the silver lining of apathy

What I've come to realize is that apathy is strangely empowering, if I look at it the right way.

Apathy is what exists at the very bottom of the hill. It's the thing I bump into when I go rolling down, down, and down some more. Hitting it doesn't provide any bounce to send me back up - but it doesn't give way, either. There's nothing past it. I can sit there with my back against it and know, if nothing else, that I'm not going down any further.

Apathy is the big, fat cipher I find in the bucket, when I make a last, feeble attempt to pull something up from the well. Even something useless, like anger or fear. But the well is dry and the bucket is glaringly empty. There isn't even any surprise in that moment. The well, the bucket, and I all knew this was coming.

But that's the point at which apathy becomes potentially empowering. Because from that point on, any tiny drop I find in the bucket, should optimism or curiosity or just plain boredom send me back to the well - just to see, just for the hell of it - is a bonus. Oh, ok. Well then. Wasn't expecting this. Guess I'll go ahead and drink it. Yeah. Just a drop, but I wasn't expecting that. Sort of really nice, that was. Kind of incredibly grateful for it. Oops, I'm smiling. And now I'm laughing. 

I'm so very glad no one is witnessing this. I look like a maniac.

Maybe there'll be another drop tomorrow.

psst, parents

Do you want to know a thing that is going on, on Instagram? You probably don't want to know, but I am going to tell you anyway, because you should know, unfortunately. This got some coverage on GOMI (yep, failed at quitting that, too, because I can haz iPad and phone browser), but I know not everyone reads GOMI, and I think it's worth getting the word out to those of you that don't.

This is a thing that is going on, on Instagram: some individuals are, without permission, reposting photos of other peoples' children on make-believe "adoption" accounts, where followers are invited to engage in verbal role play about those children. The idea is to leave comments describing what you're doing with that child at that moment. Like, say, feeding it. Or holding it.

Or undressing it.

Or bathing it.

Or spanking it.

Still with me, or are you off scrambling to find your phone, so you can set your Instagram profile to private?

Curious after reading this article (which got exactly one comment), I hopped onto IG to see for myself. It took all of thirty seconds to find @ig_adoptions2002, which features 78 photos of children, mostly babies and toddlers, though one girl looks to my (admittedly inexpert) eye to be closer to five. There are a few shots of multiples, too.

Many of the children are in a state of undress, if not completely naked.

I scrolled through the pictures to read the comments. Some have no comments at all. Some have comments saying things like "I want him" or "Hi, cuties".

Some have the sorts of role playing comments described in the article. often written in misspelled, simplistic language or else in mimicry of baby talk. One such exchange:

[adopter]: Cuddles him all night I wuv wu hinny buns

[adoptee]: cant sleep

[adopter]: Ok buddy gives him mommy mlk

[adoptee]: Yay. Pats ur boob & watches tv

[adopter]: Lets him tamper with me

[adoptee]: sees somone looking through bedroom windoow & screams

(this scene goes on for several lines)

[adopter]: Takes him spanks him and then puts him in a box that had poison

[adoptee]: It smwell bwad. Climbs out. 

You get the idea. I could have posted screenshots, but I feel like what should be regarded as extremely disturbing and potentially dangerous starts to devolve into comedy when you're actually looking at the feed, because it is just that bizarre. But feel free to check it out yourself. 

I was further curious about what sorts of people were just "liking" these photos. One liker, @_randoms_rp, has a gallery full of photos of adolescent boys and girls. Some of the shots are obviously professional, but many appear to be pics of everyday kids, pretty much exactly the sorts of pics I see all day, every day, on my own feed. 

The @ig_adoptions2002 account hasn't posted anything new for eight weeks. Clicking around shows that several people have reported the account to Instagram, though it's obviously still very much in existence. The profile says "ACCOUNT IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION...AS FOR NOW NO CHILDREN ARE FOR ADOPTION." It additionally says "IG adoptions are where you get to "adopt" a baby or child for roleplay. This is all just for fun. :)"

Totally. Fun. I mean, it's probably just a bunch of bored tween girls playing virtual house. There are probably no predators or child pornographers messing about with this stuff whatsoever. And anyway, the account hasn't been touched in eight weeks. I'm sure whoever made it is done with all of it. I'm sure he or she didn't go and make a new, unreported and unexposed account elsewhere. I'm sure these are the last of the photos of anyone's kids that'll turn up being used in this way. And anyway, there are so few people who actually do this, from the looks of these accounts. It probably doesn't go on anywhere else online on a scale that we can only guess at (until the FBI releases the real numbers - or what it thinks the real numbers are).

This shit? This shit is exactly why I mentally high five every parent whose IG is set to private. I cannot for the life of me see what is possibly worth the benefit of doing it any other way. What aspect of your child's privacy could ever not be worth the mild inconvenience of vetting your Instagram followers? Is your impulse to show them off really not outmatched by your desire to shield them from predatory eyes? It's awful to think that for anyone, follower count + ego > child's privacy, but sadly, I wonder if sometimes this isn't exactly the case.

I can hear the predictable objection: Ok Ellie, let's all live in a state of fear and never ever post pictures of our children anywhere online. Realistic!

Not saying that. I'm saying be judicious. I'm saying every single social media platform and photo sharing site has privacy controls. What's wrong with tightening your settings to only allow known friends and family to see images of your children? What's wrong with sharing albums privately on, say, Google+?

I have a lot of friends who blog pics of their kids. And yes, theoretically, there's not much difference in terms of accessibility of those photos. But we all know how ridiculously easy it is to grab a quick screenshot with our phones, and then fire that image off to wherever the hell we want. Why not take control of at least one area of our internet life, where taking control is as easy as tapping a button that says "Posts Are Private"?

