6 Party Coping Mechanisms

So…if you’re my friend on snapchat, you may have gotten this picture:

Snapchat-20140417115114As I sat on the floor, pants recently removed, and flung my flabbergasted hands at my lacerated shin, Katie Siebert said frankly, “You are such a beautiful sad creature.”

“Beautiful sad creature, where did you pick that up?”

It turns out she got the phrase from me, but I’d forgotten. Back when I consoled her over a terrifyingly serious ear infection (read the whole story on her blog here) I had texted over a “wealth of coping mechanisms” that I’ve gained from the hilarious combination of having a sluggish immune system (born premature) and a creative/anxious mind.

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I would never diminish the suffering of others, but I understand my own weakness for melodrama. I have to laugh at myself or else I’ll just spend the night intermittently sweating with a pillow over my head and snatching my phone up again for some more WebMD torture.

If it's possibly cancer: whatever, you always wanted to be interesting

Turns out if there’s a lump sticking out of my shin a terrifying extra 1-inch, my reaction is mostly jovial. This is a battle wound. Also, I had taken 3 Ibuprofen before the concert in anticipation of wearing my improbable shoes.

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Also, I was still drunk. Still, the benefit of having physical injury over a communicable disease is I get a lot less crap from my doctor. Every time I get strep (like this time & this time) she acts like it’s my fault for being irresponsible with my health. But cut off part of my finger washing dishes? Now that was just an accident! Poor baby!

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If I go to a concert and fall down the stairs (twice) the only person who is going to be mad at me is my daddy. “Wear sensible shoes!” he says sternly every time I show him the progress of my bruises. I think they look pretty cool.

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I rely on my coping mechanisms when life’s got me bruised or battered, whether at parties or otherwise. Here are some more:

1. In general: Become a writer or an artist so that every bad experience is fodder for your craft. Like when you got drunk on labor day weekend and someone stole your wallet — Blog post!

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2. If you’re stuck having a conversation you don’t want to have: Opportunity to practice conveying boredom true and pure through your every molecule. Can you do it? Can you do boredom justice?

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3. Girl, if some guy is bothering you: Enjoy the anger. Feel the rage. Let it build into a feminist fury. Launch into a diatribe he is ill-equipped to understand but that you felt impressive for saying anyway. Then let that on-top-of-a-mountain feeling carry you for the rest of your night of revelry.

4. If you lost your friends: Sweet, no one can judge me while I play 2048 in this corner over here.

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5. If no one is dancing with/except you: People who dance by themselves are fundamentally interesting. At their worst they are a little socially inept, but they could also be unhinged, weird, carefree. Even a total dweeb, if he’s truly lost in dancing and not checking for his peers’ approval, becomes legendary when he dances alone, silent, inexplicably powerful (think Napoleon Dynamite). People who dance by themselves are Fun people.

6. If there’s not enough alcohol at the party: Actually, this is truly devastating. This is not a time for Coping. This is a time to Do Something. My favorite is Pretend I’m going to Rescue the Party and Get Alcohol but Actually Abandon the Party for a Better One. If you don’t have parties double-stacked for that night, you could actually rescue the party, anoint yourself beer czar, and make people do stupid shit to get at your monopoly of booze.

 

 

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The Curse

I am in San Francisco. It is fucking beautiful. It is the Curse.
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Like all true San Diego natives, I bring the weather with me wherever I go. I went to England in the summer (which is actually a shit time to go, weather-wise) and it only rained once in three weeks: the day I was leaving. So, this morning it is sunny, 65 degrees and warming. My phone’s weather icon shows 53 degrees and cloudy, but it’s wrong: I’m in a bubble of perfect sunshine. Just as I was yesterday. Just as I will be tomorrow.

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This is a Curse because it keeps us San Diegans naive about the world. We start thinking we can do things. We start thinking we could live in other places. Yesterday I started thinking I should live here. We walked out of the tenderloin. We walked through the Castro, and Haight Ashbury. We walked through the Farmers Market at the Civic Center where a yellow sign promised its daily presence (rain or shine!) and we bought and ate strawberries the size of apples. Then we went to the Mill, where racks of homemade bread filled up the place with that smell of racks of homemade bread. We went to the Rainbow, for which my only reference for similarity as a San Diegan is Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s also has a community board, but the Rainbow community board is actually used, with letters to and from the staff about BPA in receipts and why fruit ripens faster in bags. I waited for Katie to get out of the bathroom next to a bag of bat guano.
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I didn’t think I was the kind of girl who could sit in a park and drink Kombucha, but we sat in Dolores park and I drank my first Kombucha. I thought to myself, this isn’t a bad fucking life. On a sunny Tuesday, parks back home are deserted but here, there wasn’t a person less than 10 feet away no matter where you sit. A man, possibly homeless, played “Three Little Birds,” which could have been irritating because it’s too obvious, but I thought to myself that he is self-regulating, he is getting a needed dose of happiness. He is soaking up this sun and pumping serotonin through his brain, dancing as he sits and singing along and pretending he is connecting with the people around him (they’re ignoring him).

