I have been editing and writing and not sleeping for days, hurrying to get the Cringe book finished. At one point this weekend, things got a little rough and I sent this text message to my agent, Anne: “They are going to send bounty hunters after me. My mother will cry forever. Seriously can you get me some speed.”
But my mother won’t have to cry, or at least can cry about different things, because this motherfucker is DONE! And now I’m going to fly to Tulsa and bake cookies with my dad and go to Target with my mom and watch MST3K with my brother, and drive to Texas and meet my cousin’s new baby and hang out with my whole family in the hot tub at 1 am, listening to them telling each other about all the ghosts they’ve seen, and this time I even have one of my own to tell.
I am relieved to have this work behind me, but now I’m really excited to see the book all printed and finished. It comes out April 2008, and you are going to want to buy it, if you like laughing. Also if you like it when I eat and have a roof. There are so many awesome contributors, and I’m so proud of this. Of everyone. Of you. Let’s have a beer. Just let me shower first.
Baby we're so tragic
Did you know that just about the only site I read these days that actually makes me feel inspired to write afterwards is Knowledge for Thirst? It is a fucking sonnet. I wish it was a magazine I could read on the subway. It makes me want to be a better man.
I spent a good part of my afternoon blasting The Ramones and chewing my bottom lip and writing “You are so full of shit” over and over to myself on my notepad. I vividly recall fifteen years ago (FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, half my life ago), Sharpie-ing black the pink cover of my Mead spiral notebook while blasting “Never Let Me Down Again.” My thoughts, they were too serious to live inside such a happily-colored spiral. I was Making A Statement. Couldn’t you just die.
At least I’m in the right frame of mind for what I’m working on. One thing Cringe has taught me is that I have zero patience for teenagers. I always thought I’d be one of those cool adults who Understood and Listened, but now I realize that I’m like, Yes, life is hard, but you are not the first person to ever have a thought and right now your skin is so supple so shut the fuck up. Go draw on your notebook. Please, go form your personality somewhere far away from me. I should totally have kids.
It’s a good thing I chose a career for myself where I am often on deadline, since being on deadline makes me such a complete treat to be around. Do you miss me? You should not.
Two months later
Today I finally posted my last picture from my trip to London and Paris back in June. I didn’t ever really write in detail about my trip here because I was telling the story of each picture on Flickr. I had an amazing time, and can’t wait to go back, maybe even sooner than later.
I took about 600 pictures, but “only” posted 450. I intended to upload each day at a time, but then halfway through that process, I went on another trip. I realized that yesterday was the two month anniversary of returning from London, so I figured I should probably get the rest of them on Flickr, because lord knows I have nothing else important to do. (In the past few days, I also reorganized my closet, scrubbed the microwave and toaster oven, cleaned out the refrigerator, and resorted all of my internet bookmarks. God forbid I get around to the last revisions on this book.) Anyway, I doubt this will be exciting news to anyone other than my parents, but if you are interested, you can see the complete set on Flickr. Be sure to check for subsets of note, like London Cringe, Landmarks Coming Out of Tony’s Head, and Sarah With Famous Butts.
Posting the last picture from the trip made me almost as bummed as I was the day I had to leave. New York, sometimes you’re great, but right now, I’m just not that into you. Don’t worry, though. Fall always helps.
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
I am genuinely and intensely homesick for the first time since moving to New York. I haven’t seen any of my immediate family since Christmas. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone. Usually at least one of them comes to visit in the spring, but this year I went to Europe instead, and they were supposed to meet me in Germany, but that didn’t work out, and man, I really miss my family. I’m going back to Tulsa in a few weeks, and I am counting the days.
Saturday evening, while I was getting ready to go meet some friends for dinner, my phone rang, and it said “home,” so I assumed it was my mother, because my father is not much for the telephone. I answered, and my dad said, “Hello!” in this smiley, relaxed voice, and I said, “Well, hello!” and we had a nice little conversation. Then, right before we got off the phone, he said, “Do you remember—you probably don’t remember this—but when you were little, and every Saturday night at 5:30 you and I would watch The Muppet Show together?” And immediately my eyes filled up with tears and I was like, oh man, don’t do this to me now! Because of course I remember that. My mom would be getting ready for them to go out, but my dad would already be dressed, and before the babysitter arrived, he and I would sit on the couch and watch Kermit. I will forever associate the Muppets with my dad. He loves them. When I joined the newspaper in high school, he asked me if I could make the next headline read “Identical Twins Join Chronicle Staff.” I’m not one of those girls who plans out her wedding, but I’ve always known that when I get married, the song I’ll dance to with my dad will be “The Rainbow Connection.”
I am ready to go home.
