LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Walking To &/Or From Work
It’s a few minutes past twelve on Wednesday night, and I don’t mean Thursday morning, even though Thursday morning is what I actually mean. But I just don’t buy that, that a new day starts when the clock turns to midnight. The new day starts when you wake up tomorrow morning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s still June 15th.
I’m drunk on Verdejo, which, I’ve decided, is the best kind of drunk for me to be. Not on Verdejo, necessarily, but on a Spanish white for sure, made from some obscure varietal like Treixadura or Macabeo or Xarel-lo that nobody has ever heard of except for me, like twenty-five Spanish wine producers, and a handful of other weird nerds.
I drank Verdejo in Islington tonight, at the Draper’s Arms, which is my favourite pub in London, I guess, or more likely isn’t, but sometimes is. Pubs in London are like Beatles songs— they all fulfil their specific function when you need them to. At the Draper’s Arms, I ate a piece of gold fish for no reason, I wasn’t hungry, but I saw someone else eat the gold fish and then I wanted it, it seemed stupid not to eat it, so I did. I shook Monica’s hand and told her I was going to move to Barcelona in January, because Monica told me to, and the last time I took Monica’s advice it turned out to be the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given me, which was to move the fuck out of the apartment I was living in with my ex-boyfriend, like, tomorrow. I did that, and that’s why my life ended up being what it became: a life I can’t deal with leaving. The life which I just shook hands on agreeing to leave.
I was drunk and walked to Canonbury, the Overground station I used to walk to every morning, which wasn’t the morning then, it was the afternoon, because those were the hours I kept. The train came fast, and I took it to New Cross, which is not so close to where I live, but it’s close to where I work. I was happy to inconvenience myself, since I couldn’t bear the thought of making it through an entire day without getting to walk that walk.
That walk is the number one thing that’s making me want to keep on living in London, and if Monica had never told me to move the fuck out of my old apartment I never would’ve gotten to know it. I wondered about what the Barcelona equivalent of that walk would be, and then I thought back to Toronto, about the walk from Palmerston Boulevard to Bloor Street station, and then I stopped thinking about any of it, because I was walking to New Cross to Brockley, and I was just so fucking stoked to be walking from New Cross to Brockley, drunk on Verdejo and listening to all my favourite rock & roll songs; I didn’t have to think about anything. I just was.
1. Home to Work
Walking to work doesn’t start when I start walking to work, it starts when I wake up in the morning, when I lie in my bed and take a moment to remember whether or not I got drunk the night before. If I didn’t, I’m sad for a second, because it means my phone’s probably not popping off. I look at my phone and am usually proved right. My phone is boring and I’m bored of it. But if I did get drunk the night before, I get to have my cool moment of remembering all the cool things that happened, and then check out my phone to explore all the cool ramifications of all the cool text messages I sent, and all the cool Tweets I wrote. It’s amazingly exciting for me.
I make my coffee and my peanut butter, and I plan out my outfit, and then I put it on. Sometimes my hair looks great, but usually it looks bad. I walk out my front door, and listen to a song. The song I love the most that morning dictates what my vibe will be for the rest of the day. I start Tweeting inanely, and then I put my phone on airplane mode, so I can be rewarded for having walked to work when I arrive at work and take my phone off airplane mode and watch all the favs roll in. There are two bursts of favs every morning, one from all the London people at 9:30, and then again at 1:00, when all the Toronto and New York people wake up.
The best song to listen to on my walk to work is My Generation by the Who It’s easy, it’s simple; it makes its point fast, and hard, and loud. It gets me hype really fast; I like to peak early, when I’m walking past the graveyard, past the KFC ad in the bus stop that I always want to Tweet is the best skinny mirror in all of London, but I never do, because it’s too niche. I don’t relate to any of the words in My Generation, I only like the parts when he stammers at the front of the sentences. Some information I know is that that sound is meant to mimic the delivery of a person high on amphetamines, who is so high on amphetamines that his or her teeth are chattering. That is very cool information to me.
The Seeker by the Who is also a good morning song, and A Quick One by the Who can also be effective, though only when I do this thing where I bookend the first leg of my home-to-work walk and the last leg of my work-to-home walk with it, so I can think about who I was that morning when I listened to it, and then reflect on all the ways I’ve grown as a person over the course of the day.
