Thursday, December 20, 2007

Homecoming Anxiety Queen

Yesterday at LaGuardia my friend in Alaska called me from my apartment in San Francisco, where he is staying right now. (Yes I still call it "my apartment," not "my old apartment." Just like my house in Illinois is still my house in Illinois. I have many homes. Strangely, it makes me feel homeless instead of homeful.) Anyhow he couldn't get in, and he had me call all my roommates (not my old roommates, of course) but it just brought me back there right away.

Last night I dreamt of my return to San Francisco, which fills me with anxiety. In my dream I unlocked the front door and everything inside I found Girlfriend in, stretched out and on her laptop, and next to her was Love Affair, reading a book. I gave Girlfriend a massive hug and lay there with her for a little while before giving Love Affair a kiss on the cheek. The pink room was very small.

After a while Love Affair disappeared and I realized that, in addition to everything being pink, a lot of other things had changed. Like there was this bitch named Naomi living there and my former roommate Gabe, though he was still the same, and there were samurai swords dusted in coke to prove it.

(Then there was a spontaneous buffet that started with shredded cabbage and ended with a chunk of blue cheese so large that I joked to the guy doling it out, "You could make a sculpture with that thing." The label read that it was the "largest legal lump sum of blue cheese in the United States.")

Love Affair kept flitting in and out of the scene. It was a pink party full of strange outfits, strange people when I was supposed to be at home. I didn't want to hang out with strangers; I wanted to be with the friends I was missing. Then I got a telegram--yes, a telegram, it was handed to me buy a guy dressed like a toy messenger, but it was a digital tabloid--from Love Affair that read: I want to hang out with you; I want you to know I care, but I have so much to do. Why do I always leave things like this?

If I continue to think about it, it will be awkward and I will be uptight and psychoanalyze every moment we spend together for the next six months. I need to just let it go. My subconscious has other plans. Also I hate my haircut, even though I'm not dwelling on it. But every morning I wake up and I see my reflection and I wince. Not a good way to start your day. Maybe I should just lie to my face? "You look awesome! Have you lost weight?"

But I am filled with so much anxiety that I'm chewing all this nicotine gum again. Yesterday I fell asleep with it in my mouth.

Monday, December 17, 2007

let it go, let it go, let it go...

I'm sorry, but I just can't. Something really fucked up has been bothering me.

So I had this charming couple stay with me the last few days. They were very chill, and I told them to please make themselves at home, and to help themselves to whatever. I meant it, too. Within reason. So, please help yourselves to: foodstuffs, shampoo, use my computer, borrow a sweater, I don't care.

But really? You're going to drink my only bottle of wine...and instead of recycling the bottle, you're going to put it back where you found it, like maybe I won't notice? Really? My feelings are hurt. vitamins? You're going to take my bottle of vitamins? Come on, now. You could have taken a few, but the whole bottle? And that clearly homemade bottle of hot sauce my mother gave me in're going to...use it ALL? And then leave it in the sink for me to wash? Oh, it's all right. At least they gave me that bar of chocolate from Germany. No, wait. Where is it? Are you fucken kidding me? You ate it? I liked that shit. Apparently, I liked it more than I liked you.

I thought we were friends. Okay, let's say that you mistook that huge bottle of vitamins for yours. Maybe we had the same bottle, you saw it sitting on the kitchen table, and just threw it in your bag. Then I better get an email from you saying, "Oh, dude, sorry we swiped your multivitamins. I know that shit cost like ten bucks. It wasn't on purpose."

Otherwise, next time I see you, I'm gonna mug you like a Mitchell.

Update: I'm so going to hell...
That's right! I found the vitamins. They were tucked way back in the spice cabinet? Crazy couchsurfers. Does this mean I'm turning into my grandma, who accuses the cleaning crew of stealing her earrings? Oy.

brought to you by Starbucks!

I was at a piano lesson with my piano teacher from high school because I missed her, because I had time, because I wanted to work on my classical music again, and we were trying to set up a recital time for me, but time was short because I'm leaving for Ecuador on the 19th. We opened up a schedule and she asked me when my flight was, and I told her I hadn't yet booked my plane ticket, but I would probably be flying Wednesday evening on Delta, because they had the most convenient flight to Miami, where I would have to catch my connection to Quito.

It was really important we get together before then, so together we counted backwards to today to see how many days remained until the 19th. There were 10 days.

"That's so soon!" She said.

"I know," I said. And then this rush of anxiety came up. "I have a lot to do in the next 10 days."

Then I woke up, the oh-god-insomnia kind of explosion into the dawn, where you don't gradually wake up and blink your eyes a few times, you are just suddenly AWAKE, and you know you're not going back to sleep any time soon.

