Monday, March 25, 2013

Days 31 thru 34 - 3/20-3/24

Quite by accident I failed at my Lenten experiment (in a way). I sat down at a bar to wait for a friend on Thursday night and without even thinking about it, ordered an Abita Light. I was into my first sip before I realized I was screwing up Lent. I felt bad at first...and then I didn't.

As I've professed, the reason I give myself these challenges is not religious in nature, so it wasn't like I betrayed my faith. I do this each season to inspire myself to blog(write) about my experiences. As I continued to sip the Abita, I thought about this. Although I feel like I started off very targeted, as the years have gone by the exercise has just become an excuse to put how I feel into words. I need pushes in my life, and this was the push I required to be creative by giving myself a responsibility to process my reactions to what I gave up. I've drifted though, and my blog entries are more generally about whatever I'm going through, regardless of the impact of what I sacrificed for Lent.

So I lost my focus, but gained my voice.

By acknowledging that, it's been easier to come back to the computer to write. I don't have to recycle my impressions or dig deep for implications. Life is easy enough to tell like it is a series of stories without having to set up a reason to tell them.

Now that that's out there...let me tell you about the fucking 1/2 marathon I ran yesterday. (I'm giving up the asterisk game too, curse words are much more powerful when spelled out in all their fucking glory).

On January 1st I made a resolution to myself to start yogging regularly, and I kept up pretty good with it by doing around 10 miles a week. One of my friends who is a running enthusiast took notice of my new hobby and suggested I sign up for a 1/2 marathon with her to inspire myself further. This seemed like a good idea at the time. So I said sure, and in mid-February upped my training by stretching the distances I was yogging. Last week I got a sinus/throat infection and my allergies kicked into crazy high gear, but I took a few days off then kept going because I figured I could muscle through it. You know, with my big bulging yogger's muscles. (I still have a super sexy cough btw - the kind where people give up their seat next to you on the train, it's that super sexy.)

The morning of the 1/2 marathon we got on a train bound for the course location: Sleepy Hollow, NY. I was nervous, not only because I'm scared of the headless horseman, but also because I've never done any kind of run with a large group. When I set goals I apparently decide I should achieve them (even when I'm still wrestling with phlegm and anxiety) though, so we arrived, then pinned on our numbers and headed to the starting line.

I am somewhat socially awkward in any new situation. Once I am comfortable with a person/group/setting, I'm stupidly charming and funny, but initial encounters with anything new or different make me self-conscious and uneasy. And that's ok, it's just how I am. Part of the reason is that I worry constantly if people like and respect me. This is probably because I'm not always sure if I like and respect me. When the people I'm around accept me though, I can go easier on myself since that's what the herd is doing. This isn't a perfect way to exist and I'm working on being more confident but not an asshole that doesn't care about the impact I have on others. Balance is a bitch though. I also worry when I don't know what to expect and how I will react to any unknown factors. This can be social and also topographical, because I'm partially blind in one of my eyes. Depth perception and objects on my right can also be a bitch.

We start and I'm already tweaking out because there are so many people (884 participants according to their website). I'm used to yogging in my park, where I know where all the turns and inclines are and am familiar with path etiquette. Everyone was nice, but I hated it.

There was mud, steep inclines, water stations where people threw their cups down on the ground when they were done which is apparently what you do but made me upset about littering, narrow paths, uneven bricks, tight corners, extreme downhill grades that made my toes squish painfully in my sneakers, mile markers that didn't match up with the notifications on my MapMyRun app, double-backs that made me realize how many people were kicking my ass, wind, rude signs supposedly designed to encourage me (example: "If you're reading this, you're running too slow!"), highways only partially shut down so cars were in the next lane, and did I mention all the people? I could elaborate exponentially on each of these things (gift? curse? undecided.) but you get the idea. There were also some very nice views of the Hudson and a neat graveyard along the way. After I crossed the finish line my nerves were shot and I just wanted to go crawl into a hot indefinitely long shower. Alone.

