closed.

Her Past is a terrible conversationist. It has nothing new to say, and can only tell the same stories over and over.

Her Past loves to crash parties. It gets terribly jealous when it sees the fun Her Present is having without it.

Her Past doesn't care about Do Not Disturb signs, even those written in flashing neon lights. It will come knocking at any hour, no matter how late.

Her Past hates feeling invisible and forgotten. It will kick and scream until Her Present acknowledges it.

Her Past has all the usefulness and appeal to Her Present as expired milk.

Her Past is a book she's already closed. It can't open itself again without her help.

severance packages and safe bets

Nine days ago, I posted a final photo on Instagram with what I hoped was a not too dramatic-sounding explanation and farewell. I turned my phone face down so I wouldn't see any push notifications, and returned to what I'd been working on, determined to back up the decision to better use my time with immediate action.

That lasted about five minutes.

Then I picked up my phone, checking to see if any responses had come; a few had. I replied to them, and turned my phone back over. Twenty minutes later, I peeked again. I read goodbyes from IGers all over the world, some of whom had been following me for almost two years. Their kind words took the wind right out of my sails. I cried more than once, as messages continued to come. Yep. I cried when I quit Instagram. If you're thinking to yourself, Wow, this chick has problems, let me tell you - you don't know the half of it. Because quitting was easy compared to what came next.

Terence gamely suggested we go to happy hour to "celebrate" my Instafreedom. And I don't use scare quotes to mock his word choice, which was him just trying to make me feel better about my decision, and totally sweet and supportive. I use scare quotes because I spent the better part of that evening second-guessing myself and feeling variously depressed (Wow, I just destroyed a really nice emotional resource), scared (Was this the right call?), angry (WTF, so-and-so unfollowed me without even saying goodbye? I liked every one of his lame, boring pics for two damn years), guilty (I'm abandoning faithful readers who've been so supportive and encouraging), and this strange mixture of resignation and detachment, as if I'd just signed up for a deep space mission, and was saying goodbye to life as I knew it. Or as if I'd been sentenced to solitary confinement, albeit with access to a really good library.

Point being: I didn't feel celebratory, though I could feel the first, tiny shudderings of relief and unburdening. All sorts of questions were going through my mind, and that didn't stop Friday night or even that weekend. In fact, I've passed most of this past week thinking about the ramifications of my decision to quit, which - expected, right? What I didn't expect was the Pandora's box of much larger questions that quitting IG would open up, about things like the meaning of friendship, self esteem, and the definition of success. Thinking about those things raised other questions about my life and my priorities - re: myself, my relationships, and even this blog. I know it sounds dumb, but I don't feel like the same person I was nine days ago. Existential crisis: there's an app for that.

Some things I've been considering:

What could I look at, if I wasn't looking at my phone all the goddamn time? What could I think about instead? What sort of space, as my friend Jenny put it, would I have in my mind for other things, if Instagram wasn't there?

What am I communicating to my blog readers by quitting IG? Are they going to think that I don't want to interact with them? Would I blame them if they did? Why should anyone continue to give a shit about my life when I've essentially said, Welp, nice following your life for a while - peace out! 

Regarding social media, is more necessarily better? More followers, more Facebook friends? If I'm not actually interacting with most of those followers, what is the value in those relationships?

What about in real life? What would happen if we pared our relationships down to a core group, and truly invested ourselves in them? What would those relationships look like? How deep and strong could they become? Is there anything wrong with limiting our time and attention to a few trusted and loved people?

Who are these hundreds of lurkers who are otherwise active on IG but never like or comment on a single photo of mine? Why is that an acceptable concept to me, that my loved ones and I would be entertainment for them? How can I take the power back into my own hands, and stop submitting the treasured moments of my life for their daily perusal and (non)approval? What if I returned to my pre-Instagram way of posting what I want when I want, here on my blog, without auditioning for their "likes"? What if they had to work a little harder, to see what my life is all about? What if I at least had the satisfaction of making them come to me?

What was it about sharing photos on Instagram that I found gratifying? What were the drawbacks? How much of it was fun, and how much of it felt like obligation and upkeep?

Why do I feel compelled to share personal photos online at all, whether it's on IG or here on my blog? What are my motives for doing so? How much of it is sharing and how much of it is validation-seeking?

And finally: how much faster could I get to the life I want - to being the person I want to be - if I wasn't slowed down by the need for approval?

Like I said, reflection and introspection central around here. I'm still working out the answers, which aren't always obvious, despite my leading and loaded questions. One thing I have realized for certain: Instagram was not relaxing for me. Editing the photos, playing with color and filters and the overall look of my gallery - that I loved. But once a photo was actually posted? Then it was like a running ticker tape in my head. A constant distraction. How many likes? Hmm, not many. That's what I get for posting another pic of the man I'm wildly in love with and whose face *I* want to see reflected back in my gallery. Guess I better post more universally appealing stuff or I'll lose followers. Clever comment from so-and-so. Gotta reply to that, but too tired to respond right now. I'll do it tonight. Let me see what so-and-so's been up to...

Instagram is just too mentally stimulating for me, for it to be relaxing.

One awesome silver lining: I have been absolutely blown away by the amazing responses that have come in from readers and IG friends who reached out to say, Yo, I get it, and have shared their own struggles with social media and the internet in general - and those who've said, I guess you're not too horrible, Ellie - what say you we strike up a private correspondence, instead? In fact, I now have a handful of pen pals  (one of whom proposed snail mail, so we have legit mementos to keep and everything) and texting buddies whose friendship I can cultivate post-IG. Talk about a severance package.

