Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Like Learning a New Language

Today I was sent to a nursing home to visit my dying uncle, whom I'd never met. Amanda volunteered to come as well, which was nice, since I didn't want to go in the first place. He is my grandma's older brother. They haven't spoken in over 15 years. The only time I'd ever see him was when I was 9 at my granny's funeral. I didn't remember him.

I got up and one of the dogs, Zooey, was constipated and hid in the closet or under the bed all morning. I watched a movie before I noticed. I should have been working. But I watched the movie because I'm currently depressed. More on that later. But I drove her to the vet and got some giant gel caps for her. The other dog, Gizmo, currently has diarrhea and is on his own medication. Hopefully i don't get the two drugs mixed up. No good giving a diarrhetic dog a laxative, or a constipated dog... whatever it is they give diarrhetic dogs.

Afterwards I picked up Amanda and we hunted down this retirement home. It was a nightmare. Like a halfway house between a hospital and hell. Old people wandered about the corridors while nurses chased after them or pushed trays of microwaved dinners to the more sedated patients. This was a nursing home for poor people, which makes it worse. My uncle is poor. He wants my dad to buy his worthless property out in the country just so he can afford some of his medical bills. The poor guy should just die. When Amanda and I got there we knocked on his door, even though it was open, because he was asleep. It took a few rounds of introductions before he finally realized who we were. Though I write that off on just waking up. Because soon afterwards he was conversing reasonably well and asked questions about my life and Amanda's life. His southern accent is so thick only another southerner could possibly understand him. I have friends from other parts of America that I'm certain wouldn't have understood anything he said. He had the type of southern accent my next-door-neighbor growing up had. That Old South mumble. Carolyn (my grandma) doesn't even have an accent. But her brother did.

He looked frail. Like his skin was made of weakened cobwebs. He was as thin as a prisoner of war. And other than the dark splotches all over his body, he was practically translucent. Like a cloudy jellyfish. I'll refrain from more similes. I made small talk with him about how Carolyn wanted to come herself, but couldn't and blah blah blah, while my little sister fidgeted with the baby. My uncle's grandfather fought in the Civil War. Not many people left in the world who have heard a first-hand account of fighting in the Civil War. And here was his great-great-nephew. A healthy, blue-eyed baby boy. The New South.

My week has otherwise been weird. My old best friend James Brown stopped by. 3 years ago, after a lifetime of being a pillar of sanity while his entire family sunk further into drug and alcohol addiction, after watching his Mom smoke crystal meth and his sister go in and out of Rehab, after being the only one with a future, after all of this, James lost his mind finally and became addicted to Heroin. He began attacking everyone that cared about him, sometimes physically. He stole. Lots. From everyone. He was the nicest person in the world, but when he snapped, he went off the deep end. Finally he broke into an old lady's house and got caught, sent to prison, and is now a born-again Christian. Not just a born-again, but you know, one of THOSE people. Yesterday he showed up with an ichthys tattooed on his wrist. And a cross on the other. And a beanie with Matthew 23:19 written on it. He told me about the many miracles he'd witnessed at the Jesus camp they made him go to after prison. And about the saving power of the lord. I'm fine with God, at least I hope I am, but it was freaky, the way he recited this brainwashed mumbo-jumbo at me. He wants to move to Oklahoma because that's "Where it's at!" What exactly he means by this statement eludes me. He's back with his Canadian ex-wife (who is boring in every possible way) and working at Ruby Tuesday's as a cook. At least he's sober. But weird since so many of my formative years were spent with him, hanging out and being chill. Maybe we'd drink, but we tended not to except on special occasions; maybe we'd smoke some pot, but it was never important; typically we just grew up together, in very similar directions. And now he's this other person. I don't see any of him left. It's depressing in a way, but I'm glad I never saw him become the monster that he became. I was in Rome when that happened.

Montgomery is getting to me. Just a mess of corporate chain restaurants and Wal-Marts and oil changing places and fast food and empty lots and nothing has a shred of fucking character. And everyone here seems to be wallowing in this stench, this shit-hole, all with a hint of destitute loneliness; as though everyone is lonely and desperate but pretending on the surface that everything is fine. There is a general sense of paranoia about the place I don't like. And everyone here seems fine with it. I feel like I'm in a David Lynch film. Apart from a few friends, namely Beka, I don't have much faith in it. Beka manages pretty well, but I don't know how. She learned to love a new Montgomery when she came back from college. I never approached it that way. Maybe that's why any prolonged stay here inevitably depresses me. My parents are dog-paddling here. They are some of the only sane people I know. Completely there, I mean. And they want to leave. Phew. I don't know.

