Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vicki xx From the 12th Floor

Vicki xx and I met on the elevator this morning. One of us dropped a FOB. We weren't sure who had done it - frazzled as we were with our coffee cups, umbrellas, and respective hangovers - and in an overt display of courtesy we both fell to the ground, desperately searching for the little piece of plastic that permitted one of us access to our respective floor of work in this godforsaken building.

I ride the elevator approximately six times a day, five days a week. I've done so for the past eleven months. That's a lot of rides. And until today, I'd never crossed paths with Vicki xx.

To describe her would be like trying to describe something for which there are no words, like why someone should purchase a fleet of MFP printers, or that feeling you get when coffee hits your system and a trip to the bathroom grows pants-shittingly imminent. I suppose I'll leave you with the impression that she's the sort of woman who wouldn't look out of place anywhere, ever, with a pink feather boa draped around her neck.

We talked about many things on that first ride during the remaining four seconds that passed between my finding her FOB and her stepping off the elevator onto the 12th floor. Among several other coincidences, I learned we both share a fondness for cold meatball sandwiches.

We parted ways after burying a "besties" time capsule in the floor of the elevator and promising to try and run into each other again. Not a second has passed this morning that I haven't thought of Vicki xx, and the pink feather boa I'd imagine she could pull off wearing anywhere.

Until we meet again.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Perfect Banana

Every Monday I come to work with a bunch of bananas that serve as breakfast for the rest of the week. And every Wednesday, the remaining bananas are so brown and spotty I want nothing to do with them. I remember reading a year or so back that something was happening with banana genetics that virtually guaranteed their extinction within the next decade. Or something. Perhaps this post deserves more research.

Here we go, from Wiki: "While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar Cavendish (extremely popular in Europe and the Americas) could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10–20 years." 

I'm assuming this means that a genetically modified strain of banana will rise to prominence. Normally I'd say I'm anti such a development, but... if it means there's a possibility my bananas will remain firm and green the whole week long, I might have to rethink my entire genetic modification belief system. 

Thoughts? 

Also: I can't decide whether I'm on or off the blind date bandwagon. I suppose if I've met the guy on OK Cupid and know all his vital stats and the six things he can't live without, it's not a blind date any longer. But still. Are they fun? Are they exhausting? How is it any different than a job interview (and yes, both include the possibility of sex for me [kidding]). Regardless, I'm 0 for 2 this week. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That Time Again

I've identified a pattern. Every October, I become critical of my life to the point that anything short of working as an Imagineer at Disneyland is unsatisfactory. My kickass apartment, my second-to-none DVD collection, my ragtag group of friends - none of it, no matter how great, seems an appropriate trade-off for working a 9 - 5 desk job on the 19th floor of a corporate-owned skyscraper in SF's Financial District.

I bike to work and try to feel different from the hundreds of cyclists, the thousands of drivers, and the tens of thousands of commuters in the buses and the underground who are all headed to the same cluster of buildings as me. I feel bad for the adventures they're sacrificing in order to make a paycheck and support a family. I think about how many days they've woken up and put on the same pair of dress socks underneath the same pair of slacks, and how many meaningless conversations they've shared in the indistinguishable lobbies that have served as empty reference points for the jobs they've skipped between and the promotions they've earned. I know it makes me sound like an asshole, but to view myself as anything other than different from is to admit defeat. And that's not something I do lightly. Ever.

Instead, I make a game out of it. "Look at me pressing the button for the elevator," I think. "This fancy lady next to me has no idea how amusing this all is. Me, an impostor, riding the elevator along with the rest of them as they think their thoughts and have their small talk. Hilarious!" And then I sit at my desk and continue: "Look at me, sitting at a desk in a fluorescent-lit office. With my big old desk phone. And my list of office numbers. And Bagel Monday. Thank God I'm in a Creative, at least. Man alive, it's going to be one hell of a story when I get out of here a few months from now. Imagine how absurd this whole situation will sound when I'm ten years older and kicking back telling it."

Look at me, up on my high horse.

The reality is - or, rather, must be, for the sanity of every one of my fellow humans whom I walk among every day of the work week - that we all must have started out thinking the way I do. And slowly, imperceptibly, the godawful mundanity of the situation must just start to beat the sense out of you.

And so I'm no different from everyone else. At all.

Unless, of course, I stick to my guns. And remember these thoughts a few months from now. And walk out of here before it becomes something I can't just wash my hands of. And never stop trying to be supremely badass. Even if it means less money. And no dress socks, ever. And a profound feeling of smugness as I continue to buy bottom-shelf vodka.

I'm 25. Nothing's final. And these are the thoughts I need to remember until I can look around and safely proclaim myself not a part of the Financial District crowd.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Death to Instagram

This past week my best buddy here in SF had a twinkie little visitor from New York stay free of charge in his studio with him. They'd never before met in person, having only exchanged messages through Grindr while my friend was in New York for a long weekend a month back.

The visitor lived on his iPhone for the entirety of his stay. Every time they came over to hang at my studio, he would plop onto the couch, whip a charger from out of nowhere, and sit cradling his phone as it juiced up, pausing in conversation every few seconds to respond to a text message or like a photo on Instagram. Even when we went to see Looper, he paid little attention to the film, his face instead illuminated by the phone he simply couldn't set down. If you're reading this, you likely know my thoughts on phones in movie theaters: they don't belong. Ever.

When we went to the park, he had to Instagram the park. When we pulled out our books to read, he had to Instagram his open book. Nothing was too trivial for this kid's Instagram: vanagons, bagels, walking up a hill, walking back down the hill, vegetables, parking meters, a fire hydrant. He quite literally saw the world through an Instagram filter, and unless something would make a decent photo, it wasn't worth his time.

Now, this kid wasn't just visiting SF: he's planning on moving here. And this was his trial week. And he spent *all* of it feverishly snapping photos, writing captions, and uploading them for his 409 followers to comment on. It's as if he can't justify living unless other people are validating his most trivial moments.

I'm reminded of this excerpt from my senior thesis:

The decade has come and gone, its major contribution to American society the reflective realm of social media. That’s right: being social is now a new media form. People blog. They maintain Facebook profiles with the goal of keeping their best foot – or their most attractive foot – in the spotlight. They tweet clever diatribes that allow devoted followers access to their every move. And, when something truly outrageous happens, its filmic counterpart pops up on Youtube in as little time as a minute. People are on display as much as they want to be, and they’re shaping their lives accordingly. The logical path of fiction for 2010, then, might now look like this:

Reality → Technology → Entertainment → Reality → Entertainment → Reality…

And so on and so forth, until the (increasingly) fine line dividing “reality” and “entertainment” becomes virtually imperceptible. 

Again, refer to Disneyland versus Reality Park. The key difference between the two – and which Eco, even if disparagingly, acknowledges – is that there’s still some visible distinction between Disneyland and its external society. Even if the industrial squalor of Los Angeles “knowingly” plays off the perfect plasticity of Main Street, U.S.A. in order for the latter to shine all the brighter, there’s still some amount of contrast present in the equation. Humans can distinguish external from internal, despite both realms working together to form the great irony of the twenty-first century. Reality Park, though, is reality, to the extent that Airplane would be absolutely no fun for anyone who wasn’t both completely aware and appreciative of its resounding falseness. And to live in a world where Disneyland has been abandoned in favor of Reality Park – where packaged entertainment is being usurped by today’s younger generation of tech-savvy, reflection-happy scenesters – is frightening. Because when people start looking to themselves for amusement, and those same people become aware of that self-imposed gaze, then they begin both acting for and responding to an audience; an audience that includes themselves. And it’s at this point, I believe, that something crucial to a meaningful existence is lost. 


***

As of this writing, the twink's latest uploaded Instagram photo features his disembodied arm handing a dog a chew toy. It has ten likes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oh the Joys

Life's been pretty great lately, which doesn't help explain why I want to quit all of it, move back to Portland, and open a bar with my best friend. When I bike to work in the morning, I don't dread the idea of sitting at my desk from 9:30 - 5 and concepting copy, but I don't exactly relish sitting here, either. This eggshell-white wall in front of me isn't getting any more interesting, and the appalling mid-90s carpet isn't getting any less carpet-y. Plus there are the less than savory coworkers, but they number few.

