationship I was envious of. To be so close to the ones you admire, and the ones you admire be genuinely great and helpful to the other areas of your life. That’s how a loving relationship should be. Like a lot of relationships though, this band had to end. They were on the string of their last shows and this was a secret. I watched them walk into this bar they were playing at with such a lack of care of what happened. I watched from the back because I didn’t want to be punched in the face by the overweight kids who were wearing Simpson’s shirts unironically moshing and throwing fists. Standing in the back proved to be a mistake because there was an older heavyset woman smoking a Paul Mall and drinking her 6th Corona talking to me thinking I was in the band, telling me how much her son loved “us” and how she loved what “we” were doing in the community. I took the compliments for the band and walked away after removing her hand from my upper thigh. I ventured toward the front by the bar because I saw a pretty blonde girl. As I got closer I realized two things, she was not pretty, she was near flawless, and she would never be interested in me in a million years. She was wearing a cut up “Asking Alexandria” t-shirt and it revealed her black lace bandeau bra. She had a tattoo of a pentagram on her ribcage and had cut up acid wash short shorts and black vans. I too was wearing black vans. I realized I needed to somewhat blend, so I ran out to the van and put on my Iggy Pop shirt because that was the closest thing I had to anything anyone in that room would appreciate. I walked back in trying to look angry and slightly emotionally lost. I must be a good actor of sorts because when I stood next to her she said hi, and I asked her if she’d like a drink, and then someone threw a stool across the bar and shattered a mirror and everyone cheered and then she said yes to the drink. I couldn’t say anything to her. This was for two reasons. We had nothing in common, and the band playing was SO loud and so aggressive and she was quite into it and I was adamantly against whatever this noise was. I watched her as she watched this band. She seemed sexually involved with the music. It was weird and kind of sexy. I then told her I played bass in a hardcore band. This was a lie. If I had said the true version of this fact it would have been that I played bass in a christian worship band in 7th grade. She bought the lie quite easily, however, and we ended up kissing for 25 minutes. I didn’t love her. Not even a little. I couldn’t even trick myself into finding a way to love her. I left Florida longing for a relationship with a woman like Nice hardcore bands have with their fat fans. I traveled for a while, stayed in Chicago for a few months. I think I only fell in love once, and it was because it was with a girl singer who I explored the city with for an entire night and she covered Ballad of Big Nothing by Elliott Smith very Eloquently on a rooftop overlooking the skyline. We had some drinks and held hands and kissed the next two nights. She told me then that her and her ex boyfriend were getting back together and she was sorry but she believed that I played a very significant role in her life. So that sucked. Since then I moved back to New York. I’m doing some freelance video work and also writing a play about that high school senior. I made some friends through wall blending. This leads me back to my 3rd meeting with Joy Division girl, Anna. After these two shots that taste like Big Red gum she convinces me to go get my tattoo. We’ve been texting a lot more this last week so I am excited at least to take the walk to the tattoo parlor with her. She understands me pretty well, and not in that forced type of way, where you find the most connectable scenario in your life and explain it knowing the person will understand you completely and magically connect, but in a very real way. Also she loves Annie Hall. We walk down these crowded Brooklyn streets looking for the nearest tattoo parlor and we step closer and closer. Our hands keep grazing and each time seems less accidental and more sober. We find a place unfortunately and I fully commit to this plan and sit down to get the ink that will hopefully help make Anna more Permanent. “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” This has been true so far in life. Sometimes it’s a lack of fiery love, or not making love known, but it’s always love at the root of tearing each one apart. It’s finished. Anna is freaking out. “I LOVE IT! AH!” She exclaims. “Really? I like it a lot. The guy did good.” I calmly reply, holding back my enjoyment with her enjoyment, and suppressing my immediate regret. Maybe love won’t tear Anna and I apart. Maybe love will put us together. She takes out her camera. “I need to take a picture of this, John is going to love it. He’s the biggest Joy Division fan I know. He got me into them.” I hold out my arm to let her take the picture. “Oh, that’s cool. Is John a friend of yours?” “No, he’s my boyfriend.” Love will tear us apart.
