lined up

Pretty emotional tonight, in a very good way. In approximately 24 hours I'll be getting ready to head out to the first live music show I have been to in a year and a half, at least. My butterflies have butterflies, which are still larvae, but which will have hatched by 10pm tomorrow. And the swarm will carry me into a club filled with people who share my interests, or at least one of them, whose faces I will be able to see and smile at, if I so choose. I may cry. I may fucking cry, because #emotionaldysregulation. Or I may just laugh nonstop with giddiness. But I tell you what, that is the kind of intense happiness I wouldn't give up for all the world, because it is so intoxicating. And I'll be in the thrall of it, in less than 24 hours. I've never seen ARTBAT, but if their Insta is any indication, it's going to be a really good time. 

If you don't follow me on IG, then you didn't see me lose my shit over scoring a Deadmau5 ticket for his show Sunday. For context, Deadmau5 is my absolute favorite musician of all time, all genres, no contest. That's it. That's the context. I am obsessed with him and I catch him every chance I get. Usually that's at a festival two or more hours away. Once it was at USC, a twenty minute train ride away, when my date was so obviously bored it sapped all the fun for me. On Sunday though? It's at a venue literally five blocks from my apartment. A ten minute walk. My actual neighborhood. On Sunday, a night I finish work early anyway. Could not be more perfect. It was a surprise last minute show announcement, I'm guessing he had plans to be in LA for the 4th and then told his promoter Fuck it, book me. When I saw the announcement on Twitter I truly stared uncomprehendingly at it for a good two minutes before scrambling to get a ticket. Naturally it is sold out. But I will be there, motherfuckers. I will be there, closer to Joel Zimmerman than I have ever been before. Happy end of pandemic to me.

Then, after ARTBAT tomorrow and Deadmau5 Sunday I've got Cosmic Gate a few weeks later, then Beyond Wonderland at the end of August, for which I already have my outfit, made up of colors I normally wouldn't be caught dead in, i.e. cantaloupe and lilac.

It is very important to me that you know my backpack and shoes are both purple, too. As will be my hoodie. 

And before you excoriate me for being way, way too old for this nonsense, know that my plan for some time now -- since Covid kicked into high gear -- has been to spend one last, crazy year in LA, soaking up as many shows and festivals as I can, then "retire" gracefully (?) from the scene and move somewhere north, cold, and a lot more quiet. Of course, that was before I got moved to a salary the size of which I was not expecting. So now who knows. 

Regardless: one day night at a time. One wonderful, joyful, stupidly playful night at a time.

go to the beach

Go to the beach.

Go to the beach, because it's been months since you have. 

Go to the beach because it's easy and cheap. Thirty-five minutes on the train and $1.75. Go because there are millions of people who would if they could, but they can't. Because it's cool and cloudy and there might be a beautiful sunset.

Go to the beach even though it doesn't move you. Just go. Go to see sand under your feet instead of asphalt. Walk until you get away from the noise of the pier, the screaming children, the music and the lights. Stay close to the water line, let waves hit your ankles and wet your jeans. Hear snippets of conversations, see a hundred people making memories.

Go to the beach and find a spot as far away from everyone as you can. Throw a blanket down. Plant your phone in your shoes and your headphones in your ears. Lay back and let dusk wash over you. No sunset tonight, and the slight Monday crowd is clearing out quickly.

Go to the beach and stay later than feels right. Night comes abruptly this time of year; it's nine o'clock before you know it. Someone will be shooing you along soon. Stay until they do. 

You know it won't be long now, right? There's a feeling in you building, an anticipation that tightens your throat in a way that thrills but also scares. You don't have to be scared, though. The world turns and everything changes, including you and all that surrounds you. It's been a hard time. It's been a long time. You were lost and hurt and alone even when you weren't, but these things go in cycles. 

It won't be long now. Good things you can't yet see are coming. Every day is a step towards the new. All you have to do is be you and believe. 