I love my free time. I still freak out about exploring SF's bars and restaurants, and my friends are spectacular. What it really is then, I think, is my already-strengthening grudge against the typical 9 - 5 work week, and having a boss who makes decisions for you, and knowing that every decision directly affecting your own free time is at the mercy of someone who likely just doesn't really care whether you feel you deserve a Friday at home. I see coworkers who have been at this job for 20, 30, even 40 years, writing the same briefs and wearing the same clothes and seemingly having accepted that this is the way it was meant to be for them. And that makes me sad.

The solution is obvious: move to Portland and open a bar. The obstacles are minimal: take a loan from my parents, work my ass off, enjoy success. This is the decision everyone has to make: run off in favor of something more personally rewarding, or settle for something that's pretty decent and then spend my entire working life convincing myself I made the right choice?

To be fair, I had these thoughts straight out of college. The reason they slipped away over the past two years is that real life happened, and suddenly affording an apartment and food made a part-time job at the Apple Store absolutely necessary. A lot of people simply don't have a choice in what happens to them because they aren't in a position to decide on anything other than surviving.

I suppose now is the time I should be grateful for my dad being a cheap bastard with big savings.

Check back this time next year and we'll see where these ramblings led me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Extra, Extra!

My last post was about re-watching LOST with a friend, and this one will expand on those sentiments. Fuck, I love LOST. I'm not sure what I would have given to sit in the writers' room with Damon and Carlton and just listen to them jam on plot elements and story lines. I can only imagine how charged the creative energy would have been when they decided to introduce the first flash-forward. I mean: holy shit.

My friend and I are one full season away from the first unveiling of Jack's exploits off the island, and the best part is that my buddy's brain literally can't conceive of what's about to happen. The change is so integral to the mechanics of LOST's storytelling - in addition to its narrative - that such a shift is unprecedented based on what's come before. If you're only given flashbacks for three seasons straight, the idea that half of each episode will now deal with future instead of past events just isn't an option. He's trying hard to theorize and is doing an admirable job of putting pieces together, but this surprise is so far outside the realm of the puzzle of the plot that I absolutely fucking delight in watching as he has no idea what's sneaking up. Man, he's in for such a treat.

The first time through, I was frustrated with the show's mysteries that didn't receive definitive conclusions. Why is Walt special? What really happened to he and Michael after they boated to freedom? Why was Libby in the mental institution with Hurley? What's that ridiculous bird that squawks Hurley's name in the finales of Seasons 1 and 2? Now that we're at a place where these mysteries have been raised and I know there aren't really very good solutions to them, my friend's discontent is relatable if not mutual. I felt the same way he did originally; now, though, I like that these mystery elements can float away into LOST mythology and be picked to pieces offscreen. It wasn't until my initial viewing of Season 6 that I started realizing my wish for absolute knowledge of all remaining mysteries wasn't actually what I really wanted from the show. There's so much pleasure in not knowing, and you don't realize it until you know too much.

I'm thinking of going the DHARMA Initiative route for Halloween, though this decision may fall in that weird stretch of time before something that was once as cool/out-there as LOST turns into a big cult favorite. Am I jumping the gun by five years? Or did I miss the gun entirely by, like, 3?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The LOST Dilemma (aka, what I'd pay for adventure)

I've been re-watching LOST with a newbie friend who has no idea what's coming, and the experience to date has been delightful. We're eight episodes into Season 2, and Shannon recently died. This prompted my friend to again address the fact that, were he ever unfortunate enough to survive a plane crash, the first thing he'd do would be to find a sizable cliff and jump off it. "Especially if I was on that island," he always adds. "Kill me on impact, please. I don't want to deal with any of that shit."

My reaction to his sentiment is one of aghast befuddlement. As it turns out, I'm willing to do almost anything to experience a situation more fantastic than what everyday reality typically allots for. I love Disneyland for its ability to make me feel - however fleetingly - that I'm immersed in a fantasy so compelling it's akin to living inside a film or a novel. No matter how realistic Disney's environs, though, I know that what I'm seeing isn't real, and that no matter how fast the wind blows in my face on Space Mountain, I'm in no real danger. 

And I think actual peril is key to a truly immersive narrative experience. When I try and imagine the Blue-Sky future of interactive narratives, my thoughts hit a ceiling when considering just how realistic any simulated scenario can get when true human danger is out of the question. Because don't all exciting stories hinge on shootouts, explosions, booby traps, poisonings, car chases, horse chases, plane crashes, smoke monsters, and hit men? No matter how convincing any of it might eventually seem, it's still not going to cross the danger threshold into full-fledged reality. And a full-fledged realistic adventure is what I'm after. Which is why I'm so jealous of the characters on LOST.

I'll conclude with this: if any future simulated adventure requires I sign an agreement relinquishing anyone of responsibility for my possible death, you're damn right I'm signing that dotted line. I think.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Perfect Breakfast

Ingredients:
- Eggs (3)
- Tomatoes (just ripe, sliced)
- Garlic (shit ton, minced)
- Spinach (for the Popeye appeal)
- Avocado (this is California, after all)

- Hash browns (almost too cooked)

- The best hot sauce ever (would willingly drink it)

Where you can get it:
Lucky Cafe, Sacramento, CA

For serious. I'd write a Yelp review to further deify, but fuck Yelp.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Up Where They Walk

I check the WK+12 website everyday for the appearance of an application to next year's program. I haven't felt this anxious about my odds of being accepted into a dream scenario since I applied to Reed all those years ago. Something about my competition seems just as fierce... plus a lot of them probably know how to use Photoshop and will have some insane shit to submit. Five months from now I'll either be living a very easy life in San Francisco still, or I'll be in Portland having my brain hammered by a gold brick - or whatever's the equivalent of that drink in Hitchhiker. That's how I imagine the WK+12 experience is.

What gets me is that it seems a lot of other hopefuls are baiting through Twitter. And I just don't really care about Twitter. And I don't really care about baiting. Here's to takin' 'em unaware. Like in the old days. I'm a modern cowboy. Now someone get me some whiskey.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Postcard Extra

Last night I walked home from the gym, my usual red-faced, sweaty self. As I waited for a green light on the corner across from my apartment, a French family surrounded me. The father was preoccupied with a map, the mother with taking pictures of City Hall, and the kids with pointing excitedly up at Alamo Square Park. The park does take on a bit of an ethereal quality close to sunset, with clouds sweeping in from the West and an orange skyline setting the dozens of circling planes a-twinkle. I routinely feel like a background figure in a postcard - it goes with my neighborhood's territory. Sometimes when I'm standing on my porch, I pretend I'm an animatronic waving at all the tourists. And to them, that's pretty much what I am. Trippy. Even so, there's something about being a living accessory to a glamorous location while still sweating from the gym that makes the situation even sweeter. "This is me" I picture myself saying to the tourists, hands on my hips, "and I am this San Francisco street. Go ahead. Snap away."

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Weekend, in 10 Bullets


  • Ate free cheese at the Walt Disney Museum's premiere night party. 
  • Talked horror-movie shop over Vodka Sodas until 2 am. 
  • Accompanied a surly, jet-lagged friend to brunch. 
  • Bloody Mary!
  • Watched another four episodes of LOST
  • Stared in horror at an irritating group of "improv actors" in the park. 
  • Shook with mirth when the most irritating "actor" of the brunch sprained his ankle. 
  • Bloody Mary!
  • Stepped foot in / purchased clothing from American Apparel for the first (and last?) time ever. 
  • Finally made it to The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX; pined the whole way through for the Joker. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics

The last time I watched the Olympics I was abroad in New Zealand. They had competitors in very few events, and both (yes, both) of the country's channels showed nothing but up-to-the-minute footage of what was happening to its dozen or so athletes. Four years later, US coverage of the opening ceremony is competing with breaking news updates on superkiller James Holmes, I'm watching the proceedings from a desktop in my fluorescent-lit office in San Francisco, and everyone knows I'm gay. Ah, 2008, what a lifetime away you are.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

At the Ballgame

Yesterday our office went to a Giants game together. On our walk over, we stopped at Red's Java House, where I had three Bloody Marys and two Tequila shots. Rowdier, we then proceeded to AT&T Park. A baseball cap there costs $40, so I settled for letting my scalp burn. I watched about two innings and then went and paid $11 for an Irish Coffee. I was worried that I might overdo it in front of the people who I have to sit beside 40+ hours a week. I made my way home by 6pm, passed out for two hours, and woke up at 8 still exhausted. "Good thing I took it easy," I thought, "otherwise tomorrow morning would've sucked." Then later a spider crawled over me in bed and I killed it, the juicier details of which are too embarrassing for me to recount. I'll only say I ended up sleeping on the couch. I woke up today early and chipper and made it to the office right on time. In turned out everyone else had partied until roughly 4 am and half of them had called in sick. Moral: don't worry about what others might think, just drink. Drink, dammit!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Explosivo!

