“You Look Like You’ve Been Run Over By A Truck.”

You are very perceptive, father.

I spent the last 5-ish hours asleep, and I’m still dead tired. It was so hard to get up. Running the risk of sleeping right through the entire New Year’s Eve event is no sort of deterrent. Missing out feels just about right. Go to sleep, wake up and the whole thing is over. Why stay awake for crowds, pop-stars, booze and superficial nostalgia, when you can re-heat and snarf on your real memories like two-day old pizza just by turning out the light. The quality and meaningfulness of the things you see and encounter while dreaming are almost guaranteed to be greater than whatever it is you would see in wakefulness on New Year’s Eve. That is fact.

Go to sleep, wake up and it’s yet another year? Excuse me, but fuck you. Every day I wake up with the sneaking suspicion that it’s really still 1989, and that no matter what I do, I can never leave 1989. Not that I would want to, but still. It’s any fucking year that I say it is.

Friends pop into town for the holidays, but appear to be in a perpetual rush to leave. What’s the point? What do you expect to accomplish here in one day? And where are you going that you need to get out of here so quickly? What are you running from? The experience of one year ‘becoming’ another is the same no matter where you are in the country. It’s the same collective nothingness. You might as well just come to town, grab a pillow, and take a siesta in the streets instead of dancing or driving in them. For events that only take place in the mind, why do these dumbass holidays get more hype than dreaming? We’re on holiday every time we take a nap. But people just throw their shit into their cars, their trash into the streets, and all of their discarded memories into the past. There’s a giant landfill of vintage New Year’s Eve party hats and forgotten experiences lurking right behind us, and 99.99% of it is NON-BIODEGRADABLE, folks.

I should know. I mean, sure, in our world, useless, arbitrary things need a place to stay just like real things do, but if you’re not careful they’ll become sticky and follow you around forever. They’ll start thinking you want them. They’ll start thinking you need them. And then, they will just use you as a vehicle. You become nothing more than a living, breathing, walking, real-life haunting on display. Take me, for example. I apparently did something really wrong at some point during my childhood, and now I’m paying for it. I feel like I’ve been run over by the past, or as my dad might call it, “a truck”. I’m constantly getting pushed around by other people’s psychic debris. I used to think that the fear and anxiety was all just coming from me, but it’s not. I’m pure, and a little too receptive to nostalgia that I’ve inadvertently volunteered myself for this by milling around the landfill. It must get perpetuated by osmosis. Sensations from past points in time that I never even lived through have been hovering just near my head, sucking away all of my mental energy, washing over me repeatedly, tempting me to look back and not forward. And when you do look forward, it’s only to sense that something bad is about to happen to you, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, because there’s a giant cloud of debris obstructing your vision. A psychic cataract* caused by years of forgetting and bad luck. I’m constantly operating at 40% health and near 0% visibility in its wake.

In all honesty, this is one New Year’s Eve that I would probably benefit most from spending alone. This morning I had this awesome idea that I would spend the day playing the Sims, something I haven’t done in well over a year now. That didn’t happen so far since I fell asleep, but in my dream I helped some women construct a building, I participated in something that was maybe a daily job, and at one point, I carried a young child on my hip. I could even feel his tiny legs squeezing around me. I’ve almost accomplished everything I was hoping to do in-game.

I don’t even think my copy of The Sims 2 or 3 are working right now. Some custom content I installed a long time ago has been causing the game to crash repeatedly.

Such is life!

*I suffered from congenital cataracts in both eyes when I was little, and underwent two eye surgeries and a series of out-patient laser procedures between 1992 and 1994. A good portion of my memories from that time involve darkness, thanks to eye patches.

Advertisements

A Few Thoughts on Christmas and Family

Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or *insert year-end cultural/religious celebration here*) is one of those odd times of year when families reconvene, shower each other with stuff, and share warm fuzzies. When you look past all of the consumerist bullshit and think about how people expect to come together at year end, year in and year out, it’s really an amazing phenomenon.