I calmed down after a few minutes of rest and little paper cups of water. After I hobbled home I had a neti-pot, Mountain Dew and 1/2 pizza marathon (winner!), then passed out on the couch while watching Frankenweenie. Oh, as far as not watching TV and movies...I fucked that up too. I was depressed last week and noticed that season 3 of Archer is on Netflix streaming now (end of explanation).

Like anything you wonder if you can do until you actually do it, I'm ultimately glad I finished the 1/2 marathon. I don't think I will ever yog in a group setting again though because it was just too stressful for me. And as I said before, that's ok, it's just how I am. I have other strengths (pizza eating, beer drinking, over thinking things) and plenty of other stuff to be anxious about (finding a job, telling a guy dating that I'm just not that into him, catching mice) so I'll leave the fucking marathons, 1/2 or otherwise, to those who are more like those shitty hills I wheezed up -- inclined.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Days 14 thru 30 - 2/28-->3/19/13

Wow, I lost some steam again...not for lack of things to write about but for confidence in how I would be telling it all.

I have a way of convincing myself that I'm not good enough at something and so should put it off, thus this approx 3 week gap in coverage. I have legitimately been busy at times -- parental visit, being semi-stalked by a cab driver, got a chemical peel, went on a couple dates, had 2 job interviews, am yogging 25+ miles a week, currently on day 5 of a z-pak -- but within all of that I've also been kinda unimpressed with myself in general, so I don't feel like writing up those things because I may paint them in a way that matches the low dips in my uneven moods. I use up the energy to be upbeat while in public or socializing, so that by the time I get home I just want to disappear into a blanket cocoon on my couch. But writing is the best way for me to get negative feelings out of my system, so it's a vicious cycle that spirals into a black hole until I get dizzy and vomit words

Part of the problem is also that I overwhelm myself. I'm a believer in list-making, and the list on my desk right now covers so many things that looking at it makes me feel buried by the items instead of organized. Here's an sample from the list:

Wave Hill?
sweatshirt GC
story class
balance, breathe, let go, love, true story, fake it til you break it

Ok, not that bad, but what each item implies is way more daunting...and the thought process that ensues is the real b**ch of it. Here is the list again, free form expanded:

401K - Need to figure out what to do w/ that once I get a new job - withdraw and reinvest? Need to f**king get a new job first. Ugh, I suck at life.

iMovie - Should play around with it and teach myself how to make simple edits. So many jobs want a producer/editor and I don't have editing skills or writing samples. I can do lots of other things but nobody is putting "can keep everyone on schedule even though Carrie Fisher crashes your shoot and there's an earthquake" (#truestory) in the skills section of their postings, so I need to make myself more marketable in other ways. Ugh, I suck at life.

bike - I want to get a bike or a scooter when it gets warmer. I also need to get my NY license now that I've done the paperwork and my FL one expires this year, and then I can get take the written test for a motorcycle/scooter learner's permit. I don't have money for driving lessons or a scooter though right now though so what's the point? Ugh, I suck at life.

Wave Hill? - I want to go there and check it out. It's snowing/raining/miserable out right now. I should just make another pot of coffay and watch more Archer. Ugh, the weather sucks at Spring.

sweatshirt GC - I have a gift certificate for Neighborhoodies that I won at a bar game on 10/2/08. Since they are not open on weekends and only until 6pm, I was never been able to use it because I couldn't exactly take a vacation day to make a custom sweatshirt. I still haven't made it to Brooklyn to cash it in...Ugh, I suck at life.

apts - I'm considering a relocation to New Orleans, so I'm going down the first week in April to check out a few things and see how real that possibility wants to be come. I have been looking at listings but until I have a solid move date there's not much else I can do. Moving freaks me out, but I've always wanted to live there, and maybe the ghosts of the mice I murdered (yes, there were more...I sticky trap and freed as many as I could but just last week I resorted to poison) won't be able to follow me there. But will the new kids like me? Will I have enough money? How will I get a car? What the f**k is holding me back? OMG I NEED TO GET PACKING BOXES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ugh, I suck at life.