I started an account on a different dating site. okcupid. The girls are generally more attractive and the site is free. So yeah. It's more like a myspace for people who are looking for dates. Which means it is super-addictive. I've been in contact with a number of very interesting, very beautiful girls on it. When I get back to Philly. Every girl either went to art school, or is in some grad program. There is a girl from Princeton who is getting her PhD in some study of literature. She looks really cool. Hopefully I don't fuck it up.

I'm listening to Elliot Smith, so you know I must be depressed.

Tomorrow will be better, hopefully.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

So it has been a while since my last post. It snowed. A lot. Everywhere. Feets and feets. The roads just had enough time to be formed into dangerous, ice covered paths before more snow came and fell. The city of Philadelphia shut down for almost the entire week. It also snowed both in Alabama and Rome (on the same day!). It never snows in either of those places. Crazy.

Right now I'm back in Bama. Just to babysit my parents 2 dogs for 10 days. While they go to Disneyworld. Never took me to Disneyworld, but no matter. I'm trying to quit smoking and quit drinking at the same time. Not an easy thing to do. It is much easier not to drink than not to smoke. Drinking is something I do in the evening, and typically with other people (though not always with other people), while I tend to smoke all day long. After my coffee, after my shower, before lunch, after lunch, in the afternoon several times, then all evening long. I smoke a pack a day. I've gone from that to an average of 3 a day since my birthday Sunday. Today is Friday. I've had the same pack all week. Haven't even really thought about alcohol, which is nice. I'm not as bad as I always make myself out to be, and part of me wonders if I drink as much as I do because I tell myself in the back of my head somewhere that I'm an alcoholic. Last night Beka and I went to see a movie, but I got there too late cuz my dad wanted me to buy him some ice cream (when were the roles reversed? I housesit and work and be responsible while they go to Disneyworld? I have to go out at night and buy him ice cream AND Oreo Klondike bars?). So instead we went to El Rey. Leah waited on us and sat with us from time to time. I ended up drinking two beers, but over the course of 2 and a half hours, so it wasn't too bad. But Leah did ask me if I wanted to go to Bud's after her shift ended and shoot some pool. I had to decline, even though I was starting to get ready for another drink. A trip to Bud's is the last thing in the world I need. Everyone smoking, cheap beer, pool. Good way to fall back into the habit of smoking and drinking myself to death.

Besides, I've enjoyed by sobriety. I've been productive and healthy. Eating better and exercising. Just pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups. But still. If I had some better running shoes maybe I'd get on the treadmill. Maybe I'll borrow my Dad's. Tonight I'm going to make spaghetti and lasagna for the week. My Mom's spaghetti and lasagna is honestly better than anything I've ever had in Italy (Sorry Italian friends!). Italian cuisine often is much simpler than Americans tend to imagine it, using fewer ingredients than any American dish, but also fresher ingredients and less butter and fatty foods. Every dumb American woman I get on a tour asks me how Italian women stay so thin when they eat pasta everyday. Simple: they don't eat junk food or put junk ingredients in their staple dishes, and they get EXERCISE. They WALK places. Holy shit. Revolutionary concepts those are. Don't eat shit food, and walk a little everyday. We've just gotten so greedy. We want a thousand different things, and we want the easiest and most convenient ways of doing everything, no holes barred. No sacrifices here. Cheap and easy. That's how we want our food, and that's how we want our diets. Fucking infatuated with diets! That's something that annoys the fuck out of me about America. But anyways, my mom's pasta sauce is bangarang. Even though there isn't much that correlates to any authentically Italian dish I've ever had. She fills it with all sorts of things: fresh mushrooms, diced tomatoes, italian sausage, ground sirloin, tomato paste, ricotta, fresh parmesan, etc. A lot of ingredients. It is amazing. Especially the lasagna. It takes hours to make. I know how to make it, but I'm a lazy ass and have never done it, and sometimes it ain't no fun cooking for my friends cuz half of em are vegetarian, which I've never been bothered by before, but now that I think of it, that's really obnoxious. I love elaborate meat dishes, and having to cater to those 2 or 3 people at a dinner really sucks. I mean, imagine a room of 5 people and there is 1 vegetarian, well you don't want to make all sorts of shit for 4 people and then something else for that 1 vegetarian, so why not just make it all veggie friendly. Ok, well whatever. I'm rambling.