The first leg of my perfect California trip was in Tahoe, at Megan’s family’s house. I would have been happy spending every single minute on the boat. Did you know that in my past life as an advertising copywriter*, I used to know a shit ton about boats, bass and speed and pontoon, oh my? Oh, sit down and let’s talk about livewells and trolling motors and handlaid fiberglass hulls. I wrote the entire catalog for two or three different lines of boats for two years. This is funny, because I didn’t grow up a boat person. In fact, the only time I ever remember getting spanked was at age four, when I rode in our family friends’ speed boat for the first time, and lost my shit and started screaming and told my mom’s best friend’s husband that I HATED HIM and I HATED HIS BOAT. My mother grabbed me by my arm and hauled me into a bathroom and swatted me, and I remember thrashing about and sobbing hysterically, but the inside of my head was totally calm and blue and I was like, “Yes, I had this coming. This is what I needed.”
(* You know, what makes me cringe more than anything I wrote in adolescence is re-reading my old ad copy. I would rather read you poetry I wrote in ninth grade a million times before letting you hear the radio spot I wrote at age 23 about the bank card that gives you a no-cost line of home equity credit, much less the Long Honker Goose Call.)
But I digress. Tahoe! The water is really blue and clear, and at night you can light a fire, and if you leave your lemon bars cooling in the window, a bear will climb up the deck and eat them. But they’re cool bears; they wear plaid hats and share their weed and sell hot tubs in Chico the rest of the year. Megan’s house is the type of house where you’re suddenly a little chilly and you wish you had a blanket, and hello, there’s a blanket right next to you. It’s a big, cozy, rambling house that makes you want to tell secrets, the good kind. Sarah and I would lie in bed at night and sing and giggle like tiny, wasted children. You drink wine and eat almonds while making dinner, listening to Andrew Bird and The Band. Everyone sings along. Everything smells good. Everything you do seems sort of momentous and glowing, like those times when you know that what you’re doing right that second will be a wonderful memory, even if you’re just watching Point Break at 1 am. It feels like June during the day and October once the sun goes down. Just being outside in that cool, dry air is invigorating. It skews your brain. You eat an apple without cutting it first and feel heroic for doing this. Suddenly not cutting up an apple makes you freaking Hemingway. You think, I could live off the land. I should write fiction. It would be good. Everything is beautiful and clean. Maybe you’re just high. Probably.
One night we took the boat across the lake for dinner. The ride back was late at night, and Megan tucked us in with blankets like it was Little House in the Big Woods. That boat ride is now one of my favorite moments of my life. I have never seen so many stars, ever. You could see the Milky Way. I counted eight shooting stars. Then we sat on the dock and had the most ridiculous heated argument about the universe that we are never allowed to mention again, except that I keep mentioning it.
One day we drove into Reno to fetch Sarah at the airport. Reno smelled like meth and grandmas. I worry about Reno. I want to give Reno a sandwich and some tissues and a note from its mom saying it’s okay, it can come home now, all is forgiven.
After several days in Tahoe, we drove to Megan’s brother’s house in Santa Cruz. He has a nice dog named Odie and a house in the redwoods. He built a hot tub out of a chopped-down redwood, and a cathedral of redwoods grew up around it, and aside from the spider eggs clinging to the lid, it was probably the most impressive thing I’d ever seen. Then we went into his Pirate Bar and I immediately had to re-evaluate that statement.
My last stop in California was San Francisco, where the Masons repeatedly threatened me with a good time. This was my third visit to San Francisco. I loved it both times before, but both of those times, it was fall, my favorite time of year, and both times, ten years apart, I was in love. I wondered if I’d like it as much this time, being clearheaded in July. Good news: yes. Even more than before. San Francisco, I officially love you. I can’t decide if I love you so much I only want to sleep with you once a year and keep our romance alive, or if I love you too much to be away from you for that long. San Francisco, do you have VD? Tell me true. Now is the time.
The day I had to leave California, I had a hard time walking inside the airport. I felt like a little kid. I wanted to whine, “Five more minutes.” The only other time I’ve felt like this was the first time I visited New York, when I nearly had a panic attack on the plane home, and the only way I could calm down was to promise myself I’d be back soon, really really soon. Less than three months later, I lived here.
Sonic Youth is okay and all, but right now I’m really into Los Dicks.
Try it, it works.
One night in college, I woke up alone in my dorm room, sweaty and shaking from a horrible dream. It was so terrifying that several minutes later, I still couldn’t turn off the light and go back to sleep, so I called my boyfriend, who went to a different college in a different town.
I woke him cold from a dead sleep, and told him I’d had a bad dream. The minute I said it out loud, I realized what a baby I sounded like, but without missing a beat, he cleared his throat and said, “Okay, lie back down. You can leave the light on if you want. Pretend like all the guys in Pavement are hanging out in your dorm room. Don’t let Malkmus too close to the bed. Now pretend like Yo La Tengo is there too. Ira’s just sitting there on your desk, feet on the chair, talking to Kim Deal. Frank Black is there too, but he’s on the other side of the room, reading the book titles off your shelf. Bob Pollard is drinking all of your beers. Thurston Moore is playing 20 Questions with MCA. Beck is chatting up Laura Ballance. Everyone’s just hanging out, chilling. And right by the door, standing guard, is Kim Gordon. And sweetheart, nothing is coming through that door, because nobody wants to fuck with Kim Gordon.”