Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Alissa and Adam made it official on Saturday in Chicago and it was quite a party. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun.
The first dance was "I'll Be Your Mirror" by Clem Snide. I'm sure Alissa and Adam got the idea from the "Indie Wedding" mix on iTunes.
There was a lot of crazy-hat wearing:
There were some very intense moments of staring-and-pointing:
AC showed up, all the way from Japan!
I cut a rug with one of my favorite little ladies:
Mindy made some new friends:
I made the hottest chicks take pictures with me:
Alissa was lovely:
Adam and me: Bros!!!
We all danced to "All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem, which was quite appropriate.
John and I were sweaty messes, but I wish we could go back and do it again.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I was kind of hesitant to do it, not because I thought it'd be too hard or anything. I'd been wanting to write something long about him for a long time, and TR is a good venue for long essays. But I get really nervous when it comes to being really open and honest about things really close to me, especially since TR has gotten much more traffic lately with links from Defamer and Gawker, etc. But so far, I've gotten some nice praise from people who have linked to it through Tumblr, so I feel less anxious about it than I did as I was writing it.
I was also nervous about posting about my parents. My mother doesn't know about this and I'm sort of afraid to show it to her, since I expect her reaction to be kind of angry that I used pictures and stories of my parents.
But, in my way, this is how I wanted to pay some sort of tribute to my father, who didn't read a lot but enjoyed the writing of mine that he actually did get a chance to look at. And I think he would be flattered and appreciative. He'd probably cry, too, because he was a big baby.
Anyway, here's the link: In Which This Is How I Know Him: Pictures of My Father.
Monday, August 11, 2008
But right now, I have to get an Illinois driver's license, as I have lived here for three years and haven't gotten around to doing that yet. So, in the meantime, here are some pictures that I found while I was home over the weekend.
Isn't it always amazing to imagine that your family had a LIFE before you were born?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I'll say that the two weeks since I've made up my mind and given my notice have been pretty great. I haven't felt the need to tip-toe around my boss, I've been generally productive and busy with the administrative tasks I actually enjoy doing, and I've checked-out mentally enough to not feel guilty for coming in every day at nine instead of eight-thirty. (Trust me: the extra half hour of sleep is worth it.)
I actually have a good chunk of money in my account, so I'm not too terrified about being unemployed for a while, since I plan on temping anyway since sitting around in my hot apartment doesn't sound very appealing. Of course, I get to go on a free vacation to the Outer Banks, so I get that week to avoid the real world while reading books and swimming in the ocean.
And you know what? This is the first time in the three years since I moved to Chicago that I wasn't freaking out about what to do with my life. Ever since I graduated I've come up with about ten different plans, all with very detailed goals spanning from weeks to months to years. I'm rather surprised myself that I'm so uncharacteristically optimistic. I came to the decision that my only major goal for the rest of the year is to find a job that I like enough and will let me keep hanging out with the friends I love in Chicago, and maybe allow for trips to visit some friends in other cities, too.
I think there's some nice timing here - I moved to Chicago on August 6, 2005, after all. In the three years since I've spent several months miserable from unemployment, underemployment, being underpaid, and being lonely. I came out and had a shitty relationship and a really good one. I've fallen in love. I've gained some skills. I lost my father and two grandparents. I've made a lot of friends. It's hard to imagine that it's only been three years here because I feel like I've done so much, and it's probably the reason why I don't feel like I'm in a hurry to do anything right now.
When I turned 22, I thought I had to "make it" and be successful by the time I was thirty. It's an arbitrary number and a subjective goal, as I don't even think I knew what "success" meant to me three years ago. Now, on the cusp of turning 25, I realized that I'm a lot smarter than I was then (and still, I am aware of how silly it is to think one is smart at 25). I've learned a lot about myself since I moved here, with every positive and negative experience giving me something to think about. I'm not really in a hurry to do anything; I just kind of want to sit back and enjoy things as they come.
Friday, July 25, 2008
In the meantime I am trying to get through the last five days of work (!!!) and I am looking forward to whatever the hell I am going to do next.
In the meantime, I have two recent posts on This Recording, so please, take a look.
IN WHICH TYLER SLUMS IT AT PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
IN WHICH ALL OF OUR OPINIONS ARE RIGHT
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I've been planning this since Monday and had my letter of resignation ready yesterday. I talked ot my therapist last night about how happy I was, that I have been feeling uncharacteristically optimistic, considering that I don't really have a plan for what I'll do for work other than temping when I come back to Chicago. But, I feel like I've learned a lot about myself in the last seven months, and for the first time since the beginning of the year, I actually feel pretty happy.
It's a really good feeling.
And, um, if you happen to live in Chicago and know of any job leads, do let me know!
Monday, July 14, 2008
I was going to write a post for This Recording that talked about the five bloggers I had blog-crushes on (nearly all platonic). It was going to include Rich from Four Four, Tracie "Slut Machine" Egan from Jezebel, and Emily Gould. I was considering including Alex Balk because no one else on the Internet can make me laugh and then shake my clenched fists at the computer screen with rage, and then there's Julia Allison, just 'cause. I know enough that name-dropping Julia Allison in a blog post (in the same as Emily Gould!) would certainly guarantee an extra five to ten hits.
When the whole Lizz Winstead / Jezebel thing went down two weeks ago, I watched the entire Thinking and Drinking episode featuring Tracie and Moe Tkacik from Jezebel and had a lot of opinions about it; I thought they were unfortunately unaware that the show could turn serious, and, like most of us under thirty, suffer from the curse of the "like and y'know?" generation that makes everything we say sound incredibly dumb despite what brilliant thoughts are buzzing inside our brains. At the same time, however, I was a little disappointed with what they said, but it was representative of a generation of feminists (and really, a generation of people) who forget about the progress of previous generations and how it opened doors for those that followed.
