Look, internet: I don’t want to sound like an asshole here, but this has pretty much been the best year of my life. Judging from my site stats, I know you like me best when I’m reeling from a broken heart or crippled with self doubt, so I’m sorry, but 2004 was the best it’s ever been, hands down. I got a job, I got my bed, I got published for the first time, I got sort of married, I got my skull ring, I started actually flossing every day… I’ll refrain from the more personal highlights, but this year started out fine, had a brief detour into the crappyish in April, picked up in May, and then took a turn for the totally awesome around August that has yet to relent. Based on this, I fully expect to spend every single day of 2005 eating solid gold white babies and going to second base with Owen Wilson, because everyone knows that once things start to go your way, they never stop. Right, history?
Okay, let’s do this!
Best of, 2004 Edition
Best albums I bought this year:
Drive By Truckers, The Dirty South: If this album doesn’t make you want to pull over to the side of the road and fuck in the mud, you should go check yourself into the hospital because clearly you’re dead inside.
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose: God, I want to be 70 years old and wear a big white cotillion dress and sing about having a whiskey-fueled one night stand with Jack White at a dive bar in Portland. Minus the Jack White part. No, maybe just once, but you'd have to really up the whiskey part.
The Hold Steady, Almost Killed Me: They’re not kidding. But in a good way.
The Arcade Fire, Funeral: Blah blah go read what everyone else said but seriously, so good. One of those albums whose lyrics make you wish you had a richer inner life somehow.
Best movie I saw this year: Crap, I don’t know. I saw some good movies this year, and I really liked a lot of them, but I don’t think I really fell in love with any of them, including Eternal Sunshine or Life Aquatic. I’m going to have to go with Coal Miner’s Daughter as the best movie I saw in 2004, because when Liz brought it home, I don’t think anyone in our apartment did anything but watch and then try to talk like that movie for two weeks solid. If I don’t meet my husband by him furiously outbidding someone on a pie or picnic basket I made, I don’t even want to get married.
Best book I read this year: The New York MTA and having a regular job did wonders for my reading this year. I’m a big reader to begin with, but I think that due to my daily commute, I read more books in 2004 than I’ve ever read in all the previous years combined. I started to make a list a few minutes ago and after two pages I had to quit. I think the two I enjoyed reading the most were Lincoln by Gore Vidal, and Pastoralia by George Saunders.
Best show I attended this year: Again, this is hard. The Pixies are the obvious answer, but seeing Wilco in October was probably the next best. I’m seeing them again tonight with the Flaming Lips and Sleater Kinney, so I can’t really answer this question yet.
Best kiss I received this year: I’m omitting this category for 2004 in the interest of privacy and people not going to jail. However, to make up for it, I will tell you that for the first time in my life, I had a kiss that makes me want to scrape my tongue and burn my clothing whenever I remember it.
Motto for 2005: Last year’s motto, "Don't Let No One Get You Down," seemed to work out pretty well, so I think I’ll pick it up for another year.
Goals for 2005: Send out at least 5 postcards a month, read every book on my list of Neglected Classics, make out with whoever writes the Dos and Don’ts for Vice magazine, and seriously, I can’t believe I’m 27 years old and have never done that thing where you stick your head inside a lion’s mouth. What the fuck.
Happy New Year, all. Please continue not letting no one get you down.
As a gentleman would say, "Valhalla I am commmmmmmiiiiiinnnng."
Last night around 2 am, I got a text message from my brother, telling me he was headed home and that I should do the same so we could hang out in his room and listen to his vast record collection. This sounded nice, although I thought, “I bet this is exactly how he asks girls out at school,” because I know how many times I’ve fallen for the old “do you want to come over and just listen to records?” myself. Only I hope that my brother’s evenings don’t end like ours did, with the girl asleep on his bed while he smokes out the window and the Kinks are playing in the background. Except that while typing that I realized that’s probably exactly how those evenings end, so I’m just going to forge ahead with the rest of this story and try not to think about that stuff.
So my brother and I were hanging out in his room listening to records, and I picked this book off his shelf called As A Gentleman Would Say. This book was his Christmas present last year from some family friends, and also the hotly-anticipated sequel to the present they’d given him the year before, How to Be a Gentleman. There is a $10 bet that tonight they’re going to complete the trilogy and gift him with A Gentleman Entertains, although they really shouldn’t even bother, because all a 20 year old guy needs to know about entertaining involves owning a turntable and lots of old vinyl, and my brother seems to have that one down pat. However, my brother has informed me that the only reason he looks forward to these books is that our family friends hide a $50 bill somewhere in the middle, so I guess we’ll find out how a gentleman ought to entertain soon enough.
Since I’d had a few drinks earlier in the evening, I thought it was pretty funny to read aloud from As A Gentleman Would Say in a faux English accent, covering such quandaries as (these are not made up) When A Gentleman Encounters a Friend Shopping for Birth Control, or When A Friend Asks To Borrow a Gentleman’s Favorite Hammer And the Gentleman Would Prefer Not to Lend It. This one gave us pause.
“A favorite hammer? Are they being serious? Do men have a favorite hammer? Do you have a favorite hammer?”
And then, after a few seconds:
“Stephen, ask me what my favorite hammer is.”
My brother, not looking up from the back of the album cover he’s reading, monotone delivery, no question mark at the end:
“What is your favorite hammer.”
Me, in languid Robert Plant tones: “Haaaaammmmmer of the goooooooooooddds.”