No, pics of your kids are not voodoo dolls. If some disturbed individual is engaging, unbeknownst to you, in mental fantasy over an image of your child, your child won't feel a thing. And if you're comfortable with that possibility, hey, I guess you can carry on as usual without feeling any discomfort or unease.

Me? I hope to be giving more and more mental high fives as time goes on.

a brief moment of gross self-promotion

Unless you're a weirdo like me and manually navigate to the blogs you read every day, you're probably using Google Reader to follow them. It's what all the cool kids do, I hear.

Well, Google Reader is going to the big content aggregator in the sky on Monday, so that will no longer be an option. And while my honest recommendation is to just quit reading my blog now before I say something to make you hate me, I understand how difficult bad habits can be to break*. And while I absolutely loathe the management aspect of blogging, I recognize that it's a necessary precursor to the rush of narcissistic joy I enjoy when I see an uptick in my readership**.

To that end, I'd like to invite you to follow my blog with Bloglovin. The first five hundred fifty five subscribers will get a free used dog toy, so hurry. 

Of course, there remains the additional, convenient option of having my posts delivered hot off the press straight to your inbox (really! you can set the sordid details of Ellie's latest breakdown to be sent to you immediately upon publication! how totally unnecessary!) via the FeedBurner box over there to your right. No, your other right. Yeah, there.

Ugh, god. I really feel the need to shower after all this self-promotion. I'm sorry. I had to embed the Bloglovin' link in order to "claim" my blog, though (I guess so no one else can try to cash it in for a handful of slap bracelets***). 

Really, I don't give a sugared fig how you choose to consume your Elliequent, because I'll never get over my amazement that anyone wants to consume it at all. However, if you want to take a minute to register and follow me on Bloglovin' just to give me a warm fuzzy or two, I will not stand in your way.

---

* Like this one. Not only did I fail to quit coffee, but I've since developed a daily Starbucks habit so egregious that when I walk in the door, the barrista has only to call out "Grande or Venti today, Ellie?" Hahahahasob.

** Honestly, I don't give a fuck about numbers. Quality trumps quantity for me, when it comes to my blog readership. Through interactions in email, on Twitter, and especially on IG, I've come to the conclusion that my few hundred (if even!) readers are THE smartest, coolest, funniest, and most generally awesome blog readers on the internet. And people, I have nothing to gain by kissing your asses. This is not a monetized blog. I just love and appreciate the everloving hell out of every one of you, and am eternally humbled by your interest in my life. 

I will happily trade a thousand anonymous and possibly hostile readers for just one person who takes a minute to say hello to me somewhere through email or on social media, to say thanks for something I've written, or to cheer me on in some capacity. As a blogger I've always enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in this way, and while I haven't always adequately expressed my gratitude for it, I hope never to lapse in doing so again. 

*** Approximate current value: three bracelets. 

five more minutes

One of the things I've learned about grief is that some of the pain of it is lessened by just talking about the person who's died: what they were like, what their interests were, what made them flawed or amazing. That's why this moment meant so much to me, and why I wrote up this list. Sharing who my dad was with people who never knew him helps keeps him alive, in some small way, if only for the few minutes spent talking about him.

I don't know anything about the man in the video below, other than the fact that, before he died last year, he was the good friend of a friend of mine.

What was he like? I asked my friend, who messaged me late last night to let me know that he, too, was feeling a bit twisted; that he, too, was missing the people he'd lost.

Beautiful, he replied, and he sent me a link to a YouTube video featuring the singer/songwriter. I can't watch this, but you can. So I did. And now one more person can testify to the talent of his friend.

I was going to embed that video to share it with you guys, but I think the one below features a song that's even prettier. Like I say, I never knew him, and chances are slim any of you did, either. But if you've ever lost someone and you understand that impulse to share with the world something about him or her, please take five minutes to watch this. I have a friend who I think would be happy to know that even a few more people got to witness part of what made his friend special.

His name was Joseph Tobin, and wow, is my friend right. Beautiful indeed.

necessity had a baby

There was a birth in my home last night. I'm proud to announce the arrival of Uber Ellie. 115lbs, 66 inches. Apgar score of 10.

Uber Ellie was conceived in a moment of deep desperation. It wasn't a pretty scene, though as far as conception goes, it was immaculate, which made the cleanup easy. Not that that matters. What does matter is that she's here now, and she's ready to kick some ass.

I'll back up.

The past couple of days haven't been among my finest. I thought I was out of the woods, and coming into a place of, if not well-being, at least relative stability. I saw some friends over the weekend, which provided a very welcome respite from the wretchedness I'd felt since getting home from Tennessee. They asked me to come to Palm Springs with them next month, an invite that shot promptly to the top of my Reasons To Stay Alive list.

Indeed, there exists such a list at the moment. It's been that bad.

So yeah, I've been struggling. I've had a hard time taking care of myself on even the most basic level. Like, eating. Or, you know, procuring things to eat. Tending to responsibilities. Returning calls, paying bills, applying water and or some kind of cleaning solvents to the growing mounds of dishes and dirty clothes overtaking my apartment. Never mind having the inclination to engage in the activities that keep me sane, like exercising, or blogging, or taking photos. Even opening Instagram to double tap the screen and let my 'net friends know I give a shit about them has been beyond me. Sorry, you guys.

I know it's bad when I reach the nadir of apathy, where the lighthearted, fun things that I normally enjoy don't even appeal to me anymore. And it's been apathy central around here.

Last night saw me curled around Chaucer, sobbing. Just wracked with sadness and fear. Just a big mess of a girl, clinging to a poor, confused, and surely helpless feeling dog. I wish dogs really did go to heaven, because this guy? This guy would have a very special spot waiting for him.



Anyway, it was bad. The dark, really low place I've been going to lately is one where I feel so utterly alone. Which, ok, sure, I am arguably kind of alone, as far as things go. No family. No husband or boyfriend. I have friends, yes. Massively blessed in that department. But I don't really have anyone that has to be there for me, no matter what. I have no designated, official source of support.