Go to the beach and believe.




gatekeeping

A feeling like forgiveness came knocking at the gate. I saw it through the peephole but I didn't let it in, because feelings often wear disguises and I'm not always sure I can trust them. But I was less afraid than curious, so I went to the window and drew back the curtain, and this is what I saw:

I saw you and I in a surprise meeting, running into one another on some common, beloved ground. I saw myself not freezing, and not running away. I saw myself smile and even laugh a little. But I saw that underneath, my bones were like cold stone in winter moonlight. They held no warmth for you, because they'd been bereft of sunshine for so long.

In my fantasies, fantasy you came to me wordlessly, and I melted against your chest in pure bliss. But that you doesn't exist and never has, and that me learned to keep myself warm all through winter, alone.

And now there's a gate where I make my feelings stop and wait until I trust them. Today a feeling like forgiveness came knocking, but it was just indifference in disguise.

concessions

Everything I want to say to you is like an overpriced box of candy at the movies, shrink-wrapped in plastic. There is no subtle way to open it, but you can't quit until it's done. 

And if I did: sour bites would tumble out loudly, briefly enjoyable but ultimately regrettable.

Not worth the cost.

when the dust settles and you look in the mirror

There is no revenge so perfect or so thorough you can exact that will change the fact that you are the kind of person who needs to seek revenge. And the only people who need to seek revenge are bitter, angry people. People who ruminate, and resent. People who stew, and nurse grievances.

There is no vengeance you can take that doesn't betray that you ruminated and stewed. That you didn't have the inner peace to just walk away. That you don't have a life so full of awesomeness that you're too busy to plot and scheme. 

Spiteful, preoccupied, sleepless. That is a person to pity.

Unbothered, positive, secure in themselves. That is a person to admire. 

Once you've shown what you're made of, you can never go back. No one will ever forget. 

shine up that shovel

Hello from the tail end of another weird weekend. Just finished Zooming with Erin, which was the highlight. I'm over caffeinated but sun sleepy, having spent way too much time at the pool today. But the pool is a novelty I'm not used to yet, since it's only just opened back up. That, along with the fitness room, are amenities I've been paying for since I moved in a year ago -- right when they became off-limits due to Covid. Cashing in now, as much as I can. 

It's been a weird weekend because while Los Angeles is back to normal, I still haven't done anything or gone anywhere. For one thing all of my friendlets are gone or wifed up and unavailable, and for another I'm trying to be smart with money. Also I'm suddenly unsure what to do with my free time. I'm so used to holing up at home I've forgotten how to life. I'm like an animal that's been cooped up then suddenly finds its cage open, only to nervously stay put.

I did get a ticket for an event next week. Coworkers have been going out and I listen, wistfully, to their tales of exotic travels to places like crowded bars and beach parties and I pine to be out in the mix, too. So I did another scan of all my favorite haunts and lo and behold, there's an EDM show next week that will be perfect. I grabbed a ticket and the butterflies hit immediately when I realized that instead of having two and a half months to prepare to go back in, I had nine days. The anxiety was a surprise. I thought I'd feel nothing but excitement. 

So I sat down and asked myself, Self, what is your problem? You have been dreaming of this day for a year and a half. And Self and I had a good talk, and now I understand. I don't think I'm the only one with a little bit of pandemic PTSD. And it doesn't help that I can't ease back into things in the company of friends. I'm solo. I'm also single, and it dawned on me that the last time I went out dancing alone, single, was a few weeks after I'd moved to K-town and escaped the insanity of living with my ex-boyfriend. I was in an absolute terrible state and I forced myself to go out for a change of scenery and energy. And that was the night I met Timo. And though that came to an end I am realizing that the same thing could very well happen again. 

I think my lockdown addled brain is not quite ready to grasp that the world really is mine again. I have been really sad and really stagnant for a long time. It was devastating to have three of my closest friends move away. Then Kenny bounced out too, and it took me six fucking months to get over him. Six months. On top of that I've worked an absolute bonkers amount the past year and a half in an industry everyone knows is now woefully understaffed, considered somewhat essential, I guess, but definitely stressful as all living fuck. All I know right now is high-stress work and my own company. That's it. No wonder that when the doors to the world are being thrown open again I'm timid about walking through them. It really is a kind of PTSD.