---

One of the best things about Instagram was being able to scroll back and see loved ones and fun times at a glance.* It was, among other things, the perfect scrapbook - but it was a public one, in the same way this blog is. I've thought a lot about privacy, about intention, and about being present when I'm with the people I care about. About when a quick snapshot is worth disrupting the moment to revisit it later - and when memory alone should be enough. I've thought about the differences between posting to IG vs. posting to my blog, and about context, frequency, and timing.

I'm probably going to keep thinking about all of this until my head explodes. But for now, I believe that doing things from a place of love is a safe bet - with the important caveat that what we're doing is in the best interests of those we love. And if were to die tomorrow, I hope I would be remembered as someone who loved the people in her life absolutely, and sometimes just couldn't get enough of their awesome, smiling faces.

To that end, here they are, in some of the moments that have made up life lately, along with some ungrams, because why throw the creative baby out with the creative bathwater? Captionless because I'm too damn tired and this post is too damn long already, and the best moments in life speak for themselves, anyway.





Answerless, confused-as-ever Ellie out.

---

* This was the one big concern Terence had about my leaving IG. He said he'd be bummed not to be able to see those collected moments anymore. Solution: I'm not deleting the elliequent account, so the photos aren't going anywhere. I also made a new private account for just us that I can flood with personal pics day or night, without worrying about alienating/impressing/annoying anyone else.

the quiet

After I published my post yesterday, I felt weird, like I'd walked out of a party but had neglected to shut the door behind me. I could still hear laughter and music, and snippets of conversation that had ceased to include me.

So I picked up my phone and, before I had time to think, I deleted the Instagram app.

Then I felt really weird.

You know that feeling when the internet goes out? That strange sense of quiet and emptiness? That's what it was like. I wandered around the apartment for a few minutes, feeling actually shaken, and feeling shaken by the fact that I felt shaken. What the fuck. It's a phone app. It didn't even exist five years ago. For the first hour, I honestly didn't know what to do with myself. It was like, Okay Ellie, you did it. You cleared your desk. You tore off a clean sheet of parchment. What the hell are you going to put on it?

Then the sads got me. I thought in particular about five or six of my Insta friends who I joke with almost daily, and it bummed me out. I wondered if they'd read my post and if it had hurt their feelings. I re-read it about a dozen times, second guessing my wording and tone and wondering when and if I should write another, and what I would say.

Then Terence came home, and I told him. Wow, he said, genuinely wide-eyed. And he asked how I felt. And a stream of words starting pouring forth from me that didn't stop for about five minutes. Feels I didn't even know I felt kept bubbling out. And the more I heard myself speak, the more I felt I'd made the right decision.

And as I was talking, numerating both reasons I'd written in my post and others I hadn't, I received a text. The text was from a reader-turned-friend, whom I've only met once but with whom I've connected in a really nice way. She was texting to tell me that my post, and my decision to leave Instagram, had motivated her to do the same - for some of the same reasons and for some that are different. Terence was next to me when the text came.

Wow, he said again, reading alongside me.

And then he said some really nice but hyperbolic things about me inspiring people which, while they are so lovely of him to say, are not necessarily true, because he is my boyfriend and it is his job to look at me through rose-colored glasses. Still, it was a nice counterweight to some of the more negative feelings I was having.

We watched a movie and went to bed, and when I woke up, the lack of Instagram in my life was pressing on me more than Instagram itself had ever been. In other words, the weirdness had gotten even weirder. But I decided to just get on with my day and let the dust settle and not judge my feelings. And I can say that just laying in bed enjoying my boyfriend, being wholly present, knowing there were no push notifications waiting for my attention - that was a nice feeling.

After a little while, I got up and dressed and went to get us some croissants and coffee. Walking down my own, completely familiar street felt like a vacation in a foreign country. You know that feeling when you travel, when you don't have phone service and no one back home can reach you? That's what it felt like: a mixture of relief and sublimated disquiet. The thought occurred to me that my digital life was about to get a lot simpler, since I wouldn't have the additional piles and piles of Instagrammed photos to sift through. Do I want to keep this one? What about this one? It's a cool pic of a building, but does it really move me? Or was it just an excuse to post something? ...Yep. That's exactly what it was. This one too...

I've been thinking about this decision nonstop. That alone says a lot about Instagram's influence on my life, and I don't think it's saying anything good. The fact that I'm so worked up about it is a clear indication of how addicted I was.

I don't want to be addicted to anything.

I'm having lots of thinks and lots of feels about all of this, and I know it's going to be a while before that stops - and that's okay. But I think putting them down on paper might help me get some clarity on the situation, which still feels alarmingly dreamlike, and also move towards finding some closure on this particular chapter of my life. So here goes.

1. Instagram for non-bloggers (sometimes I jokingly call them "civilians") is a whole different beast than Instagram for bloggers. This is something I want to emphasize and explain particularly because I'm keen to minimize the hurt feelings of any of my IG friends who might be bewildered by my abrupt decision. And my god I know how grossly self-absorbed that sounds, and I don't mean that people will be sitting around crying buckets over my leaving, because LOL. I just know that I've been on the other side of this - I've had IG buddies up and quit out of the blue, and it was a disappointment to me.

