On pulling oneself together after the storm.

I had half a mind to keep going, tonight. It was a straight shot down 55 to the coast, to the place I had almost managed to forget. Fourteen dollars to my name, a sweaty t-shirt on my back and 3/4 of a tank of gas in the tank, it's funny how none of that seems to matter when you have reconciliation to do. I'll admit, I'm a somewhat sensitive person. I can still remember sitting at my desk with CNN pulled up on the internet before me, radio updates on constant feed in my ear, and frequent trips to the restaurant downstairs for TV. Wringing my hands and more or less continuously teary eyed, horrified at the things I was seeing and hearing from 600 miles away. Less than a week before I had flippantly slept on a veranda as Katrina plowed through Boward County, Florida at a mere Level 2 and now I was watching her literally consume a place, a whole region of the country, that had grown very close to my heart. My boss was in similar straits. Both of us paced troughs in the floor over the next few days as a human tragedy broiled within reach of our assistance. We watched our government fail on every level, we watched America's favorite private sector champions crumble under the scope of such a disaster, and we cried. That is, we cried until we realized there were more important things to do. I don't mean to tout anyone as a hero, there are no heroes in the face of disaster. There were varying degrees of loss and trauma, we all felt it. Granted, some exponentially more acutely than others, but we all did. What unfolded as we loaded up a rented van with as much water, food and clothing as it could hold and headed south was not an act of heroism, it was an act of desperation. It was no more than what thousands of others were doing all around us. We simply responded when someone asked for help. This isn't "heroism", this is humanity. I won't bore you with the details. You know the story, you've seen the trauma, the destruction, you've heard all the angles and I'm sure you've seen at least one of the "One Year Later" docu-dramas on TV. This isn't reporting, this is me spitting something out before I drown in an overwhelming emotion that I don't fully understand. After we got back from the Gulf, I fell into a very deep depression. I couldn't really talk to anyone about how these things I had seen affected me. The panorama of disaster is inconceivable; the bleary-eyed bravery everyone, everyone, dredged up out of the bottoms of their bellies to face each moment as it affronted them, the simple truths that came out of people's mouths as matter-of-fact, day-to-day happenings were assaulting to everything I had ever known and something in you is altered when you're faced with this reality. Something in you is changed. You realize the breadth and scope of human suffering and you realize that this thing that is requiring every ounce of strength just to live through is just a minute sampling of what happens in the world on a daily basis. This is only what you can reach; this is only what your rental car could get you to, this only what your bank account will allow and it's just a drop in the bucket. I retreated. The TV blazed out like a beacon in my darkened house continuously for weeks afterwards. The stories about goings on there became fewer and farther apart. Benefit concerts were held and life went on. I lost my job. I ended a relationship. I started drinking too much and I floundered. Everything seemed so insignificant, and now I look back and I realize what a weakling I was. How pathetic to let this thing destroy me when in the grand scheme of things, I was completely untouched. People had lost their families, their homes, their entire fucking lives and they were going on and here I was absolutely losing it because I couldn't handle the fact that I couldn't do enough. Retrospection. A lump lodged itself in my throat tonight while I was on the treadmill watching some Red Cross volunteer's documentary about post-Katrina disaster relief. I choked. Hyperventilation at the gym is an embarrassing thing. It's just everything they were saying rang so true, I hadn't really talked to anyone else that had been through it like that and it brought a lot of things to the surface. It reminds me of that panic, that wicked urgency that drives me straight into these things sometimes. It reminds me that I've been idle for a while, now, and that there are still so many things to do.


A note before treating cavernous blisters on my sole.