There isn’t any music. I was walking from Terminal C to Terminal A when I realized this. A huge array of worldly languages spouting out flight information, while static filled intercom speakers yell out various numbers and names and babies are crying and graduated football players are talking too loudly on their phones and Hispanic middle aged women are trying to figure out why they can’t get on the plane they don’t have a ticket to, but there is a complete absence of music. I wander from shop to shop during my layover in Atlanta questioning if I should purchase a certain magazine just because January Jones is on the cover. I end up avoiding the excess four dollars and ninety-five cents. I’m trying to cook up as much of a mysterious wanderer image as I possibly can. About fifteen minutes later, I realize this is quite the lost cause, because no one in these terminals is native, so an outsider signifies no danger or sex appeal, because every person here is an outsider. The only person who questions my destination is a heavyset, older, black woman who works at the airport. She reminds me of Della Reese. I always first assume that any southern, older, kind, heavyset, black woman I come across is probably an angel, or at least divine in some way. The terminals within airports are the most stressful, least sexy place probably in the world. (Not counting war zones in third world countries.) Everyone is running and tired and usually poorly dressed with a tone of anger to their voices. The worst of people’s voices come out, too. Southerner’s accents become so thick their drool may just be BBQ sauce. Foreigners are four hundred and fifty-three times harder to understand and six hundred and seventy-two times more frazzled. Anyone from the northeast is suddenly in the mob, and kids just sound flat out stupid. That’s why I don’t speak. I walk passed a Sam Adams bar and I’m pretty close to going in, but I realize my flight starts boarding in seventeen minutes and I don’t want to end up in a conversation while having to rush to finish a pretty good beer I can’t usually find in Wal-Mart. There is no music. I’m not even listening to music I realize. I’m listening to a podcast of an angry NBA analyst comment on the significance of Wallace going to the soon to be Brooklyn Nets. I don’t know. For some reason I’m still trying to look mysterious. That image goes away every time I pass someone who looks like someone I went to middle school with, which is just about every guy my age I pass. So I probably look more homeless than anything, venturing up close to people, and opening my mouth, and then abruptly walking away, trying to put my mysterious façade back on my face. I don’t know. I know I should abort the mission but I don’t. I have this weird feeling towards women in airports. I met Brittany in an airport. Not in a completely romantic way, we had a mutual friend and were friends on Facebook, but had never actually met. We were both on our way to our mutual friends wedding in Florida, and I saw her in the terminal. She truly was an outsider. She had this deep, intellectual sadness to her business casual being. I had never seen someone look so natural and comfortable and genuine in being someone who didn’t remotely belong. I introduced myself to her and I tripped over a very frazzled Indian man’s camouflage Jansport. The last time we were in an airport together was when she was moving to Seattle two years and three months later. I said, “Goodbye, I hope you know how much this hurts and how much I love you.” And she said, as stepping away from my last embrace, “I know. Can you send me that video of the bear waving to camera we were talking about when you get a chance?” And then she flew out of my life and into the city that produces the coffee I just drank on the previous plane. That ride was awful. It was almost too comedic that I had to sit next to the only really, really fat guy on the whole plane. As he sweat and snored, I thought about Brittany. Which is why I’m confused on how to act towards women in airports. I’m back and forth on whether I’m in love with every woman I come across, or in loathe with them. Probably both. Or neither. I don’t know. This airport is too big. There are too many statues and too many tourists. Not like Disneyworld tourists, but life tourists. People just walking around curiously mumbling nonsensical concerns and facts about the city they’re wandering through, maybe they just wander until they become the statues that reside in the airport. I know that seems far-fetched, but at the same time, it doesn’t really. It really seems time appropriate that “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads came on my iPod as I begin to wonder about where the moving statues were going. I wonder if anyone wonders where I’m going. I wonder if anyone looks over and see my as a synonymous traveler in step with the rest of the herd, or if they look at me as an outsider, in a negative manner. I wonder if they think I don’t belong and that I shouldn’t belong. I guess that logic applies much farther than just an airport though. I wonder if I’m an outsider in life too. It’s been suggested one way or another. Whenever a girl decides she doesn’t want to love me anymore, it’s because I’m too removed. I’m not an active participant in the world of reality. I’m too far away. I don’t know how to get in, if that’s true. It reminds me of when I was ten years old, and I was in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I was with my Mom and my Sister, who four at the time. We were in a frantic rush to get to the airport, and then my mom started freaking out and I looked over to see my Sister was missing. We both went into a minor craze and moments later