I have no emergency contact. I lie on forms that ask for one. In case of emergency, please call: Norman Baker. Relationship to patient: father. Phone number: (813) 333-5444.*

*Might be a while before he picks up, though. 

I also recently realized that I am the only person I know that lives alone. That's sort of amazing to me. I mean, every single one of my friends is either married, lives with his/her partner or family members, or has a roommate. Even the guys I've dated over the past year or so - every last one of them has a roommate. Someone to at least be there, should they, you know, have the overwhelming urge to throw themselves off the roof of their building.

Not I. Forget having someone to help take over the daily crap of life while I get back on my feet emotionally. Someone to pick me up a sandwich when I realize at midnight that I've yet to eat anything all day. And forget having someone to keep me company when I slip into a black hole of loneliness. I don't even have someone to block my path should I decide to walk to the elevator, hit PH, and climb, dead as a zombie, the two flights of stairs between me and The End.

Like I say, it's been bad.

So there I was last night, feeling myself break into a million little pieces, wishing for the hundredth time that I had someone to look out for me for a little while, until I can look after myself again. And yes, I know the obvious answer to all of this is, Hey dipshit, look after yourself. Be your own caretaker. That's what adulthood is.

Well, I'm working on it. My friends and advocates would step in here and say something like, Yo girl, chillax. You are taking care of yourself. You're alive, aren't you? You're doing ok. Only they don't really know how remarkable it is that I am alive. Well, some of them do. And those that do are being pretty fucking amazing, in terms of support. But they're not in my building. They're not in my city. They're not even in my state. My innermost circle has a pretty vast diameter, unfortunately. I still feel all the love, but it's at a geographical remove. And that isn't always easy. And while I know it's my job and mine alone to take care of me, a near-lifetime of dependency in one form or another is a tough fucking habit to break, no matter what wrenches life throws at you.

Anyway, last night it just got to be too much. I couldn't bear it anymore, the not having anyone to just, like, stroke my hair while I cried. (It probably didn't help that I've been playing Family Friend by The Vaccines nonstop. "If you need a bit of love, put your head on my shoulder, it's cool." Yeah.) So I said Fuck this shit. And I decided that since there wasn't anyone, I'd make someone up.

And that's when Uber Ellie was born.

Uber Ellie looks exactly like Ellie. They're indistinguishable, in fact, except for the expression on Uber Ellie's face. The determined set of her jaw. You can tell just from looking her that she's a fucking badass.

Uber Ellie's job, first and foremost, is to keep Ellie safe. To keep her alive. She's a bodyguard and a guardian angel combined. She doesn't let anyone or any thing harmful anywhere near Ellie, and that includes impulses towards self-harm. Uber Ellie checks that shit hard when she sees it coming. But more than being a source of protection, she's a source of comfort. She steps in when Ellie's shittastic self-soothing skills fail to do the job. She lays with Ellie and holds her tight when she cries. She strokes her hair. She shushes her and whispers the special, loving things in Ellie's ear that her mother used to. Even better things, in fact.

I realize this all sounds really fucking weird and very, very sad. What can I say? Necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, a bit of mild schizophrenia is what was necessary. Because I want to go to Palm Springs next month.

Uber Ellie lets Ellie be sad and scared for as long as she needs to. Uber Ellie doesn't tell Ellie to "buck up", or that her horrible feelings are a choice. She doesn't brightside Ellie. She just lets Ellie climb under the covers and hide from the world. And in the meantime, she takes care of Ellie's shit.

Uber Ellie floats up and away from Ellie like a shade, like a facsimile. But she's real as fuck and she gets things done. She makes the calls Ellie doesn't want to make, because she isn't afraid of what she's going to hear on the other end of the line. Uber Ellie is absolutely fearless. Ellie is a thinker, but Uber Ellie is a doer. While Ellie lays in bed wondering, being anxious and unsure about her future, Uber Ellie is busy smashing the obstacles to Ellie's happiness and well-being.

There is nothing Uber Ellie can't do.

(I sort of went all out, when I made her. Shoot for the moon, etc.)

Uber Ellie doesn't give a fuck about men. While Ellie moons about, second-guessing herself, engaging in texting Tomfuckery and other ridiculous shit, guys are the absolute last thing on Uber Ellie's list of priorities. Way down past, like, keeping Chaucer's nails trimmed and, say, alphabetizing the spice rack. She's just got too much other stuff going on.

Uber Ellie is stoic. She takes things one at a time, and doesn't waste time worrying about just how many things there are. She is a girl of action, not words.

Ellie, in the meantime, gets a break. She gets taken care of for a while, until she can take care of herself again. When you talk to her, it's really her - not Uber Ellie. Uber Ellie doesn't socialize. She doesn't have time to. Ellie is still in charge of her friendships. She still handles all the fun stuff. She's still the creator, the writer, the friend, the dog mom.

But if Ellie needs her to, if things get too hot in her relationships and she needs back up, Uber Ellie will step in and handle that shit, too. Uber Ellie will not let anyone hurt Ellie.

And here's the best part: Uber Ellie will never leave Ellie. She'll never die. She'll never divorce her. She'll never move away. She'll be there in one form or another for the rest of Ellie's life, providing as much or as little presence as she needs. She's going to teach Ellie all of her tricks, too, and slowly impart to her the fearlessness and no-bullshit competency that she so sorely lacks. But she knows it's going to take time, and she has patience. Eventually, though, yes, Ellie will be the one in charge. Uber Ellie will fade into the background and wait to be summoned, as needed.

She hopes it's sooner than later that Ellie can take over. But for right now, Uber Ellie is here, and she's in charge, motherfuckers.

