Walking (in mud) In Memphis

Pete Wentz has been joking on Twitter that Fall Out Boy’s current tour is cursed. Sickness, people getting hurt, bad weather conditions, dead bodies falling from the rigging…you know the drill. OK, maybe I made up that thing about the dead bodies.

I bought my ticket to the Beale St Music Festival back in March, excited to finally see FOB play, willing to make the drive to Memphis, and secretly glad that the openers I would witness would be Three 6 Mafia and Snoop Dogg instead of All Time Low, Cobra Starship and Hey Monday. I was so busy thanking the concert gods that the show wasn’t in the “please kill me” heat of July that I didn’t realize that the concert was in the monsoon season of May. “So, I’ll get rained on. Big deal. I’ll just wear clothes that will dry quickly.”

Wrong.

FOB were set to play on Sunday. It had been raining for three days. Whatever notion of grass there had once been was gone, long gone, under the feet of thousands of people. What had been “wow, it’s kind of muddy” on Friday became “ankle deep, lose your shoes” by Sunday.

All of the port-a-potties that had been set up on the right side of the park had been long abandoned by anyone wearing shoes, so the lines at the port-a-potties on the left side were twice as long, turning the walkways into pedestrian parking lots. Ditto the food stands. A trip to buy a 5 dollar slice of pizza was more of a fool’s mission that required 20 minutes of negotiating through hordes of wet, poncho-clad seething humanity.

Never mind that the port-a-potties were alternating with said food stands. 20 feet of toilets, 20 feed of food, and so on. The olfactory result was a generalized potpourri of urine, fried pork products, and elephants (the mud). The port-a-potty company provided a small bay of port-a-sinks, but they were completely unused, save for the people using the sinks to WASH THEIR FEET.

Yes, some people had given up entirely on the whole “wearing shoes in public” thing. I don’t know whether to applaud their practicality or be horrified and their apparent lack of concern for glass, nails, and whatever bacteria were living in the mud. I don’t know about you, but if there’s a port-a-potty even visible, I feel like I need a hazmat suit made of Purell-lubricated condoms.

It’s over-dramatic to compare this to some kind of Mad Maxian apocalypse, but stay with me. As the day wore on, these seething, stinking, portly, dripping, leg-of-something-eating masses of 311, Hinder, and Snoop Dogg fans…GOT DRUNK.

I don’t know how many Hinder fans you know, I don’t know WHO is still listening to 311 (people with time machines who have come from 1997?), but I know this: these are not people you want to have invading your personal space. Emo kids, I can handle. We’re musical cousins, I can beat the crap out of them, and they’re just so damned pitiful when they’re sopping wet. Not Hinder fans. I can’t fathom that life choice. On the “Amy is bewildered by this behavior” scale, they fall between people who are homophobic and people who think the Holocaust didn’t happen. (Note: there’s probably a lot of overlap between the three groups.)

After leaving the relative safety of the baby-boomer-filled Blues Tent, I ventured down the long, muddy path, determined to suck it up and get something to drink and use the bathroom. Yes, I would pay 4 dollars for a 12-ounce lemonade. I would drink it and try not to think about how it was prepared next to a port-a-potty. Maybe I’d get crazy and EAT something too. Yes, I would stand in a line in the middle of a crowded walkway with the hope of eventually getting to urinate into an over-sized Rubbermaid container. Because these things, they tell me, are how it goes when you want to rock.

Somewhere in the middle of the 30-minute trek to cover 100 feet, I began to ask myself “what would have to happen when FOB take the stage 3 hours from now to make this whole thing worth it? What would make this fun?” My answer:

“Prince would show up, give me a post-show bubble bath, and promise me that I’d never have to do this again.”

This seemed a little unlikely.

When I finally peed and got a drink, I did so at a gas station outside of Memphis. By the time FOB were done with their set, I was almost home. The 3-hour drive took 4.5 hours because of heavy rain and standing water, so I ended up being very glad I wasn’t making said drive three hours later. Was this a lot of time and money for nothing? On the surface, yes, but I think a valuable lesson was learned. Actually more than one:

1. Festival shows result in the mingling of social groups that were never meant to mingle (i.e. me and anyone who enjoys “Lips of an Angel”)

2. No more outdoor shows, unless said show involves Prince.

3. Wet naps and Purell are as important as sunblock. Well, almost.

4. Sturgis boots ARE waterproof to the ankle and worth every penny.

5. In certain circumstances, I am capable of murder. (Note: I’m pretty sure the judge would let me off on the “311 defense.”)