we looked over to see she had wandered through security to another part of the airport. We ran over to get her, but we were stopped and had to go through a separate secured entrance far away to get to where she was. My Sister was crying and slamming on the glass in between us and we couldn’t get to her, and more importantly, she couldn’t get to us. She could see us, and was close to us, but she wasn’t with us, there was a wall between us. That’s how I feel I guess. I’m just walking around and all of a sudden I’m divided from the people I love and no matter how close I am, and how hard I try, I can’t be with them. I don’t know what to do to change this. I don’t want to be removed. I miss Brittany usually and being in this airport is making it much worse. I don’t know how I became so removed at the end. What confused me is that I felt like she was drifting away, not me. I felt like I was becoming more open and ready and prepared and more in love than ever. But she claimed the opposite. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never loved like that. I’m probably still in shock about it. Every time I’m here I watch strangers make connections and bond. I never get that. No one ever reaches out to me. Granted I don’t reach out to anyone myself, but I mean for as often as I see it happen, I imagine that someone would reach out to me at some point. One time, I think I was about fifteen, maybe younger; I was in an airport, and Marla Maples, an ex-wife of Donald Trump, walked by my family and I. We just kind of watched her the way people watch minor celebrities walk by them. We saw her boarding pass fall out of her purse and I ran over and grabbed it and jogged over and handed it to her. She excessively thanked me and called me an angel and went on her way. That was one of the only, if not the only, bonding experiences I’ve had on a plane or in an airport. Actually no. One time, I was sitting next to the actor Tommy Davidson on a plane and he told me my sister was a really cute baby. I said thank you. My only bonding comes from interactions with minor celebrities. I don’t know what that says about me. The process between waiting at your gate and getting on the plane, and the plane taking off seems like a near eternity. My phone is always almost dead, so I can’t scroll through Facebook or Twitter to read things I have minor or no concern for. I look around examining middle-aged women’s twill skirts and overweight men’s unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts. I see these beautiful twin girls sit down six seats away from me. I wonder if they’ll get seated next to me. Hopefully not. They look about my age so they’d probably start some sort of conversation and I’m too sad for substance less banter. They’d probably ask me what I’m listening to and it’d probably end up being Katy Perry and I’d seem unoriginal and uninteresting. Now I’m nervous about what to listen to. Flying alone leaves me too much time to think about things I shouldn’t. Brittany and I played a game where we’d improvise a conversation and we’d have to guess who the other person was trying to be based on the context clues of the conversation. I never lost except one time where I couldn’t figure out she was being Britney Spears and only using references from the last three years. Smart move. We presumably looked very odd, but frankly I’d rather look odd than look lonely and sad. It used to seem like an attractive concept, but not anymore. It’s too easy and genuine now. It’d be nice to go back to pretending about it. The twins didn’t sit next to me. I’m in front of a captain who flies planes and a snowboarder. I know this because they’re sharing their life stories within five minutes of boarding the plane. I’m just sipping coke and eating complimentary pretzels. There’s a little girl in front of me holding a stuffed animal that looks to be replicating a Jack Russell puppy. I wish it were mine. It’s so warm and cute and can’t betray me or hurt me. I don’t want to continue this thought. I’ll end up sounding psychotic. The woman next to me asks me where I’m going and I tell her Miami and her husband makes some bitter comment about LeBron and she tells me to ignore him because he’s from Cleveland and still upset and I tell them it’s ok because I don’t like the heat and then apologize to her husband because I’m a Lakers fan and we just traded to get Ramon Sessions from the Cavs and he’s doing us well. Her husband snickers and they tell me about a house they’re building in Miami and they seem genuinely excited and enthralled to listen about the music video I’m going down there to film. We get off the plane and go our separate ways and I know I’ll never see them again. However, I have this overwhelming sense of confidence and comfort that we’ll always know each other. Now that bond is what I always want out of life. I want to know someone, and I want them to know me. I miss knowing Brittany. I wish she felt like she could have known me. Maybe, what I fear most, is that she did in fact know me, and she just decided she didn’t want to anymore. I guess that’s ok though. Some people don’t want that bond with other people I suppose. As I fly through the skies and wander the ground as an outsider, I’ll take comfort that some people building a house in Miami care to know me, and were able to. Maybe that glass wall is breaking down and I can step back into reality with full awareness that I’m there. I hope so. I just saw Ryan Stiles for “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” grab a bag from baggage claim. We didn’t speak. I avoided an interaction with a minor celebrity. That’s a good sign, I think. I don’t know. I just realized that there’s music playing in the baggage claim.