Hell, she doesn't even have time for umlauts.

a handful of impressions: bonnaroo 2013

In no particular order, other than that in which I wrote them.

Grief

Sunday, early afternoon, still at the hotel. I'm in a state. I've barely slept the past three nights. I've taken loads of drugs. I've hardly eaten a thing in four days. I'm depleted, exhausted, starving, and dehydrated. I've sent David* on ahead of me since a) my stomach is threatening revolt and b) I'm feeling like I need some time alone to get emotionally centered for the day. It's the second Father's Day since my dad died. Normally I'd not let myself sink into that hole, but my body is pissed at what I've been doing to it, and has nothing extra to give me, to keep me afloat.

On the shuttle to the festival, I send text messages to all my friends who are dads. I text David to remind him to call his father. He answers almost immediately. Sent him the sweetest text in history. An ugly, ungenerous part of me responds back in my head. Must be nice. At the fest, I spend the first hour struggling to dial into a happy spot. I watch The Mowgli's, the most upbeat of bands, from the back of the tent, leaning my face against the poles of a raised lounge area. I cling to the posts and mouth the words as I listen to The Great Divide and San Francisco, tracks I've been looping for weeks back at home. I can't sing, because my lips are inches from the ear of a guy reclined on a sofa in front of me. Instead I just press my forehead to the bars like a prisoner, close my eyes, and will myself to count the blessings of the moment until genuine gratitude takes hold. But my throat is tight with grief, and I miss him with an inexplicable fierceness. I wish I could tell him about it, all of it, even the drugs. He'd shake his head and chastise me, but half-heartedly. He'd get it. And he'd delight in my delight. I miss him.

The Mowgli's = very happy, but Ellie = very sad. Worst festival math evar.

Joy

Two a.m. Sunday morning. That Tent. Billy Idol has just finished playing. Most of the crowd is staying exactly where they are, holding fast to their good spots. It's been a strange Saturday evening. The cancellation of Mumford and Sons cast a bit of a pall on the festival, which, by and large, is vocal about its dissatisfaction with the replacement act of Jack Johnson. Lots of bitter, sarcastic jokes being cracked. Lots of disappointed Mumford fans. There's been a weird hole in the evening where the much-anticipated headliner should have been. People have been wandering, ambivalent about what they wanted to do or see instead. Energy has been low for a couple of hours, as clusters of bummed out fans trickle around the festival grounds in search of something to keep them going. But now the buzz and hum are starting to build again. Empire of the Sun is about to start, and the crowd is fidgety with excitement, despite the late hour, and despite the fact that they're going on nearly half an hour late.

And then they do start. And the roar of the crowd ripples out from in front of the stage, back through and over us, and electrifies several thousand people, all eager to be recharged for the late-late shift. They sound absolutely amazing live, and I'm instantly transported. Everything is blue lights, lasers, and fog. The Australian duo are outfitted in psychedelic costumes, with LED lights lining their instruments. It feels like being in a video. We've somehow, miraculously managed to carve out enough room to dance, cornered against a railing near the back of the tent. While we're not close enough to make out all of the action on stage, we've got a decent view and incredible sound, and I'm beyond thrilled to be able to move and jump like a maniac when Alive comes on. Everyone who knows the words is throwing his or her head back and belting them out. I'm turned around, facing David, dancing with him, singing to him again, smiling and laughing and out of my head with joy.

Some form of pre-performance prayer, I think.



It doesn't look like we had a good spot, but trust, it was amazing.

Affection

It's the Saturday night hole. The empty place where Mumford and Sons should have been. We've just left The Lumineers, but we don't know what we want to do until Billy Idol, at midnight. There aren't any shows going at the moment that are particularly compelling to us. Neither of us is interested in Jack Johnson; in fact, I'm terrified that watching him will actually bring me further down and put me to sleep. We briefly consider the Ferris wheel, but the line is outrageous. Should we take a pill? he asks. I'm unsure about starting on ecstasy this early. It's only a bit after nine, and I'm planning on going all the way until morning. Pretty Lights played until sunrise the night before, so I'm guessing Empire of the Sun and Boyz Noise will go just as late. I want to time my high to maximize on those shows. We could just get high and hang out in the Christmas barn, he suggests. Fuck it, I say, realizing there's nothing else to do. But two caveats, I say. If we start now, it'll be a two pill night for me. He nods. And the other? I reach into my bag, pulling out the tiny baggy from my coin purse. I'm a handful on two pills. Like, I will need to dance. And I might disappear to go do just that, no matter what's on. 

We place the capsules on one another's tongues and toast with our water. See ya later, I say, like always.

The Christmas barn is going strong, and we hang out there for a bit, bobbing to the beat and smiling at all the weirdness of it. It's a barn, in the middle of a farm in Tennessee, in June, decked out like the North Pole, and filled with ravers. It's spectacularly bizarre.

Christmas barn, covered in Christmas lights. Just the right amount of weird.



They weren't really this grumpy, I promise. That was just their schtick for photos.

I know the moon rocks have kicked in when I start to obsess about the Silent Disco. Jared Dietch is starting at eleven, and I want to catch as much of his set as possible before Billy Idol. I caught some of his set the night before and it was a blast. But I know that with the fest crowd largely disbanded by the cancellation, there'll probably be a line to get in to the Disco. A very, very long one that starts early. So I ask David if we can go sit on the grass near it, to make sure we don't miss out. He agrees, and we step out of the Christmas chaos into the cold night.

My high ramps up noticeably as we do so.