Sloshy

My first taste of alcohol came when I was a kid: sis and I explored mom and dad’s liquor cabinet and decided to take a drink of Midori Melon. With such an introduction, it was no wonder I never actually drank an entire alcoholic drink until I was 29. I have graduated to 100 proof vodka, but that’s not because I’ve become a better drinker. It’s because I’m cheap and I drink so slowly that 70 proof would never put me to bed, which is pretty much the only reason I own vodka in the first place. My sleep ritual, let me show you it.

Friday night, I hit a new high/low in my drinking career. Don’t get excited: there was no puking in hair, no drunk dialing, and no dancing on a coffee table (also because I don’t own a coffee table). I mostly just drunk-Twittered a bunch of stupidity and then fell asleep with my legs hanging off the bed. No warning. Just BAM. Next thing I knew, Jay was moving my legs over and putting a blanket on me. My necklace and hair clip were apparently removed by gnomes.

Upon waking up shakey and pukey-feeling (and thus on the cusp of a panic attack), I couldn’t fathom why people volunteer for this. Vodka to fall asleep makes sense: it’s probably less-damaging than drinking NyQuil every night, which is what I used to do. I had a decorative cut glass bottle by the bed. Vodka to pass out in one’s clothes and contacts doesn’t make sense. Was it fun? Yeah, at the time, I guess it was. Was it worth feeling like stir-fried ass the next day? No. Thus, I shan’t be repeating this behavior any time soon. I got drunk. It was anti-climactic, and almost kept me from getting anything done Saturday. I tried it, it ended up kind of stupidly.

Sorry if you missed it. OK, not really.

Lalala

I’m about to bum you out, but today is a day for bumming out. Hey, at least I have the decency to bury the post in the weekend when most of you aren’t at your computers.

I awoke this morning to find a text message from my sister and a missed call from my mom. In mom’s voice mail, she was using The Voice. The tone of voice that’s only used for “we’re moving” or when somebody dies. Since I haven’t gotten the “we’re moving” speech since 1993, I figured I should read sister’s text.

Luckily, nobody’s dead. Somebody is, however, rather sick and the cruise scheduled for the end of February is off. I was kind of looking forward to having a vision quest to film and post (and to introduce you to the fam via festive cruise footage), but not enough to voluntarily get on a plane. I’m sure that day will come. It’s just not going to come in February. It seems dad’s lung cancer is pressing on a nerve that allows him to swallow. He’s lost 15 pounds, so they can’t do any more cancer treatments until he gains that weight back. They’ve put in a feeding tube. You may only be meeting mom and sis via video when I go up to spend the intended cruise time playing euchre at my parents’ house. Filming someone with tubes is the nose is, I’m guessing, an even bigger party foul than filming a drunk person.

I SO wish I’d started carrying around a camera sooner. I wish I’d hijacked dad and made him record songs back when he could still sing. He doesn’t have spit anymore because of the throat cancer of a few years back, so he doesn’t even talk much. It usually works OK when it’s just him and mom because, after 40 years of marriage, they probably communicate telepathically like magic wonder twins. But it still sucks to see him fading into the background, sitting there quietly while everybody else talks. It’s almost like he’s getting us ready for when he won’t be here.

At Christmas, dad and I were sitting in the living room and he asked me if I was doing OK. A valid question, as 2008 saw me bury a friend, get fired for the first time ever, and have the longest and most dramatic home-buying process known to man. But by Christmas, I had gotten my shit back together. New shit. Better shit.

“Yeah, I’m good.”
“You sure?”

I can’t tell if he was trying to feel out whether I was still in danger of throwing myself in front of a train, or if he was just trying to make sure that his youngest child would be OK without him. The work’s already done, dad. You raised me to be strong and bulletproof because you knew I’d need to be. I’m little and neurotic, but my bones are adamantium. Besides, when you’re gone it’s my job to be the living legacy. Just like with Diah, except that I’ll be doing it with your face, your feet, and your disappointing baby fine hair. Your hard head. Your obsessive attention to scheduling and organization. Your last name, which I’m keeping even if I lose my mind and get married (unless the guy has a last name I can’t refuse, like Ravenclaw or something). I’m going to be OK because I’m going to have one more hand on my shoulder, pushing me forward.

Mostly, I worry about mom. What are you supposed to do after 40 years with someone? What are you supposed to do waking up next to an empty spot? What are you supposed to do when you see Dad’s Chair still sitting in the living room? In a house filled with his paintings? Finding things unexpectedly in dresser drawers? Opening the snack closet and seeing his stash of macadamia nut cookies? Going through his meticulously-kept tax records? Looking at your youngest daughter, who looks like him in drag? I worry about mom. I know I’m supposed to do something, but I have no idea what that is.