When I thought about writing this, I clicked around Tumblr and saw that everyone was writing the same stuff. People were arguing about how Moe and Tracie represent (like Emily Gould) a generation of women who are too willing to share personal details about their lives for their own gain (whether that is true and a bad thing is debatable, but I'd like to go on record as saying I never want to read the word "overshare" again, ever). And I don't want to go into a gender studies rant about why male bloggers aren't criticized for the same issues, but the idea is exhausting, much like the idea of writing about bloggers who are all related to Gawker.
The thing is this: I used to avidly read Gawker. I still do, on occasion, but with less frequency. Once I made a comparison on this blog to how the old generation of Gawker editors seemed like "the old people in charge of your college radio station." It was a comparison I made because, as a blogger, I sort of emulated those writers because I really enjoyed what they wrote and how they said it. They really were to me a sort of cool clique on the Internet, much like those music snobs who ran the radio station in college. It took me a while back then to realize that, even though I felt like "knowing" those people was a big deal, it didn't make much of a difference a year after graduation.
What's funny to me is that my friends, most of whom read this blog, don't give two shits about Gawker, and they don't recognize those names that used to be on the masthead. Nick Denton doesn't mean anything to them; neither do Julia Allison, Emily Gould, or Slut Machine. Most of them might not know anything about the "scandal" behind the Thinking and Drinking show, because they don't live their lives on the Internet.
I used to write here with the anticipation that one day I would write professionally, and I would turn this blogging hobby into a way to make money and do something that I really enjoyed. To be honest, the idea seems kind of repulsive now, probably because I realized that work is not necessarily something I'll enjoy, even if it's blogging. And I think that I've changed how I feel about writing about myself on the Internet; I've got a lot to say about myself, but that doesn't mean that I should, especially when having my personal shit become public makes feel a little gross.
I talked to my therapist about this (of all things), and she asked me why I don't keep a private journal, wherein I write about myself for myself. I told her I didn't know, that perhaps it's a generational trend: not only does it feel great to type away at these plastic keys (and save time doing so instead of writing everything by hand), but it's also exhilarating to risk putting yourself on the Internet and to let people read what you have to say. After all, as soon as chat rooms became unfashionable when I was seventeen, I joined my first blogging site, and I've been doing this since.
Monday, July 07, 2008
I should fess up, however, and admit that in the last week (well, since Monday), I've been doing pretty well. I had a fantastic weekend, especially a wonderful Fourth of July evening with great friends (even though Adam, who has taken on a role of abusive big brother (karma, perhaps, for being one myself to David), somehow managed to leave a giant bruise on my arm). And outside of work and thinking about Dad, things have been generally great.
John and I are back together, which was the best part of my Gay Pride Weekend (ha). Without rehashing details and stepping into oversharing territory (by the way, "overshare" is turning into the most over-used and annoying blog buzz words of 2008), I'm just going to say that things make perfect sense, and I'm full of positive emotions for a change because I get to spend a lot of time with someone I love and makes me happy.
Now, having said all of that: it is because of John that I can now say that I've heard a Miley Cyrus song. I was doing pretty well up until last weekend and it's all his fault. But, even though nobody's perfect, he comes pretty close.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I was telling John last night that my biggest fear is that I won't be able to get the image I have of him out of my head. When I think about him, I don't remember what he looked like two years ago, or last Christmas; I only see what he looked like a month and a half a good, a few days before he died. I'm trying very hard to think about those good memories and images, instead, and I want to share this story because I think it helps me, at least.
My dad worked for the Coca-Cola bottling plant in town for about thirty years. He drove all over the area - sometimes driving a hundred miles a day - fixing Coke machines and fountain units. That's how he met so many people; he knew every single shop and restaurant owner so well that they wouldn't have a problem calling him at home with a problem (much to his dismay).
He also made signs for businesses, those old-fashioned metal signs with the name in huge white lettering framed by two Coke logos. These were all over the place back home.
My dad returned to work at the end of last year when he went into remission, and he left work shortly after he discovered that the cancer had returned. But one of the last projects he worked on was a new metal sign for Driftwood, which is my parents' favorite restaurant in the area (it's owned by a couple they knew back in high school, of course).
The Coke plant had phased out the signs (like they did the bottling several years ago), but after Pam and Spencer, the owners of Driftwood, practically begged for him to make them a new one, my dad agreed. When he finished the sign, he signed his name at the bottom, which happens to be centered right above the front door of the building. He said he did it so that whenever my mom goes to dinner at Driftwood, she'll know he's with her.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a goddamn love story.
Friday, June 27, 2008
I can't believe it took me this long to figure out that the early morning visits (in the 5:00 and 6:00 hours of the AM, as well as on weekends) were most likely coming from a Blackberry. Now I can go back to living my life knowing full well that there is nothing mysterious at all about the Internet.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
I’m surprised the Pitchfork review of the Exile in Guyville reissue wasn’t more offensive; I’m glad they gave it a high rating (a 9.6; I still think it should be a 10, but I guess their biggest problem was the reissue didn’t offer more extras, so fine). But, as always, I have an issue with the way Pitchfork publishes its “reviews.”