This made my brother laugh really hard once, and it made me laugh really hard about seventeen more times in a row. Because I said it seventeen more times in a row, each time telling him to ask me what my favorite hammer was. Then I fell asleep on top of his covers with my shoes still on and woke up at 4 am freezing to death because my brother had twisted his torso out his open window in order to smoke a cigarette.
I remember one time, when we were younger, my dad telling my brother that while he might wish he had an older brother now, once he started dating girls he’d be grateful that he’d grown up with a sister, because he’d realize he knew things about interacting with women that you just couldn’t learn growing up with only boys. Having dated guys who had sisters and having dated guys who only had brothers, I can vouch for this theory. However, I’m a little concerned that with all of my laughing at my own jokes and passing out after three beers, I’ve instead given my brother the kind of insight you can only get from growing up with a drunk uncle.
My cousin lives in Tampa with his wife. His wife is a nurse, so sometimes she works the night shift, and my cousin works during the day. While driving home from work on Saturday at 8 am, she was hit by a drunk driver and killed instantly. Since my cousin had already left for work, he didn’t find out about it until early the next morning when someone from his church saw the story in the Tampa Tribune and called to offer condolences. My cousin and his wife had just recently moved houses, so I guess the police couldn’t track him down immediately, and apparently the story just went ahead to the newspaper, where they used her name. This is so sickening for so many reasons that I can’t even fathom it. And the weird part is that I know I should be angry at the drunk driver, but instead for some reason I am seething with rage for the Tampa Tribune for running this story using her full name, regardless of the fact that her family hadn't been notified. I hate them doubly because when my dad emailed me the link to the story, the message at the bottom of the email encouraged me to check out “more great articles at tampatrib.com!”
She was one of the sweetest and most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. I don’t know what else to say.
Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon or something
I’m pretty sure I’m about to start my period because my co-worker is listening to the Pocahontas soundtrack, and that awful song about the colors of the wind just made me get all choked up while sitting at my desk thinking about how beautiful America must have looked before all the white settlers came, and how I’ll never get to see it that way, but then I started thinking about blue corn chips and now I want Mexican food.
Been trying to meet you
Joey’s been in town visiting for the past few days. After he booked his flight, he called me and said, “You realize this is five days, right? Is that going to be too long? What if we get sick of each other?”, at which point I reminded him that five days would be nothing compared to the four years we dated. We’ve had a great time so far, although I did receive a big fat lecture at breakfast the other day when I told him I didn’t think I’d ever want to get married, and then we had an argument while waiting for the train at 3 am where he told me I was being cranky and mean and I told him he was being a big baby, but then we both wrote BALLS on the tile subway stop wall with my marker and everything was fine. He also tried to set me up with some guy outside an Indian restaurant, which was well-intentioned if unnecessary.
I’m sure tonight will be fantastic, because tonight we’re going to see the Pixies, which I’ve been waiting for for years, but really waiting for since eight months ago when they announced this tour. I was supposed to go to several other shows in several other cities, and all of those trips ending up falling through at the last minute, so you can imagine my excitement at scoring tickets in the four minutes it took them to sell out here. And somehow it’s even better that I’ll get to see them with Joey, because Joey was the person who really got me into them back in the day, and now I’ll finally get make amends to Joey for the time he got to interview Frank Black in 1998 and let me go meet him with him before the show, and I totally embarrassed him in front of his idol by getting nervous and opening my mouth and telling Frank Black that his sound check sounded good. Sounds awesome, Frank! That tune up was incendiary! I’ll just go die now! P.S. I love you!
When I moved here last year, I had a list of some of my favorite bands that I’d yet to see live, and as of this October, I’d finally seen every one of them. I had no idea I’d ever be able to add my favorite band of all time to that list, so unless all the members of Led Zeppelin reunite and go on tour with 1984-era Van Halen and maybe Appetite for Destruction-era GnR, and then also Pavement reunites and plays “Slowly Typed” NOT “Type Slowly” in my living room when they all come over to my house after the show, and then me and all those guys end up drinking and playing Barbie Queen of the Prom, I’d say tonight is going to be my best concert night ever.
Him: I know when you’re flirting. You just act really mean, and see if the other person can take it.
Me: That’s not entirely true. I flirt nicely with other people. I’m just mean with you because I know you know how to play back.
Him: [Smug smile]
Him: Who else are you flirting with?
Me: What the fuck do you care, dickhole?
Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad
I recently spent 7 minutes in heaven with Bazima. Have you seen how hot that girl is? For serious. Also I answered some questions and perpetuated my own strange online mythology and stuff.
What are you, a wizard? A genius?
This weekend we put up our Christmas tree, and Liz’s boyfriend Rob came over to help. It was Rob’s first time to decorate a Christmas tree, and he really threw himself into it, singing along to Last Christmas by Wham! and helping string the lights and even putting the star on top. My mom had sent these little painted glass Santas to go over some of the lights, and Rob kept saying, “Who’s this guy?” and we’d say, “That’s Santa,” and he’d say, “Why’s he wearing blue then?” and I said, “They’re all in different colors… they’re like Santas of the World or something. See, this Santa is wearing white,” and Rob said, “Oh, like Arctic Force Santa! Ice Planet Hoth Santa! Who’s this one in purple?” and Liz said, “That’s SANTA, Rob,” and he said, “Whatever; he’s a bearded guy wearing purple robes! He’s obviously a wizard!”
Later on I caught Rob leaning in close to one of the shiny red reflective balls on the tree, making faces and gesturing wildly with his hands. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “This is awesome! It’s like being in your own rap video! I can’t stand THE RAIN!”