You watch each year as people mill around the revolving door of family. New people are introduced, children are born and elders pass away. Little people grow and become accustomed to their family’s holiday traditions. They begin to expect that Christmas will in fact occur year after year. If families are mountains of adults, children begin to gain footholds in their families through the act of receiving gifts, and anticipating the reception of gifts at Christmas. At these gatherings, adults find a place to sit on the sidelines as children execute what is essentially the moment their parents have been building toward in the weeks prior. It is a place to showcase the year’s prosperity or lack thereof, it is a place to reinforce notions of who you are as a group, and it’s a time to more closely consider your own family’s dynamics, and how both adults and children are groomed to respond to the holiday through the years.

My family probably hasn’t filmed a Christmas home video since sometime in the early 1990s, but it’s fascinating to watch groups of related people coming together to participate in this big orchestrated, cultural thing. It’s like glue, or an annual check-up. Christmas keeps the dogeared corners of the family photo from snapping off completely. You may have had confrontations with certain people in the room over the course of the year, but if you are there at Christmas, those things may be temporarily overlooked for the sake of togetherness and cohesion.

People evolve inside of the holiday from one understanding of Christmas to another. From the inside of the festivities to the outside. In childhood, they are the conductors of Christmas, the celebratory centerpiece of the moment. Christmas is a celebration of children. Then, they may pass through a phase somewhere between adolescence and adulthood where Christmas can seem a rather alienating affair. Somewhere between the spotlight and the sidelines are idle stares from nonchalant faces. As adults, they’ll indulge the children they’ve produced in hopes of perpetuating that feeling of being a star. The star, or more generally, the light is a theme (the Star of Bethlehem, the star atop the tree, the Festival of Lights, the shining beacons of young human beings, of messengers and saviors, of survival and sustenance, the will to trek forward and carry on) is a theme of the holiday. It’s essentially about futures. About children. And then, in later adulthood there are the family members who, in disability, old age and/or ill-health, are removed even from the sidelines and spend the holidays in hospitals and nursing homes.

After my brother (1984) and myself (1988), our next youngest family member was born in 1997. Her younger brother came five days before Christmas 2001, and the youngest member of our family was born in 2007. Our teenaged cousins remained silent and detached for most of this year’s family gathering. But Kennedy Grace, who is now 4, has been the star of the show for the 3rd year in a row. She’s excited. She knows what it means. She represents the continuation of family, “the ongoing wow” (as Speed Levitch might put it). We are constantly amazed at our ability to carry on year after year, and to bring new individuals into this whole experience of being alive. On the way home from this year’s Christmas festivities at my cousin’s house, I began to think about the future of our family. Where will the young people beneath us end up? Will they progress like my brother and I into a general lack of direction or face depression in their early adulthood? How will they feel at future Christmas gatherings? These are the things that matter to one’s experience of Christmas, or of life in general.

I wondered if I would even be around at future Christmases. I’ve already progressed to the sidelines, but in more ways than one. I wondered if I would even be alive. I’m not ready for Christmas to continue happening year after year. To me, it almost means something sinister. Perhaps that is just because I am not in a good place emotionally. Post-celebration, I spent much of Christmas night crying. On the way home, this enormous wave of fear overtook me. Fear of the future. Fear of my relationship to family. Fear of the repeated occurrence of Christmas each year. Fear of the bad feelings I am developing in reference to it. Fear of being alive for years to come.

Little Christmas Radio

I don’t think my dad liked the gift I gave him this year. It’s a nice little vintage-inspired radio. I saw it in a magazine and kind of fell in love with it. It’s really classy, and I thought it might be something that would look sharp in his office. But apparently he already has radios stationed in every room of the house that he lounges in? (I think the radio he has in his bedroom is kind of past its prime, but whatevs).

Crosley CR221 Solo Radio - Black

We shall find some place for it. We shall find some love for it.