My big issue is the first three paragraphs:
You break all kinds of unwritten rules when you’re a guy who admires a girl. The white suburban kids who idolize gangster rappers are old news, and the rich kids have always loved to rub elbows with the poor. But when a man tries to identify with a woman, he doesn’t just hit the normal problems of “white male gaze” and “exploitation of the other” and “being a jackass”: There’s also the third rail of male sexuality, where identifying too closely with a woman might make you seem, perish the thought, sensitive. So instead, the guys who dig a girl like Liz Phair have to play up the attraction, the lust, the submission to a rock’n’roll goddess— even when, for many of them, the lust ain’t the main draw.
The other tactic is to take credit for what she’s done. And guys can take plenty of credit for Phair’s early career. Rock critics like Bill Wyman brought Phair to Chicago’s attention when they ranted and raved about Guyville weeks before the thing came out. The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street, the loose template for Guyville’s 18 tracks— and one of the blues-rock genomes that saved this from being just another singer-songwriter set. And a couple other guys, co-producer Brad Wood and engineer Casey Rice, helped nail the minimalist production of Guyville and its follow-up, the underrated Whip-Smart.
It was the guys like her Johnny or her Joe— the titular guys in the indie boy’s club centered in and around Chicago’s Wicker Park— who preened for her, dicked her over, and taught her how to push back, inspiring her and making it necessary for her to write these songs in the first place. And it was guys who took the piss when she started headlining at venues that were too big for an amateur. Playing a New Year’s Eve show at the Metro as your sixth or seventh gig is a lot to bite off. And if I recall correctly, she bit. But stagecraft and starpower weren’t the point: Those of us who were taken in by Phair loved her because she was— sorry to use the word— real.
I’ve bitched before about Pitchfork’s reviews; I generally just look at the rating instead of reading the actual article because, as in the case of Exile, it isn’t so much about the music as it is about the author writing the review. So here we have this guy who, ironically, is one of the targets of Liz Phair’s album. And he spends the first third of the review talking about how hard it is for him to like the album because he’s a guy?
I think that’s silly, and I could write a whole other essay on the subject of this stupid societal construct of masculinity and blah, blah, blah. I think the point I’m trying to make is that the album is good because it is good, not because it makes you know how it feels to be a girl. Hell, I relate to this album and I don’t think it’s solely about dating guys.
Sure, the “woman thing” has certainly been an issue in how Liz Phair has been received as an artist (I truly believe that is why she is such an outsider in the music industry, because no one knew how to manage her music), but I don’t think all of her music has to come down to that black and white issue. Most of the time, Liz Phair writes and sings in character, not as herself, and in several instances those characters have been men
Naturally as a guy, I can’t speak for what women saw in the record back then, or how young women will take it now. But of all the albums written from a woman’s perspective, this is one of the most accessible to men. It’s intriguing to watch her deal with us— not as a mere revolutionary, but as someone who knows that sex will always be tough, so she always has to be tougher. She’s been tested in ways we never will be, and we understand just enough to admire her for it. Men don’t get what it’s like to be a woman. But spinning this record, you swear that you could.
“Men don’t get what it’s like to be a woman.” You know what? If you put forth a little effort (which doesn’t mean just listen to an 18-song album), you could probably figure it out sometime.
Friday, June 20, 2008
My pre-adolescent fascination with Mommie Dearest
and Valley of the Dolls.
On the other hand, the reason why the jury is still out on this case:
My general ambivalence toward Grey Gardens.
(PS. It is really difficult to find a video of Mommie Dearest on YouTube that does not feature drag queens.)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
tumblr. - The Documentary from DaveAOK on Vimeo.
Also, Real David Karp is not as hot as Fake David Karp.
I'm in a general malaise right now. (I hate writing about it on my blog, but bear with me.) I don't think it's one thing that's making me feel like things are such shit, but rather the last four months of hell that have been home life and work life. After I broke up with John I finally made myself go into therapy, thinking that the break-up (and my general failures with dating in general) were a major part of what's bringing me down. I mean, I think that lately, most of my rage and anger comes out of romantic disappointment; why else would I still want to scratch someone's fucking eyes out every time I see them (yes, them, because it's plural)?
With my dad's illness and death, one would think that I spend most of my therapy talking about grief, etc. The truth is, I've spent more hours talking about my job that anything else. I'm not going to go into great detail because that's uncouth and such, but something must be said for spending eight hours a day feeling ten times more miserable than you do anywhere else, and on top of that feeling like you're an idiot at the same time. I told John today that I was in the mood to go cry a bathroom stall somewhere, and he replied, "You could work at the New York Times building where they have 'crying cubbies!'" But even before I could respond, he said, "But then it's expected that you would be crying."
I don't even know if therapy (or, as I call it, "my five-hundred-dollar deductible") is doing me any good, but I continue to go because it's worth a shot, right? Of course, here's the shitty thing: I have to work because I need the insurance, since therapy isn't affordable without it (especially since it's just now covering it). So basically, I need to work for the therapy, and I need the therapy to make it to work. Such is the irony of the twenty-something, depressive, professional lifestyle.
I don't think exclusively listening to Exile in Guyville is conducive to a good mood either, but I'm too excited for next week to examine that.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Anyway, I get jealous of people like Justin and Katy who seem to be going to weddings all the time. But then I realize that they went to a Catholic college, so they are obviously more likely to know people who get married at our age. My friends are all heathens who live in sin, if they even manage to keep a relationship going that long. (Seriously, friends! Get it together! There are ice cream makers and flatware in your future!)