But it's going to be okay. I'm out of practice, but I haven't forgotten everything. I haven't forgotten what it's like to get ready, grab my phone and my ID, and skip through downtown Los Angeles on my way to listen to the best music producers in the world, just blocks from my front door. I haven't forgotten what it's like to lose myself in that music and feel so unbelievably alive. I haven't forgotten what it's like to connect with strangers over that music, to smile and laugh. I haven't forgotten what it's like to slip out almost at the end of the night, sweaty and buzzing and empowered by having just taken myself on an incredibly fun date. 

Eight days until I start burying 2020 -- and half of 2021 -- under better memories, and reconnecting to the me that got through them. 

but what do I know

Just three tracks today, from the files of I Canna Grok Why Thays Musicians Dunnut Haf Bigger Followins. Happy Friday, if Friday is your Friday.



bridges

Recently a friend was going through a difficult transition, and I told him to try and think of himself as being on a bridge. When you're on a bridge, you're between two places. There's not a sense of finality or doom. There's only anticipation and expectation and looking ahead. 

And I've realized what a powerful tool that is, in managing my own emotions. This is a hard time for me. I have a job, I have insurance, I have my health, and I have supportive friends. There's nothing really wrong. But it isn't a time of thriving, either. There isn't a lot of joy or excitement or connection or fulfillment. My friends all peaced out of LA, I haven't been able to go out, have fun, hear music, meet new people, be stimulated and engaged. I feel creatively flat.

My mind loves to lie to me at times like this. It loves to whisper and insinuate. It loves to plant seeds of doubt and fear way, way down deep in the bottom of my soul. It loves to hint at finality and doom. But all I have to do is answer, No. I'm just on a bridge. I'm between times of thriving and joy. And while I'm on this bridge, I'm still growing. Still learning patience and forbearance and acceptance. The bridge is serving a purpose, too.

It's a kind of faith. 

I saw an incredible quote today that stopped me cold. Faulkner. "You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore." I don't know that I've ever had the courage to swim away from any shore, ever. I cling to the shallows in my fucking water wings. But I was stirred by that quote because even if I'm not actively paddling out, I know that just by virtue of all the change (read: loss) of the last year and a half - I now have space in my life for whatever is on the new horizons. And I know that the changes I'm working toward are going to be here before I know it. And then my courage will be called upon, in a way it never has. And there will be no water wings in sight.

so I met someone

A few days ago some guy comes into my work carrying a puppy. It's massive, which is to say it's about the size Chaucer was at six months: an armload and then some. I don't even attempt to be chill. My jaw falls open like he's just brought in a unicorn, and he smiles when I come running over to meet this incredible creature. 

Him: "Guess how old she is."

Me: (usually very good at this) "Six months."

Him: "Six weeks."

At this point I'm losing it, because I'm doing some quick calculations based on the size of her paws, and I'm realizing that I am in the presence of 1) a giant breed, and 2) a giant breed I don't recognize. And there isn't much I love more than getting to meet a giant breed dog for the first time - in no small part because I consider it research for my own next dog.

She's clearly some kind of shepherd, but with coloring I can't attach to the usual suspects. Her body is fawn and white, but she's got a black muzzle. She's utterly amazing and my face is clearly communicating boundless delight, because the guy sets her down at my feet and steps away to order food. She is now mine, all mine, for the next five glorious minutes. 

"What is she?"

"She's a Gampr."

"A Domper?"

"A Gampr."

"A Gomper?"

"A Gampr. G-a-m-p-r. It's an Armenian breed. She just got here, that's why she's so tired."

"You mean, like, to the US? Like you just landed?"

"She did. She came through Paris. She's been traveling. She's exhausted."

