Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Commitment Issues

My Dad likes to say that most people have no idea what they are doing most of the time.  That they may seem like they do and that it may be intimidating but really everyone is in the same shit.

Coming from a guy who by any barometer is a modern marvel and a successful human being in general this kind of gives me a twisted sense of hope.

We are at that pivotal age when you have to make decisions.  You have to because you're 22 and you're an adult now and you can't go on living at your parent's house forever.  And now I'm going to ask the same hackneyed question that twenty-somethings have been asking for centuries.

How do you know when your all growed up ?

Graduating from college has been like going through puberty again.  Some people do it gracefully pas de bourree-ing around acne and weight-gain and beautiful older sisters while avoiding bad hair and braces with ninja skills.  One major difference, however, is that during puberty everyone wears their awkwardness on the outside and at 21 most people have discovered how to conceal or deal with uncertainty and fear and bad decision-making.  But then is growing up just about being able to cover up?

I won't believe that I'm the only one who cringes at the thought of making life choices which necessarily exclude other options.  Does being an adult mean accepting that you may never have any of those other options.  Are there no redos or return to goes?   I mean, what if your decision sucks?  Are there no 'get out of jail free's ? Does being an adult mean you have to suffer through it? 

Needless to say I have commitment issues.  And time is up.  And I find myself at a crossroad between being Jay or Silent Bob or becoming a respectable, responsible human being.  To say that I've always eventually gotten my act together isn't to say that I always will.  Because before I've always wanted to.  

As a side note Kevin Smith aka Silent Bob (seen on the right)  was recently kicked of a Southwest airline flight because he hadn't bought two seats.  Relevance?  So you can fully understand that becoming the real or fictional person on the right would be kind of sad. Anyway...

I'm not satisfied being idle and I realize there are non binding options.  I could travel and teach english or do first rate things in third world places.  I could go back to school.  But I'm not that good of a person and I get sick every time I leave the US and I'm not willing to go into debt for the first time in my life for a degree I'm not even sure I want.  Not to mention the fact that I suck at doing things I don't like doing.  It's mentally exhausting for me to even fake it.

And when I hear from so many people that they are unhappy with their jobs.  Or when they speak blandly and dispassionately about what they do it makes me sad for them.  Even if they look at me and think I'm throwing time away and being irresponsible and blogging too much or spinning too much or being a self-indulgent spoon fed child.  I find myself wondering whether that matters at all until a time that I look at myself and see what they see?

It's only been a year.  But really, isn't that how things spiral out of control?  Isn't that how workoholics end up childless and alone or hippies end up as the old dude scoring weed off of teens or how the cat lady...becomes the cat lady?

Anyway I think I'm done being afraid of commitment because I don't want to deal with the confrontation involved with backing out.  I'm gonna stop treading and deep-end this bitch.  If being a young adult is  exploring options and being an adult is making choices and sticking to them I'm not sure I'll be that successful at it.  I'm sure there are plenty of 'adults' who aren't great ones.  But I suppose you gotta try, right?  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Saturday night was a mess.  And I wasn't drunk or angry or embarrassing or slutty.  I didn't vom in my hair or wake up naked with a burrito on my chest.  Those stories happen often and never get old but Saturday night was definitely unique and not really in a good way.


Here's the thing.  My beautifully gay older man companion SP consistently fills me with enlightened wisdom that I don't want to listen to because its easier to be childish and impulsive.  One thing he said was that "You should go into every argument assuming that at least 30% is you."   And I've thought about this after the fight (I use that term loosely because I was kind of just yelled at) I was in that night.

A friend (or former friend) or mine FLIPPED out.  And I understand that he was hurt and that he was angry and that he or we had some unresolved issues.  Literally all I did was start talking to him.  For most of the night I could tell that something was amiss but when he said, "You really think I should say fucking hi to you?"

I'm going to say now that for posterity: I'm not going to fill in the details of why he was so angry at me.  It's not because I have anything to hide it's because I think that discussing my issues with other people instead of him contributed (in part) to his explosion of anger on Saturday night.