massage - Need to use the gift certificate I have for Great Jones. This is a happy spot on the list, nothing sucks here.

acupuncture - I was in a hurry and hopped a turnstile for the first time in my life (yes, I was drunk) in January and hurt my leg on one of the silver spin-y things. It seems to be getting better with stretching, but with that and the sinus/respiratory shizz I have going on I want to look into a place my friend told me about that has a flexible payment plan. But I had to pay out of pocket this month for the chemical peel (quitting birth control was a great decision but I started to get acne on my shoulders/back that made me really self-conscious) and dentist, so I don't have the funds right now. Budgets are a bitch when you don't make any money. Ugh, I suck at life.

story class - have a Living Social deal for this and need to schedule but haven't been able to find a good weekend yet...did I mention I went to a Moth event in Brooklyn? It was kinda meh. I think the idea is great and am glad that they are so popular, but I didn't feel like it was an effective means of giving feedback or learning about storytelling in a collaborative environment. Hopefully the class will be, since it is a smaller group and the point is to teach you how to develop a story. Just need to keep an eye on the schedule for something that isn't sold out and works. I'm excited about that, nothing sucks here.

Kirk - I need to write him an email. This is my muse from college, and since my friend and I are taking a side-trip to Austin while I'm in Nola, I want to ask him about it since he's been there. I've always wanted to check it out so I'm psyched about that, nothing sucks here.

balance, breathe, let go, love, true story, fake it til you break it - these are all things I want to draw and paint. I like to do this, nothing sucks here.

Well what do you know, this word vomit is starting to reverse the spiral already.

I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed by things and underwhelmed by myself, but that honestly helped. Thanks for listening, internets!

I think I'll go get out my watercolors now...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Days 10 thru 13 - 2/23-->27/2013

I slept alot again today, I'm not feeling particularly depressed though, the rainy day just seemed to call for it. I was reading and then all of a sudden - ZONK! - unconscious.

I hate doing that because it feels like wasting the day, but it may have been that my mind just needed to shut down for awhile. I know being freelance may seem bad-a**, but (for me at least) having no set work schedule makes it less like a stay-cation than an everyday I'm hustlin' situation. I can't tune out anything, because the way I see it the next phone call or email or job posting could be What's Next trying to find me, so it's hard to relax or treat any day like a day off. Here's what the last few days have been like...

I worked for the catering company all weekend - around 8 hours on Saturday and 11 hours on Sunday.

Monday I did some writing and drawing, sent out a resume (cover letters can be so hard to compose when you really really want something), went on a 6 mile yog, met friends for trivia at a bar, and went shopping for groceries. I've been making almost all of my meals at home to save money, so cooking and dishes are thrown in there a few times a day too.

Tuesday I worked on 2 spreadsheets for personal budget and income prediction (I'm not f**ked (yet*)), emailed with a few contacts in NYC + Nola for networking purposes, discovered :30 bunny adaptations of movies (an excellent way to work around my giving up the long form versions), watched TED Talks by Richard Branson and Jane Goodall, read some of this fantastic book that you should read too if you think you'd like a "monumental new work" that "tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so," and went to an awesome show at the Mercury Lounge -- keep an eye on these boys, they're gonna go far.

Today I wanted to try to take the equivalent of a day off because honestly I can be overwhelmed with what I think I should be doing (not NEED to be doing). I just won't give myself permission to sit still if I can be writing, sending resumes, emailing people, making phone calls, yogging, etc. but I made an attempt anyway. I got back into my book on Shambhala for awhile, then felt guilty and popped online to build a profile and portfolio on a creative industry job board that a friend told me about. That took awhile because everything you do when you're freelance has to be thoughtful. Social and other networking sites need to match and make sense and be the best representation of me because I am essentially selling myself as a brand. I'm thinking my new tagline should be - NOW WITH MORE AWESOME! (how can they tell, amiright?!) If it hadn't been raining kittens & puppies I would have left the house to have an adventure out of reach of my laptop to prevent such distractions, but it was, so I settled back onto the couch to read some more and promptly fell asleep. That's one way to relax I least when I'm napping I'm not actively freaking out about what else I could be doing...and it's probably better for me than drinking and watching back-to-back episodes of Arrested Development (though debatable, for sure). New tagline for life - NOW WITH MORE NAPS!