Going a bit beyond cats and dogs. It's raining as hard as I've seen it rain in probably six months. So hard, in fact, I actually drove under the speed limit and had difficulty locating my own drive way on the way home from the gym. Cujo the Bearded Collie is running around the backyard hysterically, soaked through and yipping like a Yorkshire Terrier at every peal of thunder. Should I worry? Nah. This is what he does. He refuses to be consoled, insisting, instead, on defending his territory against the invading beast. Perhaps I should lock him up, what if he gets struck by lightening? I've never heard of a dog being struck by lightening. I would worry about him catching cold aside from the fact that it's still 90 degrees outside and I did shave him down so he doesn't really stay soggy all that long. Whatever. (Can't you tell I'll be a great mother of adopted Cambodian orphans someday?) So my new thing is to exercise obsessively and come home to beer and cigarettes as a reward. That works, right? And let's face it, what better incentive to finish a greulling workout than knowing that a series of tall frosty bottles awaits you at home. True, a cocktail would be better, but who has money for decent vodka these days. It's always better on holiday. Speaking of which, the job thing didn't go so well today. I tried. I showed up within five minutes of when I was supposed to be there and I waited. And waited. And waited. And I called the dude three times and I read my book about Gypsies while sitting in the car and I gained new purpose for my entire existence, but I did not earn money to fuel my vices. (Or put gas in the car, for that matter.) I e-mailed him when I got home and he responded via blackberry telling me he was sick and that he'll call me tomorrow. Ok...Let's think about this. On the one hand, this man owns a business. Not a work from home sort of E-Bay operation, but a store-front deal which relies on the public bringing in their goods and placing them in his hands for swift dispersal. Going missing and simply not opening with no explanation is not really a very acceptable thing to do when you have not only customers trying to reach you, but a future employee who could, perhaps, prevent this from happening again. All this is bad. On the other hand, it could be worth my going back tomorrow, provided this sort of behavior doesn't translate into sloppy book keeping and thereby delaying my paychecks. You see, on things like this I prefer a certain level of autonomy, and this dude would certainly provide it. I could probably wear what I wanted, listen to what I wanted as loud as I wanted, and show up and leave more or less as I please provided I stuck around through most of the regular business hours. I doubt I would push the envelope in any of these areas, but the fact that I COULD is infinitely enticing. Of course, I like to think my skillz could be better utilized in other realms, but sa la vie. This holds potential when it comes to what really matters. Russians, neither white nor black. I watched an interesting movie the night before last, the first interesting movie I've seen in a while, in fact. Night Watch, a Russian vampire movie meets the Matrix, except with uglier people. Ok, not ugly, but these are no Hollywood movie stars. This one is the first of a trilogy and it was good enough to have me anticipating numero dos and tres. It's on Movies On Demand if you have Time Warner Cable, so, you know. You could watch it right now without getting your hair wet. I need a shower, I need to corral my dog, I need a boyfriend, I need another beer. What's the fundamental problem with this blog, and my life, by extension? I'm jaded. I adjust too thoroughly and assimilate too quickly, as the editor at the newspaper said. Things just don't surprise me all that much, I am cynical, I doubt everything, I question everything, I have no faith in anyone or even my own ideas and feelings. I have no passion anymore for these things I used to be passionate about. Memphis music? Big fucking deal. Fun internship at a magazine? No thank you. How about a toga party on the tundra in Alaska? Been there, passed out on the trail. What's up with this? Is it a disease of my age? Is this sort of blase apathy that actually happens to you after you turn such a such an age, after you've been too in love, after you've tried too many different kinds of drinks and gone too many places after you cross whatever line of demarcation and surpass whatever benchmark. If this is what happens, I don't want it. I want my wide eyes back; I want to be able to fall head over heels in love with Elvis all over again, I want to fawn over local rock legends, I want to dream of far away places and spend my nights awake figuring out how to get there. I'm afraid what's happening is that, well, I might be growing up. And just as I suspected, it sucks. Now, not only do I live with my parents all over again, and not only am I broke and confused about my career plans, and not only am I somewhat angsty and depressed, but I don't care! And that's absolutely the worst of it all. The good news is that acknowledging it is half the battle and therefore, I announce to you all here and now that I will cease and desist all further attempts at this morally demeaning process our society calls "maturing" and hence, I will make every effort to maintain a child-like outlook on life from this point forward. The end.


Symptomatic of a commitment-phobe.

