the song “nausea” by jeff rosenstock instead of actually explaining myself

so I haven’t been blogging. idk. it was the election, and then I took the GRE, and then I was busy finishing grad school applications, and the election had still happened, and I didn’t have a lot of energy to tell you all my thoughts about books. it wasn’t just here, I gave up my two fancy pretending to be a real writer guest blog things. not that I was ever very good at those. I guess I missed it.

I think it’s good for me? not telling you about books necessarily, but having a space where I make myself put words out in the world. and telling you about books too. I’ve almost only ready theory or books with spaceships this year. a few exceptions, but mostly spaceships. lots of star wars novels. that’s something I wasn’t expecting.

I might go back and tell you about everything I’ve read and seen since I stopped blogging regularly. I might try to write more about music. I move to Chicago for school in a week and a half, and I start my master’s at the end of the month, so maybe I won’t have any time for anything. but writing here is good for me.

I have this theory about writing, that it’s good, because it’s an output, and it’s a processing device, and even if you’re writing about something totally different than the life stuff you need to be processing, even if you’re writing fan fiction about Wedge Antilles, you’re still doing the work of processing, of turning things into words, and it’s good for you. or at least it’s good for me? the act of writing makes me feel better, and it has very little to do with what it is I’m actually writing.

if I felt up to writing anything coherent, I’d try to explain my feelings about Bomb the Music Industry! which I have been listening to non-stop for days now. I went and saw Jeff Rosenstock play last week. it was the funnest thing, to go to a punk show in the suburbs with my best friend, who doesn’t really like punk shows, or suburbs, or that much noise. it was amazing. I still haven’t figured out what I’m trying to say. something something not carrying how it looks, making a fool of yourself, fugazi, yadda yadda, so hot on a summer nigh, nobody followed the rules on the wall about not crowd surfing.

the important thing is the act of writing, not the words. the important thing is the act of processing, not words. the important thing is the shouting, not the words. I don’t actually believe that, but sometimes it is a good thing to hold onto as a process philosophy, and sometimes the important things is the process, and not the words.

watch more movies

last year I didn’t go into the year with any media goals. I wound up reading almost 100 books, and while I would have liked to get the last six, eh. I got very close, and am going to be happy with that.

This year I am going to be more intentional! My new years resolution is to watch more movies! Which is a kind of sad goal, on some level, but oh well. This will be good for me. I like film, and I like talking about it, and thinking and writing about it, and I want to make it a larger part of my life.

“Watch more movies” is incredibly vague, and as such should be easy to satisfy, but also offers little guidance. So I’ve come up with some things to aim for:

  • I have a list of movies I want to watch. Right now there are 138 things on it. I would like to cross 1o0 things off that list, and to have it under 100 by 2018.
  • I’m going to try to see all of the films nominated for best picture before the Oscars happen, unless something I really really don’t want to see gets nominated.
  • When I was younger and video rental stores was a thing we used to pick an actor and watch everything available in a row. I miss this. So I picked one actor, and one actress, and I’m going to try to watch everything they’re in that looks interesting that I haven’t already seen. I feel silly telling you who, like I’m confiding super obvious crushes on famous talented people, which I am, but feeling silly is good. Also, they’re both beautiful and I love them? It’s Julianne Moore and Adam Driver, and I’m super excited for Todd Hanyes movies I haven’t seen yet, and Paterson.
  • Go see more stuff, because going to the movies is fun, especially at the Trylon or the Walker, because they have cool weird stuff.

We’ll see how this goes? Wish me luck.

i don’t know about posting this, but it helped me, so maybe it will help you

This is a thing I started writing a while ago that never got finished. It felt less important, or less urgent, or too depressing. Instead I’ve been writing West Wing fan fiction and existential hockey dread and the start of a weird romance novel about fake Nate Silver. Yeah, that last thing was a weird life choice, I don’t even know, I’ll probably be embarrassed about telling you that tomorrow, but there will be a lot things to worry about tomorrow. I’m taking the GRE on Thursday. I’m going to have to ask for letters of recommendation really soon. When I get anxious I physically make myself sick. The goal is to get to the end of the week without throwing up. I’m crying while I write this because I talked to my best friend on the phone and she was so kind to me, and I wish the rest of the world could be that kind.

So here is our big thesis, the thing I’m holding onto right now, the part I wrote last month:

A Trump presidency would not be the end of the world. It would be terrible, but we would have to keep going. No matter what happens, we will have to keep struggling.

As the election cycle has dragged on there has been an increase in apocalyptic rhetoric coming from liberals. The horror of a Trump presidency has been built into a final defeat, the end of everything. There’s been a pervasive sense that it would be the worst thing to ever happen, and nothing we could ever recover from.

Bullshit. This sort of catastrophizing doesn’t do anyone any good.

I grew up under the Bush regime, and have felt disenfranchised from politics as long as I can remember. I grew up in a radical progressive community. Everyone i knew was always protesting something. The war, road construction that cut down old trees, there was always something wrong with the world, with the government. I remember being very young and going along, agreeing with this as much as i could. I was raised a part of the legacy of radicalism.