* One of the things I've found really interesting on this path is that when I talk to people that are gracious enough to grant me informational interviews (usually fueled by coffee or cocktails), most of them inevitably ask me some form of this question at the end - "So, um, enough about what I the hell did you get the courage to quit your job?" To hear this from people I am seeking guidance from was surprising at first, but it kept happening and now I totally get it because it rings true for me too. You can be good at something and speak intelligently on the subject or industry, but those things don't mean you like where you are. One person actually said I should stop looking for work and teach a class on how to quit your job if it's not right for you. Maybe I the meantime these are 5 things that worked for me that I would tell anyone who wonders the same thing:

1) Put $100 into a savings account every time you get a paycheck. If you can't do that much, put away $50 or $25 or whatever is possible. It adds up, slowly but surely, and will hopefully give you the freedom later to take some time off when you realize you've hit the wall so f**king hard that thinking about your job causes you to cry in the steam room of a fancy spa (#truestory).

2) Be nice to EVERYONE, just in general, but this really pays off when you are looking for work. Seriously, the interns and assistants you interact with may someday be the people that can hire you or send you a job lead because they remembered that you're not a d**k. All of the interviews I've gotten so far have been through industry or personal connections, no companies have called me yet from any of the many (many) online postings for job opentings I have applied for. Scary but true.

3) Leave with grace. Tell supervisors and those who may report to you why you are leaving, but don't be mean or crazy about it. Your soon-to-be-former coworkers still work there and for them it may be the right place to be even if it is no longer for you. Again, you need good references and who knows what jobs they may hear about and/or be able to recommend you for. Some people return to work for employers again too, so don't burn bridges if that seems like a possibility down the road.

4) Once you've weighed your options, done the math and quit your job - make a budget and stick to it. If you go over, don't beat yourself up, but know that you did effectively shorten the life-span of your "transition" period because you just had to have those Uniqlo sweaters. Then get your smartly-dressed self over to the computer and get aggressive by following up with contacts that haven't gotten back to you yet (be polite though, people with jobs are busy, remember what that was like?).

5) Lose the ego, it's not cute. When a friend first asked me if I wanted to do coat-check for a catering company she worked for occasionally, I hesitated. I felt like it was beneath me. It's not. When you need to work, no task is beneath you so take any job -- and the 2nd just as important part of #5 is -- as long as you don't get stuck. I went in for an interview for a full-time job and mid-way through I knew I didn't want the position. Thankfully it wasn't offered to me, but if it had been I was ready to decline. That may seem like a stupid thing to say, but I'd take random gigs like coat-check that I can walk away from at the end of the night with no remorse over a 9-5 that I don't want any day.

In all these instances, know your limits to being true to yourself on every end of your spectrum. These apply to mine, yours may be different.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Days 5 thru 9 - 2/18-->22/2013

Had to skip ahead a few days to the present...I've been trying to catch up and retroactively post something for each day, but haven't been able to stay on top of it. Also feels like I'm watering things down when I'm reaching for those days, so onward with quality not quantity.

This is the first time in awhile that I've been legit depressed, it started earlier this week and got pretty heavy today. The only thing I've ever been diagnosed with is being human when it comes to feeling sad, but I haven't felt this way since before I left my job so it hit me pretty hard. I slept alot, then got mad at myself for sleeping instead of doing something productive, then rationalized that I was allowed to feel this way, then got angry again because I can't control it and I don't really have that much to be sad about...maybe this sounds familiar because you're human too. (or a freaky AI robot who can google "depression" and understand it).

