Instead of coming home to wives and children and family dogs, we, the twenty-somethings of the twenty-first century, come home to ourselves. And we’re obsessed with ourselves. And we’re bad people.
We’re obsessed with bad people.
And sitting there at 1 am in a fast food restaurant on a college campus where I do not attend, I see some kids gathered around talking and laughing. I want to tell those kids, with swirling purple eyes that show the future, about the life that is to come. I want to tell that there will be a lot of self-loathing, doubt, crying yourself to sleep, joyless masturbation, smoking marijuana, meaningless relationships with people you don’t like, and hating your job.
But instead I eat my vanilla ice cream out of a little plastic cup and wish I hadn’t picked the one seat in the restaurant that’s broken.
I have forgotten where I exist in time and the room is dark. I unplug the reindeer in the front yard and lie down on the bed. The sheets are cold and my head is a soup of swirling purple. I picture a cat with a human head—my head.
. . . is apparently all I managed to write last night.
Watching cars and people go by as the skeletal white reindeer illuminates my front yard. Smoking in the bathtub. Sharing a bed with a cat. Screaming at vacant parking lots at midnight. Crying over long gone friends.
I want to turn into vapor and slither through the keyhole. Maybe float out into space. But I’ll probably just stay where I am.
Ryan Starsailor and John Blacksher enjoy donies and coffee at Pepples Donut Farm, Oakland’s favorite breakfast spot.
Sunset on Mars, taken in May 2005 by NASA’s Spirit rover. It’s crazy to think that the pale white orb sinking into the horizon is 141 million miles away.
This photograph was taken in January 2010 in Yokohama, Japan, just south of Tokyo. This must have been several days after New Year’s Day.
That’s my friend Dan Lama on the right. (Which makes me the ghoul on the left.) We’d just spent the night at a bathhouse called Manyo Club, which is located on this strange little island full of amusement park rides. I remember it being windy that day. We were so happy, though, being there together.
I sure do miss Japan. I miss Dan Lama more.
While editing the seventh chapter of my novel, I stumbled upon a line that has very little to do with the rest of the story. I must have just dropped it in there at the end because I didn’t know where else to put it. Who knows where it will end up (if it ends up in the book at all), but for now I’ll leave it here:
Somewhere far away, a father was wondering if his son would be alive the next morning, and a porn star was getting ready for work.
She had figured out that the most pervasive American disease was loneliness, and that even people at the top often suffered from it, and that they could be surprisingly responsive to attractive strangers who were friendly.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard (1987)
Soon I plan to do a whole post on my bedroom here in The People’s Republic of Austin, but for now I will show you where I work. This is my “office”, which is approximately five feet away from my bed.
- My desk used to be a dining room table, but I haven’t had a reason to use it as such in many years. It’s a bit larger than a regular desk, so I prefer it this way.
- Above my desk is a 2013 calendar sent to me by Field Notes, makers of wonderful little notebooks I order every now and then.
- Above that is a picture of my cousins Ned and Jack (with me somewhere between them) last Christmas. Sometimes, when I’m feeling uninspired, I just look at that picture and instantly Get Creative.
- That little white lantern usually has a lit, fruit-scented tealight candle in it, but I recently ran out of them. I’ll have to get some more soon.
- See that Paris Review mug? It’s huge. They sent it to me when I subscribed last fall. I have probably drunk hundreds and hundreds of cups of tea out of that beautiful thing since then.
- On the little bookshelf to the left I usually burn incense non-stop. If you look closely, you can actually see a vertical green stick burning in this picture. I have a huge supply of Nag Champa and Mainichikoh stocked up so that I never run out.
- As for the bookshelf itself: It’s filled with guitar tuners, ancient Japanese video games, old journals, and unused train tickets for the BART in San Francisco.
- Tacked to the little cork board above the bookshelf is a ticket to a Deer Tick show on October 16th, 2011 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. It was the first one I ever went to! I have been to about thirty since then.
- Above that is a Delta Spirit triangle advertising their self-titled album. I got that at Waterloo Records on the day it was released, which was during SXSW last year. I also watched them perform half the songs from the album an hour later in the very same store. That was pretty cool!
- On the cork board to the right is a heartfelt letter from my spirit-brother, Alex H., who lives in Los Angeles. He sent me Halcyon Digest and OK Computer on vinyl for Christmas two years ago. I hadn’t even met him at that point! We knew each other through words alone. What a cool dude.
- To the left of that is a pedal wrench given to me by a guy named Joe of Joe’s Bike Shop in Mt. Washington, which is pretty much the only part of Baltimore that isn’t scary. (I actually worked in the area for a few months.) Joe told me I would be able to put my whole bike back together using just a hex key—except the pedals. He loaned me that pedal wrench so I wouldn’t have to buy one. I still need to send it back to him. Sorry, Joe. I’ll do it soon!
- At the bottom of the board are two business cards. One is a prototype of my own VIII Nothing card, and the other is from a lovely young artist named Samantha Fried, whom I met on mountain trail overlooking Lake Tahoe—right on the border of California and Nevada. Really!
- And of course Sir Patrick Stewart watches over me while I work. My ex-wife painted that for me when I was a young Starsailor.
It’s a pretty OK place to sit down and write stuff that no one will read, if you ask me.