Thursday, July 7, 2011

So Long Saga.

A courtesy post.

I'm retiring this blog indefinitely. No crisis, no emergency. The status of my bloggin' can be summed up as this:

When I come back like Jordan
Wearin' the 45, it ain't to play games with you
It's to aim at you, probably maim you
If I owe you I'm blowing you to smithereens
Cocksucker take one for your team
And I need you to remember one thing:
I came, I saw, I conquered
From record sales, to sold-out concerts.
So motherfuckers if you want this encore,
I need y'all to scream until your lungs get sore.

(I typed that from memory!)

Bon voyage, mon amis,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Saga of POSITIVITY!!!

Hi friends.

If any of you were in the vicinity of Wilmington, North Carolina in the past 24 hours, you know what this blog is about. I was just outside, swinging on the squeaky porch swing, thinking I should do my dishes or vacuum or something productive in light of my Mama-san's pending descent on Wednesday, and then I realized, "No goddammit, I am feeling too good and it must be blogged about."

Friends. Friends. I tell you this, and it is true:

I made my hip hop debut last night, to a crowd of some fifty spectators, with three beers in me and a whole heck of gumption.

And it was awesome!!!

The full story is long and indebted to Karlena Janelle, my truest bluest friend of old, with whom I drove the mean streets of Tulsa blasting Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, and Kanye West. We were also searching for animals, but that's irrelevant. And over the course of these many midnight safaris, when we weren't choreographing dances to not very danceable songs, we were learning lyrics, and we were quietly living our deepest lifelong dreams: to be the baddest rappin' bitches who were ever born Caucasian.

Some years later, I am twenty-four years old and have gained accidental notoriety in the Wilmington karaoke circuit, being that white girl who raps. My canon is limited to The Black Album and "Stronger" but, as far as I can tell, nobody gets too sick of it. Meg's mom even sees it when she's in town, and gives me this big ol' hug, and seemed pretty much delighted that it had happened. (As an aside, my friends here all have these amazing alter egos that emerge on karaoke stages - I have never seen more heartfelt, kickass renditions of Elvis, Journey, and R. Kelly as I have from the twentysomethings I go to school with).

So. Every year, the MFA Program holds an "Absurdist" reading, which is basically a fancy front for a talent show. Props are encouraged, as are pyrotechnics. Last year, the reading fell on the heels of the whole Break Up Catastrophe (and lord it was hard not to incorporate some things that rhyme with "jobless dick") and there's a photo of me looking pretty much miserable, slumped over in my hoodie. I look how I felt: fat and unhappy and terrible.

This year, I wanted in.

And it's true; I'm a hog for attention. I never get so patent a rush as when I read, when I'm standing up in front of folks, and they're laughing. Hard as it is to maintain at times, being the designated family comic ("Come on Rachel, say something funny") is something I delight in more than I can say. Truthfully, at its very core, it makes me less sad.

And I did what any good wannabe rapper does: I Googled "how to write a rap."

Around forty thousand collective hours of rehearsing later, mainly in my car and in front of the mirror, my very first rap is firmly branded on my brain. I duct tape letters to the back of a giant hoodie: RACH RICH.

And then it happens. It fucking happens!

Of course, they make me go last. I'm sitting in the front, clutching my knees and vibrating anxiety, as all my peerless peers make their absurd contributions--this, also, after two weeks of thesis readings where I inevitably leave thinking "Goddamn we are a talented bunch." And then, and then, and then--

Hell, look for yourself:

That happened. That was real. That was real life.

And then, yeah, maybe I overdid it in celebrating and woke up on my couch at noon today fully dressed with Pinto's nose one inch from my open mouth, but still. Real life!

I can't name all the amazing things that folks have said to me--and not just "Holy shit" and "Oh my god" and "You did it, you're a rapper" and also "You are the craziest person I know" (okay I made that one up)--but one of my friends hit it on the head.

"You just made a room full of people so happy for five minutes."

And that's it. That's what feels best. You can hear the laughing and the clapping and the badass Mario beat I nicked from YouTube. And everyone stood up and cheered and shook my hand and it was great.

Today, after stumbling around and appeasing Pinto (who was fortunately the sole witness to my collapse on the couch following about ten vodka sodas), Meg texts me: "BREAKFAST?!"