Anyway, back to my point. Instagram for non-bloggers is pretty straightforward. Something cool happens, you share it. You see something beautiful, you share it. This is not to say that non-bloggers don't ever have ulterior motives (we are all human), but my observation has been that non-bloggers use Instagram in a fairly cut-and-dry manner.

Instagram for bloggers is like - well, it's like blogging on crack. Bloggers use their blogs as a way to present to the world some narrative, usually about ourselves. I am this. I am that. And every post we publish adheres to and supports that narrative - posts that we publish every few days, maybe less. With Instagram, each photo and caption is an opportunity to push that narrative, to hundreds if not thousands of people. If we want to, we can push that narrative several times a day. (See: Kelle Hampton.)

So think about from our perspective (the perspective of a blogger), how much pressure we feel with each of these posts. What do I want to say about myself today? About my life? About who I am and what I believe? How does this photo reflect who I want to be perceived as? Remember, x number of people are watching, Ellie!

It's exhausting and inescapable, and show me a blogger (that is, a blogger of any degree of popularity or notoriety, who blogs and IGs publicly) who says she doesn't think about those things and I'll show you a liar. She thinks about them, and she thinks about them a LOT.

2. Quitting Instagram feels like pulling a curtain shut, and one that should have been pulled shut a long fucking time ago. I already overshare plenty on my blog. Friends and strangers alike can stop by this space anytime and get a good idea of what my life is like - who my friends are, what my relationship is like, etc. The world does not need daily updates on the intimate workings of my personal life. The people who populate that personal life do not need to be trotted out like show ponies, which, if I am honest with myself, is what I have treated them like at times. I can't count the number of times I've demanded retakes of photos because, rather than keep them for my own personal use, I wanted to share them with the world.

Enough.

My boyfriend should be able to pick up the guitar and play me a song without me sticking a camera in his face. My friends shouldn't have to wait for me to finish taking a photo of our cocktails before they take a drink. And, above all, it's high time I focused more on becoming the person I want to be and cared less about how the outside world perceives me. Because Instagram is a great place to throw up some smoke and mirrors. Psst, world, if you could kindly ignore the fact that this particular area of my life is a mess and please direct your attention to my cute boyfriend and adorable dog and killer abs?? Thx. 

3. I am not creating art on Instagram. And I want to create art. Some people absolutely are creating art on Instagram, no question. Some people are innovating and doing some really exciting things on there. Me? Not so much. That is not my wheelhouse. That is a place I hide to avoid practicing my swing.

4. I am wasting way, way, way too much time on Instagram. I mourn the version of myself that died with the advent of the internet, I really do. Super dramatic, I know, but I mean it. I used to go through stacks of books a month. Stacks. When I was in my twenties, you couldn't stump me about popular fiction. There was no contemporary novel you could name that I hadn't read. To be momentarily, grossly arrogant, I didn't get to be the halfway decent writer I am from reading tweets and blogs. I was a serious and voracious consumer of literature until I was about 25.

And it makes me sick to think of where I'd be now, as a writer, if I'd kept that focus.

I understand that it's 2014. That social media is how much of the world connects, and that even the most popular authors have to utilize it if they want to keep up with the times. But for one thing, just because something is trendy doesn't mean it's inherently valuable. And for another, I'm NOT a popular author. I don't have anything so spectacular to share - and I certainly won't ever, if I keep pouring the irreplaceable hours of my life into a phone app.

5. I want the quiet back. At least, as much of it as I can get. Just over the past day, I've had a tiny taste of the quiet. The quiet that existed before we all strapped ourselves into the webbed wide world. The quiet that allowed the whispery pages of a book to be the loudest thing calling to me from across the room. The quiet that allowed for intense, prolonged creative output, because it wasn't interrupted by the glow of a goddamn push notification.

I don't know that I'll do anything significant with this quiet - with the time and mental energy I'm taking back. But I won't know until I try.

the long run

In what will come as a shock to no one who really knows me (and my previously voiced feelings toward social media), I'm 99.9% sure that I'm going to quit Instagram. And possibly Twitter.

This past weekend, when I was at Coachella, there was a constant buzz in the back of my brain. And no, it wasn't drugs. It was my acute awareness that I hadn't posted anything to Instagram. That I was "dark." And it was fucking distracting. It stayed with me all weekend, and only got quiet for the couple hours or so after I'd posted a slew of pics on Saturday and Sunday morning, bringing my 1100 or so followers up to speed on my whereabouts and whatabouts, so they could exhale with relief and get on with their day.

You see where this is going.

It got quiet another time, too: when, out of the blue, I received a text from my girlfriend Kerry, who knew I was at Coachella and would be out of pocket, but who wanted to let me know she'd seen Chaucer out with his dog sitter, looking happy and fit. Her text was such an unexpected and welcome surprise that I broke into a huge grin. And I realized in that instant how totally fucked up my priorities were. I'd been spending all of this mental energy seeking out the sights and sounds I thought my internet friends would be impressed by that I hadn't stopped to consider what pics or video clips my actual, real life friends might get a kick out of.

I'm horrified to say this happens a lot.