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At home we have plenty of crazies. I don’t see them often, because I don’t go downtown ever, but I know they’re there. These SF crazies don’t look at me twice just because I’m holding hands with a pretty girl. They look at me twice (rarely) because I’m a pretty girl, but not because I’m queer. I watch a man hold a fluffy white rose for another man to smell. A girl with buzzed hair smiles gently at me, knowingly.

I remind myself that every day isn’t like this. I remind myself grittiness is tasty in small bites, but I’ve never lived through a whole meal of it. I remind myself that back home I am disturbed by the crazies. San Diego perfect weather is relentless. San Francisco sunshine is just a little bit delirious. I know I can’t live here because in my heart of hearts I know how inconsolable I get on a “blustery” day. I know this, but the Curse tricked me into thinking I can do these things. So I am waiting in Katie’s apartment for her to get back with moleskin for my blistered feet, waiting for these 600 mg of Ibuprofen to kick in so I’ll go numb to my aching legs. It is quite lovely here, but I know it is only a vacation, and that I’m a San Diego princess, and goddamn why did I walk like 5 miles yesterday?

Trivia: n. unimportant details or information

I’m losing my patience for trivia worship. I don’t have a mind for holding facts — at least not facts about popular culture. I’m a goddamn encyclopedia for pet behavior and grammar laws, but I haven’t found my flock of fellow bird & word nerds, yet. If geeks are excited about counterculture, then why do I only ever hear them exchanging social affirmations? Do you know about this? Do you know about that? Do we fall on our knees for the same gods?

I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

I am a bird nerd. I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

Real eggheads study an obscure or challenging subject and revel in the love of knowledge. Media culture geeks are just like any insecure high-schooler who wants to be part of a clique that’s big enough for safety in numbers but exclusive enough to be “cool.”

Yes, we’ve decided that a certain amount of geekitude is cool. But, no poindexter is standing on a table, reciting arcane theorems and getting all the ladies at the parties. People are doing what they’ve always done, and that’s dish news and check that everyone knows the what-what of the happening, socially shaming people who can’t get with the program. What’s changed is that the never-ending internet has given us more what-what to sputter over our red cups. Almost anything goes as long as you have a little tribe of other geeks who are into your geek kink. And you do have a little tribe. You’ve seen them somewhere on Tumblr.

I understand, I really do, that having a common lexicon is a short cut to establishing shared experiences. But if you go on and on about Naruto, and I don’t know jack about Naruto, what am I supposed to do? Pretend I know what you’re talking about so I can skip on the noob history lesson? Change the subject? Point out that you’re a fucking nerd?

In a perfect world, I’d tell you I don’t know jack about whatever-his-face guy-with-a-rune on his headband (at first I thought it was blue-arrow-forehead child. Don’t act shocked, they’re both animated kids shows and I’m not a kid). Don’t give me a history lesson, I’d say. Instead, share an experience or an insight you gained from watching the show.

Do you really need to figure out which episodes we’ve both seen? Why can’t you just tell me what it all means to you? How it compares to your daily life? How it’s improved your relationship with your daughter? Why do I have to partake in this pissing contest that is proving I know enough about your geek fantasy to belong in your geek fantasy?

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You just did a lot of reading. I will reward you with another bird picture.

This trivia spouting infects everything with a fandom, music appreciation included. Particularly, I don’t know how to react when a person knows more about my favorite band (Queens of the Stone Age)* than I do. I don’t know all the names of all the band members, though I’m certainly familiar with their discography. I can sketch out a list of songs for most albums with decent accuracy. Not that I care — I’ve just listened to R, Songs for the Deaf, Lullabies & Clockwork enough friggin’ times to know.

So, when this guy knows some obscure trivia (historical dates, formation of this or that) about my QOTSA and I yawn and pretend I know Josh Homme held this or that concert for his dead friend because I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of expertise for my self-proclaimed “favorite”… when this guy goes off on some story I frankly don’t care about (don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed he’s retained so much information on his not-favorite-band), I’m realizing I need to just say: “Hey, thanks for teaching me something new, but what does it all really mean to you?”

When he gives me his baffled response, a “what” or a blank stare, I elaborate, “I don’t really care about the trivia. I care about the music. And I care about the music because of the band’s particular influence on my family, the way the shows I’ve attended shaped my understanding of rock and live performance and human appreciation for both. Tell me about an event you went to, how you felt, which beer you drank, how much sweat stained your t-shirt.”

I’ll tell you I first saw them when I was 17, with my dad in Austin, Texas. People there thought maybe he was robbing the cradle, because I dressed a bit too stylish and they didn’t know I was his daughter. I stood on my tiptoes to watch the longest drum solo I’ve ever seen, in a tiny venue called the Rose (it’s a lot like the Casbah, if you’re familiar with that), for “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” I saw people smoking weed and carefully looked to my dad for an appropriate reaction, as I’d never seen the stuff before.