A Curious Conversation with My 4-Year-Old Cousin

Setting: On the family couch, helping her get into her pajamas. She pulls down her underwear to put on a fresh pull-up. The following dialogue takes place (transcribed verbatim to the best of my recollection):

Kennedy: *points to nether regions* Look, that’s my wiener!

Ashley: Excuse me? Little girl, you do not have a wiener. Let’s get this pull-up on.

Kennedy: Boys have wieners.

Ashley: What?! How would you know?

Kennedy: Because boys kiss! *cackling*

Ashley: They kiss?! What are you even–

Kennedy: Boys get married to girls.

Ashley: Maybe, but what does that have to do with you getting to bed?

Kennedy: I don’t kiss wieners.

Ashley: That’s good! Stop saying ‘wieners’, but yes, you shouldn’t kiss wieners.

—-

There was more to this exchange. She went on to explain that boys use wieners to pee. I thanked her for enlightening me, and we continued on with her nighttime rituals. But it left me with some questions about what sort of chain of events is forming in her little mind…

According to Kennedy, kissing causes wieners? Or maybe she meant that wieners cause kissing? And girls marry boys because they have wieners? Hm. This babby’s understanding of causal and interpersonal relationships is a little strange right now (or maybe she’s dead-on), but that’s OK. She’s four. I’m glad that she’s aware of her body, but how does she know about wieners? Did I know about wieners at age four? If I did, I certainly didn’t know about their causes. I don’t even like the word ‘wiener’. I’m glad she’s not kissing them. Boys or wieners.

Curious. Very curious indeed.

I’m Awake Now

It’s almost 1:30. I just woke up feeling extremely dizzy and disoriented. I had to wake up.

I was stuck talking to some girl who wanted me to help her voice this children’s book about who knows what… the only line I remember reading was printed diagonally on a wooden plank drawn on the page: “The most interesting thing was how they all believed that Jesus Christ was their savior.” I kid you not.

And this book had the same page printed like 8 times in a row. And the girl wouldn’t stop watching me use the restroom every time I got up in frustration. And she wouldn’t tell me about what I really wanted to know which was whether Catherine Dutchess of Cambridge (a.ka. Princess Kate Middleton, a.k.a P.K.-Middy) was really having an affair with John Cusack. That was the rumor du jour. Oddly enough, I think I started it…

But either way, I was tired of talking to that bitch, so I had to wake up.

I’m sick of the people I keep meeting in my dreams. They are either completely inept and oblivious to what’s relevant, and/or they directly obstruct what ever my goal is in the dream. And I realize they are obstructing it. And I think they realize they are obstructing it. And I think my subconscious is just some asshole chick with nothing better to do than give me the run-around once she realizes I’ve been asleep for too long.

I Will Have to Remember Where I Found Whatever Side of the Bed I Woke Up On Today

Took this photo the other morning when my bed hair looked particularly avian. Look at the height!

I am having an unusually good day today emotionally and directionally. I feel sort of careless. Like I could do anything, and it doesn’t matter because the end result will always be the same. I will wake up again tomorrow. That outcome isn’t necessarily good, but today it negates all of the anxiety I would normally be experiencing.

Usually, I deliberate too much over things before I say them, eat them, do them or seek them. I wonder too much about the emotional consequences of being in a certain way. But not today. I feel right, and unashamed of everything I’m doing. Today it’s like I just woke up and was handed a set of instructions, and executing them is all that really matters.

Get out of bed. Use the bathroom. Brush teeth. Get into shower. Wash everything. Put on clothes. Walk around and do things. Eat that orange. Drink that milk.

Go to Kinko’s. Trim those posters. Go to the grocery store. Buy more milk.

Clean off that desk (this desk I haven’t been able to clean off in 6 months is now immaculate) I just threw everything into a bag and said To Hell With It! Why couldn’t I have done that months ago??

Nothing matters. So do everything. Nothing hurts. So say anything.

It’s the weirdest feeling. It’s different and great, but I’m afraid that if I blink it will go away. My mom asked me if I felt alright today, and I guess she wondered if Dr. Khan had changed up my medicine. He hasn’t. At least not yet, and I told her for the first time in months I felt pretty OK. She thought I was being facetious. She has accused me a number of times today of condescending her or being ingenuine. I resent that.