The whole thing is like one of those 72-ounce steaks that they serve somewhere in Texas. If you eat it in a one sitting, it’s free. My brain doesn’t work pain that way. It never hits me all at once. My brain figured out what it can handle and eats the big pain steak one ounce at a time, meteing out the pain little by little for as long as it needs to. On one hand, mourning anything takes forever. On the other hand, I don’t throw myself in front of a train.So, I haven’t wrapped my head around this yet. It’s still like an abstract concept or something happening in a movie with really good 3-D. My head is just watching it happening, with hands over ears, going “lalalala….”

Hello, Weirdness, My Old Friend

I am kneeling in Jen’s living room in the dark, wearing a Hanson t-shirt, AFI sweatpants, and waiting for a Nytol to kick in. I started this day in a Victorian from shirt and 4-inch heels. Perhaps we should back up?

I left the house (still feels weird to type HOUSE) 13 hours ago. Went to Black 13 to feel out a tattoo guy, then went to Lone Wolf Franklin to check out another. I got the best feeling off of the guy at Black 13, so I guess my as-yet-official tattoo guy is named Steve Martin (which makes me chuckle). I’m going to concoct something in Illustrator, email it to him, and he’s going to tell me what he can make better. Come March 14, I’ll have a permanent black bow tied around my right wrist.

After picking out a tattoo guy, I went to Rivergate Mall to vulturize the going out of business sale at Waldenbooks. While there, two dudes complimented me on my outfit and one of those hit on me with reckless abandon. I appreciate this trend, though I have no freaking clue where it’s coming from. Am I giving off pheromones that make me visible? Does losing ten pounds bring out my cheekbones THAT much? Is the flashing red “virgin” sign about my head broken? Have I developed some bizarre form of subconscious confidence by losing said ten pounds and/or pointing a camera at myself? Who the hell knows, but it seems I can scarcely leave the house without some dude talking to me.

This is lovely and flattering, but it makes life damn weird when I have to explain why I’ve developed the disposition of a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I don’t know how to say “somebody gnawed a chunk out of me, which was followed closely by somebody else gnawing a chunk out of me, and I can’t even handle my porn collection right now, much less an actual person” without making Random Dude feel really awkward. There’s no quick, non-messy way to explain, so I just stutter like Ozzy and stare at their shoes.

After Waldenbooks, I wandered the rest of the mall. A couple of 12 year old girls in Wet Seal simultaneously gasped and squealed “you’re awesome!” at me. With no sarcasm. Am I being punk’d? Is 12 too young an age for me to think they were high? Should I make today’s outfit my official job interview outfit, since people seem to like it so damn much? I thought for a second about whipping out my video camera and asking the girls to re-enact the scene, but I’m thinking that would have been weird. What really stopped me from doing it is that I didn’t think they’d be able to give me realism. The weird ship was halfway across the Atlantic.

After the mall, I went over to Jen’s for pre-party cupcake-making and had to run to Wal-Mart for eggs, at which point the security guy asked where I’d gotten my outfit (honestly….wtf?). “Well, the shoes are from ebay, and the socks are from Halloween and….oh never mind.”

Everyone who likes Jaegermeister eventually ends up with a “and then I got really sick on it, and now I can’t drink it anymore” story. Let’s just say that I believe Jen wrote her chapter tonight. Luckily, there were some party guests who were a little better at handling a person who’s got 5 inches and a few pounds on me. “If you go down, all I can do is slow you down…so please, don’t go down.” I don’t know the progression of trashed-ness beyond “gets really quiet and will probably hurl” because I usually leave the party during the “it’s starting to get weird” phase. “Is it safe? Is she gonna sleep now, or is she gonna keep trying to walk around?” Jesus, drunk people are like zombies. “Just stay down!”

She’s asleep in the other room and I have made do by hijacking a shower and some PJs. While looking through the copious amounts of t-shirts in her closet, I ran across her vintage Hanson shirt, complete with “Mmmbop” written across the back. The hilarity of me wearing this shirt will have to wait until tomorrow, when Jen wakes to find me scrunched up on her couch and gets to hear the gruesome account of her “…and now I don’t drink Jaeger” story.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Yin and Yang

We are quite a pair, Murphy and I. Yeah, that’s his name…but you may know him as Mr. Puss. Hell, HE knows him as Mr. Puss.