Last night I was sitting at my desk, drinking a glass of water (not alcohol) and catching up on CNN (not porn) when something massive exploded with a loud fucking CRACK on the street outside of my apartment. A flash of white light illuminated my blinds, and then all was silent. I have previously considered myself the type who'd immediately spring into action at the first sign of a gunshot / explosion / danger, but now I know that it takes a good four seconds for me to think of anything more strategic than "what the fuck!". By the time I'd come to my senses and thrown myself behind my bed, I definitely would have been killed... if the explosion had been the first of a series of gunshots aimed at my windows. Luckily, it wasn't, and after a few minutes passed I stepped outside to investigate. All my neighbors were on their porches as well. Word on the street was that dozens of cop cars were dealing with an extension of the emergency two blocks away by Crack Alley (McDonald's). Whatever went down in front of good ole' 931 Fulton last night is classified as: still a mystery.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Weekend, in 10 Bullets


  • Went to Something and watched drag queens act out performance art pieces / dance numbers. 
  • Climbed onto a rooftop.
  • Got home at 2:15 am, ordered GrubHub.
  • Watched Peggy Sue Got Married until 4:15 am, when GrubHub finally showed up. 
  • Decided to be all "productive" by going to the hardware store and buying a soap dish. 
  • Hooked my friend Joe on LOST (essentially re-hooking myself). 
  • Woke up at 10 am Sunday, then fell back asleep and woke up at 1 pm.
  • Developed a mid/high-level crush on a robot in Dolores Park. 
  • Watched Serial Mom (Kathleen Turner was all over the place this weekend). 
  • Stayed up til 3 am for no reason, knowing full well I had work this morning. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bedding

A few days ago I surveyed the items on display in my apartment and realized a good 75% of what I own qualifies as college leftovers. This is all well and good, except I'm nearly a 25-year-old gay man living in San Francisco, and my taste should have evolved since I lunged for the least expensive, pseudo-classy duvet cover I could find at Bed, Bath, and Beyond six years ago. The problem with upgrading, though, is that once one thing is replaced, the rest has to follow. And preferably sooner than later. How many more times is this going to happen? If I buy a new lamp and bedside rug now, will I be keeping them both another six years? What am I going to favor at 31? I'm reminded of that scene from Fight Club where Edward Norton is doing a voiceover and mentions that he flips through IKEA magazines looking for the perfect couch that will both define his personality and last forever. "That's it. That's the last sofa I'm gonna need." Should I be perturbed that certain elements of my life are beginning to mirror the depressing underbelly of Fight Club? I'm voting yes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quarter-life Crisis

Last night I had a friend over. He walked in on me aggressively cleaning my b**g, which has more or less sat in a corner collecting dust for the past year. Then I asked for his opinion on a number of changes I was considering for my apartment. Then I told him I wanted to train for, and ride in, the AIDS Life Cycle next year. Finally I brought up my somewhat irrational fear of being fired from my job, and how although on a personal level I wouldn't be crushed, such a development would suck money-wise. When I realized I'd done nothing for 45 minutes but pick apart my life - even though it's actually a really great one - I figured it's because I'm turning 25 and time isn't making any exceptions for me. What is it I really want? Where do I go for it? And how quickly can I make it happen?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Weekend, in 10 Bullets

  • Drank at / groped in the Castro.
  • Tried to pass as cool and bro-ish by playing Golden Eye with two straights and a straight gay.
  • Stewed over granola as loud Marina trash blathered on and on in CafĂ© du Soleil.
  • Took my bike for a tune up, ended up with a giant new TV.
  • Contemplated a run, then opted for a two-hour “spontaneous” nap.
  • Drank at / groped in the Castro.
  • Tried to pass as swanky Marina trash as a means of infiltrating their home turf for a badass burger.
  • Ogled a 14-foot miniature of Disneyland at the Disney Family Museum.
  • Contemplated a run, then opted for a leisurely stroll to the gym.
  • Watched Top Secret!

Friday, July 13, 2012

In the Dark it all Feels the Same

Last night the power went down in the massive quadrant between Haight and Divisadero, meaning some 11,000 people were plunged into near-complete dark. I always think I'll be a survivor of the apocalypse until something like this happens. While all the hipsters who were kicked out of the Divisadero art walk and the Independent Theater mulled around, cool, I anxiously biked back to my apartment. "Just 1,100 more feet and I definitely will have made it home without being being run over." Once I'd reached safety, I realized my relaxing night without power wasn't going to be so cushy. A refresher course in what "power outage" actually means: no lights; no internet; no means of ordering food; no means of cooking food; no means of walking anywhere nearby for food. Thank God for the super-gay headlamp my brother's girlfriend recently gifted me. And also for my super-gay purchase of Tina Fey's Bossypants. Together, we whiled away the dark hours. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One-paragraph Wonders

Maybe I've been working at a B2B agency too long, but I'm starting to really understand that old not-so bullshit saying, "less is more." My big hesitation when contemplating writing new blog posts is that I don't want to focus - or spend the time - composing a dozen hefty paragraphs that revolve around the inanities of my life. Fun as they are, I just can't commit when I have so much other stuff going on. After all, if I'm not out doing, what will there be to write about? Which is why, starting today, I'm  pulling another one of my I-promise's and am resolving to write a new blog post every day of exactly one paragraph in length. Oh, the topics we'll cover! Starting tomorrow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Boots

I'm at a loss for what to report, other than that I'm no longer an intern. Somehow, someone at work decided I'd make a decent full-time Copywriter, and the cool thing about bosses is that when they make a decision it actually happens. So now I come to my desk everyday and do the same stuff, except I'm salaried and I could probably leave for like an hour in the afternoon and stop acting like I report/am subservient to absolutely everyone, and so on. But instead I'll probably just still sit here and behave as though I'm working.

 Not having the "intern" suffix after whatever I'm doing out here in the real world is liberating, but also kind of sad. I really like the idea of having limitless choices regarding where and how I forge into the future, and I suppose I'll always have a bunch, but the field from which I pick them seems to be thinning. It turns out once you actually start being paid to write, you're qualified for much less other stuff. Ten years from now my skill set's going to read: "I can write stuff." Yay? Yay! Yay?!

 Also I bought a bike! I went with my friend Joe to Sports Basement for a "discount" bike and ended up spending $600. I stood there, hands in pockets, while Joe did all the talking. It was great. The bike is jet black and sleek as hell, and it's already named Sputnik by the company that manufactured it... which is a total bummer! Sputnik is a perfect bike name, and I want to keep calling it that but I can't just call my bike what's already printed on its side. That'd be a score of zero for creativity in my book - a score I just can't live with.

 I have other stuff to say (like, for instance, did Cabin in the Woods rip off "Smith Experience" or what?!) but I'm going to stop here because I'd prefer to get back into the swing of this blog describing specific scenes from my life, not just playing weekly host to a lame recap. The alternative is far more entertaining. Plus, the writing I do for this new job of mine discourages any instance of excess, which is like the exact opposite of how I normally write, so I'm feeling particularly self-conscious with this post.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

End of the World Dreams

While waiting for Mad Men to download through iTunes last night (that's right - I pay for quality entertainment) I talked with a friend about the end-of-the-world dreams we'd both recently experienced. Hers involved flying through space after the planet combusted and hanging out in a free-wheeling, ethereal cloud that defied all laws of gravity (read: fun) with a bunch of other survivors. Mine dealt with alien snowdrifts that sucked people under amid ominous groaning and clanking sounds (read: smoke monster) as the world grew darker and colder. Between the two, I'd take flying in space any day.

Everyone has those childhood misnomer-type situations where they grow up thinking one thing is totally normal only to eventually be proven wrong by other people who in no way were brought up the same. In my case, I thought it was perfectly natural to dream regularly and vividly, and for a good 80% of those nightly occurring dreams to be nightmares.

Big bad wolves. Marauders outside the window. Crab-like spiders. Freddy Krueger. A small door in the back of a closet leading to an underground chamber where pure, unadulterated evil lurks behind an even smaller, locked door. This was the stuff my youthful personality formed from, and I tend to think it explains a lot.