When my brother visits our house, I usually get irritated and bitchy and try my best to ignore him. But not today. I sought him out. I interacted with him.

I had a strange flow of internal dialogue in the shower this morning. I felt very confident. I didn’t shy away from the temperature of the water. I didn’t screw up my face when I put it under the stream. When I was done, I just turned towards the shower head and said, “I don’t want to be wet anymore.”

That last sentence, what you read just now….That is the dumbest thing I have ever admitted to doing. But even that’s OK today.

I dreamt about so many things last night. Playing on a soccer team. Eating an endless amount of grapes and cookies. Sleeping with another girl who in the end turned out to be myself. I don’t know what that last part meant, but it made more sense when I dreamt it.

My body feels different today. Maybe it’s just because I am freshly showered. Or maybe it’s because I got close to 14 hours of sleep last night. I’m not entirely certain, but I feel more flexible. More comfortable in my own skin. Less itchy. Literally.

A Very Mini Merrymas Mix

Do ya like the Santa hat that I photoshopped onto Cristina's head??

I usually get pretty grump around this time of year. It used to be that I was easily irritated by the flood of Christmas music, but it’s not so much that right now. I don’t even really hear the music anymore. In fact, this year I have a tiny list of holiday-inspired songs that I actually like. But I admit that these are songs I listen to all year round.

Cocteau Twins – Frosty the Snowman (1992)

Liz Fraiser’s voice could sell me on anything, including a snowman who runs around with little kids. But as far as (forgotten?) Christmas classics go, this really is my favorite. I like the following bits about this song from their history:

Simon explained “Frosty…”: “There’s a Christmas record that comes out on Capitol Records (the Cocteaus’ US label) every few years. And they were trying to get all their bands to do a cover version of a Christmas song. I didn’t think that’s what it was at the time. I thought it would be like sitting next to Frank Sinatra. But in fact it would’ve been, y’know, Skinny Puppy, doing ‘Merry Xmas Everybody.’ Anyway they’d said, Would you do one? And Liz suggested—it must have been for a joke—’Frosty The Snowman.’ Then Robin went, Yeah, good title, people will think it’s a normal Cocteau Twins song with a title like that.”

“Once we’d got the music down, I wrote down the lyrics on a piece of paper and said to Liz, Hey, look at these, and we were laughing away. As we were going through it I was listening to Liz’s reactions and thinking, this is never gonna get done. She was going, ‘He’s a very happy soul’—me sing that?! No way, I could not in a million years… ‘with a broomstick in his ‘—you’ve gotta be fucking kidding!'”

“I just didn’t think she’d do it.” [Volume 5, 1992]

Cristina – Things Fall Apart (1981)

” ‘Something has to last,’ she said. ‘Once a year, let’s have the past’. ” One of my very favorite Cristina songs, this one hits the nail on the head.

Was (Not Was) – Christmas Time in the Motor City (1981)

Don Was of Was (Not Was) produced Cristina’s 1984 album Sleep If Off. Love the ZE Christmas Record. This is a funky Christmas unemployment groove.

Yoko Kanno/Maaya Sakamoto – Kissing the Christmas Killer (2002)

I’m a big fan Yoko and Maaya. I used to keep a picture of Maaya on my wall and know more of her songs than I care to admit. I like that this one is a bit haunting.

Gloria Estefan – Christmas Through Your Eyes (1993)

Even though this song was released on a Christmas album, it’s not specifically about Christmas as far as I’m concerned. She’s just talking about how she wants to live vicariously through the innocence of her children. You could easily swap out the word “Christmas” for “Disney Land” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and it would have essentially the same effect…

My Top 5 (or 10) Favorite John Cusack Movies of All Time

https://i0.wp.com/www.thereelbits.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/the-sure-thing001-285x280.jpg

5 = number of movies in my list of Top 5 favorite John Cusack movies.
4 = number of graham cracker squares I intend to use when I make smores after I’m done with this blog post.
3 = number of times I have cried my eyes out today.
2 = number of times I have had the runs today/number of times I’ve WebMD’ed myself today.
1 = the loneliest number/number of people who legitimately read this blog.