I still feel disenfranchised with a liberal democrat in office. Better, because Obama seems like a cool dude, and Hillary is certainly a better choice than an actual fascist. but we still need to protest. We still need to move politicians towards really caring about people instead of politics. There was an interview on Politically Reactive, I think it was with Shaun King talking about Black Lives Matter and how in Obama’s second term activism did more to move him, that there needs to be people in office who listen, and people in the streets shouting about what’s happening.

Even electing a competent mostly benevolent commander in chief doesn’t mean we could shut up, or trust the government.

Imagine the activism that comes from a Trump presidency. Imagine the protests. Imagine the punk rock albums. American Idiot changed my whole life. Like, think about The Great Depression by Defiance, Ohio. Fucking killer album. Imagine the liberal television fantasy administration. Imagine the Colbert clips. He’d kill it. I don’t want to live in that world, but I know that no matter the outcome of the election we will still make a world. It will be scary, and hard, but we can do it. We can keep going.

Beautiful things come out of struggle. Think of protest music, and punk rock, and god, Regan did terrible things for the country, but we have American Hardcore as a result. We have ACT UP, and A Normal Heart, and Angels in America. I would rather have my godfather to have lived, but those are some great plays. Whatever happens we will make noise, and make art, and do what we can to make the world a better place in any small way.

We can do all that with Hillary as president too, and it will probably be easier, because the arts will be at least slightly better funded. But we need to remember that a Trump presidency is not the end of the world.

It would not be an opportunity to give up. It would be a reason to get louder and bolder than ever. It isn’t an incitement I want to live through, but if it comes to that, I’ll be here, fighting back with words and art and everything I have.

I worry that Hillary were to win liberals would get comfortable. It would be easy to back away, say, “Thank god it’s a Democrat,” and not question how she handles surveillance and cyber warfare and drone warfare. Is the way Trump would handle this be worse? Absolutely, yes, but we’ll fight him on that.

That’s what I wrote last month. Now that doesn’t seem as serious of a concern. I would be happy to say, “Thank god it’s a Democrat,” because I would be happy to not be crying tonight.

When I talked to my best friend on the phone, appalled that Minnesota was too close to call, she reminded me that we have Keith Ellison, the first muslim in congress, was re-elected tonight. His son went to my high school, and I believe in him. Ilhan Omar was elected the first Somali-American legislator tonight, in the district next to mine, where my best friend lives. We have Al Franken, who used to write for SNL, then was inspired to carry on Paul Wellstone’s legacy by becoming a politician. We have Guante, who’s an activist and an inspiration, who came into the bookstore where I volunteer today and asked about consigning his book. I follow the former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak on twitter and sometimes he writes haikus.There are people I believe in who are going to continue to do good things.

I got sick of the MSNBC and switched over The Daily Show, and Trevor Noah and Keegan-Michael Key are talking about how they’re going to have to figure out how to satirize this. Right now it’s hard because it’s all very emotional, but they’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out, when we get over the shock.

I’ll take the GRE on Thursday, and I’ll do well on the useful parts and horrid on the math, and that should be good enough. I’ll find a way to ask for letters of recommendation. I’ll get in somewhere, I hope. Want to hear the backup life plan for if I don’t get into grad school, that so far only my girlfriend has heard? She doesn’t think it’s a great plan, and it isn’t, but I needed to have a fallback to have a direction in my life. If I don’t get into grad school I’m going to try stand up comedy. That’s a pretty good joke right there.

I’m not crying anymore, for a moment at least. Tomorrow is going to suck. Thursday is going to suck. I have to work Friday, and that will suck. The Wild play the Flyers on Saturday, and I expect that to suck. Lots of things are terrible all of the time. Lots of things are not terrible. There are books to read, and movies, and good tv shows. Living well is the best revenge. Do everything you can for people who are hurting. Do everything you can to make the world better. Be kind. Fight back. Survive.

This isn’t the end of the world if we don’t let it be the end of the world. Don’t accept the apocalypse. Keep going.

That’s all I have for tonight. Writing this made me feel better enough that I’ll be able to fall asleep as well as I ever can. That’s still pretty poorly, but that’s fine, I’ll still wake up in the morning.

twenty-four years of sleeping poorly

I haven’t been sleeping well. Of all the different types of insomnia I’m familiar with, this is one of the better sorts, where I know I should go to to sleep, but can’t convince myself to actually do so, because of course sleeping is a horribly dull way to spend my time. I’ve been reading a lot, and not writing enough. I owe people emails and dms and texts. Today’s my birthday, so there will be facebook messages to read and respond to. I could give less fucks about facebook, but not many, I have so few to begin with. There are things I should start working on to get the future in order, things I should study for, more emails, applications, etc. But it’s my birthday, and that sounds dull and unpleasant, so I’m just going to try to write, hopefully ridding myself of enough words to make sleep seem like a reasonable option. I don’t know if it’s correlation/causation but in the last month plus of insomnia I haven’t been writing as much, and I feel bad about that. It’s one thing I can try to fix, because all the other remedies are worse.