I've been listening to the Leonard Cohen Pandora station, and I don't know if I so much like Leonard Cohen as much as I like all the musicians that Pandora associates with him. Perfect matches for me.

Things with Kate are eh. That's about all I can say about it. I had a panic attack before boarding my flight out of Philly because since August I've had an uncompromising fear of flying (totally random fear that developed during a flight from Bratislava to Rome), and it was the middle of a snow storm, so I started scratching my head until it was bleeding and finally she was the only one I could think to contact about it. She called me after exchanging a few texts and talked to me for a while. That was nice of her. But still. I shouldn't have done that. I know other people who would have talked to me while I was freaking out about this flight, but she was the first that came to mind. So I talked to her. I feel differently here in Alabama though. Less caught up on it. But I also feel more solitary than ever, in a good way. I just want to stay at home alone all day with the dogs, exercising, cleaning, editing, writing, reading not smoking, not drinking, watching films, etc. I just want to sit around by myself. Or with the dogs as company.

I have to pee. And I promised myself I wouldn't have a cigarette today till afternoon. Which is an accomplishment for me. It is now afternoon. And I want one. My next won't be till tonight, so yeah. Hopefully I can just smoke the two for the day. And be done. But I think this weekend at some point I'm going to finally break down and invest in some gum or patches or something. Cuz I'm really serious about it this time. It's one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do though. Quit smoking. I'm terrified of it, for some reason. I feel like cigarettes have gotten me out of some really tough spots, anxiety-wise. What am I going to do now? People don't realize what a psychological addiction it is as well as a physical one. I could probably get over the physical one before the psychological one. Cigarettes have always been like a companion. A pause in the day in which I can think and be alone for a minute. God. Help me.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Don't Dance in a Dive, Don't Sulk in a Dance Club

I've slumped back into depression the past few days. Everything was going well for me, till Saturday. Then it started snowing and I was confined to my empty apartment. I'm not sure what to do with myself to get out of this. That night Toliver had a housewarming party, which was a good distraction. I danced a bit. Megan spent the night with me again. I asked her the next morning if she wanted to go see a movie with me. She said are you asking me out on a date? And I said there's no need to italicize it. Her boyfriend gets in Friday from Switzerland, so I wasn't asking her out on a date. I was asking her to go see a movie with me. Because I'm lonely and want to do something with whoever will do something with me. Because of all of this, I haven't been as productive as I should be. It is really annoying.

All that positive energy I was feeling... gone.

I sent Kate an email that started off as a blog entry about a week ago. It summed up everything so clearly. I talked about her breaking her hip, and how shitty I felt when she did, and how I wished I had been there to support her. How I tried, even being overseas. I talked about growing up and maturing and realizing what she had always wanted from me. I talked about a whole lot of shit. But I was pretty clear about how I need to sever all ties with her in order to move on, since talking to her at all merely inspires a false hope in me that things will work out, and I can't have that false hope lingering in the back of my mind all the time. She texted me an hour later saying it made her cry, and that she misses me. Well. Here I am.

So I felt better for a few days, like I had a sense of closure. Then Friday she started talking to me on gchat. Small talk. What are you doing this weekend. Said she was going dancing. Since I know that this dude is there, of course I thought it a bit insensitive to tell me her plans. I went out to Shayla's housewarming party with Abdullah. Shayla avoided me all night. Oh well. Abdullah drove me back home and we smoked a lot of pot. That's my new thing, since I don't generally smoke pot. But it's better than booze. That heightened paranoia can be harnessed for creative purposes, I believe. I don't need to smoke pot that often, but once every two weeks is ok. Maybe I shouldn't talk about this in a blog. I dunno. Don't really care that much. Apart from that, I'm a fairly law-abiding citizen.