So without further ado…the list you’ve all not really been waiting for: My Top 5 Favorite John Cusack Movies of all time (followed by my 2nd top 5, so basically here’s my top 10…).


1. The Sure Thing (1985)
An 18-year-old John Cusack plays a horny college student who charms a pretty bookworm on a road trip across country. It’s basically ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934), but with more John Cusack and more horniness. Unbearably adorable.

2. Tapeheads (1988)
A 22-year-old John Cusack plays a skeezy entrepreneur who starts a video production company with bff Tim Robbins. He dances, wears shiny purple pants, and sports a lovely pencil mustache. Nothing about this movie is wrong.

3. Being John Malkovich (1999)
A 33-year-old and nearly unrecognizable John Cusack plays a frumpy puppeteer who finds a portal into some dude’s head. Weirdness ensues. Also, he locks Cameron Diaz in a cage with a monkey. Can’t go wrong with that.

4. High Fidelity (2000)
A 34-year-old John Cusack plays a romantically challenged record store owner with a really good memory and a knack for rattling off Top 5’s (and looking hot even while wearing silly shirts). I dig it.

5. Say Anything (1989)
A 23-year-old John Cusack plays a fast-talking, trench-coat wearing, kick-boxing dude who charms (and bones) a pretty bookworm over the summer after high school graduation. Boom-box thing, yadda yadda. Not actually the best scene in the movie IMO, but the most commonly cited nonetheless.


6. Pushing Tin (1999)
A 33-year-old John Cusack plays a sexy air traffic controller who extra-maritally bangs Angelina Jolie. Of course, Billy Bob is none too happy about it.

7. Grace is Gone (2007)
A 41-year-old John Cusack plays a frumpy dad (omg he’s SUCH a frump and SUCH a dad in this movie) who has to break it to his two young daughters that their military mum bit the dust while overseas. Pretty sad, but pretty genuine.

8. Must Love Dogs (2005)
A 39-year-old John Cusack plays a boat-maker who is continuously cock-blocked in his quest to bed Diane Lane (i.e. show her how to ‘row the boat’). It’s like a messed up e-Harmony commercial with dogs and boats. Love it.

9. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
A 31-year-old John Cusack essentially does nothing plays a journalist/author dude on assignment who gets wrapped up in a good ole’ fashioned southern murder mystery. He wanders around Savannah aimlessly snooping and befriends a hilarious tranny. Good times.

10. Hot Pursuit (1987)
A 21-year-old John Cusack goes on an epic voyage to get to his girlfriend who is vacationing in the Caribbean. This movie is pretty pointless actually, but he’s got long hair and is utterly hot in every scene. Ben Stiller is in it too, but that’s kinda weird.

Okay so before you bite my head off, the only reason that Grosse Pointe Blank didn’t make it onto either of these lists is because while I like it, I’m too lazy to determine how much I like it in comparison to the rest of these movies. I’m still uncertain on where it stands.

It’s Not Right, But It’s OK.

It appears that there is an inverse relationship between the number of my co-workers who are aware of my unhealthy infatuation with John Cusack, and the amount of time I spend indulging said infatuation.

They point out the age difference, the creep factor, and the overall lack of a life that I have. I then point out the fact that I don’t care. However, deep down I realize that my addiction to John is just filling a weird emotional void left by months of heightened anxiety and depressive-type thoughts, a recent lack of social interaction with males my own age, and my new-found libido (thanks, Viibryd! (not.)) But I’m sure I’ll look back on this time with mostly fond memories and only just a pinch of regret.

In other more embarrassing news, my doctor says that despite how much I want to point fingers, the Viibryd is not to blame for my sudden lactose intolerance. Yeah fucking right. Let the investigations begin…