After I came out in college the nightmares ebbed quite a bit, which I thought was some cool psychological proof of something or another - don't ask what. Now when they happen, though, they tend to be epic and foreboding in a way I never before could have imagined. The scary thing about the end of the world that my dreams so convincingly iterate - and that movies and books of the same topic don't do nearly so good a job with - is the overwhelming element of confused dread that the looms over the proceedings. If the world were to actually end today (and assuming aliens or a mysterious otherworldly force is involved, which is always the case in my dreams), the first thing to go would be telecommunications, and, accordingly, any and all sense of knowing what's going on elsewhere. And we need to know what's going on elsewhere to make sense of anything.

Without online news or cell phones, a confused hush would quickly steal across the atmosphere. And within that hush would be our undoing. Can you imagine not knowing the first thing about the state of the rest of the world as the alien snowdrifts pile up outside your darkened windows? I can - but only because it already happened to me once. And trust me, it wasn't fun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bachelordom

Over the past 5.5 years, I've taken up extended residence in eleven distinct bedrooms (an average of six months per bedroom, though what this information says about me remains to be seen). Of those eleven, only two have been in single apartments where no one shares the common space with me. Of those two, both have kicked serious ass.

During my first solo living experience in Eugene, I spent most of my time freaking out over a thesis novella that sure as hell wasn't writing itself. I also made do with two plates, two forks, a single bath towel, and a 60-foot ethernet cable that snaked wherever my laptop went since wifi was far, far too expensive. Still, I had a really fantastic time, and my first experiences singing falsetto in the shower took place there because no one was listening and I could do whatever the hell I goddamned pleased.

Then I moved to San Francisco, and was thrust back into the roomie experience. Those 17 months (yes, I counted) had their ups and downs, and by the end I was jonesing for a change... which is all I'm going to say on the subject (again, I counted: 17 months). And so long story short I moved into the Hobbit Hole, and life is swell.

Except for I'm going crazy.

Something happens when you realize no one else is around to judge your every move. I'm not a slob (my place is, in fact, much cleaner) and I don't parade around naked all the time (only like 40% of the time). Instead - like I hinted at above - I've simply gone mental. I tend to hop around instead of walk, and I'll sing and talk to myself in varying tones depending on the level of energy I'm feeling... which, now that I live alone, is curiously much higher than it's ever been before. So I'm a hopping, singing mess, and I also snap my fingers and clap my hands to accompany the nonsensical utterances that slip from my mouth before I'm even aware they're forming. I'm a shrill one man band of guttural noises, and damn if it doesn't feel awesome.

The most self-conscious I get about this behavior is when I wonder if the upstairs neighbors can hear me through the ceiling, after which I figure that if they can, they're probably much less likely to want to exchange awkward 'hello's outside the building, in which case yay all the better for me.

In addition to the noisemaking, I spend far too much time standing totally still in random corners of the apartment, taking in the aesthetically pleasing view and absolutely relishing the sight of how good my furniture, books, and wall art look when placed together within a little-wood-cabin-type environment. It's all I can do to refrain from gargling like a mockingbird or some such shit and slapping my hands against my thighs in a drumroll of delight - except that's exactly what I end up doing, so so much for self restraint.

Then there's the takeout I have delivered and eat with leisure while reclining on the couch and watching exactly what I want on Netflix Instant - which, by the way, no longer suggests I catch up on Teen Mom or Keeping up with the Kardashians. And there's the orderly shelf of condiments in the refrigerator that are all super spicy and don't have to compete for space with some bullshit like mayonnaise or organic Soy Sauce. And the total absence of hair-clogged drains, period refuse in the garbage bin, and morning waits to shower with whatever lukewarm water is left. And the silence! And the naked cooking! And the pitch-perfect playlist that's never interrupted by something less than stellar. It's almost too much. Almost.

I mentioned some of this to my friend on the phone the other day, and he said that he was just thinking about how glad he is to live with someone, because if left to his own devises he'd have no choice but to turn into a weirder and weirder version of his already strange self. To which I rolled my eyes and thought about how he had no idea what he was missing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cold Sores

I fucking hate cold sores.

I also wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't spent so much of my childhood suffering them. My parents have a VHS recording of my first birthday: I'm standing alone in Drake Park, holding bread and surrounded by geese, and I can't do anything but stare in the direction of my mom and cry because my lips are angry red strips of swollen blister. If I could step back in time and see my one-year-old self, I'd give him a knuckle to the shoulder and call him champ, and then tell him to get the fuck used to it.

I didn't just get cold sores - I'd get cold sores on top of cold sores. Any uninfected crevasse between quivering heaps of blister would soon fill, and I seem to recall having painful lips so often that the stretches of time from birth to ten years old without suffering a constant agony were something of a miracle. Cold sores of such magnitude do two things simultaneously to the sufferer: they make you extremely self-conscious and extremely detached from the present-tense, real-worldness of the situation. The blisters are so sensitive to movement, touch, water, wind, etc that the only way to survive them is to remove your thoughts as completely as you can from the horribly exposed, raw-nerve-ending type feeling that is your mouth. Conversely, such massive sores are also extremely embarrassing, and if you're forced to do anything social while you have them, their disgusting hulking presence is more or less the only thing you can think about. "How can anyone look at me? I can hardly look at myself. This is disgusting. I'm disgusting. God it hurts."

And over and over, and so on and so forth. For weeks.

I developed a coded system of grunts to converse with my mom, and was usually excused from participating in class. I went through so many tubes of Blistex it's a wonder I haven't suffered some strange medical side effect. More important, though, was my lesson learned in keeping my face absolutely stoic at all times. I can play apathetic really well, and most of the time I don't even realize I'm doing it - I just know how to not move any muscle in my face from years of experience.

Also, my obsession with time (how it passes in novels and film, how long activities take, punctuality) stems from literal years of sitting around waiting out the festering sores on my lips. There's nothing else you can do when the most sensitive erogenous zone on your body is on fire other than grasp for one passing second after the next, which leads to the next minute, and then the next hour, and so on. It sounds melodramatic, but I can't tell you how many times I've told myself (in a very Gandalf tone of voice) "this too shall pass" and almost wept because it's such a true statement. And this propensity for staring into the future, longing for a day when I could again shower without having to shield my face from the high-pressure agony that is water on a cold sore, is what I believe led to my constantly looking for the next thing in life. I'm just not ever as content as I should be with the present, even if it's the best present-tense moment I could ask for.

I'm lucky that as I grew up, my cold sore outbreaks became much less frequent. Now they're an annual event, and even then I usually only get one very manageable little blister. Plus, let's all just take a moment to thank whatever that they never spread South. I'm writing this now because I've developed my annual cold sore, and it fucking sucks. But all I need to do to make the present tense more bearable is to think back to all the more horrific moments that slipped by way back when. You always get through it, you just have to take one minute at a time. That, and plan on spending your weekend behind shaded windows and locked doors. Aint no one seein' this shit. After I finish work today, that is.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are hipsters dying? Is the movement over? This schlub thinks yes.

During middle school I tried to fit into the "skater" fad by anxiously purchasing a pair of puffy DC shoes from PacSun. And that was it. I still shudder thinking about how sweaty my armpits would get whenever a trip to PacSun happened: my existence was so horribly awkward I would do anything to get picked on less. Even so, I couldn't bring myself to look any more foolish than what a pair of DC shoes did to me - plus I hated the kids who were legit gangster-skaters (at that time, and in Oregon, you weren't a skater if you weren't also half gangster). As such, I hung around the fringes of middle school society, telling myself over and over that the skater fad was a dying trend, and that the next, better scene would be one I'd embrace full-on just as soon as it happened.

And then it turned out that the next scene was this whole hipster thing that's been going on. And I was almost equally fucked. I know the telltale sign of a hipster is a hipster who refuses to label himself as one, but I'm still going to say that I'm decidedly not a hipster. Sure, I fucking love Wes Anderson movies. And yes, I live in San Francisco and have a velvet painting of an owl in my living room and I majored in English and I think irony is great. But I also wear collared shirts and eat meat and detest skinny jeans and washed out Instagram photos and pointy-toed shoes. Plus I have the whole so-ambitious-I-actually-work-a-real-job thing going for me, so I feel safe in saying I'm not a hipster. I'd logically place myself squarely in the nerd realm, on the side that barely juts up against the fringe of hipsterdom, which is a safe place to be because hipsters are kind to nerds and sometimes regard them as fellow companions adrift in a world of meaningless consumerism (their words [I think], not mine).