I'm horrified to admit that there are days when I spend a LOT of time thinking about my internet friends and very little - if not none at all - thinking about my real life friends. Because the fact is, Instagram has grown to be a sort of substitution for doing the work of interacting with those real life friends. Social media is an easy, quick fix of interaction. Tap, tap, type, type - feel satisfied that I've had an exchange with someone. That I've connected. I feel social. I feel engaged. But am I? Because for all that tapping and typing, I haven't gotten the tiniest bit closer to the people whose company and real life support I (claim to) treasure. In fact, I feel like I've forsaken them in a way. Rather than put in the time and effort to connect with them, to ask about their day or make plans to hang out - to keep the generalized loneliness that is a fact of the human condition at bay for another five minutes - I turn to social media for a hit of connection.

The unspoken subtext here, the thing I realize it must sound like I'm implying, is that real life friendships are a more valuable time investment than internet friendships. I'm not saying that. I'm not claiming that as a truth for anyone. I'm not even sure that it's true for me, because holy shit have I been on the receiving end of some incredible support and kindness, online. I can only speak for myself. And I know I've been lax in working at my real life relationships, largely because it is so easy to get lost in (or feel satisfied by) my virtual ones. I hate that this is the case. I wish I had all the time in the world to devote to ALL my relationships, and to interacting with all the amazing people who've reached out to me on the internet, to say they appreciate or admire something I've done/said...but I don't. I'm overwhelmed by social media, and for a long time now, I've let it get in the way of my goals.

Instagram has become for me a very hollow and very superficial form of creative gratification. I get a fleeting sense of artistic satisfaction when I post, but that satisfaction is in lieu of creating something actually meaningful. Stories or personal essays, or compelling opinion pieces. Even the shittiest flash fiction or poetry I write on my blog feels better than posting another goddamn selfie. And when I consider the number of books I could have read - or the languages I could have learned - over the past two years, instead of screwing around on social media, it makes me want to cry.

I talked to Mason about this, and he nailed it: I think for you, as it is for me, a lot of that shit is a way to avoid facing your creative demons. Just a way to procrastinate. Take away all that shit and you're forced to write. Which is what you should be doing anyway. 

Speaking only for myself and my observations/experience, the most successful of my friends are the ones who give precisely zero fucks about social media. The friends I know who are actually most engaged socially, hanging out and taking trips and spending actual face time with one another - are the ones who have next to no social media presence. When I look at the artists I most admire - the writers and filmmakers and musicians who are actually producing (and selling!) compelling content, they're the ones for whom Instagram is last on a long and eye-opening list of priorities. 

I also use social media in some unhealthy ways. "Checking up" on people I don't even like. So, so fucked up. Such a colossal and embarrassing waste of my time. And if I don't have accounts on these apps, it's much, much more difficult to engage in that particular vein of WTFery. I can still log onto my computer and manually search for individuals, but I don't see myself doing that, because I am supremely lazy. 

Last point: having a blog does more than enough fuckery with my sense of reality, and my sense of self. I have to be vigilant not to live my life in pursuit of bloggable content, and not to look at the things and people I love as material. Instagram makes that about a hundred times harder. I find myself seeking out Instagrammable moments and situations, instead of just living my damn life. That's gross and weird, and I want it to stop. It's gotten so bad that sometimes an experience doesn't feel real unless I've documented it for the world to see (particularly when I spend time with friends, or when Terence does something especially sweet). I feel myself trying to prove something, to others maybe, or perhaps just to myself? I am loved. I am loved. SEE, WORLD? I AM LOVED!!

It's time, I think, to reinvest my energy into doing things that will make me love myself, truly and deeply, in the long run. 

Coachella 2014

Last year Coachella was like a spiritual retreat for me. And I write that as someone who really resists the word "spiritual." But that's what it was. I was alone. I was super introspective and emotional, and I had no one to talk to but myself. So that's what I did. I went deep inside and connected to parts of me I hadn't realized a) existed or b) needed connecting to. And I know how silly and navel-gazing that sounds, believe me. But that's how it was. And it was amazing. This year I was with Terence, and save for the few times we separated for short periods, we experienced everything together. So while it was, again, intensely emotional at times, those emotions weren't of the sort one feels alone. And that's what made it both completely different and totally awesome.



There were some changes this year that I had mixed emotions about. For one thing, they moved the Do Lab off to a far back corner of the festival, probably in response to complaints about noise contamination, since last year it sat squarely in the middle of the grounds. And while I agree that it was a good idea to move it, I kind of missed seeing/hearing that big, hedonistic mosh pit of wet, throbbing bodies every so often. They scaled it way down in size and, inexplicably, redesigned the shade structures in an inverted fashion, rendering them sort of useless:




I wasn't particularly into any of the DJs playing the Do Lab, so it was just as well that it'd been relocated to Siberia. We didn't spend any time back there (we didn't really have a lot of downtime, period), but it definitely made for some pretty photos:




The art installations change every year, and this year's showpiece was a massive, mobile astronaut who crept slowly around the grounds and whose mask lit up at night with looped video:




Last year's boat, great for climbing on and getting high-up vantage points for photos, was replaced by a huge, stationary, flower-wielding robot:


The shade structures of the Do Lab that had been so central, and so convenient for both recovery and people watching were replaced by a flower-covered, upside down arc off near the Gobi and Mojave Tents:


One of my favorite moments of the weekend ended up being in here. Sunday night, a rare break, waiting for Arcade Fire. We were a little cold, a little tired, and a lot high, and we curled up against an inner wall of the arc and just held one another, soaking up the last hours of the festival. It was lovely.