As if to agree, this absolute angel then sits right between my legs where I'm squatting down to pet her. She lifts her head to look at me, and I pull my mask down so she can see my whole face. She gives me two small kisses on the tip of my nose and my heart leaves my body forever. I sink down exactly as I am, my legs split awkwardly and uncomfortable - but I don't dare risk disturbing her. A second later, she too sinks down, puddling sleepily in my lap. I am now having an out of body experience, the joy is so intense.

The guy orders while I softly stroke his puppy. Gampr, I think to myself. Never heard of it. Her fur is softer than I remember any shepherds ever feeling, but then I've not had much experience of shepherds, tbh. I notice her ears are cropped and I comment on it.

"Yeah," the guy says. "Not my choice, but it's the breed standard."

Another few minutes elapse. Her eyes close and I pet her as lightly as possible, wanting to let her sleep but desperately needing to touch her. My twisted legs are starting to cramp up but I don't budge. I realize that this is the happiest, most content, most fulfilled, most delighted, and most myself  I have felt since...since Chaucer. I am meant to be a dog mom. It's the only role, other than student, that I have ever excelled at. That's just facts. 

When it's time to go, she doesn't want to. She refuses to get up, even when her owner reaches the door and calls for her. I gently hoist her up but she lingers around my ankles and I have to force myself to walk towards the door so she'll follow. 

I'm useless the rest of the night. Totally distracted. I have to get a dog. I have to get a dog. I have to get a dog is all I can think. 

---

One of my favorite things to muse about is what kind of dog I'm going to get next. I was pretty solidly on Team Great Dane, and then someone brought a mastiff to my work and threw a monkey wrench in my plan of not repeating history. But now, after meeting this Gampr puppy, I'm leaning back towards Anatolian Shepherd...

Here's hoping someone brings in one of those.

when all you can pad kee mao is blog about

Hello kids. Greetings from Estivation Nation, where the 90 degree weather has me shuttered inside for most of my weekend, save for essential errands like skulking off to Brazilian Wax Center (#summer #optimism) and Whole Foods for A2/A2 milk. 

I don't actually know what A2/A2 milk is, other than I need to reserve a portion of my paycheck for it every week, because it is fucking delicious. Whole Foods cruelly, mercilessly got me hooked on St. Benoit Jersey milk before ripping it away without warning when they discontinued it. I still check for it every time, and sigh dejectedly within earshot of any nearby employees in hopes they'll inquire as to the source of my distress. 

Most people cannot hang with the Jersey milk, or the A2/A2 milk, which is so thick and creamy there is usually a big glob of milk solids at the top of the bottle. Me, I love it. The creamier the better. Lay me down under the damn cow, I am not afraid of what will come out of that thing. (Let's get the positioning just right though; positioning is key.)

So anyway yes, the main events of my weekend were the awkward small talk between myself and my "wax specialist" (idk, I feel like we can call them aestheticians?) and the extra large blob of cream waiting for me in my fancy cow juice. 

---

It is LA's reopening day, which means no more social distancing, no more masks in most environments, and no more capacity restrictions. I rewarded myself for scheduling my mammy-gram with Starby's, and I was so excited to see the "masks optional for vaccinated persons" sign on the door. Only, then I went in and I was the only person not wearing one. And I know most of those people have to be good to go at this point, because California crushed the vaccination game. I felt a little bit like a pariah until the espresso hit my brain, and now I just want to bounce around the entire city looking at as many faces as I can, for those who are ready to show me them to me. 

Despite the reopening, I still don't have much going on yet. I've been checking all my favorite venues constantly, to see what show announcements are dropping. But as of right now, my first event "back" will be Eric Prydz, downtown, the third week of August. I'm definitely ready for something sooner, but I want my first time to be special. I'm not going to give it up to just anyone. And nothing has been tempting enough, yet, to topple Prydz. So I will wait, and watch. And drink my A2/A2 milk to get big and strong enough to dance for an entire 50 minute set without pause.