So but anyway lately it seems as though the hipster movement has no place else to go. Everything verifiably hipster has become so self-aware that the only remaining option for progress - in my opinion - is to step out of the bubble, shave off the beard, and reinvent. I'm so excited to again see people with genuine expressions on their faces I can hardly stand it. Imagine: walking into a coffee shop and witnessing animated mouth movement; eyes that widen in excitement when someone exaggerates with their hands; the sweet booming of a belly laugh. It'll be as if an entire generation of youthful zombies (coincidence that zombies are so popular right now?) just snapped out of their languid repose and realized they spent the best decade of their lives trying to pass as catatonic. Plus lesbians will have their look back to themselves.

I wouldn't describe any of my immediate friends as hipsters... but friends of friends definitely are. From a once-removed perspective, I've had ample time to stare and judge. I could write a lot about their *interesting* fashion choices, or how the whole lifestyle encompasses so much wasted talent it makes me sad, or that the paradoxical, so-different-I'm-the-exact-same nature of their existence is a black hole of logic (or is that the point?), though in truth I'd rather focus on the inherent retarded ineptness of it all. For fuck's sake, people, you're using an app on your iPhone to take pictures that look as if they came from a classic Polaroid, so that you can then use those pictures to embellish your idealized online version of yourself in front of the 1,400 people who claim you as a friend. It's sacrificing real-life living for a too-cool avatar. But if you ever pointed that out, they'd say they're drinking tall boys, wearing ridiculous clothing, and specifically not mugging in front of an ever-present onslaught of cameras precisely because the last thing they care about is Facebook. I suspect, though, that I'm preaching to the choir here.

I'm reminded of a quote from Brenda on Six Feet Under: "That's the thing about depression - if you really allow yourself to feel it, it gets very boring very fast."

Are they bored yet? Don't they have to be by this point? I suspect what's holding back the new revolution is the dawning realization and fear of the fact that they've pissed away so much time doing exactly nothing that to start caring now would be, like, really hard.


Two signs of the coming hipster apocalypse: Jake Gyllenhaal murdering the shit out of them (here), ***and this is a real-time update, foks - I'm so jacked on coffee right now I can't remember what the second telltale sign is that inspired this entire post in the first place. Here's hoping it comes to me soon***

The really great part about this, of course, is that all these clueless hipsters who are about to put down the barista apron, buy a bed frame, and look for lucrative ways to turn their passion for poetry into a moneymaking career are going to be about 2.5 years behind yours truly. For once I have a legit head start! And damn, does it feel good. After the world doesn't end in December, I'm envisioning a 2013 that plays out like a minimalist version of the 80s: those fucking hippies had their fun, now it's time to make money and drive nice cars.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

CNN headlines, and the answers you find if you click through

Is Swift dating Tebow?

Rest assured - you shouldn't care.

New ads grossing you out?

It's gonna take more than a photo of lung cancer to get you to start living healthier.

Looking for happiness?

It's sure as shit not here. Sucker.

Did Oscars clinch 2012 for Obama?

We didn't expect anyone to read this. We've got nothing. It was a nonsensical filler headline. Please ignore.

Is Snooki pregnant or not?

This computer will self destruct and blow molten shrapnel into your slack-jawed face in 4 seconds.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Audium

Usually Friday nights go: nap/exercise, shower, frantic dinner, even more frantic drinking, bus to some bar or another for continued drinking.

And it's fun. And I have no complaints.

This past weekend, though, after a productive week at work spent reading up on SF-based blogs, I decided something more cultured was in order. A friend and I bought tickets to an appropriately mysterious event at an appropriately off-the-map location called Audium. I knew we could expect an experiment in sound, which was to take place in complete darkness, and that's about all she wrote.

Friday night rolled around, and while I was excited for whatever I'd just paid $20 to attend, a huge chunk of my gut was nagging for a return to my more familiar Friday night shenanigans. The vodka! and the Rock Star! (My gut nagged.) Instead, I silenced it with a slice of pizza in the least shady bit of the Tenderloin our trek to Bush and Franklin provided, and by the time we arrived approximately at Audium's intersection, I would have sworn we were lost had our phones not declared otherwise. And then there it was.

We were kind of being tailed by this awkward hipster kid who couldn't seem to match his pace with ours, resulting in his being right on our asses until we stood directly in front of Audium's entryway. As such, what was already a bit of an ominous moment was made even more off-kilter by the fact that we were flustered by this kid's presence, seeing as he was the only other one in sight on the dark street with us, and we didn't know whether he was following us inside or what, and so instead of taking a moment to orient ourselves we were kind of thrust unceremoniously inside, which to me is a big deal in terms of establishing a mood and a pace. If that makes sense. Fuck, I'm crazy.


The lady in the ticket booth immediately inside the doors was dressed in strange vintage garb that was just a little too costume-y to take her as a serious human being. She looked like a background extra from Altered States, and her mannerisms only confirmed this harsh judgement. Beyond her, around a dark corner, waited the lobby. Honestly, I could have just hung out in the lobby for the entire length of the audio performance and been content: it was stark, smelled like 1973, and featured strangely placed art pieces bathed in moody red and blue lighting. About two dozen other people milled around, waiting, and I immediately wanted to know who these people were and what the fuck they were doing at Audium on a Friday night. Some had on suits! Then I thought about the veritable parade of Friday/Saturday night performances that had taken place here since the 1960s, and how many countless hundreds of thousands of people had been in the exact same lobby, and I felt a lot less special. Still, it seemed as though I'd entered one of those pockets of our current reality that might have a portal to another one behind a curtain in the basement somewhere, if you know what I mean. Let's just say the air was charged.


After a while this old guy in an interesting tweed suit emerged from the pitch-black octagonal doorway that led to the sound theater. He gave a little speech that meandered in a distressingly memorized way, like "oh I'm just giving this off-the-cuff speech for the 4,000th time, let's see how subtly I can veer into a totally controlled tangent." Then we followed him through the octagon into a long stretch of pitch-black hallway, which soon bent back on itself into another long hallway, which then opened up onto the theater, which let's just say a picture says a thousand words:


We all sat down facing each other, and within two minutes the old man had entered a control booth and dimmed the lights lower, and lower, and lower - until I couldn't see a damned thing. In complete darkness, the sounds began. After a while my mind started to wander, and I forgot I sat in a room with two dozen strangers who were all probably unwittingly starting straight at me through the dark. I thought it would be an ideal setting for a pervert to routinely show up at, wait until the lights went black, and then sneak his pair of night vision goggles out from a backpack so he could observe everyone who had no idea they were able to be seen. Then I realized the old man in the control booth must have night vision goggles himself, a suspicion he confirmed when he thanked us an hour later for being "such an attentive audience." Ah!

My only complaint is that the sounds themselves were a bit (read: lot) outdated, and it was kind of apparent that this musical composition of raindrops, laughter, creepy piano riffs, and bouncy-ball sound effects that took place all around us (even in the floor!) were the machinations of a drug-addled ex (?) hippie. But he was nice and gave another little speech in the lobby afterward about how he creates his works (this is his 9th iteration), so I'm going to focus instead on what a wild overall experience Audium turned out to be. Definitely recommended, even if you do feel leaving dazed and confused.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hobbit Hole

My new place is fantastic and cozy, with one problem: I never want to leave. When I'm headed out the door to work, everything looks so quaint and delightful in the morning sunlight that I nearly shed a tear, and when I get home from work, the low-domed ceilings and ornate (read: wavy) woodwork surrounding all doors/windows/arches practically begs me to sit on the couch, drink wine, and not get up until it's time to fall into bed. I know I should go climbing, and I know I should eventually get around to vacuuming the kitchen floor, but from the couch it all looks so warm and perfect that how could I have the heart to do anything but sit and stare? Especially since it's mine. All mine.

Let's just say I threw out the bathrobe during my move.


Today's a balmy 72 degrees here in SF, and I'm inside an office. Normally now would be about the time I post an annoying picture of myself sitting in a park sipping on a Forty, but that's not the case these days. Instead, I run outside for lunch, speed walk specifically on the sunny side of the street to whichever restaurant, and then half-jog back feeling guilty for having taken a whole 15 minutes to purchase a salad (but, more likely, a burrito). And it's not like I'm swamped with work. I just have this Catholic Guilt going on still. Man, this shit's bad.