Since the beginning of the year I have been riding a wave of excitement for What's Next, and trying hard to immerse myself in music, reading, writing, TED Talks about faith, "morning pages" assigned by a book a friend gave me called The Artist's Way...all in order to take this downtime to get to know myself and become a better person, so that when What's Next comes I meet it head on and make good decisions. To some this may sound like indulgent bulls**t, but I don't care. I've started to believe in at least this much - I have to like my decisions, but you don't.

Not that other people don't matter or I want to act reckless, I actually feel the contrary -- I just mean that for my own well being I have had to admit I can't control how every person feels or is motivated. This is something that's easier to type or scribble in a notebook, than to live. Being someone that prefers immediate results (what do you mean THERE'S NO APP FOR THAT!?), the gradual nature of gaining self knowledge can be frustrating. But I'm working on it.

The reality that I twist myself into knots trying to make everyone happy, then freak out and push certain individuals away when things get too complicated for fear of disappointing them (and myself) is one I'm trying to alter. May as well call it what it is: self therapy. I've been shrinking my own head ever since I fired my therapist because she didn't think my pet rabbit of 9 years dying was a serious life event. #truestory

So yeah, I'm working on that.

(I rule at digressing!)

The thing that sucks most about this particular bout of depression is that due to this year's Lenten social experiment, I can't drink the tallboy of Genny Cream Ale in my fridge or watch "Anchor Man" to combat the blues. Instead I've resorted to roasting a chicken and surfing Harlem Shake viral videos to climb out of today's low. This one is by far my favorite. I have started to feel better, and this weekend I'm working a couple of catering events so that should also help alleviate the funk. Being useful and spending time with people usually does, on the upswing anyway.

As for today, What's Next is Harlem Shaking my roasted bird into some jambalaya. How can I not be happy about that?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Celebration Sunday #1 - 2/17/2013

Since it was Celebration Sunday I watched some Portlandia on the ride back to NYC, then did some reading. I just got my iPad mini a couple of weeks ago, and I am conflicted about admitting this but - I'm starting to prefer it to reading books in ye olde traditional manner because of the perks if offers. I know I can highlight and bookmark a physical book too, but I can't tap a word to automatically get its definition or seamlessly go to Wikipedia to learn more about a word/event/person. Those amenities are pretty fantastic! But yes, electronic readers and the like are also destroying what we knew, and that can be hard to adapt to.

In college I worked at a movie theatre as a projectionist, and during that time I mourned the loss of film projectors as digital machines replaced them because #1 sweeping change of any kind tends to freak me the f**k out,  and #2 because it was the end of a sexier era. Same goes for film photography, as a print producer in the mid aughts I watched sadly as that changeover happened too. Contact sheets gave way to hard drives, and with that we lost the sense of anticipation that used to be associated with creating an image. While digital can be slick, books and film of any kind are most definitely more relatable. You can touch them, feel them, experience their history as dog eared pages and dusty scratches, own them, shelve them, give them!

Technological innovation is as undeniable as it is exponential though. The world we live in just changes more and faster every day. I understand why it happens, but sometimes I want it all to s l o w  d o w n or go in e-s-r-e-v-e-r...I guess I could move to Portland, but I don't really miss ice cube trays that much.

There are good steps forward too though, like vaccines. So while I allow myself to miss the book stores and post offices, I try to keep in mind that innovation also got rid of the the small pox - which was totally not sexy.

Day 4 - 2/16/2013

I woke up in majestic Poughkeepsie and enjoyed the continental breakfast at the hotel, then wandered back to the train station. My iPhone was at 5% power, so I tried to navigate the .6 miles to the station without consulting it too much. Easier said than I hate to say this, but if zombies take out the 3G towers during the apocalypse, you do not want me on your team. I'll basically be useless. Except for my watercolor skillz of course.