I really like karaoke. Like, a lot. A sickening amount. I bought some karaoke game for my playstation 2 to have in my apartment. I live alone. I play it a lot. I don’t even have to be drunk. In fact, I prefer not to be. I do great impressions and if I’m at all affected by alcohol I’ll lose my focus and control. I’m a karaoke jedi. This is a huge problem. There is nothing attractive about this. There’s of course the deeper level that bloggers and hip semi attractive presumed lesbians find very charming and endearing about it. The whole irony of taking an over appreciated song that the mass culture adores and butchering it and stripping it down to it’s naked core to reveal to the bar that this song is nothing but a clown that is meant to be laughed at, that was created, formed and welded by a corporation specifically to lack substance and to make money, while destroying art and artists. They go on stage in their ripped up shirts and expensive shots with disposable cameras and laugh their way through ‘California’ by Phantom Planet or ‘Roxanne’ by The Police. They choose these songs very carefully, played out songs by acceptable bands, that way they can mock the popularity, but still go back to their tables and talk about the importance of their minor works and why these songs ruined them yada yada yada. They are looking at the wrong, very wrong. Karaoke is not something that should be taken at a deeper level, it is something that should be performed and appreciated for the surface level, and that is where it stands out in American culture. There is a beauty to the surface on this one. It is taking something that the the mass populous can recognize, and letting you have your take on it. It gives the everyman a moment to be Bruce Springsteen, the timid girl the chance to be Christina Aguilera. That is where the analysis stops. It is an escape from reality, whiteout ever leaching reality. It is standing up and declaring, “I am not Steve Perry from Journey, but for 4 minutes and 11 seconds I’m going to sing one of his songs, because I know the words and so do you.” I have a hard time connecting with people. I mostly don’t speak. I work at a newspaper based out of Portland, but I’m not a Trailblazers fan (Although I put them in the top 5 potential teams I would bandwagon on if the Lakers were to disband.) I’ve lived here for 2 years now. I had a girlfriend when I moved here, but then she broke up with me. I’ve seen pictures of her girlfriend now. She seems happy. I’m more handsome. And a guy. But what do I know? I met a girl at a work party, Tracy, about 7 months ago. She’s really friendly and has a nice raspy voice and a good collection of Tom Wolfe books that I’ve never read but have lied many times to her about. She’s the first girl I’ve dated that I don’t think I love, which naturally makes me think I love her more than anyone I’ve ever met. I have a date with her tomorrow. Next week I’m going away for the weekend with her and her parents. I’m not her ‘boyfriend’ though. It’s a weird thing for me, I’m very obsessed with titles and labels and specificity. But to be honest I think I’m more obsessed with the opposite sex being interested in me so the fact that she doesn’t like titles and labels and specificity trumps my prior obsession. Her dad is a retired Marine and is a current member of the tea party and is very confused where I came from if my father is too a retired Marine but I voted for Obama. He claims he sees a socialist living inside of me and I thank him every time. Tracy and I were drunk one time at a party and she rested her head on my lap and she told me that she wrote a poem about me, a song about me, made a painting inspired by me and started a book about our love. I got very nervous and so excited I wanted to run through a wall, (she’s not very openly expressive), and I calmly asked her if I could see any of them, and then she passed out. I had to take her to the emergency room and she had to get her stomach pumped. When I brought up the things she mentioned, she lied and said she had no idea what I was talking about, so naturally I tried to her drunk again, but she vowed to stop drinking. Damn her. Damn her sobriety. I stay in this relationship based on the idea of some objects and words I’ve never seen or read, only heard about through my drunken kind of girlfriend. The proof of love only exists in a wine filled notion. It’s like the Human Project in ‘Children of Men.’ I’m going through the end of the world and war to find something that only has been slightly rumored to be true and real by a few people, except the fate of mankind doesn’t depend on our relationship, and I’m not nearly as handsome or rugged as Clive Owen. I have trouble connecting with Tracy, which is problematic considering I’m mostly positive I’m in love with her. I went to a Karaoke bar with her and a few friends and she got furious when I did ‘Livin On A Prayer’ by Bon Jovi over ‘Mr. Brightside’ by The Killers. She claimed I lost artistic merit in her eyes. Well she was drinking a Corona (she has allowed herself beer as of late) and I was drinking Sierra Nevada, so she loses beertistic merit in my eyes. She misses the point of karaoke. Just like everyone else like her. Why would I pick a shitty killers song? Because their other stuff is better than Bon Jovi’s popular stuff? That doesn’t make karaokical sense. I’m going to sing the song that makes people sing along and makes me feel like a failed rock star. That makes me connect. Everyone can song along to ‘Livin On A Prayer’ and everyone will. That makes me connect. I never connect to anyone, but when I have 70 people singing along loudly and cheering me on, I am connecting to humanity. They don’t cheer on the pretentious songs, they cheer on the songs they’ve already heard 6 times that night, and that’s the beauty of it. You don’t look edgy by picking a still popular song by a band who has a great b-sides album, but you DO look human by picking a song from the eighties that everyone knows. I want to look human to the other humans. Tracy doesn’t want me to look human. I think I’m going to stop seeing her. I need titles. I need labels. I need specificity. I need someone to duet with me on ‘Picture’ by Sheryl Crow & Kid Rock, not on ‘Anyone Else But You’ by The Moldy Peaches. Tracy isn’t that person. I’ll find her. As a wise man once belted, “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Manhattan is absolutely horrifying, I think. Without a doubt, it is the best place in the universe, but I think it might just be the worst too. It’s Friday, 6:03 pm, mid-november. I’m meeting a girl at a museum. A museum. Where else in the world is the evening’s sexual fate decided whilst gazing upon dinosaur bones and and nude greek statues? Maybe Rome. Or Greece. I don’t know those things. I hated Art History. I really, really hated it. Some cultured, over-analytical examinations of irrelevant paintings of sculptures, that frankly were probably never relevant to begin with. I hope we’re looking at all the wrong pieces, I really do. I hope the paintings we pay such high respect and glory to were like Tim Allen films back then. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, I hope you are nothing but ‘Jungle 2 Jungle’ to the early 17th century Spaniards. I shouldn’t be so hard on Art History, though. Technically, it’s what got me this date. I met this girl through a friend I made in my Art History class at a school that’s a few subway stops away from the museum I’m going to currently. That’s the scariest thing about Manhattan to me, as vast and giant as it seems, it’s all weirdly connected. It’s like a huge high school prom, except the band is The Velvet Underground, and the girls are smoking cigarettes in the open instead of in the bathroom, and the guys are now intentionally nervous as means of meeting a social quota via Woody Allen/Michael Cera, depending on the day. I’m on the subway right now, but I did that only with the intention to finish the chapter of this book, but didn’t factor that the only thing I can do on a subway is stare wildly and intently at every human in that car for at least 10 seconds each, or stare at myself in the window and wonder how neutral I’m looking to everyone. I think everyone in Manhattan’s goal is to look as OK as humanly possible. We recognize outsiders by their emotion. Anything fluctuating above or below “I FEEL NOTHING BUT THAT’S OK I GUESS” is a dead give away. I’m an outsider. Since I recognize that truth, I can blend in a little more. They mostly can’t recognize if you’re pretending. They’re all stormtroopers and I’m just Luke wearing the costume. I’m good now, just don’t make me talk or your ass is dust thanks to my E-11 blaster rifle. By that I mean, don’t ask me for directions, outsiders, because I can’t tell east from west and I don’t want to be recognized. What am I going to do on a museum date? I have no idea the etiquette for that. “Here, let me pay for your coat check.” Romantic. I hate museums, mostly. It’s one of those situations where it’s impossible to talk about anything but exactly what you’re doing. “Wow, that’s a great painting.” “Yeah, I love the color! I love that sculpture.” Hopefully David Mamet is there to take some dialogue notes. It’s the same with Tennis. “Wow, that was a great serve!” “Yeah, I didn’t think it was going to be in, but it was!” Also, I’ve noted it’s the same thing with Sushi, but very specifically sushi for the food industry. Any other restaurant, the topics are endless, normal conversation ensues. But for some reason, in Sushi joints, you can only talk about the sushi you’re going to get, the sushi you’ve had, and