Not that I didn't try to, seeing as it was 4:30 in the morning, and I couldn't just get up and throw all the lights on, because there were two French boys sleeping a few feet away from me, and they were tired.

So instead, I waited around until 6 a.m. and left the house for the only place I knew would be open: Starbucks. I read a fascinating indictment of San Francisco's BART system in J. Allen Whitt's "Urban Elites and Mass Transportation," and then finished watching DIG!, this pretty-good documentary about the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The first was all about how BART was conceived of (and, therefore, serves primarily) downtown business interests, yet was paid for by tax-financed bonds under the guise of affordable transit. Booooo! The second was mostly about what happens to you if, despite being a musical genius constantly compared to Bob Dylan, you are an egomaniacal asshole on heroin.

I have overwhelmingly negative feelings about the corporatization of America's public spaces. But, this morning the Bucks was a great hideout for me. When I walked in at 6 a.m. and asked for a decaf, both of the guys laughed at me. What do they know that I don't?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

an educational saturday night

this is what i learned last night:

do not go out to get away from your mind or your resolve to stop drinking so much.

drinking cocktails out of double-shot glasses will give the appearance that you have only had little sips all night. do not be fooled.

do not stand too close to the pinata. foil-wrapped chocolate balls, when flying at high velocity, can really hurt.

if you tell yourself, "i will only have one drink," it usually works. if you tell yourself, "so what's one drink in these cute little glasses...three? four? well, i'll figure it out later," an educational saturday night is in store for you.

when you abandon the cute glasses that everyone has been drinking all night and start swigging tequila straight from the bottle, you have had too much to drink.

when people start calling you a hero because you are championing everyone else's discarded desperation drinks -- like vermouth on ice-- you have had too much to drink.

when your friend who has NEVER asked you if you're okay asks you if you're okay, leave immediately.

when leaving a party drunk, ask the hostess if she has a plastic garbage you can take with you. an old shopping bag should work too.

if you have to take the subway, sit at one end of the train, as far away from as many people as you can.

if you have to puke, use the garbage bag. if you don't have the garbage bag, use your purse.
if you are too drunk to open your purse, use the floor.

if you're vomiting all over the A train and you can't even think to yourself, "oh my god, i'm vomiting all over the A train, i'm so embarrassed," this is a good thing.

just because you want to get off the train doesn't mean it's your stop.

if you've already puked all over the A train, you might as well sit in it, so to allow other people to sit in seats that you haven't puked all over. also, if you change seats, you are messing up more seats.

just because a man wants to take you home does not mean he wants to sleep with you.

when a nice stranger walks you home, just say thank you. do not try to hug him, because you are covered in thirty people's drinks, and your partially digested meal. the stomach acid could ruin his coat and discourage him from helping other pathetic drunk girls in the future.

although tight chinese dresses are not comfortable pajamas, it doesn't matter if you're passed out on the toilet.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


this post is dedicated to keetins and to anyone else who knows that it is possible to love life so much that you wish you were dead.

Last night we went on an internet binge and read all about doppelgangers, our phantom selves that accompany us throughout life. As part of my new separation from mind and self, (or feelings from thoughts) I feel like I'm kind of prancing around, holding hands with mine and, like any relationship, sometimes hating her, sometimes winking at her slyly for being the only one in the secret, which makes me love her.

In the middle of my 8 days of intense concentration, however, my mind is not easily ignored, and my "feeling" doppelganger has now begun to put the "thinking" doppel on a pedestal and started to write odes to her. Usually, it's the other way around. By "usually," I mean that certain periods of intense exhilaration that I have come to suspiciously regard as mania, the "thinking" self becomes fully obscured by the seeking and sating of all of life's worldly pleasures. Let me illustrate. This is the normal pattern of thought that occurs when "feeling" and "thinking" co-exist and, in my case, "feeling" usually beats "thinking" into submission.

Feeling: I feel bad. I need something. Sex? Booze? What is it?
Thinking: Is that what you really need? Sex and booze can fulfill your short-lived desires, but your deeply rooted unhappiness will still remain.
Feeling: Shut up, you. Deeply rooted unhappiness cannot be corrected right now, can it genius?
Thinking: This is a self-destructive pattern. We've got to start somewhere.
Feeling: All right, genius. Start. Make us feel better.
Thinking: Uhh...I'm thankful for my friends. My family. My health.
Feeling: I'm not feeling better. Are you?
Thinking: No.
Feeling: Of course not, genius! You got nothing! Let's try this again. Sex or booze?
Thinking: Well, booze would make sex easier.
Feeling: Yes! I knew you were good for something. Great, that's a plan. We're in this together now.
Thinking: Okay, but I'll get you back tomorrow morning.
Feeling: Stop trying to play the "you" and "me" game, friend. You mean, you'll get us back in the morning. If we got to make the trip to Shame City, we're getting a double room.
Thinking: Yes, double rooms are a better value.
Feeling: See, you can't deny me. We're one and the same.
Thinking: You're right. I don't know what I was thinking.
Feeling: You're always thinking. I exist for a reason.
Thinking: Yes. Without you, we would never have any fun.
Feeling: Now quit your yapping and get us a drink.
Thinking: Yes, sir.