On Wednesday, he went to the vet to get his teethies cleaned. He needed to have one pulled because of some common cat problem that has some crazy-sounding name but means “tooth cracked and is starting to fall apart.” After all the drugs, blood work, tooth stuff, and other fun, he ended up costing me about 600 bucks. This would explain why I didn’t take him to the vet while I went back to school. Anyway, the vet says he’s in good shape for a cat that almost a decade old. He still looks a little rough because they had to shave a patch on his leg for his IV, and he so totally does not care for the liquid antibiotics I have to give him twice a day. Remind me to show you my new interpretive dance titled “Mr. Puss hates liquid antibiotics and would like to express this.” I tried bribing him with Whisker Lickins, but that pretty much only keeps him from hiding from me after I drug him.

I can’t prove it, but I think he decided to give me (somewhat literally) a taste of my own medicine by giving me a head cold. “Oh, bitch? You grab my head and drug me? How’s THIS?” Now do it in a German accent. I don’t know why, but Mr. Puss always has a German accent in my head.

Anywho, I spent the whole weekend lying in bed reading when I wasn’t peeing or going to Kroger to scare the crap out of people and buy more juice for more peeing. Seriously, there should be some law against me leaving the house without concealer under my eyes. Dark circles, colorless lips, and hair that says “I don’t give a fuck.” What could be sexier? Coupling those things with a NyQuil zombie stare and mouth-breathing.

Mad props to Herr Puss, though. He stayed right next to me in bed the whole time. Him, with his shiny new molar filling…me, with an ice mask tied around my forehead to calm the sinuses. Quite a pair.

Weekend: Battleship Gray

Tuesday:
Because of holiday junk, Jen and I moved dinner to Tuesday. In a moment of weakness, I had “basket of delicious fried crap” (shrimp, texas toast, onion rings) at IHOP. I later lived to regret that decision, not in the form of stomach drama…just in the form of “dude…I feel totally grossed out for that.” After dinner, we headed out to Opry Mills for time wasting and my yearly farewell to malls of any kind. Goodbye, friend…see ya in February when it’s safe to enter without having my personal space invaded by shoppers, toddlers, and Christina Aguilera’s cover of “Silent Night.”

Thursday:
Got up at 5:30 (!) to start driving up to southern Indiana for turkey day at my aunt’s house. It was pretty much the usual, with the exception of the tape adapter for my iPod breaking somewhere around Bowling Green. Thank god for truck stops, I was able to get another one and continue the rawk. When I got back to town, I went over to Jrob’s for True Blood and Dreamsicles (the alcoholic drink, almost as tasty as the frozen dessert item). I drank my first one a little too fast, resulting in Jrob making me a second one…which resulted in some dizzyness.

Friday:
Slept until 2 and then got up and finished sanding and spackling the bedroom. Remember last week when I did those first two walls, resulting in looking as though I’d stepped out of the world’s crappiest Fields of the Nephilim video? Well, lesson learned. Here’s a “last week” and “this week” wardrobe comparison:

Ok, so that last picture makes me look like a low-budget version of Assasin from Soul Calibur, but it kept the dust out of my nose/hair/ears.

Caturday (literally):
Got up early to take Murphy to the vet. He hadn’t been in about 6 or 7 years and I thought we should start making the vet a yearly thing now that he’s starting to get old. The checkup turned out well, but his pre-tooth cleaning blood work made my bill some 250 bucks (I’ll pay another 250 for the cleaning and pre-cleaning ECG). All he has that they know of is a little gingivitis and some questionable pacreatic blah blah levels that could either be the beginnings of pancreatitis or nothing at all. The verdict: keep an eye on him, but don’t worry until he starts puking for no reason.

I also got the bedroom walls primed, which makes them now battleship gray. I have yet to crack into my sample of the color I think I’m going to use for the bedroom, but the dot on the top of the can looks about right: Glidden’s “Black Tulip,” which isn’t actually black. It’s eggplant purple, but in the super-dim light that I plan to have in the bedroom, it may look blackish. Which is fine.

Sunday:
Did a little work and then headed out to goth night. A little light drama, but that’s pretty much par for the course. A little tip: if you want to get drunk and act a fool in a place you don’t normally go, take that shit to Graham Central Station like everybody else does. If you do decide to do this in goth night, do not do so in my personal space. If you do this in my personal space, do not bump into me. Twice.
And to anyone who thought “you are dangerously close to being kicked in the face” was a threat rather than a statement on one’s dancing…while I am flattered that you think I would be physically capable of kicking someone in the face, I don’t think I could do it. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. I’m not a fan of peeing in front of other people…which is what happens if you get arrested for kicking someone in the face. I just find that, when laying it out for someone who’s trashed, one must be abundantly clear in order to get through all that booze that’s sloshing around in there. I have never had to make good on any threats and, frankly, I don’t have any plans to do so. I will not fight you. I will take the beating and let you go to jail and pee in front of people. I find that “I do not want to have to pee here” is a good yardstick for any location. Especially Metro News.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. I think it’s high time for a goth night sabbatical anyway. It happens a couple of times a year: you start getting sick of everything there and it stops being fun. Either that, or you accidentally end up in a conversation with some dude and decide that it might be wise to lay low for a while so his interest in getting your number dies down. (Not conceit: last night he gave me the old “well, we could just get out of here…” which, bless his heart, makes it clear that he hasn’t gotten the memo about me.) Give him a month or so to totally forget who you are. In fact, I need to be touching up all of my mission statements. Stop writing reviews and start writing my book. Do more stand-up. Get my Cool Edit Pro serial number to work. I swear, you take away a girl’s cable and she gets all productive.