I have to say that my new location in the city has turned virtually every day into a brand-new SF experience. I take new buses (I would say the 38 can go to hell, but that's clearly where it's always stopped at the end of the inbound half of its route, and I don't want to be redundant), Alamo Square Park (complete with the Full House houses) is 30 feet from my front door, and my favorite neighborhoods are all within short walking distance. Just the notion that I'm on my own is almost too much to handle, let alone the rest. This is the big time, people.


On Sunday I stepped out onto the sunny front patio of my place to assess the weather. The patio is elevated a good 12 feet off the ground, and just as I was standing there stretching, one of the big, topless double-decker tour buses stopped right in front of me so everyone on it could take a picture of City Hall (which my street dead-ends into). I was on the same level with them and only like four feet away from the side of their bus, so I awkwardly stopped stretching and started waving. Thirty grinning tourists waved back. I would like to start every day that way: "yes, this is my life, now go on and continue snapping photos of it."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

V Day

Time accelerates. I am a man on a rocket ship.

Today is February 14, and I'm pretty sure yesterday was January 3. Or something.

No matter. I've spent the past four days at work holed up with a head copywriter and a creative director coming up with slogans for a relatively cool company's ad banner campaign. I estimate having written approximately 250 slogans since last Thursday, which is fine by me because it's partly what's fueling this TimeSurge (what I'm labeling the whole rocket-ship feeling). My boss here moved me out to the big common creative room where everyone else who writes and designs sits, and they're fantastic company. Everyone plays music, discusses TV shows, throws paper airplanes, and generally acts like fools until it comes time to sit down and produce something. And even then, Whitney Houston is playing in the background.

Although the office isn't anywhere near as sleek as the one in Mad Men, and the clients aren't quite so exciting, the daily conversations, dramatic presentations, and interpersonal dynamics between creative and account people is near identical. I'm having a great time sitting and observing everyone wisecracking and swearing at one another and then get really surprised when I'm called into the action, because I tend to forget I'm not just an audience member sitting on his couch yelling at Peggy for being such a pushover. And the even crazier part is that even though I'm interning, any changes the directors want to make to my copy has to be approved by me, so whenever they come for my permission to chop a word out I get really unnecessarily excited.

This rule doesn't apply, however, to works in progress. I have seen SO much copy I've produced either completely thrown out or ripped nearly in-total to shreds, with just one or two compelling nuggets remaining for me to restructure and build upon. It would be devastating, but two years of creative writing in college turned my skin to dragon hide (and by that I mean: super tough). Also, I keep getting reassured that I'm actually doing a really great job and this is just par for the course, especially when it's your third week writing copy. And these aren't the kind of guys to bullshit, so I believe them. More later, yo.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Night on the Town

Part I (In Which the Protagonist has a Glorious Night on the Town [and also, just so you know, there won't be a part II]):

Last week my dear friend Alex and I met up at House of Shields in San Francisco's Financial District for some after-work cocktails. House of Shields is a chandelier-y, wood-paneled, airy establishment frequented by attractive suits who need a stopover between the office and a fancy dinner. Every other time I've been there the drinks were bought for me (the perks of being a poor intern at Wikipedia), so I was surprised to discover my meager Greyhound cost a whopping $6 (which, for the record, is about $3 more than I'm used to spending on a well drink). Then I had this fantastic moment of realization where I was all, "wait a second. The price of this drink literally doesn't matter: I made me some money today!" The sad truth is I've grown so accustomed to never having extra dough to throw around I don't know what to do with myself now that I'm earning a modest hourly rate. I've tried twice to buy some quality clothing in order to project an air of stylishness and authority, but I can't justify spending $190 on a sweater. I did, though, happily upgrade from Gilbey's to Smirnoff during my latest vodka purchase at the corner market.

Then we ran into my old boss from Wiki, Jay. The encounter was everything I imagined future encounters for myself to be, wherein I'm a non-awkward adult who thinks nothing of running into people I used to work for, and who can say something totally normal and engaging and not get flustered when the conversation ends just as abruptly as it begins. When we parted ways, I thought back 1.5 weeks to when I still interned at Wiki, and it already seemed like it had happened way too long ago, but instead of feeling sad or nostalgic I kind of just went, "oh, so now I'll be seeing him at bars instead of the office. Huh." And that was that. And I felt wildly sophisticated. And I also had a brief glimpse of the next forty years of my life, during which events and people and situations and run-ins will pile up and twist together and morph into a life so completely foreign to the one I know now that I may as well not even think about it, because it's all going to end so unpredictably that even just trying to puzzle the next week out is enough of a clusterfuck.


At any rate, after our drinks we moseyed through San Francisco's teeming downtown crowds (seriously, they teem) to Spoke Art, a small gallery debuting Tim Doyle's "Surreal Estate" series, in which Doyle has reinterpreted iconic landscapes from some of television's popular shows. The gallery was small, but free beer flowethed, and I'm a huge fan of Doyle's artwork, so I willingly suffered close proximity to so many fancy hipsters for a chance at one of his limited edition prints. Soon, though, with a beer in hand and my unease put to rest by a nearby rendering of the Bluth family's banana stand, I actually started to feel just the tiniest bit like I belonged there. Alex and I stood close to the door, looking at everyone and commenting on how strange it was for us to just be standing there, in a hip art gallery in San Francisco drinking free beer on a Tuesday night, and how we'd scarcely received even a single hostile glance. All at once the situation turned magical. "This is it," I thought, "this is what it's like to start feeling like you've made it." But then if you'll recall my previous post, which actually happens after this one chronologically, you'll start to understand how perilously up-and-down my weekly emotional agenda goes.


So I ended up buying a print of the Seinfeld diner (titled, "The Big Salad"), which a lady at the bus stop an hour later ended up telling me allll about (she went to school right down the street from the "real" exterior used in the show), but not before Alex and I finished the evening with some Thai food at a gloriously random restaurant somewhere in the Tenderloin. When I finally flopped onto my bed that evening, art in hand, and thought about the ad agency, the bar, the gallery, and the restaurant I'd circulated through since I stepped out of bed that morning, I felt incredibly accomplished. Like when I first started college and would leave my dorm room at 1 am to have a late-night burrito at the 24/7 mexican restaurant across the street, mostly just to be able to sit there knowing it was 1 am and I didn't have to get anyone's permission to be doing this and my mom was fast asleep and had no idea that her son was braving the streets of Eugene for a burrito.

So I lay there, feeling dirty from the bus and clutching my art and thinking about how it was only Tuesday night, and everything very nearly fit together into a coherent sort of existence. And it was all terribly exciting, just so long as I didn't let my brain drift too far in any one direction. And now I'm hoping there never comes a time when I'm unable to excite myself just by accomplishing totally ordinary feats.

Mah Brain

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend about the state of my consciousness, and how I need to work on bridging the gap between what's going on with my physical self (like, eating pizza and talking with a friend) and my nonphysical mental processes (like, my brain kind of sitting twenty feet behind me, assessing the situation and making observations similar to a vindictive narrator). I've mostly maintained that living in the present tense and enjoying situations as they unfold takes a certain talent for shutting off one's thoughts, which was why I believe I've never enjoyed small moments as much as other people might. The remedy for this, of course, has always been drinking. But sometimes I just don't wanna!

Then the friend suggested that the only way for a person like me to truly live in the moment, and not constantly worry and project and assess and panic, is to commit myself to really coming to terms with who I am as a person, and to find comfort and a sense of strong identity in all the quirks and unsavory bits of character that are themselves the very motivations for my frequent moments of self loathing. Now, I'd heard the first chunk of that piece of advice several times before, but the section on viewing a lot of the things I *don't* like and want to change as simply unchangeable aspects of myself that should be embraced for their role in defining my character was staggering. This friend is several years older than myself, and hugely intelligent, and also majored in philosophy before law school, so I think listening to what he has to say and really trying to apply it might be worthwhile. He put it this way: "you're here and you're going to live your life, and one day you'll be dead, and you're all you're ever going to truly have in between, so why would you put yourself through unnecessary grief if you could love yourself completely and be that much more fulfilled?"

But hold on! Isn't this exactly what happened when I came out to everyone three years ago? If so, why is it still just as relevant today? How did I learn so valuable a lesson the first time around and then *not* continue to apply it?