Cold. I run to the locker to get my hoodie. I return to find the line has grown. David is socializing with some other very high people. A guy and a girl, who, a moment after introducing herself to me, literally crawls off on all fours, disappearing back into the dark. She just fell into my lap, he says. We sit cross-legged. We chat. We chat faster. Moon rock. Heart thumping. My eyes are wide and I'm rocking to a beat somewhere. I run to the bathroom again. I refill our water bottles. David waits for me. I'm thankful for my warm layers. Recorded music pours over us from a nearby tower. Something awful. Some awful artist. We're too far away from everything live, it's all we hear. What it is? Why aren't they changing it? We laugh. We sit closer to one another. Watch out, I say. I'm coming up. I climb onto his lap and wrap my limbs around him. Cozy. Warmth. I do not love this man. I barely know this man. But he's strong and he's kind and he's here with me, and we're having a good time. We're in a great mood now, the headliner hole forgotten. We're ready to dance. The line grows long behind us, and I feel a rush of gratitude and relief that I'm not going to miss my DJ, that David has patiently waited an hour with me, in the cold grass. He holds me. I bury my face against his shoulder, his neck, this man I do not know or love.

I'm glad he's here.

In the Disco, I cut loose fast and hard. He keeps up with me for a while. We retreat to the grass behind the tent. Room for us to goof, to spread out, to sing to one another. The music is a mix, and frustrates me. Some spectacular EDM tracks, some randoms from the 90s. David sits and watches me. Takes photos of me. He points at me, licks his finger, makes it sizzle on his shirtsleeve. I laugh and dance harder. The line to get in has quadrupled. They watch us enviously. I'm giddy. This is my zone. When fireworks start over my shoulder I can't even stop to watch. Alive comes on and I explode into movement and laughter. I sing the words to David, ecstatic. I mean them. Loving every minute cuz you make me feel so alive, alive. And I do feel incredibly alive. I never feel more alive than when I'm dancing to music I love, and here I am, at Bonnaroo, my god, what an amazing thing, what an incredible experience, out here among the stars, thousands of joyful people around us, listening to musical thrill after musical thrill. My heart fills with affection for this person, for being here with me, witnessing and sharing in my joy. He's made it real, more real than when I do it alone, and even though I don't love him, I love him for being with me in this moment.



Oh Silent Disco, how I love thee. 


Stalkers will need to do their own exposure adjustments, sorry.

Drugs 

Friday, late afternoon. The sun is slowly dripping into the magic hour. The weather is a gift - a godsend really. Nowhere near as hot or humid as last year. There's even a light breeze valiantly working its way through an eighty thousand-strong mass of bodies, lifting skirts, hair, and spirits even higher than they already are. David's younger brother has joined us for the day, with a one-day ticket so they can rock out to Paul McCartney and ZZ Top together. They haven't seen one another in two years. Lots of laughter, smiling, teasing.

The three of us grab a patch of grass near a hip hop show. We sit only long enough to share a truly wretched soft pretzel and a handful of shrooms before we get up and wander the grounds, soaking up the chill sunset vibes of the festival. They're not attached to anything until the classic rock shows starts a few hours later, and I'm content to meander and take in the sights while the mushrooms gently, slowly curl their fingers around my senses. I let my gaze linger on things as we pass. Colorful clothes, face paint, signage, the oversized grotesque statues spiked in the ground. Everything has the potential to be a playground for my mind. I loosen my thoughts and relax my body into the drugs, letting them take me where they will.





Where we sat to do The Deed.

As usual, it starts with water. Water has always been the gateway for me, with shrooms. Especially in the fading light of dusk. The twinkle and sparkle, the splatter and trickle. When water suddenly takes on an extra dimensionality, I know I'm high. The water of the Centeroo mushroom fountain captivates me as we come upon it. I jump on a bench as the guys walk ahead, snapping pics, entranced by the sound and sight of it, which blend together. Synesthesia, my favorite thing about mushrooms.

Mild giggles kick in as we walk up to This Tent, where Jim James is just starting. It's the perfect musical backdrop. A. E. I. O. U. sounds lush in my ears, drippy and loopy and sexy and silly all at once. I post to Instagram with one hand, my other arm wrapped around David as we half-dance, nodding and smiling and laughing.



Weird stuff to look at when you're high. Thanks, Bonnaroo!


Surprise

Here's what I expect of watching Paul McCartney: I expect it will be a ton of fun. I expect an eighty thousand person singalong. I expect to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is: a once in a lifetime experience. I'm a Beatles fan, but I'm certainly not a rabid one.

Well, I get the singalong, and I absolutely get the fun. We end up in a very cool little cluster of people with whom we sing, dance, and high-five throughout the show. But the whole experience is heightened by the fact that while I'm not a rabid Beatles fan, my companion, David, is. And watching any show in the company of a die-hard fan is always much more fun. He knows every word to every tune, and is just generally beside himself, he's so into it. He sings the ballads in my ear and plays the guitar solos on my hip and my arm. And somewhere along the way I get hit with a wave of holy shit emotion, as in holy shit, I'm watching one of the most famous musicians in the world, a man who's not going to be up to doing these shows for too many more years. I think of all the times I've listened to The Beatles either by myself or with friends who were fans.

I think of the fact that my brother was the one who introduced me to them.

And as Sir Paul pauses in between songs to muse about "his friend John", it dawns on me what an amazing, momentous thing it is, to be living at a time when I can watch this incredibly famous and influential man perform. A man whose life and experiences and connections and friendships are so intermeshed with the 20th century historical musical narrative that it's hard to think of someone more important, or integral to, well, the whole fucking thing.

And it moves me, tremendously. And I think of friends that I love, and who I would be crushed to lose, in the way that Paul lost John. And I cry. Unexpectedly, I cry. And I'm strangely happy to be surprised by this moment.

I'm not a fan of pushing up through crowds, but push up we did, and we got pretty close...

See?

Not too horrible a view of Sir Paul. 