Adam and Alissa are getting married in August, and it will honestly be the first fun wedding I will ever attend, since I'll be of legal age and my family won't be there. I don't have to worry about embarrassing myself in front of my mom - Adam and Alissa will have to hope I don't embarrass them in front of their moms!
Ever since they started planning the wedding, I tried to give them ideas on how to make it totally kick-ass, from a themed wedding (Cowboys and Indians! Pimps and 'hos!) to recreating the opening to the musical in The Muppets Take Manhattan. This is for my own entertainment, because it's not like I'm going to enjoy the food or anything.
I was talking to my friend Laurie today (happy birthday, by the way!), and she was telling me that she and her boyfriend have started thinking about a wedding next year. Immediately I said, "Oh my God, PLEASE HAVE IT IN COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG!!!" Not because either of us like Colonial Williamsburg - in fact, we both kind of despise it. I realized then that maybe because I'm not allowed to get married (and, let's face it, even if I was, who would I fool into entering into a legal contract with me?), I act out my aggressions by trying to imagine my friends' weddings turn into train wrecks for my own amusement.
But friends! Really, I'm sure I'll be totally happy for you or whatever, and I'll support you if you don't want to get married in costume or you allow children to come. If I dislike the person you're marrying, I'll politely keep it to myself (or at least only talk about you behind your back). But please, make sure Christina is also invited, because if she isn't you know she's going to just end up being my date (the idea of ever being at the wedding-date stage with someone I'm dating seems TERRIFYING and UNLIKELY). And can you do me a favor at and have something on the menu I like? Otherwise, I'll get really shitty at the open bar.
Adam once said that the wedding is really more for their friends than for family, which is a pretty good point. As the years go on and people end up hitched and have moved on, think of how often you're going to see them (if you don't immediately cut them all out of your life on the way to your honeymoon destination). You'll see your family every year at holidays, birthdays, and, eventually, other weddings. But your friends are the ones who you'll want to remember at your wedding at having had a great time - they're the ones who will actually be in the wedding, after all. So make sure they're the ones who have a good time. And by "they," I mean specifically me.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I had seen Tracy Letts in two plays at Steppenwolf while Christina worked there: The Pillowman (an amazing Martin McDonagh play, and the first big production of a straight play I'd ever seen) and Betrayal (a Harold Pinter snoozefest that was saved by the three actors' strong performances). I unfortunately missed August, even though Christina raved about it. And now it's on Broadway, winning the Pulitzer, and expected to pick up a Tony next week. Luckily, the production will be going on a national tour next year, so I will get to see it (although without the original Steppenwolf cast).
Tracy Letts was a great speaker; to listen to his experience as a member of a supportive ensemble that allowed him to create a three-and-a-half-hour play with a three-story set is pretty impressive. And he sounded surprisingly modest for someone who just one a Pulitzer, who said, "You know, I don't feel a lot of pressure about my next play [Superior Donuts, which opens this month]. If it's a disaster and bombs, it's not a big deal. I'll just write another play." He also had a lot of great things to say about Chicago theatre, and the actors who live and work in this city. "A lot of New York producers didn't understand why the cast wasn't absolutely thrilled to be taking the play to New York and living there for several months," he said. "They seem to think that people in Chicago live here because we have to, not because we like it here."
During the Q&A session it started to downpour and thunder a bit, but the huge audience stayed under the tent as the winds blew it around and water sprayed those of us sitting in the back. When the talk finished, and the thunder started clapping, I ran to the front with my copy of the play, as my goal for the day was to get Tracy Letts to sign it. As I stood in a line of about ten people near the stage, one of the Book Fair volunteers stood up to the microphone and said, "Not to alarm anyone, but everyone must evacuate the tent and find shelter. It's not safe under here."
I followed Tracy Letts and another small crowd of people into the glass-enclosed vestibule of a condo building. There were about ten of us standing there watching the rain pound on the sidewalk outside, knowing full-well that of all the places we could be, a small glass-enclosed shelter was probably not the safest. When the rain let up, we ran back outside, and a security guard informed us that another condo building three doors down was open and we could take shelter there. So, again, I followed Tracy Letts and a few other people into the building.
I was a little nervous about asking him to sign my book, as he was talking to a couple who announced that they proud Steppenwolf subscribers. They had some friend, apparently, who was a theatre producer, so they had stories of all of these shows in New York they had seen from the current Broadway season. Finally, when they stopped gushing over their new friend, I asked Tracy Letts to sign my copy, which he did.
And that's the story of how I took shelter from a possible tornado with a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.
Monday, June 09, 2008
I've always had this thing where I've had to have a plan. Well, I have to always construct a plan. I'm pretty terrible at following things through. Right now my goal is to write more, specifically write more things not on the Internet and try to do something with that writing.
My other goal: to stop whining on the Internet so much.
I started reading Rachel Shukert's Have You No Shame? It's pretty funny, and well-written; so far it's one of those good memoir/essay/story collections, in the vein of Sedaris but written by an overwhelmingly (and not in a bad way) Jewish gal. As I was reading it, and having had someone tell me last night I really ought to write a memoir, I keep thinking, "There's absolutely no reason why I can't do this, too." So maybe that's a goal? I dunno. But it would be a project, at least, and I could use one of those.
Right now, my big fear is that the people I make fun of on my blog are forming some unholy alliance and will take me down. I know that's kind of silly, but nothing is more disturbing than imagining my ex, the guy from Facebook, Emily Bronte with a Gmail account, my Southern Lit professor from DePaul, the guy I described as looking like the front-half of a satyr, and, eventually, my roommate will all unite and form some sort of militia whose mission is to destroy me. I know it's a little far-fetched, but such a fear is probably a good thing in the long run, one that will perhaps push me into some sort of maturity enlightenment.