If, in the past, I was able to proclaim something as then-difficult as my homosexuality and stick with its consequences, I'd like to think myself capable of similar feats in the present. Personal growth is tricky, and I get restless when I don't know from which angle I should approach it, but this weekend's conversation was a much-needed kick in the pants. So I suppose the purpose of this whole post is to have it in writing somewhere that I'm going to work hard to stop doing anything that remotely resembles apologizing for any actions/words/behaviors that emanate from my being unless an apology is truly in order. And maybe if I stop doing that then I'll stop feeling the need to analyze every situation for reasons to apologize. And then maybe if I analyze less then I'll be more capable of enjoying the present as the person I am. And then this whole post will be irrelevant! And I'll be happy. Or at least happier. Either way, I'm counting it a win.

And I should also be clear that I'm not sitting around everyday moaning and groaning and wishing for everything to be different. On the contrary, I'm usually whistling. I also realize this isn't the most exciting shit to write about in a blog setting, but I feel these are questions and (pseudo) answers that a lot of people can make use of, even if they've been asked and answered before. Sometimes we just need people to remind us that doing nothing but spinning our wheels is a surefire way to get nowhere. And I would much rather end up somewhere. Starting today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Case of Mondays, Alleviated by Office Hottie

So last week at work I successfully read 700 pages of epic fantasy, gained a hard-to-shake reputation as the new kid with the disgusting hacking cough, and was actually assigned something Friday afternoon.

On Tuesday, though, I sat in on a meeting where the heads of the creative and accounting teams came together to discuss a series of commercial pitches they're delivering to a company this week. It was super exciting because the budgeting lady was listening to the script pitches the creative team had put together and was saying things like, "with this budget we'll never get two locations" and "can we just have one principal (actor) speaking?" and "now let's keep in mind we need this translated to French and German, as well, so the more narrative voiceover we can get away with the better." Every time they referred to "Creative" as a team I perked up a bit, though I didn't get to contribute an opinion once. They favor the "fly-on-the-wall" approach to interns here much more so than over at Wikipedia.

Then on Friday one of the lead Copywriters gave me an assignment, which is to come up with two of the five tag lines that are going to circulate across the lead banner of a high-traffic website. I would totally tell you which website so you could see my work in a few weeks, but I still don't understand all the confidentiality stuff I signed, and I'm pretty sure this falls under what I promised I wouldn't talk about, so you're going to have to settle for vagueries (new word!). He sent me all these documents that have the company's mission statement and ground rules for creative work laid out, and I've been distilling the "primary message" from these two distinct portions of their web entity to come up with two sentences that describe who they are to a soulful, resonating Tee. The guy I'm working on this with is an old English fellow who dresses proper and has wild grey hair and huge bottle-rim glasses, and he basically stumbled from some unmentioned classroom at Hogwarts to start working here I'm pretty sure.

Otherwise, not much is going on. Actually, a lot is going on, and I have 600 words written to fill the space between these two parentheses right here: " ". But I'm not going to tell you what they say yet until an undisclosed thing happens and I feel I'm in an appropriate place to paste away and let you all read what's there but isn't. And if this is confusing, no matter... it'll all make sense soon enough.

***Evening edit: Forgot to mention anything about the titular Office Hottie. He's tall, handsome, has a great smile, dresses well, and initiated conversation with yours truly TWICE already. Which is about 1.5 times more than anyone else can claim credit for. Either he's a really nice straight guy who just has my best interests at heart, or he's thinking the same thing I am. But how to find out? And what to do once that happens? Shit, man.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The New Job

It's 9:20 am, I'm sitting in a corner office of the 19th floor of some big building or other downtown, and I'm apparently being paid to work on my blog and read. Serious: my boss here has me sit in on meetings and draft commercial voiceovers for him when they're available, but when they're not (which is about 75% of my day), I'm left to my own devices. And it's not as if there's a big library here housing all the great advertising tomes for reading up on. Mind you, this is only day 2.1, and I know I'm about to get swamped, but for the time being the calm before the storm has been just that: Calm. Really, really calm.

Everyone is nice, though settling into a new office environment isn't without its share of adjustments. I grew too used to Wikipedia's exceptionally high ceilings, free food, and immaculate bathrooms. Plus, everyone there was hyper-intelligent to an intimidating degree, and I think because smart and awkward equals less interpersonal drama, I didn't even stop to consider how lucky I was to be working in a utopia-like zen atmosphere everyday. No one yelled, because everyone was so grateful that everyone else was pitching in and doing really, really hard work to spread free knowledge globally. There just wasn't incentive to get all up in someone's grill. This new office seems a bit more prone to drama, and the coffee room is a closet. Literally.

There's also the whole 9 - 5, day after day after day after day concept that I'm still adjusting to. I mean... it's Wednesday, and by the time I walk out of here this evening, I'll have worked as many hours in the past three days as I did at Apple in an entire week. I can feel my ass getting bigger in this chair, and it's actually grossing me out. The gym is a car ride away, though, and if I drive there's a chance I'll lose my parking spot, which means I'd need to get up early to move it into a proper all-day spot before work, which means I'd be waking up at like 6:30 to bust my ass navigating frenzied SF traffic, all for the sake of going to the gym. But I guess I just need to suck it up. Because I really don't want Office Ass.

Otherwise, yay.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh, George

I know I spent 15+ months updating this blog (on my MacBook Pro, while listening to iTunes) with rants about how much I hated working at Apple and how all the sniveling, overprivileged customers who came in griping about their iPhone or their iPod touch were more or less the foulest, least deserving people ever, but now that I have my iPhone I totally get the fuss. It's like when I first adopted my cat Squeakers and I spent like two hours every night playing with her in the garage before bed, and I'd always wonder how I used to spend my time before bed prior to owning her. This was pre- learning how to masturbate, of course. I think.


But so now I have the iPhone, and the best part is it could actually help me masturbate, if I wanted. No but seriously, the best part is like literally every second I have with my hands on it, which is a big number by the end of the day. From the battery life left in the little fella, though, you'd never know it. I play Words with Friends like a fiend, and deliberate over wallpaper images, and keep up to near-constant date with Michael Ian Black and Roger Ebert on Twitter, and still there's like 85% of a charge left by the time I plug it back in for the night. What a trooper.

About two weeks in, though, a pixel on the screen went black. I was so used to its flawless performance that it seemed a much bigger deal than it actually was. I wanted a replacement, and I wanted one *now*. Rationality didn't factor in at my base impulse level. But then I was like, "wait a second, AJ, if you're the douche that tosses an entire phone's toxins into the environment because of a single dead pixel, then you are NOT starting 2012 out right. Plus you would hate the person who came in for that if you still worked at the store." And it's true. What ultimately upset me most about the situation was my day-long assimilation with the greedy assholes who unceasingly march themselves to 1 Stockton Street by the thousands, daily, angrily demanding replacements for phones and laptops because of something so measly as a single dead pixel.


So instead I named my phone Freckle and am calling it even... but if Freckle gets another one I'll be in for sure.

Also, I've been reading more Game of Thrones this past week and that George R.R. Martin is one clever bastard. Just when I think I have his methods for plot twists figured out, he goes and throws a wrench in. A fantastic, marvelous wrench all the colors of the rainbow! My thoughts went from, "oh great, here goes Jon Snow blathering on about which side he's on, and it's going to take 500 more pages for any of this to come to a head, and meanwhile he's like camped out right next to Bran but he'll never know it, and gahhh," to "holy shit! He decided and Bran's direwolf saved him!" within the span of fifteen pages. And if you don't know what I'm going on about then you should probably start reading (Simone).

So yeah. It's off to the pho shop for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Latitude

It's here...

Kind of. I have to admit that when the creative team behind the Jejune Institute self-combusted last year, I didn't give much thought to what Nonchalance's next massive project might be simply because I didn't think there would be one. Sure, I'd take dates on late-night detours down side alleys in the Mission to check out a relic or two from the former experience, though that was about as extreme as I thought my immersion into a fabricated alternate reality was ever going to get again. But then this website arrived, and it's already hooked me:

http://thelatitude.com/

I'm not titling the link because I think its more mysterious as is (as if my preferences even make a difference to you all). Also, I keep bringing this up, but I wish the big button that you're clearly supposed to push at the bottom of the page had "conceive" correctly spelled on it. Perhaps the typo is part of whatever insane game Jeff's cooking up next... but it probably isn't.

Regardless, I've sent an email into the "inquiries" address listed, and will be keeping everyone who reads this informed of any minute update. And by minute, I mean minute - though a little bird tells me nothing will be officially happening until much later in the year.

Commence speculating. Now.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wonderment

Lately the world's been wowing me.