the atmosphere of this and other sushi places. Limited conversation like that is bad news. I only know so much about sushi to uphold a good conversation. I need to keep it moving, the more topics we cover, the more it seems like I know. The less topics, and the more time on one topic, the more it is revealed that I only know 1 to 2 things about anything. I have to get off the subway. It’s mid-November, which is arguably the best time to walk the streets in the evening in Manhattan. I say arguably because sometimes it’s too cold, and then that just sucks. Tonight, tonight is nice, however. I wore a leather jacket. I don’t know what type of signal that’s going to send. If I look neutral enough, hopefully the signal it sends is “It’s kinda cold out.” If I start to frown or look disgusted then the signal turns to “Lou Reed embodies New York, and humanity in it’s rawest form is a stew of love and culture, which is what New York stands to be, so since I’m cultured and in New York, I AM LOU REED.” If I smile at all, it becomes “There was a sale at the Gap!.” (There was.) I’m from the south, so when I get this Manhattan breeze, it sends this chill up my spine that is like an electric collar shock that I’ve gone too far away from the yard. That weird resistance is electrifying. That’s what I mean by it’s the best and worst place in the world. Everyone wants to be here and loves being here, but no one really should be, but no one cares that you shouldn’t be. It’s like going to a bar with a fake ID for the first time, and the bartender not caring that you’re a foot shorter and a different skin color than your license, but you’re too hyped up on adrenaline to notice he doesn’t care. I want to be here, but I shouldn’t be here, but no one wants me here, but no one cares too much that I’m here anyway. That’s Manhattan. It’s a beautiful logic. But mostly ugly. I think I’m going to be early to the museum. What do I do? Do I wait outside? No, then I look desperate. This is so weird. Why would I agree to this? What are we going to do at a museum? Maybe it’ll be fun. I don’t know enough about “fine” art to do this though. Maybe she knows that. Maybe my friend told her I got a C in the class. A C. Grades are so stupid. I can’t believe I ever paid for college. C. “This isn’t that good but it will still result in the same outcome as an A or a D.” Absolute nonsense. Waste of my money. Wasted trips on that damned 6 train. Uptown and downtown. Commuting is just Chutes and Ladders. If one part goes smoothly, the next will mess up. Am I too dressed up? I’m wearing a tie. I think a tie is relatively standard though, especially for a date, and in a museum. I’m fine. I was it was 1963. I would never have to worry about being over dressed or under dressed. I would just always be in a suit. I can’t wear suits. I always look 12. My shoulders are too small, I think. That’s why business casual was the greatest fashion movement of all time. No suit jacket, just the button up and tie. It’s perfect. I guess it’s good that I’m here early. More time to mentally prepare. I think I’m going to be listening to Thelonious Monk when Allison walks up. I’ll get it ready, because I’m listening to Jay-Z and I don’t want to change it until I absolutely have to. This is going to be bad. Why did I accept this offer? I hate dates. Wow. This is just sinking in right now what I’m about to do. I’m going to have to be a humorous tour guide for the next 2 hours. What if she likes the stuff? Well obviously she does, or else she wouldn’t have picked this place. Maybe she wants to look smarter than me. Ok well she probably is smarter than me, but she probably doesn’t want me to even be able to fake it. Maybe it won’t be so bad. What else would I be doing? The NBA is still in a lockout, with no end in sight, so I can’t even fall back on basketball as my escape key. It’s Manhattan, of all the things to do, why pick a museum? What would I have picked? I don’t know. Maybe a museum isn’t a bad idea. It has everything. Maybe this is a genius idea. I don’t hate them as much as I’m saying I do. Allison makes me nervous. I talked to her at a hip loft party and probably fell in love with her, and then saw her at a pet store a few weeks later, and THEN saw her in a used book store in the same week, so I definitely fell in love with her then. I haven’t been on a ‘date’ date in 3 months. The last one ended in me crying in a cafe because ‘Thirteen’ by Big Star came on and then 3 hours of me explaining the unfairness of my break up to this poor girl who unluckily got set up with me as a “keep his mind off her” type girl. I’m more confident for this one. At least confident in the area that I almost definitely won’t cry. Maybe this will be cute and semi-romantic. Maybe we’ll find some sort of cultured euphoria in the quite white rooms draped