Friday, June 06, 2008
It's been one of those weeks.
To do this weekend:
- Buying an air conditioner, as it is already eighty degrees in my room and I don't particularly enjoy sitting in my underwear and sweating a lot.
- Getting drunk because duh.
- Seeing a show at the Chicago Improv Festival with TJ Jagodowski, Lutz from 30 Rock, and Jason Sudekis.
- Haircut! (My head is constantly sweaty.)
- Tracy Letts and the rest of the fun at the Printers Row Book Fair. I will be buying a lot of books.
This is what I look like when I discover that the air conditioner is too big for my window by half an inch, and then I spend thirty minutes unsuccessfully installing it into another window. You know? Fuck that air conditioner.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
I hated The Strangers. So much, in fact, that David and I spent twenty minutes screaming about it in the car. Because we were angry.
I was mad, for one, that they somehow managed to get a Joanna Newsom song on the same record (as in VINYL) as a Gillian Welch song. I don't think that the "strangers" came in at some point, switched the album from The Milk-Eyed Mender to Time (The Revelator) just so that the needle would skip during the part of "My First Lover" when Gillian sings "Quicksilver girl" (a reference to the Steve Miller song). Also, how did they get a demo version of "At My Window Sad and Lonely" by Billy Bragg and Wilco? (Here's a note to the film's director: just because you use non-mainstream music in your film doesn't mean you're not going to get someone who isn't a Daughtry fan to come see it and CALL YOU OUT ON YOUR SHIT. Sure, a lot of people didn't notice it but I DID and ALL OF MY OPINIONS ARE RIGHT.)
I was also very angry when the film started and the placard told us that it was based on a true story - which it is not, by the way. What's worse is that someone narrated that, as if the director anticipated that his audience would be too stupid to read what's on the screen. That should have tipped me off right there.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Obituraries always leave out the really interesting stuff, like how he not only lived to see fifteen presidents, served in the Navy with John F. Kennedy, and almost got into a fight with Henry Fonda in a bar in New York.
Just for the record, I'm doing okay right now. Sure, I'm angry at life, but my bitterness is only, like, two notches above normal. We're still on level orange at the TMA headquarters.
If I ever become famous for my writing, I certainly hope my middle and high school misdeeds don't come back to haunt me. I really don't want to rehash my one trip to the principal's office in ninth grade.
Emily Gould Broke Some Hearts Back in Middle School [Gawker]
Exposed: Blog-Post Confidential [NYTM]
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
When people ask me what I ideally want to do for a living, I'm just going to say, "Not making a living." Because, honestly, the last two and a half weeks - despite the whole death thing - have been great because I haven't had to go to work.
I've had a wonderful weekend back in Chicago. I haven't done much; I went to Berlin on Friday night and it was fun and not the usual mess. Sure, all the normal dipshits were there, but I did hang out with friends and make out on the street after closing, and you can't really complain about that, now can you?
The rest of the weekend was low-key: drinks with friends on Saturday night, a pre-Memorial Day cookout on Sunday, and an afternoon walking about Lakeview, buying books and sweating my face off (it's hot all of a sudden!). And after a great night of burgs and brews at Big Chicks, I came home kind of dreading work tomorrow because it means I have to go back to the real world.
And then I got an annoying bit of news I'm not going to share, because I'm trying (honestly!) not to overshare on the Internet these days. But still, I'm kind of bummed and I feel like I'm slipping back into the bitter guy I was four weeks ago. Of course this all happens right before I go back to work. I don't think this is a coincidence.
I will tell this story, because I think it's indicative of how that embittered guy is still resting just under my skin, and how I don't even give a shit about letting him out anymore.
There's this guy that I had a crush on about a month and a half ago. And it was a generally big crush, the kind that grew out of daily IM conversations and at least one actual date that cost me a good fifty bucks. (I know that's lame as hell to say, as if I should be able to write-off any investments I made in courtship.) Anyway, things, obviously, did not progress beyond me professing interest (um, a few times) and him being a general douchebag who didn't give me a straight answer. Finally, after the last time, I took him off my buddy list; a few weeks later, I deleted him as a friend on Facebook and MySpace, and was pretty happy about it.
Then, last week, when I was knee-deep into my "red wine boot camp" as Adam referred to it (you know, the two weeks I spent drinking at least four glasses of wine every single night), I happened to visit his Facebook page for the expected aggravation it would cause me. I saw that he posted a note about songs that reminded him of friends or something (because that's what people without blogs do, apparently), and he mentioned a Neko Case song. But he spelled her name as "Niko."
And this is what I did:
And you know what? I'm still pretty pleased with myself.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
In seventh grade I started having a lot of trouble in my pre-Algebra class. I just didn't get Algebra, and it was the first time I had any problem with math, much to my mother's (the mathematician) chagrin. Add to the fact that I was the first-born, and even though I didn't have the typical amount of pressure put on me that most first children receive (because my parents were, sigh, NICE, I guess), there was an understanding that I was to stay on the honor roll for the rest of my school career, and, if it were possible, for the rest of my life.
So pre-Algebra really screwed up that plan. I thought I was smart enough, however, that I could hide the occasional bad grades I received from my parents; as long as I got a B every nine-weeks, they didn't really need to know about the Cs or Ds I got on tests, right? Well, this plan seems to fail when you live in a small town and you happen to get the one math teacher in the middle school who has been teaching there for years, who is married to the man who owns the furniture store where your parents bought all of their major appliances, and happens to take an early evening walk around your neighborhood block every single day. So, of course, Mrs. Sisson, when seeing my dad cutting grass in the evenings, would stop and chat and inevitably say something like, "Tyler (pronounced, mind you, as "Tyyylaaah") got a C on a math test today."
