Midnight Confession #5: Violet Crimes

  
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New posts later this week; New York was very busy and L.A. has been even busier. In the meantime, another late-night audio confession!

There were even signs up at the end of the year that said “We don’t care, just please return what you took” and I was like “HELL NO I PAID WAY TOO MUCH TO DO THAT”

Of course, knowing my alma mater, if they somehow catch wind of this, they’d probably send me a bill.

Midnight Confession #4: Tenth Grade Book Club

  
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Another installment of my new spoken feature! I feel that I owe apologies for two things this time:

  1. The sound quality. It’s the dishwasher, which I was trying to run before I left for New York. I think there’s a part of me that believes that’s when you’re supposed to run appliances late at night? I was a child of the Flex Your Power movement.

  2. This is more of a Midnight Opinion than a Midnight Confession. It also doesn’t tie in with any catchy ‘60s Sunshine pop songs. (Also, look at this list of Sunshine pop band names! I could feel my insulin spike just reading them.)

All that aside, I stand by this opinion. How bad was that book? So bad that I, a teenager with latent homosexual inclinations who actually went to boarding school, still hated it.

Fake BBC Show Title of the Week: Gettin’ Your Round In

Why You Should Always Learn A Few Words of Their Language

Travel and Dating Lessons Learned the Hard Way

It is a truth universally accepted that it is a terrible idea to travel internationally with somebody you’ve only been dating for a few months.

I’m still on good terms with most of the people I’ve dated. Some I would consider amongst my closest friends, others I’ve at least stayed friendly with. But there are maybe two or three that I am perfectly happy never to see again, that I’ve made a conscious choice to avoid. “Brad” is one of them. (It’s not just me: Anna, the least judgmental person I know, who likes pretty much everyone, would like it known that she “never liked that asshole.”)

Brad traveled a lot, mostly for work. He was, and still is, in the film industry. It’s a less than glamorous job, but a very necessary one, and he is very good at it. You wouldn’t know his name, but you’ve almost definitely seen his work. The two of us met a few year ago at the end of October, and fell into a “whirlwind romance,” which is to say, an extremely unhealthy one. He told me he thought it would be romantic for us to spend New Year’s Eve in Europe, when we’d been dating for three weeks.

We went, but it was a disaster, from our beginning fight about Taylor Swift in the cab to JFK to our final fight on the plane ride home, when he made me watch Luc Besson’s Lucy. (“To knowledge,” indeed. I turned it off ten minutes in and watched ‘71 instead.) Actually, it was a disaster even before we left. We argued about him really wanting going to Brussels, when I really wanted to go to Madrid or Amsterdam. We argued about the hotel, since we had agreed to split the cost evenly, but he wouldn’t stay anywhere that had less than four or five stars — and I couldn’t afford that. We argued about whether we should check our bags, which led to me overpacking a carry-on and watching as the TSA literally aired my dirty laundry in public at Heathrow Airport. We even argued about tourist etiquette: I wanted to learn a lot about our destinations’ culture, and he really didn’t.

“‘Dank u’ is ‘thanks’ in Dutch, right?” I asked him while we were on the train from London to Amsterdam.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“But you’ve been to Amsterdam before,” I said, surprised.

“I have,” he said, “but I didn’t learn any Dutch.”

“Not even ‘please’ and ‘thank you?’”

“Everyone there speaks English, anyway,” he shrugged. Was I dating an Ugly American?

“I feel like it’s the polite thing to do, though,” I said. “They’ll at least appreciate the effort. And learning to order stuff in another language can help prevent any confusion.”

“Let me explain something to you,” he said, which was something he did a lot. “I travel so much for work that it’s just not possible for me to learn every language. So I only learn a few words in their language when I’m there for more than two weeks.” I did not point out that he had previously been in Amsterdam for more than two weeks. Instead, I tried to make a joke.

“You sound like Cher in Clueless,” I said. “‘Everywhere you go has valet!’” He did not find this funny.

As soon as we arrived, Brad said he wanted a martini. “I’ve decided martinis are what I drink when I’m in Europe,” he told me before we left the US. It was a good idea in gin-loving London, but seemed an odd choice for continental Europe, which never had Prohibition the way the U.S. and UK did, and thus never really got into spirits and mixed drinks. The woman at the restaurant greeted us in Dutch, then looked embarrassed, and apologized in English. I ordered a glass of white wine, and she nodded, writing it down. Brad asked for a martini on the rocks.

She looked puzzled. “Martini… vermouth?”

“Yeah,” said Brad. “Martini, on the rocks, with vermouth.”

“All right,” she said, still looking puzzled.

We spent the next few minutes trying not to argue, and she brought us our drinks. We toasted — in English — and took a sip. My wine was great, but Brad grimaced.

“What is this?” he said. He took another sip, then spat it out, looking indignant. “This isn’t a martini! This is just vermouth, on the rocks!”

I glanced behind the bar, and burst out laughing: there was no gin, but there was a very large bottle of Martini-brand vermouth.

“You see?” I said. “This is why you should always learn a few words of their language.”

He scowled into his drink, and I knew an argument was coming. For the moment, though, I felt like I’d won. That, I knew somewhere deep down, was not a healthy thing to feel in a relationship. Relationships shouldn’t be competitive. What kind of person was I becoming when I was with him? I didn’t know, but I didn’t like it.