I'll be honest. I have a few bad habits. They vary in degree of "badness", but one of the most personally threatening is my habit of going too far with that whole "living in the moment" thing when it comes to my finances. Inevitably, the funds run out. That happened again recently, in fact. I got too carried away buying drinks for myself and friends, going to see too many shows, falling in love with shoes. (Which, frankly, I'm entitled to do. I haven't bought a pair of shoes in ages!) I "live for the moment", as my mother loves to remind me, and in the act, I turn the next moment into a pile of shit. So yeah, ran out of money being frivolous again. This time, I'm blaming it on depression. The point of the story is, though, that I got a job. Another job, once again listing things on E-Bay. I start work in the morning. I haven't had a really regular job since before I went to Hawaii and I'm nervous, even though I have reason to believe the boss will be rather laid back. The hours should be manageable. The commission will be good. The work will be a breeze and there's a sushi restaurant next door. I don't know what I'm worried about. I guess it just makes me nervous to be tied down. That always makes me nervous.


The blog with an existential crisis.

Jon W. Sparks said it best, this is something of an angsty blog. It's a teenager in the world of blogs, though, so what do you expect? Gone is the childish exuberance, to be replaced by quickly rising anxiety sprouted from expectations of maturity and the neverending burden of peer pressure. The tortured life of a blog. I tell you. Anyway, the Elvis week thing got shot to hell. I guess I forgot that, uh, THIS week is Elvis week. I want to do a Candlelight Vigil fashion police report. (Just because that kind of stuff totally tickles my fancy.) That's tonight though, and I need a shower. Plus, I spent all my money buying $4.00 Sparks at the Deli so I haven't gone out to buy my new Blue Suede Shoes (Payless.com, $19.99). I might still go to Graceland Too and do an interview with whats his face. This quote on RoadsideAmerica is priceless:
Here's the thing you have to understand about the place... it has almost nothing to do, really, with Elvis Presley. It's all about Paul and his wild obsession... you go to see him, not to learn anything in particular about Elvis. When bringing women I always warn them that he gives the tour in a poorly secured bathrobe and he will, when the tour reaches the kitchen, lipsynch an Elvis tune and, yes, do the whole lurid pelvis shaking. Further things to note: his dentures flopping willy-nilly as he speaks, the nauseatingly stiff odor of bologna sandwich, and his explosive hostility at any request to use a restroom. All in all it's a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anybody. [Jim, 07/08/2006]
Sigh. Not sure I'm up for that. Or for anything Elvis, for that matter. I'd rather somebody just buy me one of those magic botomless red cups at Beer Bust at the Hi Tone, tonight.


Organization is key:

Geek Party ignites new passion Last night was a Blogger Bash at the Deli. I really don't consider myself a blogger anymore, but I went because I had nothing better to do and needed to get out of the house. Did you know the Deli charges $4.00 for Sparks at the Deli now? (Yes, I still drink Sparks.) That seems exorbitant. Anyway, talked mostly to Eric and Philip. I had never met Philip before. After what I think might have been quite a few beers and a cigar, he started talking shit about how my blog wasn't funny. I gave him my "I'm going to kick your ass, little man" look and he settled down. Eric was very helpful in assisting me in brainstorming on a new subject matter for this here lil' blog. I mean, I started it a year and a half ago because I got sick of going into Memphis to get a Flyer to find out if there was any reason to go into Memphis. I kept a calendar, I provided links to the bands' Web sites. I told you where you should go and why. These days, everyone's doing that and it just seems unneccessary. True, I could make a point of doing it better and more conclusively than others, but that would be exhaustive and who gives a fuck anyway. Anyway, the point is that I've decided to try some different formats to see if I like them before my hosting account expires next month. If I don't come up with anything, Pulpfaction will die a quiet death. Chances are, none of these test formats will be funny. (Sorry Philip.) Backtracking brings up new ideas Anyway, the venerable Mr. Jon W. Sparks told me he had really enjoyed the Hawaii stories, but was disappointed by the fact that there were so few. Since writing, and re-writing, is something I've been focusing on lately, I've decided to go through my notebooks and write up some of the accounts that never made it online. There are no great stories about booze, drugs, rock and roll, and very little alcohol involved, but my mom likes them, too, so. You know. Might as well. Once you pop, you can't stop And after a cup of coffee, the ideas keep coming. I'm sort of a budding Elvis fan, in case you've forgotten. Last year I blogged about my favorite Elvis impersonator ever and how one might go about updating classic Elvis fashion. This, I realize, is just the tip of the iceburg. So many topics should be covered which the mainstream media will undoubtedly ignore! So many Japanese tourists must be informed! So many unfortunate teenagers being dragged along to endless conventions and vigils by their aging mothers should be awakened to the hipness that is Elvis! After the storm One tip I got from Philip was that maybe people wanted to read more stories about me partying. So this is what I did after the Blogger Bash: Alex Blagg showed up with his very cool friend Lauren Chaps shortly after resident Outrageous Hipster Cort Percer revealed his postively tragic new haircut. (Think Convenience Store guy in Ghost World.) His appearance triggered much debate as to whether or not this was actually ironic. Alanis Morissette lyrics were sung badly. We all felt superior. About 10:00pm, Alex announces some mysterious appointment with a friend. Lauren and I were apparently not invited, so we say "Fuck these dudes," and go to Buc where Beer Bust was getting under way. I thought it was $5.00, but apparently the Buc needs more love than that to serve semi-warm Pabst, so now it looks like it's $6.00. Whatever. Lauren and I talk and drink, listen to the DJs, get free cigarettes and Walkmen tickets from the Camel dudes, and make fun of Cort some more. (In a good natured kind of way, of course.) Rachel Hurley and Jeff Gunn join in on the party, some dude walks down the street in a bed sheet, tranny hooker spotted making the block, Alex shows up an hour later and entertains us with a parallel parking job which takes no less than 10 minutes and involves "love taps" of the vehicles before and aft, I pee twice and smoke too many cigarettes and take Lauren to her car at Boscos after Alex disappears again to the chagrin of many. Get home at 2:30am before it starts raining for, like, 3 hours solid. Sleep well.


I have the most amazing friends.

LEFT: Photo by Brad Johnson, Hair/Makeup/Style by LLB, Model Whitney. RIGHT: Photo by Brad Johnson, Hair/Makeup/Style by LLB, Model Yayoi. LEFT: Photo by Brad Johnson, Hair/Makeup/Style by LLB, Model Shari. RIGHT: Photo by Brad Johnson, Hair/Makeup/Style by LLB, Model Elizabeth. Leilani, for example, is a makeup artist. (Be sure to check out her blog for the best beauty product reviews I've seen in ages.) She's kind of been a lifesaver as far as my search for creative involvement goes. For example, she let me hang out on set for one of the shoots in which some of the preceding photographs were taken. True, creative involvement was limited, I mostly just cracked inappropriate jokes and poked fun at the Evian mineral water spray to lighten the mood, but it's weird how a little direct exposure to something like that can get the ball rolling. Since then, I catch myself reading style magazines at 3:00am at Walmart. (There's something very diametrically opposed about that, isn't there?) I've spent hours with Dwell, Res and Zink (which I actually don't like much at all). So many ideas! So many pretty, pretty pictures! Inspiration! God, Im cheesy. Anyway, this weekend we're going to the Fashion Avenue Memphis magazine launch slash fashion show. I have fairly low expectations of the magazine itself, it seems like lately Memphis has spawned a lot of shitty attempts at the glossy publication, but from what I've been able to shake out of the models in the show, that part of the event could be good. Perhaps you should check it out. Saturday night at 7:00pm, tickets are $35.00 at the door, $55.00 for VIP seating which includes wine, cheese, champagne and cigars, among other things. Other things on the horizon include assisting Leilani on the wardrobe for a horror flick being filmed locally, my own attempt at a lo-fi local publication, and a rather exciting devoloping project involving St. Jude and lots and lots of tile. Suddenly, I have lots to do and it feels good.