Peace

I don't meet up with David on Sunday. I don't want to. I'm burned out physically and emotionally. We talk about meeting up for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which is the final show, but he's already buried deep in the crowd when I get to the field. I'm feeling really low at this point in the evening. So low, in fact, that I actually consider skipping the show and just going home. Everyone else just seems so connected, and I feel so incredibly alone. There's a special kind of bittersweet energy at the last show on the last night of a festival. People stand closer to one another. They're quieter. It seems like they listen to one another more, perhaps soaking up the last of their interaction with each other before saying goodbye forever. It honestly feels like 79,999 people, and then me.

And then it starts raining.

It isn't pouring, but it isn't misting either. The covered tents at the back of the field quickly fill up, as some people retreat for shelter. But most just hold their ground, some in rain gear, though most not. I'm waiting in line for the bathroom, pulling my ninety-nine cent poncho out of my bag, when the band starts to play. And I know instantly that I'm not going anywhere. The sound is so good, so rich and full and pretty, even way back where I stand, at the far end of the field. It lights up the night and grabs a hold of me and says Hey, look, don't leave yet, ok? It's Tom fucking Petty after all. You can be sad, but just be sad to Tom Petty is all's we're saying.

So I don't leave. I go to the bathroom, where I unfold and don a flimsy, transparent triangle of plastic, and then I step back out into a massive, moonlit singalong. I wander around the field for the entire show, socializing a bit, but mostly just stopping in one section long enough to listen to a song or two before moving on to another area. I watch lanterns being lit, and set out to float off into the night sky amidst cheers and applause. I watch fire breathers and glow stick dancers and hula hoopers. I spend a few minutes running in circles with a group of people who are just randomly running in circles, for the sheer fun of it, in the rain. I do all of this alone, and my heart, which has felt so empty and hollow all day, suddenly is full again. I throw my head back and yell out lyrics along with everyone else. Heyyyyyy baby, there ain't no easy way out. Heyyyyyyy I will stand my ground. And I won't back down. 

I won't say that I feel joyful, exactly. Not akin to other, higher moments of the fest. But I find peace back there, in the dark, aimlessly wandering and singing to myself, to the crowd, to the band, to the sky, to my past, to my present, and to my future. It isn't some great revelatory moment. I'm not high, and I haven't had a single drop of alcohol. It's just a clean, peaceful feeling, standing there in the rain, being alone, and being anything but at the same time.








Connection

Thursday night. We've got our festival legs. It's the warm-up day. No major shows, none of the big stages are open, but there are several smaller or lesser-known acts scheduled to kick the weekend off. Last year A. and I missed Thursday entirely, so it feels like a bonus to even be here tonight.

We drift and sample shows at will, having fun and enjoying the scene but not getting too amped up about anything. Until we stumble upon Django Django. And that's when our festival starts. I've never heard them before, and David has only briefly checked them out online when making his schedule. They're indescribable. Part EDM, part funk, part question mark, and one more part question mark. I've since listened to them on Spotify and something definitely gets lost in their studio recordings. But live? Live they are unreal. So fun, so funky and danceable.

We catch the show from the outside of the tent, nowhere near close enough to see the stage, but the sound hits us - and the crowd around us - just right. We have a blast dancing with one another, laughing and goofing around to the music we can't for the life of us describe or classify, but which is rocking us hard. Some guy near where we stand shines a handheld disco laser under our feet, twisting the grip to change the pattern as we dance. I'm mesmerized and delighted. David is loving the music, loving dancing, loving his first taste of Bonnaroo.

There aren't a lot of moments during the weekend, that he and I truly connect over the music we're watching. But we connect over Django Django, and it's the perfect sleeper hit start to the weekend.

Luck

I lucked out so many times throughout the festival, in terms of catching the one or two songs I'd wanted to see, at shows that I wasn't otherwise interested in. This happened with Maps and Atlases, Beach House, Wilco, ZZ Top, David Byrne, Divine Fits, and at least a couple more I'm not remembering. I just happened to be walking by, or walking up, or on my way to another show, and I caught some of my favorite randoms this way. Super lucky timing.



Regrets

I missed On an On entirely, because we got to Paul McCartney so early. That's my biggest regret. I also missed The XX completely (I missed them at Coachella, too - double fail).

I wish I'd been much closer for Of Monsters and Men and The Lumineers. The Lumineers put on an awesome show, but their sound got completely lost in the back. We could barely hear them. I would have been much more bummed about it if I hadn't seen them here in LA last year, and smack up against the stage at that. And I can't really complain about the Of Monsters and Men show, since this is the third time I've seen them, and both times before were really amazing for me, emotionally.



About how close we were for Of Monsters and Men. Bummer, but damn, that crowd was THICK and it was HOT. Would have been hellish to try and get much closer. 

There are a couple other smaller bands/performers I wanted to see that were earlier in the day, but I was just way too trashed from being up until 6am the night before to get back up early enough to catch them. C'est la festival vie.

EDM

Porter Robinson, Wolfgang Gartner, Boyz Noise, and Pretty Lights are all, predictably, incredible. Danced my face off, loved every minute of them.

Standard issue blurry EDM photo. Could be Christ himself up there and no one would know. Good job Ellie.

David got this amazing shot of Pretty Lights which I may Instagram, because it is so fantastic.

Romance

Negative. Chemistry, yes. Lots of laughs and great conversation, definitely. Romance, no. Ellie is officially still single, kids. Hide your menfolk.

Moment of Random Dancing In the Middle of Everything

One particularly Bonnaroo-esque moment was actually on Thursday night. We took moon rocks, which neither of us had ever had before, and it hit us like a tsunami. I consider myself, for lolz or for lolsobs, to be a pretty savvy user of ecstasy/MDMA at this point. And I've never experienced anything like it. It was nearly incapacitating. We both had to sit down when it hit, lest our legs give out from under us. This happened as we were walking through the middle of the festival. We just plopped down right where we stood. That lasted about thirty seconds for me, at which point, I, of course, needed to dance. The closest music source was the crazy Christmas barn, and it was perfect. David just sat watching, dazed but laughing, as I broke it down right there, in the middle of foot traffic. I didn't have a choice. Then we just sat there for a while marveling at how unbelievably high we were, and every few minutes I'd pop back up to dance some more of it off.