Things didn’t get better when we got back home, and we broke up a few weeks later. (Yes, we had an argument about who was breaking up with whom.) It felt like a tremendous relief, probably to him as well. Four months was more than enough. There are times I’ve wished it had never happened, but I suppose some lessons you have to learn firsthand.

So, here’s to the lessons I learned. Proost! Bedankt!

Stuff I Did This Week: Lately I’ve been working a lot on projects that won’t be shown or produced for a while. So I’m happy to announce an upcoming live show I’m very excited about: a special Night Vale Presents… about the Faceless Old Woman! We will be at the Largo at the Coronet on Saturday, April 27th!

There are also still tickets available for the upcoming presentation at Housing Works NY on March 13, where I will be asking YA author and legend Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, amongst others) about her beautiful new memoir, Shout!

Fake BBC Show of the Week: Vermouth, On the Rocks

(Also, it’s Irish, but have you guys seen Derry Girls? Please watch Derry Girls. It is everything I love in a single show.)

Midnight Confessions #3: At-Risk Bufos

  
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Another installment of my new spoken feature in which I share brief (and often embarrassing) anecdotes.

I guess this was a bit like Hipster Puppies. Man, remember when we were content just to make fun of hipsters all day long? Those were the days. (Actually, there were wars going on and we were in a really bad recession at the time, so they weren’t.)

Also I JUST now realized my inadvertent pun with “towed.” Oh well.

The Misfit

He hadn’t been in L.A. very long. He was “practically fresh off the bus from Virginia.” I know because I heard him say so.

He was a tall white guy with brown hair, wearing a baseball cap. I was on the other side of the one-room taco shop, watching while he was being friendly with the cute punky girl behind the register, a young Latina woman in a Misfits t-shirt. Maybe too friendly. He hadn’t said anything inappropriate, but he was making way more conversation than one needed to order tacos. It felt only slightly cocky, but then he said something inexcusable.

“Do you really like The Misfits?”

I froze, burrito halfway to mouth.

“What do you mean?” said the punky girl.

“Like people will wear the shirts but not really listen to the music. Just ‘cause, like, they think it’s cool to seem like they’re into punk,” He smirked at her. “Are you like that?”

Wow, I thought. Was he really trying to impress her by insulting her? Didn’t negging go out in like 2009? Not to mention the dog whistle racism, the implication that punk was the domain of angry white men, so what could this young Latina woman possibly know about it? Which, as anyone who grew up in L.A. knows, is incredibly fucking ignorant: there is a long, storied history of Chicano/Latinx punk, and women have always been part of it. (Alice Bag, anyone?)

“I do listen to their music,” she said, her tone patient and earnest.

“Really? What stuff of theirs do you like?” He pressed.

“Well…” she said, and thought for a second.

What followed was the most complete overview of Glenn Danzig and Misfits’ discography I could imagine. Personally, I can’t name a single album, but she knew them all, and knew their history. She knew their changing lineup, their live shows, everything that had happened even years before she was born. The guy nodded along, his confidence draining with every second. I smiled, thinking of all the young Chicana punks I’d known growing up in Southern California. Nobody knew more about music than they did.

“…I guess Static Age is probably my favorite of their albums,” she concluded. “What’s yours?”

“Oh,” he said, and all his bravado was gone. “I… I only have Walk Among Us.”

“Oh,” she said. She could have been smug, but she wasn’t. “That’s OK!” She handed him his tacos, and he accepted them with his head low, looking shorter than he had before.

“Um,” he said, after a long moment, “I’m sorry if that was, like… rude.”

“It was,” I piped up from across the taco shop. “Nobody likes a gatekeeper.”

The guy looked at me, confused and deflated. The punky girl and her co-worker, a girl with short hair, exchanged amused glances, and went back to talking amongst themselves.

“Kevin says he has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast every morning,” the punky girl said to her co-worker.

“Peanut butter and jelly isn’t even good for you,” said her co-worker.

The guy suddenly looked up, like a dog who’d just heard his owner’s key in the door.

“Peanut butter and jelly?” He said. “For breakfast? That’s so weird!”

The two girls looked at him, then looked at each other, then looked back at him.

“Uh, yeah,” they said, almost in unison. Then they turned back to each other, and he turned back to his tacos. He didn’t say another word, just finished eating and left silently. The second he did, the punky girl, her co-worker, and I all burst out into laughter.

“What was his deal?” said her co-worker.

“I don’t know!” The punky girl laughed. “The thing is, I am a Misfits fan, but when it comes to punk, I don’t follow it that closely. I’m really more into metal.” She smiled sheepishly, and said something that will keep her in my heart and mind forever.

“I don’t actually know very much about punk at all.”

Fake BBC Show Title of the Week: Me and Me Trouble

Stuff I Did This Week: Finally got to announce my upcoming event with Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak, at Housing Works Bookstore in New York! We will be talking about her beautiful, cathartic, poetic memoir, Shout. This is an incredible honor, as her writing was a very big influence on me. It’s on March 12th, get your tickets now!

Also, I found out that Kim Stanley Robinson’s agent passed my post about his writing along to him, and he found it very funny! Once again, I am honored, and I’m pleased to find that Robinson has a sense of humor about his amazing work. (Somehow, I feel that Mary Gaitskill might not have taken it so well.)

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