One would think that moving six hundred miles to Chicago would protect my identity a bit, and make me more anonymous. Nearly everyone I went to high school with, at least the ones that I was the closest to, have moved out of the area (albeit mostly to Richmond and Fredericksburg). And my father was indeed a local celebrity, given the numbers at the funeral home visitation and the funeral this week, but I never considered that I knew or was close to many people around here. Sure, being home for an event like this has certainly made me appreciate growing up in a small town, because the emotions expressed by everyone we have encountered have been very comforting instead of overwhelming.
Of course, here's the weird thing, which has shaken me up quite a bit: I've had a few people, people who are friends with my parents, say, "I've read your blog!"
I used to think having potential or current employers finding this site was bad. Imagine the people who came over for dinner, or the parents of people you went to high school. People who aren't extremely close to the family, but close enough that it's, um, weird.
When I said something to my mom, she just rolled her eyes, because ONCE AGAIN we all knew she was right. She refuses to read the blog because she's convinced I'm chronicling my crack cocaine addiction, or she'll read about my patronage of prostitutes, or be embarrassed by my jokes about her. (All of the previous don't happen, of course. Except for when I make fun of my mom. But I'm laughing WITH her!) She said, "Well, if you're going to have a blog, people are going to read it." Well, yeah, but not people from Westmoreland County, Virginia. Didn't we just get the Internet, like, four years ago?
I don't mean to sound like some elitist here, saying that I'm this big city big shot here. I still put my pants on one leg and a time, and I still use Spell Check just like everybody else. I know most people wouldn't read this site if they weren't generally interested in what my life was like, and they wouldn't say anything about it if they didn't enjoy it somehow (I think).
But to put it in perspective, I'd like to quote from Janeane Garofalo's 1997 HBO stand-up special, because, you know, I'm obsessed and it's also been a weird basis for my life's maturation. She had a ruptured ovarian cyst that, she said, was discovered after she passed out and had an "thorough" exam by the gynecologist. "Whilst he's down there," she said, "he peers up from between my knees and said, 'You know, my wife and I LOVE you on The Larry Sanders Show!'"
Janeane says she has a don't-ask-don't-tell policy with her vagina; man, I'd love to have that same policy with my blog.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I'd probably feel the same way about such a feel-good movie six months ago. Not only do I love that film, but I could probably stand to watch some shittier version of a movie targeted to my emotions and come out of that two-hour experience just fine and dandy.
Today was my father's funeral, which is a hard way to start a sentence, but it's true. I woke up in an understandable funk, but right now I'm actually in an okay mood. I did cry, sure, but I kept myself together much better than I thought. I think what helped was the amazingly HUGE amount of people there today. The funeral procession from my mother's Episcopalian church, where the service was held, to my father's family's Baptist church, where he is buried, was insanely long. I've honestly never seen so many people in my life. Last night, at the funeral home visitation, I stood and shook hands and hugged people for three hours straight. Paul, who is both a distant cousin and the man who organized the visitation, told us he estimated nearly four-hundred people came last night. I think about that many people came today, as well.
After listening to a pretty great sermon and eulogy, and thinking about how my father, who certainly had his sad and angry moments at home, was rarely in a bad mood with anyone else. So many people have said in the last few days that my dad never met a stranger; it's certainly true: he made everyone feel that they were his friend, despite the fact that, most of the time, he couldn't remember anybody's name.
I didn't cry at the grave site and I was pretty proud of myself. I knew that my father would have; the man couldn't keep a dry eye during any sad moment on TV or a movie (Hell, he cried during an episode of The Brady Bunch when Marcia was punished and couldn't go on a school ski trip), but I knew that he would have never wanted anyone to be sad for him. My uncle told the story about when my dad called him to tell him that his cancer had returned during his eulogy. He said, "Johnny said to me, 'You know, to have to tell people that kind of thing must be a really hard job.' He was more worried about the doctor than he was about himself." I think that sums up the nature of my father's personality: he loved so many people, and that obvious affection really rubbed off on everyone he met.
A friend of my parents came up to me at the reception today and, looking at the hot, crowded room, said, "Well, I guess this means I should be a lot nicer to people." If there's anything I have taken from this experience, it's that I shouldn't be so negative, I shouldn't let people upset me or make me angry (and, when they do, be overwhelmingly nice to them, because killing them with kindness and pissing them off is much more rewarding that all of the negative energy it takes to hate them), and I should, as my father would say, take it easy.
Again, I love and appreciate all of the messages I've received from people, many of whom I only know through the Blogosphere. And I want everyone to know that, surprisingly, I am doing okay, and as cheesy as it sounds, I think it's how my dad would have wanted it.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
W. H. Auden
Friday, May 16, 2008
Two days ago I walked into my parents' room and my mother was talking to him. He had turned to her and said, "We need to make a decision." Assuming he thought he was in the hospital (he's in a hospital bed right now), my mother said, "Well, it's up to you." He said to her, "I'm ready to go."
I woke up my brother (this was around 9:30 in the morning, about four hours before he was really ready to be awake), and we stood on the other side of the bed. He turned slightly and looked at us, managing to say, "I'm sorry, but I need to go." He told us he'd say hello to Pop for us, and my mom asked him to look for her mother, too.