by the fingerprints of dead artists that we’ll want to continue our evening outside, and walk around closely through the streets of Manhattan, waiting on that moment 20 blocks in wear our cold but glove free hands accidentally graze one another’s, and then to buy a bottle of wine and go to the top of a parking garage and have a sweet and buzzed view of the greatest (and worst (but at that moment greatest)) place on earth. I’ll loan her my headphones and we can listen to Thelonious together and she’ll look at me and go “Isn’t Manhattan something?” and I’ll gently rub her cheek and smile casually and say “It’s electrifying, babe.” I can say that, I’m wearing a leather jacker. “Austin?” Oh my God she’s here. “Allison! Hey! You made it. Cool.” Cool? Yeah? Is it cool that she made it? Hug her you jackass. “It’s so nice to see you, I’m so excited you could come down, I’m really in love with this place, there’s so many things I want to show you.” “Yeah, I mean no problem, I wouldn’t have missed it! I love museums.” Smooth. “What are you listening to?” Oh no. You didn’t change it. YOU DIDN’T CHANGE YOUR IPOD TO JAZZ FOR THE CULTURED YOUNG LADY TO BE IMPRESSED BY. “Oh, Jay-Z.” “What album? It sounded like Lost Ones.” Really man? Kingdom Come? Not even The Blueprint? “Oh, yeah, it is Lost Ones! It’s Kingdom Come.” “I love that album. Very underrated.” What is happening. “Yeah, I agree! Wow. Yes.” “Ok so I’m going to check my coat and then we can go in!” “No, here, let me check it in for you.” Manhattan. It’s electrifying, baby.
You told me to never fall in love with you.
I was at a barbecue last july, under one of those steel pavilions, when I first saw you. You were wearing a blue dress with cowboy boots. The only songs I saw you sing along to were ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘YMCA.’ You did many things that were so odd to watch. You cut your hot dog right down the middle and put ketchup inside of it. You were digging your nails into a picnic bench. We met in the rain. I went to my car to get the present for the host, and you were going to your car to get your iPod. It started to pour when we walked back up the hill, so you told me I could share your umbrella. I tripped because my shoelaces were untied. You helped me up and I asked your name. Delaware Rose. So odd and simultaneously charming, just like you. We spent the next two hours and twenty four minutes talking. You took my phone and put your number in it.
Three weeks later, we had been talking for two weeks and six days. We had gone on two and a half dates, and kissed two and a half times (half a date meaning you had to leave because you had to pick up your sister, and half a kiss meaning I was nervous so we kind of missed.) We only disagreed on three things (the importance of Eric Clapton, chocolate ice cream, and Mozilla Firefox), and only stopped talking when we were asleep. All in all, our BBQ based relationship was going very well.
One months and five days later, we initiated a relationship with a title. I asked you out by writing “Will you be my girlfriend?” backwards on a chalkboard opposite a mirror in your room. There was no music playing, and you smiled with your teeth and wrapped your arms around me. That night we laid on your roof and you told me to never fall in love with you. I asked you why, and you told me because you loved me too much to let me love you. I was really confused and said something trying to be insightful but probably sounding like an idiot. You were so much smarter than me.
Four months and one week later I slept over your house and we kissed all night. I told you that I loved you and I always will. You told me that you loved me too, and that life was weird. I agreed and kissed all of your skin. We woke up together and smiled together. You asked me if I was sure I wanted to love you, because it probably was a dangerous idea. I told you I couldn’t stop loving you if I tried.
Eight months and eight days later you told me you were scared of time. You told me it seemed like only yesterday that you watched me trip in the rain. You told me you were scared of losing grip of time and being sucked away into nothingness. I told you not to be scared, but I thought to myself that nothing scares me more. I only felt time slow down when I was with you. Although when I looked back on it, time seemed like it was flying by, when we were in the moment, I felt every moment like it was a year. I loved looking at you, this stranger who was now part of me, a separate life who stepped into mine, to change it permanently. You kissed my cheek at a party and told me you loved me. I had never been happier in my life.
Ten months and six days later, you were hit my a car who was running a red light. You died instantly. When your mom told me, I passed out and I don’t think I’ve woken up yet.