To me a festival isn't complete unless at some point I'm randomly dancing in the middle of nothing/everything. So I got that covered.

Favorites

Band - The Vaccines. Holy shit they rocked. Loved loved loved seeing them, especially since they were a last minute, very exciting discovery for me. I've since added lead singer Justin Hayward-Young to my rock star crush list. I mean, come on. If The Strokes + Weezer + a dash of Vampire Weekend sounds good to you, check them out. Family Friend (just the tune, no video) is fucking amazing, I cannot stop listening to that track. Also great are If You Wanna and Norgaard. Oh, and Wetsuit, which was so, so fun to hear live.

Performer - Matt Berninger of The National, who drank his way through the show like a boss, jumped into the pit inches from where I stood, and wandered around the audience for a couple of songs, dragging and violently yanking his mic cord behind him. Such a badass. I Need My Girl almost killed me. I wish it would have. Then maybe Matt would have revived me when he plunged into my personal space, which he totes did on purpose, I'm sure of it.




Song - Alive, by Empire of The Sun. So magical. I was in heaven. One of my favorite festival moments of all time, if not THE best moment, actually. Can't wait to see them again at HardFest in August.

Were There Any Groups of People Dressed In Banana Suits?

You bet your potassium there were.



So help me god next fest I'm wearing my owl suit on the last night.

vs. 2012? 

Gah, do I have to? Put a gun to my head and I'll say 2012 was better. But that's not really fair. Such wildly different experiences. Last year I went with A., and we were pretty head over heels, though the fact is we fought terribly when we were there. Drugs and romance, I have learned, do not mix. Like, at all. 

That being said, some of my favorite moments of this year way, way trumped some of my 2012 moments. It's just too hard to compare, really.

Gonna 'Roo Again Next Year?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm going to wait and see what the lineup is first this time. And I'm itching to do a new festival, if I can. Maybe Osheaga, in Montreal. Or, dream fest - the Isle of Wight. And if I don't go to EDC next year, I can pretty much never go, because it'll be my last chance to go before I'm 40. And your girl really doesn't give a whole lot of fucks about age and all that nonsenserry, because she still has a blast going to EDM shows and such...but EDC is a whole 'nother kettle of (very young) fish.

I'm also thinking of maybe just taking a trip to see one of my huge favorites somewhere cool, such as Explosions in The Sky, or The Walkmen. Making a weekend out of visiting a new city, capping it off with a concert. Dunno.

How Bad Was the Comedown After Bonnaroo?

Suicidally bad. That's not an exaggeration, I'm sorry to say. I was an absolute, utter mess. Even worse than after Coachella, which was unbearably bad. Hence my silence on the blog and IG. I was in the throes of some of the deepest despair I've ever experienced. I don't know if it was the moon rocks, or the combination of lots of moon rocks plus lots of mushrooms, or the fact that I barely ate while I was there (I lost ten pounds over the weekend), or WHAT was going on, but I crashed worse than I ever have. Disastrously bad scene. Spent most of Wednesday wanting to hurl myself off of the roof. Really. Luckily friends near and far were there for me, and I had a ton of support when I needed it most. Like, unreal amounts of love and support, which probably saved my life.

Serotonin depletion is bad news for anyone, at any time. But for someone prone to depression, it's actually incredibly fucking dangerous. I've now learned this lesson twice, the very very hard way. It's something I'm factoring into consideration for all of my subsequent festival plans, including Burning Man. That much usage spells serious trouble for me. One or two nights in a row is one thing, but four nights in a row is just not doable for the Ellster.

Assorted, Leftover, Unremarkable Crowd Shots



And that will conclude your coverage of Bonnaroo 2013, which was written by your blogmistress all at once over the past few hours and therefore on no sleep, so apologies if it's not her best work, etc and so forth, and also apologies in advance for a few more IG shots she's probably going to post because they're pretty and she wants to, even if they're totally redundant (read: sunset Ferris wheel shots) and to all a goodnight zzzzzzz.....

----

*Blog code name. His choice.

ready to Roo

Every time I travel, I aim to be completely finished packing and otherwise prepared a full day before I leave. This is the first time I have ever accomplished that, and holy crap was it exhausting, but holy cow am I relieved to be ready now, as opposed to the minute I walk out the door.

I have everything I need to have an amazing encore at Bonnaroo.

I have skirts and shorts, bikinis and tank tops, and comfortable, lightweight shoes with gel inserts (best $10 you can spend to prep for a festival, if you ask me). I have two pairs of sunglasses, rain ponchos, and wellies. I have bug spray and sunscreen and bandages, and a blanket to lay on. I have cozy sweats, leggings, and socks to change into at night. I have my Leica, a small flashlight, and a mobile juice pack for my phone. I have a locker reserved on site to store all this crap in when I don't need it.

I have most of my schedule down, with plenty of room for flexibility and playing it by ear.

I have someone to share this incredible experience with.

I've got everything ready for Chaucer's sitter. Chauc himself has had super long, rambling walks the past few days, with lots of play and socialization to wear him out. Today he made two new friends, including a ridiculously springy year-old female Yorkie named Mochi. They played and played off leash on the grass, Chauc bounding around, bowing and jumping like a puppy. Mochi nipped and barked at him, egging him on in the most hilarious way.

They're basically going steady now.