Scheduling conflicts prevented us from seeing any of MGMT (though we heard Electric Eel loud and clear from across the grounds - a huge advantage Coachella has over other fests is that acts on the main stage can be heard no matter where in the fest you're at) and Pet Shop Boys, but we both agree that we have absolutely no regrets. Other than those two misses, I saw virtually every show I'd hoped to - and virtually every show was awesome. No sound problems, no complaints about the set list, no issues whatsoever. I felt spoiled rotten by this year's music. Top overall performances: Muse, CHVRCHES, Bastille, Washed Out, Broken Bells, Beck, Dillon Francis, and Frank Turner.

And speaking of Frank Turner, he was just delightful:



I was hoping his show would be something of a singalong, and oh man. He did not disappoint. You want a rock star you can feel good about supporting? It doesn't get more humble, more down-to-earth, and more classy than this guy. Not to mention hilarious, engaging, and extremely talented. I predict (and hope for) great things for him.

His fans were out in full force, as I expected, and they even started a little mosh pit, if you can really call running around in a circle, jumping, laughing and high-fiving one another a mosh pit:



Terence hadn't been to Coachella in ten years, and even then, he'd been hanging out backstage. So this was really his first time attending as a fan, and his first time seeing all of the new developments - including the awe-inspiring EDM cathedral that is the Sahara Tent.

Walking up to the Sahara Tent for the first time - the hugeness, the lights, the unbelievable acoustics - is pretty exciting. It was so fun to see it hit him and to experience that thrill all over again, vicariously. I didn't get stuck in Sahara this year, thank god (it was the reason I missed many of last year's headliners); I feel like we saw just enough EDM to satisfy me: Dillon Francis, Martin Garrix, Gareth Emery, Zedd, some of Duck Sauce - and while Terence stayed at Outkast, I snuck over to a nearly-empty Michael Brun show and got my fill of dancing alone.







I never mind being far back in Sahara. Not only is there room to actually move, the breeze comes in and totally invigorates everyone, and the whole last section turns into a massive dance party, and people actually interact with one another rather than just stare forward. We worked out the perfect meeting place, which is directly in the middle and under the very back edge of the tent. No need to text or worries about miscommunications. Also? Makes for great pics. :)



During the day, Sahara can get pretty unbearably hot, which is all the more reason to stay back where the air circulates. But if you're going to go in, a good spot to get is immediately next to the tech platform. You've got a slightly raised platform that's only wide enough for you (so no one will be standing on top of you), plus a railing to your side for extra room. We snagged this real estate for Gareth Emery (Long Way Home). Perfect for me since I also had the convenience of Terence the Shade Tree blocking my sun:



Dancing with Terence was so fun. He totally gets that I like space and room to breathe. He stood behind me, or next to me, or in front of me, happy (and tall enough) to just watch over my head, while I closed my eyes and floated away, my hand resting lightly on his chest to steady myself. Heaven.

We didn't take a lot of photos together, because I know what a hot mess I am at festivals. Exhibit LOL:


I think we took those just before Poolside, on Sunday, when we were tapped. Exhausted, overheated, dehydrated, and definitely ready to wrap up the third day. I may or may not have puked when we got off the shuttle in the morning, in fact. Laying in the shade on the sheet for an hour was just what we needed.



Popsicles, helped, too:



Girls dancing in the fading light, just before Calvin Harris performed at Coachella Stage:





There's nothing like those dusk shows at the main stage. The energy and joy is palpable and infectious. Everyone running around, cavorting like kids, jumping and skipping and laughing and playing. It's like a life recess.









Laying and listening to The Naked and Famous, just chilling and talking and soaking up the scene:



The giant, multicolored pretzel structure that lit up at night:



The first day, recovering from the drive and acclimating to the heat (97 degrees on Friday), laying and listening to Dum Dum Girls while we found cloud shapes in the sky:







The amazeballs show that was Muse:



They doubled the size of the Yuma tent. And while I understand the decision (it was tiny and way overcrowded), this made it, I don't know, less cool? In fact, now it sort of looks like a big gymnasium at the end of prom, with kids scattered and recovering in all corners. But that's okay, because it has a massive disco shark hanging from the ceiling:




And a grab bag of assorted leftovers:











And finally, last year's snail that Terence constructed when we got home, to help us cope with the post-festival blues (which aren't as bad, so far, as they've been for me in the past. I went pretty light on the party favors this year, which helps):



Odds and ends:

Lana Del Rey was absolutely enchanting. She descended on the chaos that is Coachella like some kind of heavenly songbird and soothed us for an hour. I was way gone for her set and just sort of clung to Terence, and we swayed while she serenaded us. It was so gorgeous.

Beck played Loser and Que Onda Guero, and that made me very, very happy.

Empire of the Sun was just as good as they were the other two times I saw them. And Washed Out's set was way, waaaaay better than their Outside Lands 2012 set. Made me cry, in fact.

As far as surprise guests, we saw Diplo join Dillon Francis and Blondie join Arcade Fire, but we missed everyone else (and it's a good thing we did, because Nas's superstar blowout kept everyone's attention and was what allowed us to get so close to the stage at Muse).

Muse covered Lithium as a tribute to the anniversary of Cobain's death, and it was pretty unreal.

Even though I love The Shins, I didn't go to Coachella as a huge Broken Bells fan. But wow did they sound brilliant. I may need to revisit them.

I didn't take much in the way of video, but I did throw a few things up on my Viddy.

Coachella totally satisfied my festival needs this year. I feel more than content skipping OL and Bonnaroo and EDC, partly because holy hell am I exhausted. But I really just couldn't have asked for a better, more rounded-out festival experience.