But I do want to say that I did something wrong.  I have regrets. Maybe I should've tried harder.  Perhaps I should have more fully discussed my issues with him tried harder to make him understand why I was so pissed.  And if I hadn't maybe I shouldn't have said anything at all to anyone.

Either way, I'm disappointed.  He never even talked to me.  He assumed the worst and trusted the words of other people instead of talking to the source.  While I can admit my own culpability I can also say I tried to talk to him.  I voiced my complaints first delicately then more fiercely but for some reason he didn't or couldn't hear me.  One of the sources of my anger began when I started feeling both disregarded and disrespected.  I'd been there for him when he needed help and taken on responsibilities I didn't have to and instead of being treated like a partner and a friend I was treated like an inadequate employee who couldn't listen to direction and was blamed when things (I'd taken precautions to prevent) occurred.  Anyway, I think that his disregard of my opinion contributed to the events on Saturday night.  He didn't talk to me for the same reason I stopped trying to talk to him,  In his view my words had no credibility and wouldn't have made a difference.

We were at a bar and he yelled at me and I was shocked then embarrassed because it was our friend's birthday and it was in public and we'd been drinking.  And when I said "I can talk to you about this when your sober" he said "I don't want to talk to you when I'm sober"  and at that moment his hurtful and irate words were falling on deaf ears because as Claude says, "you can't argue successfully with the irrational".

And long before Saturday I thought I'd lost a friend.  He'd hurt and annoyed and pissed me off so entirely that I was done.  And after I'd tried on multiple occasions to talk to him, I'd listened to friends when they said that saying anything to him wasn't worth it.  And while he was yelling at me, name calling and gesturing he broke some glasses and had to be held back by some of the boys I was slipped into fear and then calm.  I was calm because I was resolved but I was also sad that our relationship had deteriorated to this.  But before I go on I want to focus on the phase of fear I felt when the violence and anger was escalating I was afraid.

I've never been in a physical fight, but I have been attacked verbally before.  Someone else has tried to harm me but never a man who could've knocked me cold and never someone who I'd considered a friend once.

That being said my culpability doesn't end with saying things to other people.  I'm starting to realize that I have a remarkable ability to get under skin.  I can say things that are hurtful in an artful and effective way and do it without regard to emotional collateral and (at times) without knowing how effed they actually are.  Saturday night in league with SPs cautionary words have forced me to introspect.  I find myself look for answer to questions like : How different is physical harm from emotional harm?  Is there really a barometer which can compare them and calculate which is worse?

After this friend was pulled away screaming things like fuck you, C, you fucking bitch (on his way to being moderated by mutual friends) a bouncer came up to me and asked if I was OK and did I know where that asshole was and said he was going to kick him the fuck out and asked if he had thrown a glass at me.  As vindictive and spiteful as I have been at times in my life I know how quickly things can escalate and I found myself saying that he was fine and he was just a little drunk and he knocked the glass over by accident and that he just needed a minute but the truth is I had, still have,  no idea if any of those things are true.

I'm not some sort of enlightened human being and I'm not trying to sound self-righteous.  So I want to be clear and say that I'm not sure why I didn't point him out to the bouncer or the undercover cop nearby who I'd seen entering the bar.  I'm not sure why I didn't finger him or get him thrown out.  I'm not sure why I wasn't even angry.  It wasn't because of guilt and I definitely didn't feel like I deserved that.  I don't care what I said.  I didn't deserve that and it wasn't my fault.  But it does allude to a question I've asked previously about giving up on friends.  Can you ever really be rid of them or is there part of you that will always remember what things were like before?  How does nostalgic sentiment alter how you interact with a former friend even after the person you knew and enjoyed is gone?  It's really the only thing I can come up with but the floor is open for suggestions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bonnaroo Part II: Back By Popular Demand

Day One Continued

A and I arrive at an open field with staff members in neon T-shirts and hundreds of cars.  We pass a white tent where some of the in neon sunglasses and polka-dot nail polish sit smoking cigarettes and talking to each other.  We've taken a back way, avoided the main highway and cut off hours of waiting in line.   No scalpers, although we ask a staff member about tickets and they say haven't seen any but that they'd 'totally scalp that shit if they needed to'.  The ticket trailer is on the right.