Anyone who went to Hamilton knows there is nothing better than a huge, horrible breakfast on top of a hangover. And so we trucked out to one of Wilmington's bajillion breakfast nooks and ate ourselves silly on eggs and sausage gravy and discussed the beauty of breakfast. For some reason--probably because my body is just so glad to no longer be poisoned with alcohol--I get downright giddy when I'm hungover. It's a nonstop giggle track. And Meg makes me laugh anyway, but I doubled over dead when she said, "I'm feeling very positive today."

Which then results in us driving with the windows down and screaming "POSITIVITY!!!!" out the windows and just reveling and shrieking and butchering every song on the radio, and we drove past Greenfield Lake and whole flock of birds was fluttering and diving and the sky was so blue and the air was so warm and the clouds were huge and white and it was more than positivity, it was being young and loved and alive and so, so glad. A literal jolt of happiness.

And then we went to the dog park, and you all know my feelings on the dog park, and how they are the best place ever. And Pinto cavorted and charged and made friends, and there were little puppies tussling and getting dirty, and we didn't get back to our usual lives until six p.m., but it was still bright out and Pinto fell asleep in my bed and then I posted the video on Facebook and I'm waiting to go viral. No, not really. Okay kind of.

My mom always used to say she never kept a journal because she only felt like writing when things were bad. That's true. But it's also true that I am so motherfucking up right now, so good with everything, that it had to be written down.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Saga of You.

Let me tell you my favorite joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
The chicken.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To see you.

And now, some housekeeping.

First and foremost there is an impeccable unbelievable and hugely hummable song called "Keep House" that these fellows I know, alias Ball of Flame Shoot Fire, released on their second LP, Pots and Knives, which you can actually download fo' free! JUST GO HERE RIGHT NOW ALL CAPS YOU WON'T REGRET IT.

Did this blog go AWOL? Yes. Is there a reason for that? Not really. I think I tried to sit down and be cavalier and witty and charming and vivacious but it just wasn't happening. Though, of course, now that I think about what's happened since last we spoke, ye readers, there's been plenty of wonderful, but it's documented in truer forms like photographs. But, since you asked, here are highlights:

The epic vacation to the western shores was both miraculous and disastrous and everything in between. My mother and I nearly died in Tennessee courtesy of some very icy roads, my mother's hell-bent determination paired with my epic fatigue, a cousin's house in a very beautiful but utterly remote part of the state, and more ice. Lord but I loathe ice. After much skidding and sliding and being all of twelve inches from a fifty foot drop into a river, we gave up and spent one sad and frigid evening in my cousin's car. The upside of all of this was Pinto, of course, who dealt with the whole debacle like the true and utter champion he is, and also kindly slept on my lap all night and kept me toasty.

As for Seattle itself, it was scenic and relaxing and delicious. I think everything I ate had some variety of crab within it, most notably crab mac n cheese and crab eggs benedict. We stayed in some swanky digs on a quiet little island full of dogs and alpacas, and though Matthew and I both got hideously ill (me from eating decadent foods after a semester of the grad-school diet), we had a wondrous time.

Rang in New Year's with the Riggs and my pajamas and a sparkly dress and Toy Story 3 and a gay bar. Fair enough.

I had a birthday. I wore a nice dress and rapped karaoke and ate Jimmy John's alone. Fair enough.

And now it's Spring Break. And while others are in Acapulco or just Atlanta, reveling in their days of freedom, I am, well, not. Call it a pity party, as they're my favorite things to attend.

To be blunt: It's not so easy being this alone.

And I don't mean alone as in single, and I don't mean alone as in 20 hours east of Tulsa and 10 hours south of New York City, aka where everyone I've ever known in the past 24 years happens to be. It's a little of both, yes, but it's just as much a matter of my mind as it is a matter of maps.

You know when you make a bad decision--and I don't mean life-altering bad, I just mean not too smart, like, say, having that fourth drink or watching Hoarders instead of doing your homework--and you don't reap any rewards from it? Or if you'd made the right choice, and there's still no rewards? You'll still have a hangover. You'll still be stuck doing homework. This kind of bind--how there is no good, right answer--I know it's not very articulate of me (blame the bourbon) but I feel like that often. Squeezed. Stuck.