---

I've been doing my weird color-coded eating thing again. I don't think I actually ever blogged about this, because it is so bizarre. But something happened last summer, when the heat really kicked in, where all I wanted to eat was fruit and vegetables. And I was scrolling Pinterest for simple, light meals when I came across a photo of one of those color wheel fruit trays. Not a full rainbow, just like two or three colors. And it looked so incredibly appetizing that I immediately went to the store and copied it. And then I did it again, the next day - but this time I incorporated vegetables. And before I knew it, my weird ass was going to the grocery store daily to pick out my dinner in the produce section, based on whatever color jumped out at me. (Legumes and beans were allowed, too.) The idea was to choose two colors - say, purple and green - and then make a meal of them. Blackberries, eggplant, purple potatoes. Green beans, edamame, honey dew melon. Whatever. Just had to match. 

I know - these are not flavors that meld. Hence the weirdness. But I really connected to this practice, and for about two weeks, I would create these really beautiful meat-free meals that had small portions of five or six different things. I felt incredible eating this way, but of course it wouldn't last. Two weeks and I was back to craving tacos and pad kee mao. 

Fuck. Now I really want pad kee mao.

on restraint

I wish I was a person with better restraint. It's a quality I admire greatly.

Restraint is a kind of power. If you suffer from emotional dysregulation, your feelings run rampant all over you. It's incredibly difficult to mediate and process them, which leads to bad decision making. But people with restraint don't get themselves into messes, because they can stop themselves from saying the thing, or doing the thing (that causes the mess).

Restraint has lots of opposites: impulsivity, anger, insecurity, and chaos to name a few. The restrained person has sense enough to hold their tongue despite what they're thinking, because the fallout of conflict is never worth the cost of inner peace. And if you have inner peace, there is literally nothing else you need. Nothing you need to prove, no one you need to hurt. 

Restraint manifested in the physical world is beautiful. Minimalism and simplicity are the hallmarks of the single greatest strength we can flex: wanting less. The less you want, the less you are satisfied with, the more powerful you are. This is a fact of life that infuriates the unhappy rich (trust me, they are manifold).

I think, though I'm not sure, that restraint as a practiced choice leads to a natural need for less. A lessened need to have, take, own - a lessened need to be validated. That's what it kind of feels like, the older I get.

anticipatory feels

The world is opening up again. Are you ready? What will you do first? Where will you go? What will you feel? Who will you meet?

Friday playlist for some anticipatory feels...

in a day

A toddler leans out of his stroller, pointing and shouting,

delighted with something he sees or

demanding directions at his nanny --

I'm not sure which.


His grey-haired guardian, 

unrelated but nevertheless tethered to the tiny tyrant,

leans in to listen. To accommodate his mood.


An old woman boards the bus, all in white.

Like a bride coming down the aisle she moves past us

looking only at an empty seat in the back. 

We twist our bodies to give her room.

Graceful solitude: carrying all that she needs within her.


And me.

Some days I feel invisible 

because I've made myself that way, and it is a relief.

Other days I'd like to point the way 

and have someone drive and listen and accommodate.

such great heights

The climb was painstaking. Every foothold was a lie; every single step forward came at a cost of two steps backward. Backsliding for weeks at a time. She told herself that even the longest, darkest winters end. But deep down she didn't know if she really believed that. And some days, she didn't even bother trying to haul herself up. Some days she just sat and let the cold strip her to the bones of pure sadness. 

Then one morning, a memory broke across her. But though she flinched for the pain, there was nothing in it but sight and sound. It had no force behind it. It was a flickering movie screen: one dimensional. Neutral. She took this memory in her hands and carefully unfolded it. As she opened it up, more details escaped. A tone of voice. A turn of phrase. A touch of skin. 

But it didn't hurt. Miraculously, against all the odds she'd stacked up in hopeless confusion - it didn't hurt. And that's when she knew she'd reached the top of the tallest mountain in the world. Without even realizing it, she'd moved up and through and away and beyond.

With slow, measured steps she crept out onto the highest peak, wondering what the view would be, and what glimpses of future happiness she might have. But the mountain was so high it ended in clouds. There was nothing to see, but plenty to feel. And that's when she realized:

There are an infinite number of futures.