Okay, sorry for the half-assed effort here but I'm still deep in recovery, so I'm kind of amazed at myself for getting anything up so soon. Serotonin lowwww and I caught a nasty cold to boot. Catch you guys on the so-me circuit soon!  

show and tell

She wears his wealth the way a little girl wears a favorite dress. She twirls for her audience, twisting back and forth to show off all the details: the sash, the trim, the bright blue buttons. Clutch the hem. Pull it out, let it drop. Giggle. Do you see? Don't I look pretty in it? 

And we nod and smile and pat her on the head. Ooh, yes, isn't that lovely! we exclaim, because we are polite, and because sometimes show and tell is a child's strongest subject.

romantic justice

Man, cohabitation is doing a number on my social media presence, no two ways about it. I guess I just feel like a heel goofing around on Instagram when, say, the floor could stand to be mopped, or some other Shared Responsibility needs attending to. I want to be as good of a roommate as (I hope I've been!) a girlfriend. But I miss my IG buds, so I am in hot pursuit of that ever elusive thing of which I've heard tell: balance. Or if everyone could just co-sign a permission slip getting me out of housework for a couple days, I think I could catch up.

---

A thing happened this past weekend which has happened before, and which I never know quite how to handle. It's sort of crazy to me, but with a few notable exceptions over the last several years, I have an otherwise unbroken streak of Semi-Significant or Significant Former Romantic Partners reaching out, months or even years after the fact, to say, essentially, Oops. These oopses have taken various forms and vehemence, but usually boil down to Oops, I screwed up. Rarely is it Oops, I screwed up and I'd like another chance. More, Oops, I screwed up and was kind of a dick to you, and I'm sorry. Just wanted to say that. Take care.

If you've never been on the receiving end of an Oops, you probably think you'd love it. You probably think it would be the most validating or maybe even ego-stroking thing ever. Well it's not. Not for me, anyway. It's actually just sort of uncomfortable and sad-making. Like, Oh. Well. Hrm. Thank you, I guess? And it's okay? No worries? Because what do you say to that? In most cases, it really is okay, because I'm not the type to hold grudges, and I've been both the rejector and the rejectee, and I get it. Shit (life) happens. And it's sad-making because honestly, even if dude-in-question really did hurt me (and oh boy did some of them ever hurt me), it makes me feel bad to think that they've been spending all this time leading up to the oops feeling guilty or ashamed or otherwise negative. If I'd known that, I would have probably sent them a quick text or email or something to say, Yo, it's all good. Stop thinking about me and use that brain juice for something better.

It's uncomfortable because I don't like the idea that I'm holding onto some kind of key for anyone, that will unlock some door, letting them pass through to a place where they're maybe a little bit happier. What if I got hit by a bus before they tried the key? And who the hell am I that my forgiveness or acceptance matters? I'm just as fucked up as the next person. I'm no arbiter of romantic justice. Lord knows I've done my share of wounding. 

Ultimately it ends up being a good thing, even if throws me for a loop initially. It's nice to know that, if I were to run into a SSFRP or a SFRP on the street, we could say hello and not have to pretend not to have seen one another, or worse - duck into a shopfront to hide (yep, done that). It's nice to feel peacefulness in your heart, when you think of someone who once made your heart beat faster. It weighs a lot less than some other feelings. 

---

Terence and I spent part of Saturday scouring Pasadena for a pair of men's shorts that he hates so little as to be able to stand wearing them at Coachella this coming weekend, where it will be in the nineties and where, I have assured him, self-consciousness will be the very last thing he will be feeling. 

We were unsuccessful. He hates shorts like Craigslisters hate showing up at the agreed-upon time. 

But this was fun: while browsing at J. Crew he stopped at a table full of desk accessories and knick-knacks that caught his eye. "All this stuff is very Rainy Day," he said, causing me to nearly break my neck as a whipped my head around in surprise. 

"What did you say?" I demanded.

"All this stuff. Like, the fonts and colors or whatever. It reminds me of your design stuff."

So this would be the time to explain that Terence has only seen a few pages of my old template shop - and just once at that. I gave him a quick and dirty thirty second tour of the site and opened maybe a couple of the best designs. Yet apparently he paid close enough attention to be able to recall them well enough to make the comparison. Because he was right. It was a very Rainy Day-esque table of stuff. 

So that happened, and it was nice.

---

My friends who threw the pastel party last Easter are throwing another party this year, but this one is Hawaiian themed. They sent us a pair of beautiful Tiffany stemless wine glasses as a housewarming gift, so we've decided to do something fun for them and perform Pineapple Princess at the party as a surprise. 

It took Terence all of fifteen minutes to learn the music, it was ridiculous. As soon as he had the chords down, we practiced a few times before he suggested recording it, just so we'd have it for ourselves. And holy crap you guys. I mean, I can't sing for shit, and I'm horrifically off-key for most of it - but you can hear the big dumb smile on my face, because the whole time I was singing, this stupidly cute boy whom I've conned into loving me was just grinning away at me while he played. Listening to it afterward wasn't nearly as cringe-inducing as I thought it would be, and I realized that singing an Annette Funicello song accompanied by my boyfriend on ukelele would pretty much win the Twee Blogger Olympics, if I had the guts to post it. Not my sport, though. 

