Wednesday, March 28, 2012


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.