You told me to never fall in love with you, because it might be dangerous. You’re not here anymore, but that danger was worth it. I miss you, Delaware Rose.
I have to finish this cigarette. I have to. I’ll look stupid if I don’t. It’s a plain miracle I haven’t coughed yet. Why would I accept one? Is smoking still cool? I can’t keep up. I think it’s one of those things that keeps cycling, cool, uncool, cool because it’s uncool, uncool because of it being cool to be uncool, cool because it’s dangerous, uncool because it’s dangerous, ironic because it’s dangerous and you’re healthy, cool because it’s ironic, so on. I don’t know. I don’t see how anyone could ever become addicted to this. It tastes like I imagine how it feels to be the tongue of a grandmother. I don’t know. It looks cool. I think. I’m sure I’m the one person in the world who can’t pull it off. What the hell am I wearing today? I can’t remember. I think I’m drunk. If I think I am, I’m probably not. I’m wearing my grey pants. Solid choice. Long sleeve button up, sleeves rolled up above the elbows. Kerouac would approve. So if someone takes a picture of me, I’ll look cool. I don’t want to finish this cigarette. I have to. She’s staring right at me. Good lord, she’s intimidating. What is she even talking about? I haven’t been paying attention to her whatsoever. I hear ‘The Blue Album’ playing in the background, so her words about some inspired show Kid Cudi is on couldn’t interest me less. Am I drunk? Maybe if I am, I can just rudely walk away from her without her noticing. Oh no. She did the laugh. The laugh where she puts her head back and then down and then put her hand on my shoulder. Don’t touch me, female. I hate your shirt and I hate your shoes. Maybe we’ll kiss. Hopefully not. What is your name, girl? It was something a little less than standard, something with a B. The Blue Album is perfect. I think I’m drunk. No I’m not. Bailee! That’s her name. Interesting. No, Bailee, I don’t think Muse is a good band. I think Muse is Radiohead’s vomit. No, Pablo Honey is Radiohead’s vomit, Muse just sucks. Why am I here? I know why I’m here. I wanted her to be here. She gave me my first cigarette. She laughed when I coughed. I wasn’t afraid to cough in front of her. I liked her shirt and I liked her shoes. I remembered her name. It was very less than standard, and it started with a K. Kaliska. She told me it meant “Coyote Chasing Deer” and that she was Native American. I asked her if she’d ever seen Pocahontas. Then she walked away. Luckily for me, I definitely was drunk, and I put on ‘Just Around The Riverbend’ from my iPod and sang it to her. Real cute. She laughed and then we went to the swing set in the backyard and talked about things neither of us knew that much about. She lied about books, I lied about sports, and then we lied about feelings and then we laid in the grass and lied about love. Sometime later I buttoned my shirt and threw up on her shoes. She kissed my neck and told me that she’d see me again. So here I am, a few weeks later, praying I’m a deer, and that she’s a coyote. Everyone is singing ‘Say It Ain’t So’ at the top of their lungs so I don’t have to listen to stupid Bailee talk right now. That’s mean. She’s nice. I’m drunk though, probably. Maybe. I wish I was in a band. Bailee has nice hair and nice posture. I just haven’t cared about one word she’s said. Someone just walked by with a tuna sandwich. I hate tuna. I should ask Bailee if she knows Kaliska. Everyone at these things are connected somehow. I came with Marc, who was invited by Julia, who is dating Art, (whom which I found out after a few drinks and a bolt of curiosity is NOT named after Art Garfunkel,) who is best friends with Kyle, who’s house is where I currently am. Kyle has a cool house. I dig his paintings, they’re modern in a way that isn’t cheap or in a way that isn’t shoved down your throat with their unique perspectives of the problems with the GOP. Just stuff that looks cool without hurting Rick Perry’s feelings. Bailee likes me. I keep bringing up some weird theory that everyone in the world is color blind without knowing it. I don’t think that way, why am I saying that. Also I’m making sure that she knows I spell color ‘C-O-L-O-U-R’. I don’t. I wish Kaliska was here. She doesn’t have a Facebook. HOW COOL IS THAT? They should put on Pinkerton next. I hate Bailee’s shoes. I liked Kaliska’s shoes. That doesn’t matter though, because I just threw up on Bailee’s shoes too. Say It Ain’t So. I’m a dead deer. I think I’m drunk.