---

Chaucer is doing fine on his antibiotics; it seems like a very mild case of kennel cough (not that I have any idea, really; just basing that off how little he actually coughs). I'm trying to steer clear of other dogs as much as possible, but there are tons of them in my building. I'd take the stairs, but I don't want to stress him or his cough. It'd be more steps than he's up to, several times a day. He balks at more than two flights lately.

He's got an in-house sitter for Coachella, so I'm relieved about that. I hate leaving him period, much less when he's sick, but I was like, "Chauc, it's Muse. You understand, right buddy?" and he put his paw on my hand, nodded and said, "It's okay, Mom. I'd go too if they'd let me."

He basically hates his new roommate, by the way. In fact it's really sad to witness such a painful rejection.


---

In other festivEllie news: I'm skipping Bonnaroo this year. Thanks to the ridiculous amount of festing I've done the past few years, most of the headliners and 2nd/3rd tier performers I'll have seen after this year's Coachella, so it would be a lot of repeats. It would definitely be cool to see Elton John (who'll be doing his first festival performance ever), but other than that, there aren't any really big (read: new) draws for me. And apparently I'll be able to get my Silent Disco fix at Coachella this year, anyway! Though god knows when I'll squeeze that in. 

But if either of the two major rumors about Outside Lands are true (Bruce Springsteen, The Pixies), I would LOVE to go back to that. And obviously if Explosions In The Sky returns, I will sell plasma to make it happen. Lineup comes out Tuesday, so fingers crossed!

I'm also eyeing Bottle Rock in Napa, which is over my birthday weekend. The Cure, Weezer, Howie Day, and Camper Van Beethoven are enough to get me drooling, and there's plenty else tempting in the lineup, too. But before I'd even heard of Bottle Rock we'd made other plans for that weekend, so we'll probably just stick with those. But damn. Weezer. On my birthday

---

Okay well a quick re-read tells me that this is one of the lamest, one-note (boyfriendboyfriendboyfriend) scattershot posts I've written, so I'll go ahead and wrap it up for now. Oy.

carbon

We're all going to die someday. Very few of us will do so in accidents, suddenly and without warning. Most of us will go slowly, our bodies and brains used up, worn down, depleted of their vitality and the greater part of their usefulness. One or another degenerative disease will likely warn us in advance of our coming demise. There aren't many surprises behind that curtain.

There aren't many surprises because our bodies and brains are ours to use up, wear down, and deplete in the ways that we choose. Sounds bleak, but those choices are what makes life exciting and worthwhile. We get to decide what experiences are worth the debit on our health; what pleasures merit ticking down our lifespan in tiny or not-so-tiny measures.

Some of the ways in which we destroy ourselves are obvious, and vilified with increasing vehemence the more we understand their effects. Alcohol. Tobacco. Saturated fat. Sunshine. Some are less apparent, and much less nefarious - but they still share a destructive quality. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart disease, but high impact exercise and sports will erode your joints, or worse. Fitness buffs don't quit these activities, however, when they see and feel the consequences of them on their bodies. Sooner or later, reading takes a toll on one's eyesight. But bookworms don't surrender their library cards with the acquisition of spectacles.

And what about stress? What about sixty hour work weeks and the collected effects of years of sleep deprivation and emotional pressure? That's a choice, too. That's a choice to sacrifice certain aspects of one's physical and mental well-being, in pursuit of wealth, early retirement, prestige, or whatever else one considers important. That's a body being used up.

Childbirth. Breastfeeding. Childrearing. All take an enormous physical and emotional toll on a woman, who commits to them because she deems the rewards of motherhood to be worth its costs. That's a body being used up.

Antibiotics. Antidepressants. Artificial sweetener. Better living through chemistry say our corporations, but our corporeal forms often say otherwise. Bodies being used up.

We do things to and with our bodies throughout our entire lives, in hopes that health and happiness will be the payoff. We make these choices according to our experiences and expectations. But at the end of the day, we're all carting around the same rather faulty model, no matter what our individual expiration dates are. We all have one heart, one liver, two eyes, some teeth and bones and grey matter, and a lot of delicate skin. And it's all going to end up the same way. We're all carbon.

I'm using my body up, too. I stay up too late. I drink too much coffee loaded with too much sugar. A few times a week, I beat my knees to hell as I run across town on hard city streets. When I'm not in running shoes, I'm usually sporting unsupportive Converse that do nothing for the longevity of my vertebrae - or high heels that flat out wreck them.

I do these things fully cognizant of their repercussions, because when I weigh those repercussions against the unpleasantness of not doing them, I don't have to look at the scale for long. A life deprived of the things that make it enjoyable isn't much of a life at all.

A few times a year, I use my body up in another way: with the use of MDMA and psilocybin. In fact, in exactly a week, I'll be busy doing just that. I'll be doing it because I enjoy their physical and emotional effects immensely - but also because I value mind-expanding experiences. I'll feel an incredibly intense sense of well-being and peacefulness about my own life and the world in general. I'll feel sensual and blissful and be enraptured by my physical environment. My senses will be overloaded in the best way with stimulation, and I'll feel more alive than I ever have. I'll see colors and patterns that I could never replicate with a thousand years and a thousand crayons, or even describe if I tried. And sound will become multidimensional in a way that defies logic.

And all of this will tax the hell out of my body and brain, for about half a week. Then I'll come home and return to my physically active, non-smoking, relatively stress-free and healthy life.