I managed to find the station before my iPhone took leave of the world though, and hopped the next train back to NYC. It's funny how quickly those last few power percentage points little minute but incredibly important grains of sand slipping way too quickly through an hourglass, whilst I freak out and realize I have no survival skills or mindless way to entertain myself. Remember HOURGLASSES?! I want to play Boggle now...Anyway, I got home, took a shower, and then packed a bag for my next train ride to Poughkeepsie's rival in majesty - Trenton, NJ. My friend Travis and his wife were throwing a party out that way for a good buddy who is leaving for Marine boot camp next week, and as you may know, I love a party. Travis picked me up in Trenton and we made the short jaunt to their place in Yardley, PA. His wife, B, was making a crazy amount of delicious food so I stationed myself in the kitchen and without any amount of arm-twisting agreed to become her taste tester.

This was the first party I have been to since Lent began, and contemplating the fact that I gave up alcohol led me to do some investigating on the train ride there with my freshly charged technology. According to a posting in the Catholicism section on, since Sundays are IN Lent but not OF it, you can technically indulge in what you gave up on that day. BINGO! I love a good technicality. Like last year I discovered that since St. Patrick's Day is a feast day, Lenten restrictions are lifted during that as well. Rather than missing the whole objective of Lent, I think what I'm really doing is pointing out that it is a time of celebration as well as reflection. I think we need a balance of both to enjoy either, and to write blawgs that are more interesting.

So at midnight I started drinking PBR. Before then I was drinking water or soda out of a red keg cup, so nobody was really the wiser. I have always thought that alcohol consumption culture is somewhat mystifying...if you tell someone you are not drinking they often become suspicious of you, but get a cup and act like it's full of booze and they will never care. I asked a friend if she had any insight on the phenomena and she said that when people say they aren't drinking while she in fact is, there's an elevated feeling of accountability. Like the non-drinker that usually drinks is hyper-aware of what she is saying/doing instead of also drunk. I get that, I've felt that way on some level in those situations and often tried to understand why. I have another friend that is in AA, so in talking to him about drinking I have come to realize that is basically a universally acceptable reason not to drink, and he is above this scrutiny. I think it's interesting that if I cited a reason that is viewed as legit like being in AA, a history of alcoholism in my family, being on antibiotics is also a good one, etc. that it's fine. Yet if I identify as a non-alcoholic simply making the choice not to drink, that has social implications. Then again, maybe it's my personality + the crowd I typically hang out with. They are after all, used to me loving beer with intense passion.

So I drank PBR, ate awesome food (twisting a piece of bacon around a bread stick and then baking that into a delicious savory candy cane is a great idea btw), and mingled with the guests. Towards the end of the night/morning (by then it was around 3AM) I found myself sitting with another party enthusiast and watching wrestling on TV. Well, really, I was saying "what the hell is going on" and preventing him from peacefully watching wrestling on TV. He was articulate, attractive, and humored me when I demonstrated my wrestling knowledge by saying that when I was younger I liked that "snap into a Slim Jim guy." Travis and B eventually joined us - we were the last 4 party soldiers still standing...or rather sitting. I had been curled up on a loveseat adjacent to the couch that articulate attractive humorous guy (AAHG) was on, but to make room for them I moved over and sat next to him. Although it was a full-sized couch, we were sitting right next to each other and kept brushing up against the other's arms, legs etc. while gesturing in conversation.

This continued while we all talked about movies, the fight that happened that night (I said it was a party), and how awesome glamour shots are. When Travis and B said they were heading upstairs to go to sleep, I lingered on the couch for a beat instead of heading to my bed in the guest bedroom. I am pretty sure AAHG and I could have elevated it to a make-out party, and I really wanted to. Sometimes the whole Pride and Prejudice thing of just barely touching can be so f**king hot. Instead, I caved to something I remembered that I read in the Shambhala book referenced in Day 2, and I decided to call it a night. I know that sounds incredibly lame, kinda like the not drinking issue, why would you trust someone that doesn't want to make out? But go with it...even though at that moment I wanted to kiss/touch/who-knows-how-far-it-would-have-gone him, while we were sitting there I was also thinking about later. Would I regret it? Would he? I don't even like wrestling, how will we raise our children when we are fighting about that? So that was happening in my head, and then I also thought about my interpretation of a Buddhist teaching (this juggling act in itself is impressive because I was full-throttle "celebrating" and about 5 PBRs deep). I know there's really no "later," only consciousness stretching out infinitely in every direction, but the lesson I remembered says I am always connected to all people in all places and all times. So even if I went upstairs without having a make-out party, we would still be connected...and maybe that was enough for that night. On this road to self discovery I'm currently on I may also get to a point that would have allowed me to do both feel connected and not fear "later," but it felt right to be looking at the situation in that way and deciding to keep it in my pants. There's also a version of this story that could have played out with me misinterpreting our closeness and ultimately getting shut down, had that happened I would have been embarassed. Thinking about it now, I realize the decision could also have been part "you are what you love, not what loves you" approach, which makes me want to watch "Adaptation" and I will make a point to do that on a Celebration Sunday to revisit that idea.