Weekend: Cat Puke Yellow

Thursday:
Jen and I hit up Calypso Cafe for some tasty, tasty nachos, and I spied a dude who looked like the illlegitimate spawn of Tim Burton and Tom Petty. That is to say, his face was kinda wrong in ways that came together to be very right. While I am generally much more obliged to secretly scope out dudes from a distance and never, ever talk to them, I was having a moment of insanity and gave him my number. Jen keeps asking if he’s called me yet. This is how I know that Jen lives on some other, much more optimistic planet than I do. On my planet, the victory is in having enough balls to give out the number in the first place…I have convinced myself of this after many years of feeling dissed because said dude never calls. Which may explain why I generally prefer to secretly scope out dudes from a distance. Note to self: fix that lisp, lose 10 pounds. Whatever.

Friday:
After spending the work day getting all jacked up on coffee and Rockstar energy drinks, I lost my mind and decided to start the spackling/sanding process in the bedroom, which is currently painted the same color as every other room in the house…a color I refer to as “cat puke yellow.” It took about 5 hours (note to self: use palm sander next time), but 2 of the four walls are ready to go, with the exception of taping off the trim. It takes forever, but I went to the Bruce & Carol Mauk school of house painting, where prep takes 10 times longer than painting. This, friends, would also be why I haven’t asked any of you to help. There is no freaking way any of you could be anal/patient enough to do it like I want it done, and I would rather avoid the opportunity to secretly hate you every time I notice a drip on the wall.

A little tip for the would-be painters in the audience: wear a shower cap, breathing mask, and maybe even a hazmat suit if you’re planning on doing this. I stupidly did none of the above and ended up looking like I’d escaped from a really low-budget Fields of the Nephilim video. Will TOTALLY wear a mask next time, promise.

Saturday:
Got the oil/tires checked on the car, mostly so I could get the dudes at the oil change place to tell me what potentially expensive part of my car was scraping on the ground. Luckily, I was just missing a bolt. Another expensive bullet dodged. After that, I went up to the mall to holla at Jen and ended up getting to watch her get her brows waxed. SO much more entertaining when they’re not waxing YOUR brows.

Sunday:
Wrote a couple of reviews, wanked around, and headed out to goth night for more scoping of dudes that I will never talk to. But, hey. At least I’m back in “scoping” mode. “Talking” mode may take another year. The last year or so has been a bit rough, with thesis statements like “don’t trust anybody” and “on a long enough timeline, everyone will leave you.” Then there’s everyone’s favorite, “this job is like an abusive relationship.” Always fun. This doesn’t exactly put a gal in the mood to sift through piles of dudes, looking for the needle in the haystack that has a job, knows how to spell and won’t expect me to take the place of his mom or listen to jazz. There is a reason why marriage extends a man’s life and shorten’s a woman’s. Wow, that sounded bitter.

I’m feeling a little bitter about my friend situation of late, as I’m quickly coming to the realization that a large portion of my friends are seriously, deeply unreliable and I’m no longer OK with it. I’m tired of calling people, feeling like I’m forcing them to hang out with me even though they keep saying “we should hang out!” I’m tired of making plans with people who give me the old “hey, let’s do _______…I’ll call you to give you a time.” And then they don’t call. But they DO hang out with everybody BUT you. And then there’s the cherry on the sundae of having to sit at someone’s dinner party and pretend like you don’t want to stab those people a little. Pretend like you didn’t have a birthday that everybody forgot (it is kinda my fault, as I didn’t remind anybody). Pretend like it doesn’t bother you that one of them pissed all over Halloween plans, leaving you sitting at home waiting on a phone call. They don’t MEAN to do it. They just flake out. But it’s been years, it’s gotten worse, and I’m tired. Eventually, it’s just easier to stop calling. It’s the circle of life: you get older, and your friends slowly disappear to hang out with their boyfriends all the time. You can either get your own boyfriend, or get a cat and a Netflix subscription.