This is my choice. And I don't think that the ways that I choose to use my anatomy are any better or any worse than the ways anyone else chooses to use theirs. Life becomes more beautiful and interesting as we learn about ourselves and the things that make us tick. Isn't our willingness - our need - to seek those things out what makes us human?

Every so often, despite my best attempts to explain the context and circumstance under which I use recreational drugs (i.e., safe and limited), I am met with judgment and moral condescension. I don't mind so much because hey, I get it. I'm a D.A.R.E. kid. But I wish those people would stop to consider the ways they're using their bodies up, too.

We're all carbon, but no one said we have to be carbon copies of one another.

a template for peaceful relations


the hassle of the haul

Gifting is such an interesting cultural phenomenon. Bestowing our loved ones with something by which to remember us is how we, as a society, have decided is the best way to express affection and gratitude. But when you think about it, it's actually pretty presumptuous to burden someone with some thing that you've decided has value, meaning, beauty. To essentially say to them, I'm giving you this physical item with the expectation that you will carry it with you throughout your entire life, because I think it's special - and because I think I know you well enough to know that you'll think it's special, too. I expect you to pack it and unpack it, every time you change homes. I expect you to find a place for it in your life, for the next several decades.

It's not that I'm so cynical and minimalist, though I cop to both in small measures. It's just that as a lifelong apartment dweller (whose residences, by and large, have gotten progressively smaller over the years), I think about this a lot. I have to, because every single time I move, I must assess the value of my belongings. What's worth the effort? What's worth the expense?

The other night, Terence and I spent about an hour going through several boxes and bags he'd carted over from his house but had yet to go through, because they were an overwhelming jumble of essentials, gifts, junk, and emotionally-charged things that he'd been lugging around for several years and was none too sure he needed anymore. We all have that stuff. The stuff we're keeping for one reason or another, about whose necessity in our lives we're conflicted. The stuff we just can't bring ourselves to ditch, but when pressed, whose presence in our closets and cabinets we can't really justify.

It's much easier to be stoic about the things we buy or acquire ourselves. It's difficult to part with the things others have saddled us with, especially when they were given in love. Thanks in part to my mother's shopping habits, which clued me in at an early age to the dangers of hoarding, I, however, am pretty ruthless about it.

It started right about the time I was headed to college. My mother took it upon herself to go scouting for deals at discount outlets and thrift stores, on things I was going to need as an independent adult: home goods, bedding, kitchen items, etc. And while it was kind of her, and her heart was in the right place, I knew her - and the shopper's gene I inherited from her - well enough to know that she was feeding her spending addiction, as well. Calling out those two birds, one stone doesn't make me any less grateful - though as a teenager, gratitude wasn't my strong suit. Opinions were. And I had opinions about the silver flatware set she scored for me at Tuesday Morning, and the Pfaltzgraff serving bowls she unearthed in the shelves of Goodwill, and those opinions were basically, Ugh, do not want. Would rather pick out my own.

Still, I kept the things she chose for me, and I lugged them from my first apartment to my second and third and fourth and so on, until I earned enough money, and enough time had passed, that replacing them didn't seem like such an insult. But years of schlepping several dozen pounds of wares that I never asked for in the first place left an impression on me, and I vowed never to give anyone any thing, unless I was at least ninety percent sure they'd want it, or it was cheap enough to discard guilt-free.

I've penned a lot of silly, personalized birthday poems, for this reason. I've read long-winded toasts at parties, filled with inside jokes and sentiments intended to show their honoree that I know and love what makes them them. I've written and performed mini plays (one a few years ago with popsicle-stick puppets), invented games, created goofy graphics and flyers - anything to make the recipient feel special and understood as a person, without burdening them with a material good they might have no use or desire for.

I've done all this because I hate the hassle of the haul, not because I know for certain they do. And I've reached such master status at remorseless purging that I'm happy to oversee and advise on the efforts of others, including the boyfriend with whom I just moved in. Because it's a lot easier to raise my eyebrows at the fourth Ganesh idol he pulls from the carton than to direct my critical gaze to the bottom shelf of my console, where a sticker maker I've used once in the past five years sits laughing at my hypocrisy.

When we were finished, and while he was waiting for me to change so we could go grab a celebrate-the-decluttering bite to eat, he grabbed his ukelele and started strumming. "See?" I lit up. "Do you see how getting rid of actual physical stuff clears the way mentally, makes you want to create something to fill that void?"

I had no idea what the fuck I was talking about, and still don't, but it sounded true-ish and like a good justification for the donate/sell piles we'd rather hastily created, so I was definitely enthusiastic about the idea. So was he, I think, because he smiled and kept playing.

The ukelele is not going anywhere. The sticker maker, however, is living on borrowed time. I mean, no way am I carting that thing around to more than, say, the next four apartments...

...and JUST kennel cough

UPDATE: Chaucer's blood work came back clean, so he's free of any issues other than the kennel cough, which appears to be a very mild case (he coughs maybe once in the morning when he wakes up and that's it).

Thanks so much to everyone who reached out, and apologies for being a drama queen. He's my all, though. You know. :)

kennel cough

Chaucer started antibiotics today for kennel cough. He's got swollen lymph nodes and dropped some weight recently, so the vet is doing some blood work tonight, as well.

Don't really feel like blogging or social media-ing, and while I owe some really lovely people responses to some really lovely emails, I just can't think about anything else right now. I'm sorry you guys.

Be back as soon as I know everything's okay.