Don’t recite some band drama you picked up in your readings — some trivia that has nothing to do with you. Make it personal. Make it you. Bands are bands and some are better, but I’m not sitting in a spa with Josh Homme so what do I care if he wrote this or that song in this or that city? Unless, of course, *you* lived in that city.

Look he's so cute he's squinting. Don't you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I'm not boring you am I?

Look he’s so cute he’s squinting. Don’t you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I’m not boring you am I?

What I’m trying to say is, I coasted through my history classes because they weren’t *my* story. I’m much more interested in humans right in front of me than humans that are “popular” enough to make it to the books or the silver screen. I’m more interested in you. Tell me a tale, and make it one I can’t watch on TV. Tell me something I don’t know.

As media expands, these little clusters of allegiance to external narratives (Did you watch the new Game of Thrones? Are you into Attack on Titan?) might just fall apart. Lifespans of trends are shortening as the fire hose of popular media keeps pouring. We can’t keep up with everything. Certainly, established common ground makes us feel less alone. But I hope that the growth of communication technologies connects us such that we don’t need these superficial obsessions to lope along in a conversation. We could download in instants what someone else has already digested (here’s an emotion/dream/experience I had — let me transmit it to you in a microsecond so you know what I mean) and instead of validating that we’re on the same island of thought, examine and compare our reactions in the same moment. Make meaning, not just chase meaning laid out before us for us to follow like helpless human eyes scan a constantly flashing, changing TV screen. Quit worshiping trivia. Create your own legends.

*P.S. I’m going to the show in SF on the 17th! Will I see any other San Diegans there?

Go to Bro Bars

Go to bro bars. Order a Miller Light. No one will think you are drinking it ironically, so get that out of your head. Enjoy it, instead. Talk to strangers. Talk to strangers who ask if you don’t mind if they sit next to you. Don’t mind.

Spend the night listening. Spend the night believing you’ll be gleaning wisdom, or “stories of the people,” or perspective, or a new way to arrange the same sentences everyone says, always, everyday.

If you take out a notebook and write down what a person says to you, they will fall in love with you.

If you pull out a notebook mid-conversation to write what a person just said, they will fall in love with you.

Mean something to someone. Turn him down easy. Turn him down hard. Draw a puzzle piece that’s open on all sides. Explain these connections happen to you all the time, that you’re easy. Explain you understand it was special for him, but it was common for you. When you hug him goodbye, he will recite his phone number into your ear.

Listen.

Johnny Cash.

Basketball shoes.

Faggotron.

bro-bar-notes-faggotron

Take out a notebook. A bartender named Gregory will tell you, you don’t need to write a poem about him. Buy a lotto ticket. Win 4 dollars. Gregory’s dog does a trick — puts both big black paws on the bar and drinks water from a shot glass.

These places are quiet on Thursdays. These are the neighborhood places. There are regulars here, and you aren’t one of them. Not even close. Order another Miller Light. It’s half good when it’s cold.

 

Puddle of dead poultry and real post coming soon

Fuck. This. Week. My parents have been out of town for 6 days. Obviously I threw a party immediately after I dropped them off at the trolley station, even though I was instructed not to throw parties. This party went well, and this is measurable by the fact that I went home at 6:30am. No problems there.

The next morning I dealt with a family crisis, which I won’t divulge here but you probably know my family well enough by now to assume copious amounts of alcohol were involved. My weeklong drama continued into work, where all of our customers got blowjob pictures. Yay April Fools! I cleaned up that mess and arrived at my parents’ abode to feed the animals when I discovered a lake of raw chicken juice in the kitchen.

It didn’t take me long to figure out some sort of irreverent button mashing incident turned our working fridge into a display model, and to re-activate the freezing/cooling features I had to press the lighting and ice button simultaneously for 4 seconds (thank you reading the manual). What I don’t understand is why it’s so goddamn simple to convert a refrigerator from a working device to an ostensibly working device which will actually do nothing to preserve food and any bag of dead chicken bits contained therein will thaw in your unaware bliss. What I also don’t understand is how I didn’t throw up when I was mopping up the combination of dead chicken juice and whatever rusty filth had been brewing under the fridge since the last time we moved it.

So somehow Thursday vanished and Friday became Tuesday as my mind sought to just start the whole damn thing over. I did not post on time.

Because I’m just not pleased with the aesthetic result of juxtaposing my original writing with this preamble of excuses, I’ll “publish” it separately in a few moments after I’ve finished sprucing. Please stand by.

Whoops! Sorry I forgot to post

I have it all drafted up, all that’s left is to add in the pictures when I get home from work today.

My friend wrote to me asking where this week’s SD Survival Guide was and I almost quipped back, “What are you talking about, it’s Tuesday?”

Yeah, it’s been a crazy rollercoaster few days…