BONUS: After I went to bed, I was able to stop wondering what would happen if we eventually fell in love, then out of love, then got into an epic custody battle over the dog we had adopted together and decided to name Macho Man.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 3 - 2/15/ 2013

Friday night was quite accidentally spent in Poughkeepsie, NY.

I took the 2+ hour train ride up from NYC to see Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) perform at the Bardavon Opera House. This was my first time going to the Bardavon, and transportation drawbacks aside (we'll get to that...), I'd highly recommend seeing a show there if you can. According to the website, it was built in 1869 and is the oldest continuously operating theater in NY state as well as one of the oldest in the country. But I digress. The show started at 8PM, Jeff was preceded by 2 openers so he didn't go on until nearly 10:30PM, and the last train home was at 11PM...whomp whomp as the kids say. It's worth another tangent to tell you that the 2nd of the 2 openers, Music Tapes, are pretty epic in their own right. The lead vocalist/saw player/storyteller, Julian Koster, also played with Jeff in Neutral Milk Hotel, and brings an other-worldly presence to the stage. He plays a saw as if it should never be used as anything but an instrument, and at first I thought his endearing child-like demeanor was annoying but then acquiesced that it lent a sweet sincerity to his stories. Music Tapes are doing a Traveling Imaginary Tour that hasn't posted any dates beyond early February at this point, but I'm going to keep an eye on it because it sounds pretty unique. The tour description says they pitch a circus tent and the performance includes music, games, magic, and other entertainment. I like all of those things! Ok, so around the end of the Music Tapes' performance I started to freak out, and realized I was at an impasse - I could take the last train and miss most of Jeff's set, or stay and be stranded until Metro-North started running again the next morning. I surprised myself by deciding to stay even before knowing what that meant.

While the stage was re-set I used my iPhone to frantically search for an alternate route or nearby place to stay so that I didn't have to go hobo style and hang out at the train station all night or call someone to pick me up. If only Neutral Milk Hotel was an actual place! (zing.) Technology revealed that Amtrak had stopped running too, but that the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel was just a few blocks away and had rooms available. I weighed my options and made the executive decision to relax and enjoy the rest of the show knowing I had a viable Plan B. I say executive because there's definitley a committee in my mind that I had to consult. There's Scared Me, Rational Me, Brave Me, Hopeful Me, Crazy Me, Calm Me, Bitter Me, Compassionate Me...the Mes that we all have inside, and I've been trying to listen to mine more carefully lately so I can understand why each one cries out (or doesn't). The Me that overwhelmed the rest was the one that knew the thing that would make me feel the most good, guilt about spending the money I shouldn't be spending on a hotel aside, would be to stay. It was Loving Me.

So I stayed, and he kicked ass. After the first couple of songs, Jeff openly encouraged the crowd to sing along with him and that was a pretty special experience. All these voices...not singing perfectly, but feeling united in joy with every word and howl we sent towards the stage. Good stuff.

After the encore where Julian joined Jeff on stage with his trusty saw, it was well past midnight and I walked towards the hotel with a glowing happiness I can only achieve from seeing live music. It had started to snow/sleet aka Wintery Mix The Most Hateful of All Precipitation, but I was too warm to care.