Maybe this is just who I am — I’m twenty-four and bad at sleeping. I’ve been bad at sleeping for as long as I can remember, since I was a kid. This may be one of those problems that I’ve left untreated for too long, that I’ve accepted as part of my makeup instead of doing anything about it, and that might be wrong, that might be horrible for my health and happiness, but whatever. I don’t know who I’d be if I slept well, if I was a morning person, if I didn’t half-dread trying to fall asleep. It would be easy to say that I’d be happier. That’s probably true. But I wouldn’t be me the same way I am now, the same way I’ve been for twenty-four years now, so why bother.

Ha. That’s the kind of thing I say that makes my gf worry about me. But it’s my birthday, so I can do what I want. I’m sitting at the dining room table with tea that has more caffeine that I should have, settled in to write with the cat sleeping in front of me. It’s going to be a good afternoon, and then it’s going to be a good night watching movies with my gals, and it’s going to be a good year, and I might not sleep right, but I’ve got other things going for me, and sleeping’s overrated anyway.

the summer of 2012 all I listened to was frank ocean and fiona apple. they both put out new albums that spring, and i listened to those two things over and over, one after another, again and again, all summer. that was the summer before my sweetheart and I really started dating. we kept on doing incredibly romantic things together, but I didn’t ask her out until the end of august. we listened to those two albums and held hands and lay on my bed told each other stories.

august was hard. she was out of town, then i was out of town, then she was out of town again. i think we got one afternoon together between all the family vacations. when she was in the boundary waters without cell service i was basically in hell. that suffering was bad, but it helped convince me that i really had to do something and tell her how much i cared. it was worth it to get us here.

i’m not good at augusts. there’s usually a point where i feel absolutely miserable. i don’t think it’s come yet this summer, but i’m waiting for it, and maybe that’s making things worse. or maybe things aren’t great already.

my insomnia’s been bad, worse in a way that i’m not used to. and i haven’t been writing as much as I like to, which bothers me. things have been slightly out of sync all month, maybe longer.

soon enough it will be september, and then my birthday, and i’ll have an excuse to be outrageously happy. for now i just need to make do, muddle along. there’s a new frank ocean album to listen to, and that’s making everything better. having the right soundtrack for your melancholy is incredibly important. i’ll always remember what the summer of 2012 sounded like, those two albums again and again, and i figured out what to do about falling in love.

i don’t like people who are younger than me who seem to know what they’re doing with their life

and i don’t like people who are older than me who think they know what i should be doing with my life

and to be honest, i really don’t like people, like, at all, hardly ever

which sometimes makes life hard

but whatever

there are a few people i love

and that’s enough

fuck what the rest of the world says

the things i can not change

which vastly outnumber the things i can

grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

 

today does not have to be a bad day

today can start to get better right now

i’m on the brink of another beautiful positive summer.

middle school jams

it’s getting close to two in the morning, and I’m listening to Stadium Arcadium, which is objectively a Bad album, but it does have some damn good songs. It’s far too long — anything that takes up two CDs is simply too long, even if it’s all good music that’s too much music at once. And this is not all good music! some of it is the opposite of good, and a fair chunk of it is mediocre. but like, “Dani California,” that’s a tune. it was on the radio a couple weeks ago, and we were watching music videos earlier tonight, and I remembered that it had a great one. that was one of the first music videos I ever remember watching. I was in middle school, and we were using laptops for something, and the school had youtube blocked, but not google video. I definitely didn’t get all of the references at the time, but it was still pretty entertaining. I want to make a playlist of all my middle school jams. this era of Red Hot Chili Peppers is the furthest outlier from what I’m into now, what I’m the least likely to admit to digging. I own my emo stage of Panic! and their ilk. I have no shame about Green Day being my punk rock gateway drug. Death Cab, the Killers, Franz Ferdinand were all signs of what was to come, things that fit in with my current listening if they come up on shuffle. I don’t know what to make of this Chili Peppers album. back then the Cities still had an alt rock station, which I listened to more than the Current. it played the singles off this album all the time. there was a summer where I swear to god every second song was either “crazy” or “steady as she goes.” it wasn’t a bad summer at all. Drive 1-0-5. they played some good stuff. and then, like, fucking Guster or whatever. stuff that I can’t call good, but does have a certain nostalgic appeal. it’s not shame I’m feeling, but just — I know better now, alright? I need you to trust me, I really do know better, I make better decisions than this. I mean, the evidence might contrary, what with the listening to Stadium Arcadium when I really should be sleeping. but I swear, most of the time I listen to much cooler shit in the middle of the night. this is just a throwback. a lot of the stuff from my life is stuff I’d never want to return to in a million years, I was kind of miserable back then. but this is a decent song. it made me happier when I was in like seventh grade? I don’t want to google the year. I bought the CD from the Borders on Snelling. it’s all just a throwback. I’m not going back there — that Borders hasn’t existed for four years now. this song can still make me happy now, if I let it.