We trudge down the field watching cars get checked for drugs, glass bottles and weapons.  Some local sheriffs pull cars over at random for inspection and we hope our drug carrying friends aren't chosen but are secretly glad we aren't in the car.

Once we get to the ticket tent they tell us that the credit card machine is down and A is worried that I haven't taken out enough money for the festival if I have to pay the full price in cash.   A plump and perky gate-keeper wearing a fanny pack throws us a sympathetic smile and says it'll be half and hour.  I want to pay but A wants to keep looking and we reach a middle ground.  We'll just pay cash if our friends (still in car queue) get to the admission field before the machine is up. So we sit in the grass and look and observe the surrounding melange of people.  Commenting on tattoos and cars and the half of the sky that has gone ominously gray.

Then the downpour.

A is a slow person.  By that I mean she's the southern type of slow that is very deliberate and sometimes it seems like she's moving through water rather than air.  But as the rain comes down she sprints to a staff tent and gains us general admittance and cooler seating while we wait for it to pass.  There's a pile of illegal contraband beside us: butcher knives, vodka handles, and a salad dressing bottle I felt safe to assume did not contain any type of legal vinaigrette.

The rain only last 15 minutes but when we walk back toward the box office we see hybrids and pick-ups alike being pushed out of the mud by staff members.  And everyone is dirty and wet but no one is mean grumpy probably because at this point we're so close we can feel the vibrations of music playing in the distance.

When I get back to the Box Office I notice A is looking for something and realizes she's forgotten something.  She's running back.  A skinny kid in a graphic tee with tattoos on most of his visible body and more rings than anatomical holes in his face approaches me.

"Wanna buy a ticket for $ 200?"
"Uhh...well...uh...I think I should just wait for my friend"
I notice he's wearing the wrist band they give you after they scan your ticket.
"Yeah, I just need to sell this real quick and then get walking back.  My buddy got caught with weed.  I mean the cops took him away in handcuffs so now I gotta try and sell this and get back home."
I don't believe him.
"Yeah the staff members told me they'd watch my stuff and that I should try and sell the ticket over here"
I start to believe him.  A gets back.  I explain and she says to go for it.  I'm not convinced, so I walk with him to the staff member and ask about the story.  She says its true and another one says, "If your gonna buy it right now I can scan it for you."

It's real and 5 minutes later I'm running at A with a wrist band. I'm down 200 instead of close to 300 and with enough cash to buy.  A's bought a legal tickets and we agree to split the difference.  And then our friends arrive and we pile into the backseat of the 4 door pick-up to find our camp site.

The Camp Grounds:

There are port-o-potties.  And I cannot stress to you how much I wish going to the bathroom was as much of an option as showering.  We drive into a field that is quickly filling with 'Roo-ers'. Masses of people are unpacking.  There doesn't seem to be any parking method but as we approach the crowd I see haphazard rows being formed at an awkward diagonal.  The method seems to be: two cars and then camping space, two cars then camping space.  We park trying to create as much space as possible between the two cars but a staffer urges us closer no our game and calling our hand.  We start unpacking.  M thought of bringing a flag and has somehow manages to get some of our underage neighbors, who have a collapsable pole duck-taped to their car, to hoist our flag.  It's glosses surface gleams in the burning hot sun and waves in the useless breeze.  Ironically it's a man on skis but conveniently bought from the shit-we-need-to-get-rid-of box at Walgreens, or Walmart or something comparable.

On Setting up a tent:

So I'm a city kid.  And I went to camp but nerd camp and sports camps were at colleges and normal kid camp had cabins.  This summer I was convinced to camp out (for a day) in Greece. It was on the beach and it was awesome. But I have never had to put together a tent or bath in a bucket or use port-o-potties for 4 days.  So (for me) setting up camp was fun.  We threw tarp as far as the hipster staff would let us and we claimed territory.  By six we were making dinner on some portable gas burners.  We look at the schedules I've anally printed out and plan the night which would be late, long, and loud.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On Friendship...A Bonnaroo Digression

So...I know I promised more on Bonnaroo but I find myself gravitating toward another topic all together.  So, last night was an interesting night.  It ended with AN lecturing me about wasted talent and self-delusional bullshitting.  And while she has a point I find myself unwilling or unable to accept the accuracy of what she's said enough to do anything about it.