When the nurse asked my mother today if she had told him that it's alright if he leaves, she replied, "Hell, I've done everything but call the President to tell him it's OK."
I for one have managed to keep it together, mostly because I'm so exhausted from this experience to be really upset anymore. You kind of get used to the sight; my mother told me that she's afraid she won't be able to get the image of him lying in bed, reduced to a skeletal frame out of her head. One day I hope we'll all be able to forget that and instead focus on what he used to look like, which is almost unrecognizable by now.
One great thing to come out of this is a realization of how many people have been thinking of us. I've gotten a lot of emails, Facebook messages, texts, and IMs from friends (and even blogger friends I have never met). I haven't responded to most of them, but I want to express my gratitude; it has really helped me get through this. On top of that, we have tons of new flowers sitting on our porch, and we've been kept in lasagna and chicken salad and red wine, enough to last us another two weeks.
Tomorrow is the Relay for Life at the high school. My father's first cousin's husband (it sounds complicated, but not really) will be presenting a check to the American Cancer Society, which is from a golf tournament he organized a few weeks ago in honor of my dad and another woman from the area who is suffering, albeit surviving, from cancer. When he came by the other night, he told us that past tournaments in which he's participated usually raised around three to four thousand dollars.
Today he brought by a copy of the check for us to see. It's written for $12,738.02.
It's incredibly comforting to know that no matter what, my family is not going through this alone.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
That's not what I wanted to write this post about, but I do want you all to imagine me wearing a turtleneck with a blazer. Just fucking try, people.
Anyway, after I left Men's Wearhouse (by the way, do you see what they did there?), I planned to go to DSW for shoes, and, conveniently for me, Best Buy was on the way. Hey, I just spent over an hour just trying to find a place that would sell me a suit, much less buying one, so I was going to reward myself with a DVD. (Sure, I had already bought I'm Not There and All The Sad Young Literary Men from Borders between my first two trips to the Spotsylvania "Towne Centre" (very exotic, indeed, Maura), but that's besides the point.) I spent just five minutes in Best Buy because I immediately found what I wanted: the Criterion Collection edition of The Ice Storm.
This recent purchase made me realize I have spent entirely too much money on The Ice Storm. Before I saw the movie I bought the screenplay, as I was in my I-Want-To-Be-A-Screenwriter-When-I-Grow-Up phase. Then I bought the movie on VHS. And then I bought it on DVD a few years ago, which I recently sold to Reckless with a bundle of other DVDs (I only made twenty bucks for the lot of them).
I watched one of the documentaries on the second disc last night, which featured brand-new interviews with the stars of the film. As I watched, perplexed at Christina Ricci's terrible Speed Racer bangs and Joan Allen's Botoxed forehead (even you, Joan? Please, take a cue from Sigourney: her forehead moves), I was kind of shocked to realize that it was released eleven years ago. Not only did it make me feel a little old, I decided that my near-obsession with The Ice Storm speaks volumes of my personality, especially my pre-adolescent mindset. I mean, what kind of fourteen-year-old loves a drama about '70s-era, suburban wife-swapping?
That, my friends, is why high school was miserable.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Tonight I sat next to his bed, holding his hand, watching his chest move up and down and counting the breaths with a constant pain in my stomach hoping that every six to eight seconds another one will come.
I'm surprised that I've held myself together so well. I've cried a few times just looking at him, and have only seriously broken down twice since I've been home. I suppose it's a relief for me to be here and watch this progression instead of being in Chicago; I'm so glad I'm here, but I hate to have to watch someone go through so much pain and anguish.
The house was full of people all weekend. On Saturday my godparents brought a huge dish of lasagna, and there were about eight of us sitting in the kitchen, emptying the fifth bottle of red wine since I arrived on Thursday night. Every now and then someone would walk back to the bedroom to check on him to see if he needed anything; he slept through most of it, at least I think he did. I can't help but wonder if he can hear us back there.
At one point my mother said to him, "Everyone is so angry this is happening to you." I don't feel angry, really. I don't know what I feel. I think because I'm not a spiritual person, I'm not questioning why it's happening in the first place. Of course, at the same time, I've caught myself actually praying - I don't know know to whom or to what I'm praying, but I'm doing it nonetheless. I'm directing my thoughts and wishes to something.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I am feeling better today, but I want to say that I very much appreciate the emails, texts, and IMs I received yesterday. As hard as it is to come up with anything to say in those situations, it's just as difficult to come up with a response sometimes.
There's a poem by Julia Kasdorf that I really like called "What I Learned from My Mother." It has this great line that I've always loved: "I learned to attend viewing even if I didn't know the deceased, to press the moist hands of the living, to look in their eyes and offer sympathy, as though I understood loss even then. I learned that whatever we say means nothing, what anyone will remember is that we came. I learned to believe I had the power to ease awful pains materially like an angel. Like a doctor, I learned to create from another's suffering my own usefulness, and once you know how to do this, you can never refuse."
ANYWAY, enough of that.
I do want to share a link to an essay I wrote on This Recording which I'm pretty proud of. It's my take on the emosogynist idea of the "nice guy," which of course, in that sense, does not exist. I should also mention that I'm pretty sure Molly changed my byline to include that I'm "a really nice guy." TRUE LOVE.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When I was about to leave, I checked my phone and saw I missed a call from my mom, so I called her back. She asked me how I was, how therapy went, etc. I was like, "Eh, as usual, just generally disappointed with life, etc," which is kind of my response lately for how I'm feeling. I asked her how dad was doing tonight and she said, "Well, he's not feeling well today." And then I remembered that they were supposed to meet with the oncologist today and I had completely forgotten about it.