In times of mania, feeling and thinking kind of merge into this kind of thought stream:

Feeling: I feel bad. I need something. Sex? Booze? What is it?
Thinking: What is this, junior high? You forgot drugs, guns, and the reckless endangerment of everyone we care about!
Feeling: God, where would I be without you? Of course.
Thinking: Okay, let's call everyone we know and get this Tuesday started!
Feeling: Yeah! Let's do it! God, I love you.
Thinking: And I love you.

Synergy is indeed a beautiful thing. It eliminates so much conflict. Now, what happens when thinking wins over feeling?

Feeling: I feel bad. I need something. Sex? Booze? What is it?
Thinking: God, your material desires bore me. Have we learned nothing? We will always feel bad until we learn to think outside of ourselves. The only way to not feel better is to cure the world of its ills through the disciplined practice of Extreme Intellectualism.
Feeling: Are you serious? We've been through this before. And last time I checked, sex and booze got us lots of lovin'.
Thinking: I am ignoring you. I'm serious about this. Where can we start? The politics of the world stage? The labor market? Marxism? Capitalism?
Feeling: Okay, I can see you're feeling a little overexcited. You're delusional. You need to settle down there. Why don't we calm down, take a Xanax, and go to sleep. We'll talk about booze tomorrow.
Thinking: Sleep is for the weak. I am on the brink of something huge here. Oh my god, it's so obvious. Freud. How can we possibly think about society as a whole without first considering the most basic unit of society, the individual?
Feeling: I thought I knew you. I'm hurt. I have needs, too, my pompous friend.
Thinking: Well, you're going to have to go get tanked without me. I have bigger concerns now.
Feeling: I can't do this without you! We're a team, remember?
Thinking: I am ignoring you. Perhaps you haven't noticed.
Feeling: Nobody will like us anymore.
Thinking: Those people don't concern us anymore.
Feeling: Do you think you can do this without me?
Thinking: Oh yes. I am quite capable. You, my childish ghost of a soul, are what's been holding me back all these years.
Feeling: Right. Well, go then. See how far you make it on your own.
Thinking: I will. Once I achieve world peace, we can be friends again.
Feeling: Not unless you bring the bourbon.
Thinking: You'll see.
Feeling: So will you.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hanukkah madness, madness, madness!

Strangely enough, my eight days of go-time here at school correspond exactly to the eight nights Yo La Tengo is playing sold-out shows in Hoboken, as well as the eight nights of Hanukkah.

It's been a most invigorating week, kicked off by a Saturday gazing into the mirror of my soul, reflected in the eyes of keetens. There are some people who are so like me in such pointed ways that it makes me uncomfortable to spend time with them. At the same time, their very existence is comforting and inspiring. This is why I have this love-hate relationship with my NA groups, and why I couldn't go this week. But I thinking talking to her made me realize that change is inevitable, because without change we either (a) continue to kill ourselves, or we (b) have no conflict, in which case we pretty much cease to exist.

Then Sunday vertical writer woke me up to tell me to look outside. For a long and beautiful moment, my mind was completely blank except for the sound of myself saying "Holy Shit." Everything outside was covered in a pure white silence.

My five-mile jog in the snow and the couple of 14-hour days on campus this week showed me that I am more or less comfortably enmeshed in a manic state of finals and euphoria. It's about fucken time. A few years ago, I realized the signficance of October, during which I flicker through being depressed and acting like it, and being depressed and exhausting myself trying to act like I'm not. RLP also fears October, and one October evening we had the following phone conversation in San Francisco:

RLP: What are you doing?
SB: Sitting in the dark. Watching TV.
RLP: What are you watching?
SB: Snow.
RLP: Snow?
SB: I just realized the TV is on, but it's not on a station. I've been watching snow for a few hours now.
RLP: Why is life like this? Why does October suck?
SB: You mean, why does life suck?
RLP: I feel like we could be on an after-school special right now about how to be a depressing shame to yourself and everyone you know. It would be called "Wasted Potential."
SB: That is really funny. I would laugh if I hadn't been doing all those drugs for the past five years.

Last year, I came to terms with November being a time of intense self-reflection involving massive life changes, accepting responsibility, and quitting smoking.