AN isn't the first to ask, to say, to judge.  To criticize me for a lack of anxiety or for taking advantage of the fact that I have supportive parents.  But for some unknown reason her tirade meant a lot coming from someone who has no major stock in my success and no familial connection.  Her criticism was true, it was rough, and it tied into another theme this weekend on the topic of friendship.

I've recently been asked by two good friends about their relationships with other good friends.
Case 1:  A
One of her good friends has a gf who he sucks around.  While I spent a lot of time with the gf and genuinely like her she somehow sucks the good-nature our of her bf (G).  Now the gf invited herself last minute on our trip and A told G that she really had planned this for close friends but that if gf came he couldn't suck balls and bail on her.  He looked her in the eyes and promised.  But he disappointed.  And its not the first time.

Now, I see where she's coming from and its definitely not a jealousy thing.  Its about disappointment.  How do you deal with a friend's betrayal or a friends disappointment?  How much can you take without being walked on?  What are your boundaries? When do you give up? Cutting losses isn't so cut and dry when it comes to friendships?  Does it matter if they have good intentions?

I always think of the quote, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Case 2: J

It was really J who made me think long and hard about this.  I've been betrayed and I've forgiven and been betrayed again.  His case is even more serious because it involves a long time friend.  The only thing I could compare it to in my life is when one of my best friends became a drug addict in college.  She was/is one of the sweetest, generous people I know but there was a point at which I had to cut myself off from her (after she lied to me about needing money for books and spent the money on drugs).  I love her, I always will but there's a turning point where the person you love no longer exists in your present.   With life long friends you question whether they've changed, or whether you ever really knew them at all.

I don't mean to sound tragic or preachy.  I also don't think there is necessarily a definite friend faux-pas that demarcates friend and non-friend.  I guess my point is that it just seems like toxic friends are so much harder to identify than toxic bf/gfs.  And what's awful is that those friendships can sometimes be so much more important than any romantic relationship you're in.   So, why don't we pay them as much attention?  Why don't we define what we will and won't take from a friend?  And most of all why is it so easy for us to forgive and hard for us to learn that they just might not be who we want them to be?

I'm not sure I'm looking for any answer but these two cases have gotten me thinking about past betrayals.  How I've forgiven people who have continually disappointed me and why I have.  I've thought about whether I've betrayed friends (I have, one) and why I did it and why she's still friends with me.  I've thought about that sinking feeling of disappointment, the shock, the anger, the stages of grief we go through when faced with that situation.  We can alter or be forced to alter some of our best relationships when a friend becomes someone other than the person we know.  And whether we want to or not, we mourn.  We grieve loss of the original and we harbor anger for the stranger who has replaced the them.

It seems so tragic in the midst of loss but whether we keep or lose or distance a friend we do eventually reach a stage of acceptance. I guess the best method is damage control.  You can't allow someone no matter how good of a friend to make you feel like shit.  It's like A says, "Sometimes you just have to give up on people, friends aren't supposed to make you miserable, their supposed to lift you up".

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Road to Bonnaroo

So I was the dirtiest I've ever been in my life last night.  And I don't mean 'down and dirty'  or 'dirty dog' or 'ODB'  but like the kind of dirty you get when away from your parents for the first time and don't have someone to remind you (or force you) to bath.

To really explain this experience I have to break it into installments.  I don't have enough of an attention span to do this all in one and there were a lot of fun oddities this weekend and a lot of fodder for analysis and interpretation.  So bear with me...I'll get there.