As in, how do you go about making friends when you have very little that's interesting to say because you've spent most of the day wondering how to make friends? And how do you have a conversation when you can't think of anything to say? And when what you say will be interpreted in the same way it always is by the people you do know, and when you are certain that this will also not last, and is untrue, and there's some reason, secret and inaccessible as it is, that you are so often by yourself?

As in, the one constant factor in all your problems is you.

Reading that, I can see both how it's completely irrational and also how much ugly sense it makes.

There are only so many baths a person can take in one day. There's also only so many hours of reading, or sleeping, or walking, nice, solitary activities, before a person begins to get only slightly anxious and realize she is just one of so many billions, and then, if so, so what?

(And you have to know, darlings reading this, that godamighty I wish I did not think this way. That I'd be so glad to be able to simply be glad. It might make good blog fodder but I'd trade a lot to be able to write a blog that was less "I woke up and had an existential crisis" and more "I went shopping!!!! I made pierogies!!! I set my oven on fire OMG LOL!!!!" (I did set my oven on fire making pierogies, and it was actually pretty funny, but what kind of thesis is that?! I kid, I kid.). )

Hence the appeal of anonymity, of going to bars alone and assuming identities of omission. No, I haven't been putting on wigs and calling myself Natasha, but there is something so freakishly refreshing about pulling up a stool and knowing whoever this person is who's asking what's my poison has no idea I'm far too often romping around in my own head, or that I'd rather watch The Third Man than any rom-com ever, or that I see a therapist and will probably forever, or that I lost 50 pounds or that I am a published author or that or that or that. Anything.

I auditioned for Amadeus in, I'll admit, a desperate attempt to meet people. Okay, maybe I also want to wear period costumes and powdered wigs and I kind of love that movie, but I walked into the audition and the scrutiny was equal parts humiliating and enthralling. I'm standing there and they have no idea how late I slept or how badly my floor needs vacuuming; they see a short blond girl in a green dress with poor posture but a nice voice. Rehearsals start Monday. I'm going to make sure they're doing it 19th century Vienna style, elsewise I'm out of there.

I went to a bar alone and ended the night not alone, and it was remarkable. My therapist did not think so, and maybe you don't either, but to me, it was a kind of triumph. And pretty fun, considering.

I walked down the street today, having had just an ugly day, just a day when it's so hard to see the blue sky and feel the nice breeze, and where every little bit feels monumentally challenging--I sat and looked out the window at a man and his Rottweiler puppy in the parking lot and just cried--and some balding man on the corner says "Nice get-up you got on today. Lookin' good." Sure, it was weird and not exactly welcome, but still - does he know I've been crying all day? Does he see an ambling wreck, beelining towards the isolation of my own home where I can lock the doors and pour a drink and be in peace? No. He sees a young lady in a dress and boots who probably has a date tonight, who has lots of friends, who he wouldn't mind buying a drink for.

It's the photograph-mirror conundrum. I look at myself in the mirror and think "Jesus, Rachel, really?" Then I see a photograph of myself--it has to be a photo I didn't take--and think "Holy shit! Damn, girl! Them jeans look good!" It makes no sense. It's still me in both of them, but because it's me, my eyes, looking at me, it's hideous.

Maybe I will invent the equivalent of beer goggles for a mirror?

And now you are weary of reading of my madly narcissistic ramblings (I know, I know, I apologize), but I write these things as much for myself as anybody. And I think what I know now is this: that I am one of billions, yes, and maybe that makes me small and scared. And maybe to me I am also small and expendable. But there are billions out there, and hundreds in this town, who I could be somebody to--and I don't mean idolaters or boyfriends or hookups--but simply someone.

I will open more doors. I will stop and talk to more small children as I'm walking Pinto (and lord knows, if I'm somebody to anybody, I am the sun and moon and stars to that beloved beast, as is he to me). I was smoking on the plaza today and a guy across the way was doing his homework. Two policemen on horseback rode through, huge and loud and clopping and so very surreal. The guy and I looked at each other, looked at the horses, and had to laugh.

More of that, I think. Yes.