Sunday, August 10, 2008

Home (for real this time?)

By the time I realized there was no 2:00 Chinatown bus it was too late to make the 1:00. I had intended to be back in New York early enough to get settled in before the show, but because I had to take a 3:00 bus, and because it was the one that went through Philly, when I turned the corner into the second floor hallway of my building for the first time in 2 months and 3 days, I was greeted by a mob of people standing outside of my door. I made my way through the hey-how-are-you's, into my loft, and up the stairs. I had to lift my bike over the heads of 2 girls, one of which turned out to be a friend from Amsterdam, in order to stash it by the new A/C in the back. Within an hour of getting off the bus in New York I was watching Tides play to a living room full of my friends - and a handful of strangers. It was a bit overwhelming.

So now, 5 days and 3 shows later, I'm back in my own bed, listening to music through my own speakers, writing this by the light of my very own bedside lamp, and attempting to steel myself to my first day back at work. I don't remember feeling this defeated in a long time. I've gotten so used to not working that I've forgotten how much I hate knowing that I'm at the mercy of someone else's schedule. I can't stomach the idea of waking up at 7:30 tomorrow morning and spending the better part of a day doing the same thing over and over, punctuated, if I'm lucky, by almost getting killed, which is the only exciting thing that ever happens at work. And the best part? Business has slowed in my absence and they can no longer afford to pay me a guarantee. Being back on commission means fighting for jobs and still ending up with a little over half as much money at the end of the day. I've spent most of today trying to think of a way out of this. Ben gave me a well-meaning philosophical diatribe about doing what you need to do in order to facilitate being able to do what you want (which was largely invalidated by his admission that he really likes work), Sean tried to convince me that I should just learn to live with less money (which, given how much less I'll be making now that I'm off the guarantee, I'll be doing anyway, but I'll still have to work full-time). If I continue in this direction, this post will devolve into a whiny appeal to the universe to just give me a break from the slow death of privileged, middle-class expectations (if it hasn't already), so I'll leave cut it short here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Home (sort of)

At about 7:30 on Tuesday evening (eastern standard time), my plane touched down at Reagan National Airport in VA. I turned my cell phone back on, texted my dad to let him know I had arrived (he was, naturally, stuck in traffic and not quite there yet), and bid farewell to my new friend, an electrical engineer from Phoenix with 3 kids (one about my age from a previous marriage and two youngsters), whose name I forgot as soon as I stepped off the plane. I've never traveled first class before, and for those readers that have not either, let me tell you, it's not really that different. But the seats are comfy. I spent most of the flight watching Definitely, Maybe, starring, among others, Ryan Reynolds (in his first serious role of which I'm aware) and Rachel Weisz. It was surprisingly good, and not just in the sense that makes movies appeal to me (ie. cheap laughs, sappy romance, and nothing too heavy). As my iPod is now in the hands of either a teenaged mugger from Oakland or a lucky ebayer, when my neighbor initiated conversation I was glad for the distraction from Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition and the limited selection of music played through airplane armrests. It's always strange to hear yourself describe your own life to a polite, interested, clueless stranger. If you've ever tried to explain why you get tattoos to someone who has none and isn't into punk rock, you know what I'm talking about. It's hard not to sound kind of foolish, to be honest.

So I've been home for almost a week now, and I have a handful of thoughts. Firstly, as much as I enjoy west coast weather, it's too perfect, and I didn't even realize it until I was back on the east coast. 80 degrees, sunny, dry, bug-free... BORING! Hanging out outside on the east coast is an activity in and of itself; it has CHARACTER for shit's sake. I hate mosquitoes as much as the next guy - probably even more so, as they seem to have a particular affinity for my blood - but just sitting on the back porch, sweating, listening to the cicadas... that's real hanging out.

Actually, that's really my only observation. I've been hanging out with old friends, staying up late talking about girls with my mom, and cuddling with Scout, my baby girl (see this post about Attrition's tour dog, now renamed after the protagonist of one of my favorite novels because it takes place in the very same state in which she was discovered). I've been having band practice with Welch and Mikey for our new indie band, which is coming along nicely despite having a part or two which sound a little more like mid-era Hopesfall than we were shooting for (as much as I've always liked No Wings to Speak of and The Satellite Years). And I've watched a lot of movies. I mean a lot. Why as I write this, I'm in fact watching the second one of the day. The first was a delightful Zach Braff movie co-staring Amanda Peet as his not-so-believable wife and Jason Bateman as his fake-cripple arch-nemesis. Whatever, I can feel your judging stars from here; I thought it was fucking funny, OK?

So that's DC so far. Actually, I may have skipped over some details, like the evening we spent eating at Sticky Fingers, driving around looking for an out-door movie screening on Georgia Ave put on by the SDS (which turned out to be canceled), and visiting a birthday party DJed by a meticulously assembled playlist of songs containing the word "boom" (over 50% of which, apparently, contain it in the chorus) which hadn't really gotten underway until at least an hour after we arrived. It sounds like more fun that it was, but a fun evening of mediocre activities improved solely by the quality of the company sounds like more fun if you summarize it briefly. Anyway, I head back to New York on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on Adam's availability to tattoo me, and I go back to work. I ran out of money around when I worried that I might, so the last few weeks I've been traveling on credit, and it's time to start paying down the debt. I don't really know what to expect; I hear there's been a bit of drama back home. And I'm not exactly enthusiastic about going back to work. I'm not making any long-term commitments, because this trip has opened by eyes to the fact that I've been living in New York for no particular reason and I need to find a reason or get the fuck out. I'm not sure what happens next, but I'm more excited to find out than I have been in a while.

As for the last 2 weeks of my trip, the computer where I was staying in San Francisco was really slow and had a busted "v" key, and in Santa Barbara I had no internet at all. Perhaps I'll find the time to update my loyal readership once I've settled back into routine life in New York. It will probably lack some of the punch, as I will have already told many of you about in person by the time I get to writing about it, but for the sake of posterity, I hope that I manage to get it done anyway.