For example, today my friend and I were at the gym, running next to each other on treadmills (which was the least sensical thing to do, what with Crissy Field literally outside the window... but she had a really sore throat and thought the outside air would be too sharp on it, so...). We made a point of starting the machines as close to the same nanosecond as possible, and we ran the same speed the entire time. Still, when 25 minutes were up, I'd run farther, burned more calories, and my timer was a full seven seconds ahead of hers. I'm not suggesting I time traveled, but some serious discrepancies were going down between those two machines. If we had done nothing for 25 minutes but run and stare at our respective countdowns, would I have perceived seven extra seconds of time? How does that work?

I swear I'm not high right now.


1/2 of the view from the gym. Not included: Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge.

Second, my relationship with John, the guy who runs the corner market below our apartment, totally floors me. I'm actually one of those people living in the big city who's on a first-name basis with the gregarious, over-the-top, somewhat sleazy corner market guy. What's more, he thinks I'm a stand-up human being and is always inviting me to hang out and help him rearrange his shelves of overpriced wine. In other words, he doesn't sense anything the least bit fucked up about me, which I always consider rather remarkable a slip-up for any observant individual to make. (just kidding, prospective employers!) The only truly odd bit is that I've definitely done my fair share of late night canoodling in front of him, and the guy still thinks I play for his team. I always consider just telling him straight-up that I'm gay whenever he gets to talking about "the women with the breasts" that come into his store, but I have no idea where that would lead and frankly I think he'd forget by the next time I came in, so I'm letting this particular sleeping dog lie. For now.

Finally, I'm reaching a point in life where alcohol is still super great and all, but I'm finding it increasingly less necessary (is "increasingly less" a paradox?) to slug down in order to have a good time. During college, when the name of the game was fitting into a straight party full of straight sexual tension, I'd need me a whole lot of Vodka to even consider playing the part. Now, though, after coming out and after gaining quite a bit more self-confidence than I used to possess, I'm discovering it really doesn't make a difference to my fun levels whether or not I'm good and schnockered. In fact, I'm probably more fun (and a hell of a lot sexier) in my coherent, non-bloated format. So I'm trying to practice the more-water-less-booze principle these days, but to be honest by "these days" I mean the past *TWO* days, so this may or may not be a turning point decision for my own personal history books.



Definitely NOT a young, gross me drinking beer from a bowl

Still recommended for all you Netflix Instanters out there: Weekend (Tom Cullen + Chris New = eye candy man sandwich), and Peep Show (the most fun you'll ever have being awkwarded the fuck out***).


*** Did anyone catch that super clever Peep Show / Creepshow tagline reference? God, I'm delightful.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bringin' in the Bacon

My blog just made $0.46! Someone clicked on that lonely little advertisement to the right, and voila!

Maybe if I just plaster this thing with ads I'll have enough to buy me a sandwich next week. You'd be hard pressed to scrape together enough of an artistic statement on Minor Fiascos to even think about saying I'm selling out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Storm of Swords

Another landmark reached over this past holiday weekend was my officially cracking open book III of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords. I spent all summer re-reading Infinite Jest, and it looks like I'm destined to spend all fall/winter/spring creeping through this epic fantasy tale, which for the most part I have no problem with. My one concern to date is that each book seems to be following a longer page count / smaller font trend, and I'm thinking it might be one of those paradoxical situations where the closer you get to an exact measurement of something, the clearer it becomes that exact measurements don't exist. Make sense?

Some thoughts:

- Everyone in the Middle Ages (especially in made up fantasy worlds) is totally okay with dying. Peasants, knights, whores, chefs, small children, kings... they all run with a sort of eager fervor into the sharp end of a sword whenever one presents itself, which is frequently. I get that unless you were born into royalty, life was almost uniformly terrible. Still, though, it's as if these characters (and thousands of unnamed extras) are lacking some crucial brain function that says, "hey, wait a minute, I'm like 23 years old and I have all this stuff going on in my life... maybe I shouldn't jump in front of this angry knight's battle axe." But no, every last one jumps, and as such the reader is treated to epically gory paragraphs detailing severed limbs, mangey dogs munching on spilled entrails, crows pecking out eyeballs before the fresh corpse hits the ground, etc.


- I still have no idea what a mummer's farce is, but it's fun to refer to literally anything preposterous that happens in real life as one. Example: "If Sean even thinks I'm going to meet up with them at the bar at this hour, he's living a mummer's farce." Or: "Did you see the price of that enchilada? What a mummer's farce!"

- George R.R. Martin employs a ripple effect to fantastic use: he features dozens of main characters, the actions of each affecting everyone else uniformly. I'm almost tempted to think the only sane approach to writing such a HUGE story in this manner is by coming to terms with the fact that you have no fucking idea where each book is going to end, and then just writing in a very cause-and-effect type manner until you get to scoot from your desk, put your hands behind your head in a gesture of exhausted satisfaction, and just hope it all makes sense. Except for each book ends so cohesively I don't know how this could be the case. I'll resist making giant LOST comparisons... for now.

- If I was a character I'd totally still be alive, Tyrion and I would be best friends, and I'd eventually gain back Winterfell from Theon via some sort of sexual conquest. Assuming Theon isn't dead and someone else isn't claiming Winterfell... the end of book II got confusing.

- OR I'd be a total bitch locked up with Sansa in King's Landing, crying and asking where all my friends went (news flash Sansa: they're dead, yo!) and trying to be a good little boy so that blah blah blah. Basically, Sansa sucks but I could totally see myself going her route. Sad, but true. 2012 is also the year for embracing sad truths.


PS: Just Googled Theon Greyjoy to include an image of him, then realized he's kinda ugo. Goddamned HBO. These casting directors need to recognize a potential sex symbol when they read one.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Beginning of the End

There's a special kind of careless planning that has to go into every New Years Eve agenda for the night to really work. Too much stressing and advance-ticket buying and you're toast, too little and you're plain fucked. I have a good friend whose true art, it could be said, is his ability to just kind of make things work on the fly. Or at least it seems on the fly: in reality, the music and the zaniness and the shouting and the alcohol and the zen-like feeling of a good time are all finely orchestrated to present to the participant (in most cases, me) something of a vacation from reality, the kind of vacation where the destination is reached and you were having such a good time in the back seat you didn't even realize you'd traveled.

But anyway, 2012 is here, folks, and I had a heck of an evening ringing it in. Mostly because I've been telling myself this is the year I pull it all together, and so I wanted to send out 2011 with such a sonic blast of excessive buffoonery that I wouldn't know whether to cry for leaving it or to just be glad the hangover's over. Which it is, by the way.


In order to not slander approximately three dozen other rambunctious twenty somethings, I'll skip over last night's details. Suffice it to say, there was a burrito involved. And that's all you're getting. And yes, I just ate it as a really late snack. And no, I know that's not exciting. At all. And of course, this paragraph was a complete waste of your time. But please, do keep reading.

I didn't sleep before my shuttle to PDX, and soon found myself sandwiched between one of those by-now cliche 300-pound seatmates and the window. He left me so little room I literally couldn't remove my sweatshirt and jacket, which wouldn't have been too big a problem if the flight attendants hadn't quickly taken to announcing there was a serious problem with the heating system, and that we'd all just pretty much have deal. I sat in an agonized state of sweaty horror watching the t-shirt clad row of women in front of me fan themselves and make little moaning sounds in between bouts of declaring they just couldn't take it much longer. Meanwhile, I just hoped the fat guy felt really, really bad, though his thug attire and footlong chin beard suggested otherwise. Or maybe that's just me making assumptions. Big, fat assumptions.


I know I shouldn't be so pissed about something so trivial as literally sweating the balls off that I didn't use to gather my courage and ask the fat homie to please just fucking stand up for thirty goddamned seconds so I could remove my warm layers, but doesn't it seem like something he should have just been keenly aware of? I feel like if I was that fat and inconvenient I would make every effort to provide a comfortable flying experience to the unlucky chump assigned a seat beside me, and that would include realizing maybe he couldn't take his jacket off because I'm too fat and he literally can't move his arms and he would probably ask me to move but I look really scary, what with my tattoos and my chin beard and my considerable bulk.

So but anyway, this year I shall: drink less. Run more. Land a kickass job, stat. Spend more time working on this blog. Stop apologizing for my behavior, unless it's warranted. Prepare for the apocalypse (which really just means get as much action as possible). Find some way to further renounce Catholicism. Contemplate law school, then scoff at it yet again. Sell my LSAT books on eBay.