There is only one present.

But for some, there are two pasts: the one we want to believe happened, and the one that actually did. You can see them both, but only if you climb the tallest mountain in the world.

emergence with a vengeance

How it started:


How it's going:




I told Cameron that after I'd joked about it, I realized a sexy cicada costume would be a riot, and that I actually wanted to do it. So after realizing that he, too, wants to be a cicada, he invited me to Houston, where we can make it a group thing with his bajillion kickball league friends. We immediately started brainstorming and link swapping and now I am fully prepared to let Halloween 2021 make up for all of 2020, a not-small piece of 2019, and perhaps even a few months of 2021. NO PRESSURE, HALLOWEEN 2021.

Anyway, here is my mood brood board so far:


And yes, I want to DIY the goggles, though there are plenty of readymade options if I can't make it work. Meanwhile, designer extraordinaire Cam has already sketched out his costume and promised to make me super cute LED antennae. I can knock my whole outfit together for less than $100 unless I spring for the custom Etsy wings (I REALLY WANT THE CUSTOM ETSY WINGS), and this'll be the first I've seen Cameron since 2019. 

Prepare yourself, Houston. There will be no mercy.

the old one-two

I have been living too close to my life lately. That's what it feels like when I'm too caught up in my daily experiences and feelings to be creative. I've gone through times like this before -- and they always end -- so I'm not terribly fussed about it. But it puts a wall between me and writing. When I'm living too close to my life, I'm tethered in a hundred places to thoughts and emotions that will not be set aside. So it's a fight. 

--

One of my favorite rules for life is, If it won't matter in five years, don't spend more than five minutes thinking about it. I think the five minute cap is a bit ambitious, but the idea is good. There really is nothing more important in terms of your well-being, in every regard, than what you spend your attention on. People forget this. I forget this. But attention like a muscle that can be trained and strengthened, with time and discipline. And when I'm strong enough to withhold it from negative sources of input (garbage media, toxic people, uncontrollable situations), I try to stop and focus on how good it feels to exert that control. Working on that really hard lately.

--

I am ever so slowly getting back on the self-care train. With LA dropping all remaining restrictions (including the mask mandate) on the 15th, that has been my soft target date for Being Human Again. For the first half of the year I was singularly, rabidly focused on work and financial goals. It was work-sleep-work for the better part of six months, and I gave myself permission to eat whatever the fuck I wanted, because I just didn't have the bandwidth to think about my body.

Well, that time is over. Back to daily greens and lots of water. Back to working out and a new pair of running shoes. Come at me, festival season (but please come at me slowly).

--

I had a birthday. It was an Unbirthday, because it slid by with little fanfare. It's so not a big deal to me when that happens. I've had more than enough incredible surprise parties, club nights, and dinner bashes with friends already in my time, and I know there'll be more celebrations in future years. I had to work the day of, but I did get in a quick Zoomie with Brent and Erin. 

It is weird and very dumb how much I love being a Gemini. 

--

In the past week I've discovered three people that have brought me a ridiculous amount of happiness and inspiration:

1. Actor Brian Jordan Alvarez, whose Instagram character videos are absolute gold. I have now watched and re-watched the Marnie T and Rick collections at least twice. But what has really kills me are his dance videos (YouTube). They are a pure, unfiltered, break-your-face-from-smiling joy to watch. So unbelievably great. Dude is just in his kitchen, in his underwear, having the time of his life with nothing more than a pair of headphones and his love of music. GOALS.

2. Poet David Whyte, who I discovered through Sam Harris, and whose words nearly broke my brain. His reading of Friendship especially shook me and gave me a lot to think about. Go listen and tell me if it doesn't do the same to you. 

3. Feed Me, a British music producer that I am truly alarmed has never come across my radar. Infinitely bummed I'll never get to see his retired Teeth stage, but glad I finally know of this person's existence. So much insane talent.

 

Happy June, junebugs.