I've let Chauc wander and sniff to his heart's content the past week or so, on our walks. It's been really nice to take a break from Instagram and just enjoy the weather and the sunsets and the views - and him - without constantly documenting all it. At first it was a little weird, even uncomfortable, to not go for my camera every time I saw something picturesque, or every time he did something cute. Kind of shows me how addicted I am. Need to stay aware of that.

But I'm ready to join back in the fun and catch up with everyone, to see what you guys have been up to. What you've been doing and making and cooking and wearing and seeing and experiencing. It might take me a little while to get up to speed, but I'm coming!

Too pooped to write any more tonight, or to be clever or creative, but as a meager offering, here's some of the new to me/random stuff I've discovered in putting together my schedule:

Olivia by Rayland Baxter. (I couldn't find a copy of the studio recording of this song, but this live recording is pretty awesome too. If you're on Spotify, definitely check out the studio version. Or just download it from iTunes. Trust: it's amazing. I'm obsessed with it.)
The Mtn Song by Rayland Baxter
A New Life by Jim James
A.E.I.O.U. by Jim James
Gone by Vacationer
Fever by Maps & Atlases
Cameron by Jilette Johnson
Turn it Around by Lucius
Priscilla by Sea Wolf
Nuclear Seasons by Charli XCX
It Gets Dark by Holy Ghost!
Keep it Rollin by Y LUV
All Night by Y LUV

Ok cool cats. I'll catch you on Instagram for the next half-week or so, and then I plan on getting back into regular posting (I handled the shit I needed to handle offline, so I don't feel guilty about blogging/messing about on IG again). But if you see too much of me, do me a favor and tell me to get the fuck off of it and just enjoy my trip, ok?

See y'all in Tennessee. :)

ellipse

Every so often I fall into a sort of in-between space, with blogging. That's what it feels like, anyway. Like I'm floating on an ellipse between movements (events, or stories, or, I guess, just bursts of inspiration), and I have to make the decision to throw out some kind of anchor lest I just keep floating indefinitely.

I'm on an ellipse right now. I've been busy, or distracted, or just plain absent in my own mind, where this space is concerned. And when that happens, when thoughts and ideas start to bottleneck, I find the best thing to do is just ramble a little bit, dear diary-style. 

The main thing I guess I want to communicate is that my silence isn't indicative of anything troubling. Things are good. 

My birthday last weekend was amazing. I got to see everyone I'd want to see, with some notable exceptions. I was able to round up local friends that I don't get to see together all that often anymore (everyone has moved, and drifted apart somewhat). I let myself get wasted and make a sappy speech telling them how much I love them, and how much their friendship means to me.

I pretend to be mortified immediately afterward, when I do stuff like that, but I secretly love my sappy side. 

Mason and Spyro flew in for a couple of days last weekend as well - not just to see me; other friends were here for the weekend as well, so we all hung out Friday and Saturday. Stupid, crazy fun, and a huge treat to see them together. Saturday morning saw me marching in circles on a hotel bed, wrapped in a bedspread, with a lamp shade on my head, and talking to myself.

There may or may not have been a fungus among us. 

Wally has been here as well, so I've spent some time with him the past couple of days. The usual combination of goofing around and heart-to-heart talks, in the usual settings. I confide in him personal things I've been holding on to. He listens, asks questions, nods and smiles, or gives me side-eye. Calls me out on my shit, as always. 

I leave Wednesday night for Bonnaroo (Chaucer will have an in-home sitter). And yep, I'm still going with my new friend. His brother is joining us on Friday, with a one-day pass to the fest. I'll probably sneak off at some point and let them have some time alone. 

As far as Bonnaroo, I've got most of my Friday through Sunday schedule figured out (don't know Thursday yet). What I know so far:

Passion Pit's DJ set at the Silent Disco (one of my favorite things to do at Bonnaroo, just insanely fun)
Of Monsters and Men
Foals
The XX
On an On
Paul McCartney
Matrimony
Wolfgang Gartner
YLuv
Porter Robinson
Patrick Watson
Four Tet
Beach House
The Lumineers
Mumford and Sons
Billy Idol
Empire of the Sun (starts at 2 am!)
The National
The Mowgli's
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I'm obsessed with The Hunter by On and On right now. On loop nonstop, for a good week now. Same with The Great Divide by the Mowgli's. Love, love, love seeing the smaller bands at huge fests like this. They are just so pumped to be there. Cannot wait to hear The Hunter live, oh my god. Another track I'm psyched to hear live is Lighthouse, by Patrick Watson. So good.

Just got the chills. Gahhhhhhh. Four days. Festivals are my life's bliss. I know that sounds dumb. What a dumb thing to say. Life's bliss? LOL. Good grief, Ellie. But really. My living heaven.

And that wraps up this installation of Touching Base With People Who Deserve a Much More Interesting Blog Post. Sorry. That birthday bonanza did a number on me, but I'm dialed back in now. I think.

pusseidon

Hey lovely people. I've gotten a few nudges over the last few days, as I've been kind of quiet on the blog and social media fronts. Humbled to be asked after, thank you, but all is totally well! I had a very busy extended weekend spending time with friends from out of town, then I got a wee cold, and now I'm just focusing on some meatspace stuff, taking a bit of an unplug for a few days while I gear up for Bonnaroo next week.

But everything is well and fine, thanks very much to those of you who've asked, or are even just wondering. :) 

If I can get some stuff done that is of a Higher Priority Level in the next few days, hopefully I can bust out a post or two before I leave for Tennessee. In the meantime, this was kinda lolzy. I had originally posted one more collage to IG, covering the rest of Friday night and all of Saturday with my friends, but I realized it was just overkill at that point. Someone, however, objected to the removal of his flattering pics:

Anyway, far be it from me to anger the gods, even though I look horrifying:

Oh, and that's Google Glass in the middle. We talked to a guy at the pool wearing a pair, and he let us check them out (and try them on for dumb photo ops). #maturity