This year, I am accepting that, following October and November, it is only right that December and January are times of extreme energy and excitement about everything, everything, everything! This year it is a little tempered because I am pretty much sober, so now I get to crack out on Extreme Intellectualism.

I am incredibly excited about the world that has been opening up to me as a result of Columbia-induced malaise, Eckhart Tolle, and cuz, a PhD student whose lecture on Tuesday made me incredibly happy and loud. All this brain function makes me want to be a PhD student, a thought which is alternately repulsive and awe-inspiring. How does that work? How can you possibly not work for 7 years? I just don't get it.

Yesterday I had a funny meeting with my Quit Counselor because when I am amped up about life, I don't like to talk about the past or any kind of struggle, something that I normally cream over. I was kind of in denial that I have quit smoking and that it is affecting me at all. I felt like it would never get better, and then it did, so what is there left to talk about? Let's move on.

We started talking about winter break plans, because he is going to have to give me a large supply of nicotine patches to last me the month. Last week I would have only been too happy to talk about how stressful my return to San Francisco is going to be, but yesterday the stress was a moot point, and instead I turned to extolling the virtues of Love Affair. He said, politely, "Well, you'll have to tell me what happens when you get back." And instead of saying "Fucken A, you and everyone I know is going to get a blow-by-blow account of everything we said, ate, and saw, whether you want to or not," I told him that there would be nothing to tell. Or, rather, I would tell him right then and there would would happen, because I already knew. We're going to have a good time, see some sights, and enjoy each other's company. We will have fun. We will laugh a lot about stupid shit. We might have sex, we might not, it won't matter. We won't talk about the past; we won't talk about the future, and then we'll leave each other again and not speak for a while.

Hearing myself say this was quite satisfying. Not terribly awe-inspiring, but satisfying.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

november i loved you but you brought me down

It's been *so* long since I've posted that I thought I should do it now, before it got to be so long that to write would have required too much explanation.

My dear friend's disclosure last week left me feeling detached from the world. When you live in New York and someone is breaking your heart from Alaska, I get the feeling your insides dump out somewhere in northern Montana, a cold and mountainous place, from what I understand. It's jarring, but then again, what are you going to do? After you cry about it for a while, you've got to find your heart thumping somewhere and swallow it back in to where it belongs so you can smile when some good-hearted soul buys you three shots of tequila for looking so down. Organs in glaciers are good finds for the explorers of the future, but they don't do as much good right now.

Speaking of right now, I read a book this week called The Power of Now, which I want to tell you all about. Seems I was ripe for an injection of spirituality, because when my mother offered it to me over the break, I jumped at it like she was offering me a pack of Winston Lights. And yes, yes, YES!--this book was on Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

When I told my little brother about it, he asked me what "the take-away message" was. I love him. Basically, there are two themes of the book: Forget time, and forget yourself.

Forgetting time is hard. I, for one, am always brooding over the past: how it fucked me up, how it's still fucking me up. I am also one to pin all my hopes on the future: things will be better once I get through this, once I figure this out, once I meet and marry Joey Comeau. (He writes! He plays chess! He's cynical and edgy but maintains that idiotic faith in life that I adore!) But, simply put, how can we be happy in the future? We never live in the future. We live in the present.

Forgetting yourself is even harder. Eckhart Tolle writes that one of the most damaging spikes to inner peace was Descartes' proclamation "I think, therefore I am." The notion that we are our thoughts seems obvious, but we really are not our minds. There is a challenging dualism that we so frequently face, evidenced in cliches like "My heart says yes, but my mind says no," or the author's wake-up call one day: I can't live with myself anymore.

There's so much in this book that I found really resonated with me, and it's written in a question-and-answer style way, for all us non-believers who are quite skeptical and, perversely attached to our pain and our thoughts, as tortuous as they may sometimes be. But I really have to believe that kicking my Self to the curb is the way to go, because so far all my mind does is fuck with me, urge me to compulsive and self-destructive behavior, in addition to keeping me awake at night.

In trying to settle my mind, ease my utterly worthless anxiety, and in general lead a healthier life, I have more or less retreated into as much solitude as is socially acceptable. A random kid I met the last time I went out...uh...two weeks ago...found me on MySpace. I was self-medicating that night, so it took more than a few moments to remember who he was, and his message (Subject: You Are Fun. Message: Let's Hang Out!) didn't do much to jog my memory. What kind of sorry sap thinks that a depressed drunk girl is fun? Turns out he's a comedian. We live in a fucked up world. He invited me to his show Monday night AND gave me his number, which I thought was funny (I tend to laugh *at* comedians rather than with them). I didn't go to his show.

November has always been an interesting month for me. But, as I'm forgetting time, right now is quite pleasant. My internet, after a week of vacation, has returned, and the heat in my apartment is on.