Then Saturday came and the snow storm and it was freezing outside and that's when I went nuts. Got stir-crazy. Paced for hours. Finally went to Toliver's and helped make some appetizers for the party. Not very many people showed up, but whatever. The core crowd was there. And it was a nice distraction. The next morning I actually felt fantastic. Me and Megan went upstairs to Toliver's and turns out Jonathan, Megan's roommate, had slept on the floor up there. I don't think anyone suspected anything between me and Megan. Stacey was there too, and we all had brunch. And it was nice. The sky had cleared and it was much warmer outside. So after Megan and Jonathan left I decided to walk around. And walk around did I. I walked from West Philly to Center City down to South Philly and back up to Old City, back through Center City and up towards Fairmount. Finally stopped at Mugshots, across from Eastern State Penitentiary and ate a Turkey sandwich. Then walked back down to Center City, and a few hours later, back up to Fairmount to eat dinner with Dan and Robin. Apart from my one stop to get the Turkey sandwich, I never stopped. I thought about everything under the sun, but at one point I started thinking about Kate striking up this bland conversation on im with me about absolutely nothing, blithely ignoring all that lies beneath the surface. And how I'd thought I'd made it quite clear that I didn't want to talk to her anymore. So I planned out everything I was going to say to her next time she tried to chat with me. Had a whole spiel. Later, Dan drove me home and I was trolling the internet, getting ready to go to bed, when at about midnight guess who decides to start texting me?

And what do I do? I respond. And we chit chat for a few minutes again about nothing. Now my day had been relatively ok, especially since I'd gotten so much exercise. But what? As soon as she texts me I'm like a dog, wagging my tail, waiting for some sort of treat, like maybe, "I'm so sorry I made a mistake, let's try to work things out." What an asshole I am.

So Monday I hung out with Ian all day long and we talked about art, philosophy, literature, politics... everything. First truly great conversation I've had in a while. But still I found myself analyzing everything Kate had said to me in her texts. Trying to read between the lines. She had told me she saw a band she thinks I'd like. Asked me how I was. Said I was applying to a lot of freelance editing jobs, and that I hoped I'd get them. She said You will. You always do. To which I replied that I don't always get what I want... Then she promptly changed the subject. Said she'd hung out with Elizabeth that night, her old friend. I said, I remember Elizabeth. She's nice. Tell her I said hey. She said I will, she hearts you. So I wondered. Why was she out without her new boyfriend when he'd only arrived a few days earlier, and had come to be exclusively with her? Why was she telling me that her friend "hearts" me? Had they been talking about me? Was Elizabeth pulling for me? All this was going on in the back of my head while I talked to Ian about Shakespeare and Duchamp and Althusser. Whenever there was a pause in me and Ian's conversation, all I could think about was how much I'd have rather have been having that conversation with Kate.

So when I got home I wrote a more direct email than the last, stating quite explicitly that I don't ever want to talk to her again. The first email was poetic. I put a lot of time and effort into getting it just right. This one was very direct, and almost bitchy. She hasn't responded. I also blocked her on gchat. Which may or may not seem extreme. But it's what I did. Because if I don't she will just keep trying to keep me on the leash. And though she'll deny that's what she's doing, it is exactly what she's doing. You don't drunken text your ex-boyfriend with all this bland small talk unless you want to keep him around in your life. Well, not after the things I've said to her. You don't do that to someone who has told you point blank, to your face that he is in love with you and willing to leave Rome and move to a city he hates just to be with you. No, don't text me asking me how my day was.

I haven't written in a few days because I would rather stay away from the darker side of what's going on in my life, and try to veer more towards the positive, but I need to get shit out sometimes. I'm going to be in Alabama again in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to certain parts of it, but also dreading some parts. I'm looking forward on trying to make some progress in the filmmaking industry, and sitting down with Gaelan and fleshing out our ideas one-on-one, but also Leah keeps texting me. Asking me when I'm getting back, etc. I think she really likes me. If it weren't that way, if it were understood that we were just going to fool around with no emotions to it, I'd be fine with it. But I think it's a bit more than that with her. She wants to visit me in Rome. I need to be fair to her and tell her what's going on in my head right now. She's a really cool, very sweet girl. She doesn't deserve to be led on. Not that I have. But it seems like if I don't say something soon, it will start to get that way. Meanwhile I can go out and have sex with Sarah Beth and not give a damn. I lost my virginity to her. And I don't really care for her that much. And I was pretty explicit with her that I was just pursuing my hedonistic tendencies.

But I have no interest in random hook-ups like that. No, not anymore. Need something meaningful.

gotta go. Maybe I'll call Dan and see what he's up to.