The cancer hasn't reacted to the treatments he was taking, and the doctor told them that there's really nothing else they can do. My parents have already called hospice care and a nurse came by the house last night for the first visit.
I'd like to spare the details of how sick he is because it's hard enough for me to think about it already. The worst part about the situation is not knowing what the time frame is. I suppose that's the thing with mortality: you know it's going to happen sometime, but normally you have the benefit of positive thinking. Generally, unless you're incredibly pessimistic and sad, you have the feeling that death isn't just around the corner. Of course, with cancer, you don't get that; instead, you have to sit there, knowing it's going to happen, possibly sooner than you exepct, or vice-versa.
After the phone call, I managed to stay pretty calm. I was in Lakeview, and I had nothing to do, but I knew that if I went home I'd just spend the rest of the night crying. I tried to walk around Broadway, barely keeping it together, and finally got on the bus, heading back home. Riding the Broadway bus is depressing enough, but it's a little more miserable when you're crying in front of strangers.
I'm alright, I guess, other than the bouts of sobbing and the overwhelming feeling of heartbreak. I'm staying home from work today and I'm going to sleep for a while and maybe watch some movies and order pizza or something. And then, this afternoon or tonight, I'm going to figure out what my plan is. I've already got a flight home next weekend (I bought the ticket a few weeks ago), but, honestly, I don't want to have to come back to Chicago and leave that behind. My mother thinks I should, and part of me agrees, but I also don't really want to be six hundred miles away while this is going on.
In other news, British children:
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
It was suggested that she vlog as her Bea Arthur puppet, but then I realized I'm not that ghey.
Today on Videogum, Lindsay challenged Gabe to create a vlog. And I think it's safe to say that I no longer have the desire or energy to add anything to the VLOGISPHERE. (See what I did there?)
Monday, April 28, 2008
I'm in a general life-funk, wherein every aspect is a little shitty. I've been thinking about going to school again, but I don't want to work: I just want to go back to school full time. I told Christina last night that the idea of going to grad school is incredibly appealing, but at the same time would be like me having a baby to fix a bad relationship. I need a master's in English like I need a child. Sure, it'd be cute and everything, and I'd be proud of this thing I made, but after two years I'd realize that it's not getting me anywhere and I'll have to pay for it sometime. (I'll stop now, because I'm too lazy to think this metaphor through and make it work. Which, I think, is part of my problem.)
I also decided recently that I really want to write for a living. I just want to publish things on the Internet and somehow get paid for it. I really hate having to worry about being insured; if I didn't have that hanging over my head, I think I'd be much happier doing something more creative for a living. Yet, as I am my worst critic, I'm generally disappointed with everything I write, even if someone tells me that they enjoy it. I lack the discipline and motivation to do anything, and I think my self-awareness is possibly more dangerous than my laziness.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I started a Tumblr a while ago and was just posting pictures that I took. And then I was bored one day and started reblogging things. And then I posted IM conversations. And then links. And I realized that Tumblr is really fucking addictive and fun, especially since the presence of people "following" me appeals to my vain sensibility.
Plus, it's nice to have a venue to post random shit online without cluttering up my blog here. I think that I can manage to keep both sites up and reserve it for the wonderful, charming, well-written narrative pieces you all love. (Right?)
So, it's not that I'm cheating. It's just that I want an open relationship. Is that okay, Blog?
When I was home a few weekends ago, I got to watch a filmed version of Company on PBS's Great Performances. It was the revival that appeared on Broadway last, directed by John Doyle. It was fantastic, mostly because the actors played their own instruments and the play's staging was so fucking amazing.
I knew of the play and the director because he also revived Sondheim's Sweeney Todd about two years ago, and like Company, the earlier revival was a stripped-down production where the actors doubled as the orchestra. It's almost unfair to use the term to describe the group of musicians, since there are only about ten people on stage above the empty orchestra pit.
Last night, Rachel and I went to see Sweeney open at the Cadillac Palace, where it'll be for a week before the touring production leaves Chicago and goes to somewhere like St. Louis or something. It had been a while since I'd seen a musical; I think the last was Les Miserables in Richmond about five years ago. I'm no Broadway connoisseur, I'm just some gay who likes musicals sometimes. And I can't formally criticize the show, since I don't know enough about putting on a big production and how all of that theatre shit works. But let me tell you this: the production of Sweeney Todd blew my fucking face off.
Seriously, I rarely notice how much influence a director has on a play, especially when it's a touring cast (I've never seen a show in New York, and I've only really seen musicals when they came through Richmond on tour). But I sat in the front row of the balcony last night in complete awe as I watched a group of ten people pull of an amazing feat. It was thousands of times better than that stupid, lame-ass Johnny Depp mess of a film. All of this considering the flaws in the production!
Seriously, John Doyle. I want you to direct my life.
Rachel and I had so much fun last night. We even ate at a fancy-assed restaurant where our bill was waaaaay too much and we split a fifty-two dollar bottle of wine. But good lord, it was delicious. I want to see more shows as they come through town - Avenue Q will be here in May, and hey, maybe I could even convince one of my non-musical inclined friends to go. It's got puppets, you guys!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Here's yet another example of how the animal rights movement only affects me in a negative way. I'm gonna go get a hamburger for lunch now.
Monday, April 21, 2008
This picture will never cease to make me feel all warm inside. Whenever I'm blue, I look at that picture, and I'm happy again. Thank you, Adam.
In case you're wondering, Adam is 30-Next-Birthday.