I was camping for 4 days.  That's three nights in a tent on a queen size aero-mattress with two other girls sleeping horizontally because that was the only way we kind of fit.  We were in Manchester TN, 45 minutes from Nashville,  for Bonnaroo.  The concerts were A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I'll get to those later.  To visualize Bonnaroo one only has to think of iconic woodstock images.  The atmosphere was all congenial and free-love and sharing is caring.  People were hot, high, and/or happy.  The aura presented such a stark contrast to NYC I had to find everything and everyone beautiful.  There were concerts upon concerts: Zac Brown, John Fogerty, Phoenix, Kid Cudi, LCD Soundsystem, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Miike Snow.  There were nightly silent discos and stand-up shows by Conan O'Brien and Aziz Ansari,  There were tie-dye tents and breast painting tents and bong selling tables.  

Day One

We left on Thursday about 3 hours after we were supposed to.  9 of us were packed into a compact car and a pick-up truck, courtesy of the Grahams.  About 12 miles from Manchester we hit grid-lock traffic and since A and I didn't have tickets we decided to walk the high-way and see if anyone was selling them.  (A refused to buy the $245 tickets on-line and was convinced that we could find some for 200.  After some failed Craigslist attempts we set off without tickets and decided we'd just buy them full price if we couldn't find a scalper).  

So two other of the crew didn't have tickets either and at that 12 mi mark they got out.  About 2 minutes after we got out of the car traffic sped up and our cars moved gracefully and speedily out of walking distance.   That coupled with the fact that it was approaching 100 degrees with no shade and miles of tar in front of us made us question whether we'd made the right decision.  But there were other dirty hippies walking so we rallied.  After about 3 miles an old-beat-up pick-up trucks rolls up to us.  The driver smiled widely although he was visibly missing a few teeth and told us he could take us as far as ______ Road.  He then proceeded to drive on the left side of the road for 10 minutes until a sheriff (who I suspect knew him as it was a small town) yelled.  "Man, Jimmy what are you doin'?   You cain't do that mess, man.  Get back in the line".  Remarkably he was not sorry, ticketed, or apologetic.  

Back on the Road...a few miles later....

A girl gets out of her driver's seat with two waters and says, "I saw y'all walkin' way back, you must need water real bad".  

A few more miles later....

A middle-aged woman and her daughter, clearly from this small town are riding up and down the high way on one of those 4 by 4 motorcar things.  We have water but she offers us a ride.  Traveling (illegally) on the back of her ride, all the people who saw us walking smile, laugh and exchange peace signs with us. And as the wind and the cars blow past us, the sweat on my body dries and everything seems like it'll work out.  I didn't know then that it would be 4 days before I'd shower again.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I Can Smell the Waffle House

So I'm in Charlotte.  Well really I'm in the airport.  I have an hour layover en route to Nashville.  After 4 years and the threat that I would never again be invited,  I've ventured south of the Mason-Dixon to visit AN.  I haven't blogged in a while cause I'm busy and important or lazy and hungover...comme tu veux.   But today in a burst of blogging energy and because Charlotte's airport has free wireless (what what!?!) I've recommitted.

I'm already noticing the normal cultural shocks and curiosities I experience when traveling down south.  This is not a case of ny elitism because its just different.  For example, the rate at which people smile is negatively proportional to the rate a which they walk and Starbucks isn't legally bound to show calorie content.

Anyway I'm gonna be in Tennessee for a week. Because its cheaper to travel on tuesday.  But four of the days will be spent camping.  A fact AN conveniently forgot to mention.  We're going to Bonaroo.  For those of you who I speak to more frequently wondering why I didn't mention this.  The answer is...I meant to.  Actually.  I got home at 9:00 last night and went into my mom's room and said, "hey mom, forgot to tell you I'm going to TN for a week"  to which she relied "OK sweetie".   A half hour later she arrived in my room and said "Wait, what?"

Anyway Bonaroo seems like it'll be awesome.  I plan on woodstocking the shizit our of izit.  except without the drugs, sex, or love children.  Anyway, I better go check my gate cause missing my flight...well that means I'd be posting a lot more detailing the people in the waiting area and I feel like that might lose me readers.  Anyway BIII YALLLL