Mostly, the mornings are for Bob Dylan, because Bob Dylan songs always sound very fresh to me, just like the morning air. Subterranean Homesick Blues is always a safe bet, as are any of the Bob Dylan songs I designate as being “party" Bob Dylan. Blonde on Blonde’s a really “party” Bob Dylan album: Obviously Five Believers, Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way, Absolutely Sweet Marie. The one where he sings that he'd like to give Brother Bill his great thrill. The morning's when I make all my favourite “Bob Dylan inside jokes” to myself; the one I’m most amused by is when Bob Dylan sings “When you’re lost in the rain, in Juarez, and it’s Eastertime too,” and I say, “Really, Bob? And it’s Eastertime? On top of everything?”— it’s not a very funny joke.
The past couple days, though, the Rolling Stones have been speaking to the morning. Yesterday, I got caught in a thunderstorm while wearing skin-tight trousers and a leopard-print button-up. I was wearing Beatle boots after a month of wearing flats, and I felt uneasy in them, tentative, like a baby giraffe wobbling on its twigs of legs. But then Stray Cat Blues came on, and I settled into my strut. This morning I was morose, listened to Ruby Tuesday twice and felt it but was too stupid to figure out that my today vibe was “Don’t question why she needs to be so free”/”When you change with every new day”/”Dying all the time” all along, a missed opportunity for which I have no one to blame but myself. And then I listened to She Smiled Sweetly, and walked past the gas station and thought about the time I came to Brockley to hang out with Livia last summer, on that one really hot day last summer, and it was the first day I’d ever worn my glasses and they felt foreign on my face. I walked past that Esso station and had no idea where I was, had no idea that a year later that Esso station would become as big a part of me as my glasses would too.
She Smiled Sweetly had never sounded so beautiful; it was the colour blue, a greyish-blue that you could see through. Mick Jagger sang “And feeling good, most all of the time”— he sings the word time in a lower register than is naturally comfortable for him, and pronounces the vowel very strangely.
I pretended that that word was the ocean, and drowned myself inside of it. In a positive way.
2. Work To Home
Either I am walking home from work or I am walking home drunk from whatever I ended up doing after work. But I'm not going to write about the drunk times, because it’s June 16th now, and on June 16th terrible things happened to the world, and it no longer feels relevant to write about the time I drunk-listened to the Who sing Cello cello cello cello cello cello cello cello etc etc etc You are forgiven you are forgiven you are forgiven you are forgiven etc and jumped up into the air and punched it when the guitars got bigger. That act was performed as a tribute to the world being a beautiful place. I feel stupid, now, for feeling like that ever.
So I’m not drunk, I’m never drunk. I’m tired. I am acutely aware of the way the muscles inside my legs are moving. They remind me of the inside of a clock.
All the streets look different when I’m walking from instead of to. There are certain street corners from morning and night that it took me weeks of walking to realize were the same one. In the night my feet feel damp in my shoes because water splashes on my shoes all day. I feel dirty, I need to wash myself. There is always a little container of food in my bag that I have taped up with masking tape. I’m worried that the food is going to spill inside my bag and mix up with the pre-existing mess of tobacco flakes, gum wrappers, and 75,000 quarter-full bottles of Highland Springs sparkling water. When I get home I’m going to eat the food and then exercise for twenty minutes and then it will be the actual night.
The sound of songs sounding so good. The Rolling Stones have been speaking to the evening, too. Psychedelic Rolling Stones, mostly; that’s the vibe. Child of the Moon & Dandelion, 2000 Man, Citadel, She’s A Rainbow. I recently re-read a thing I wrote about She’s A Rainbow three years ago in which I trash-talked a thing I’d written about She’s A Rainbow four years before that. Seven years ago, I walked down College Street in the summertime and bought myself a waffle cone of one scoop raspberry and one scoop white chocolate gelato, walked down the street eating it and listening to She’s A Rainbow at the same time, and I felt like if 1967 Mick Jagger had seen me doing it, he would’ve written She’s A Rainbow about me, which bothered me. I felt demeaned by Mick Jagger, unimpressed by his having nothing better to say about the woman he loves than that that she wears clothes which are different colours and combs her hair. Three years later, I decided that I actually loved the line about the girl combing her hair. I thought it represented a very pure and true style of love: when you love somebody so hard and so much that even the dullest, simplest, most mundane things they do seem spectacular. When you’re so taken with someone that you can sit around watching them check their Weather app or scratch their elbow, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.
I’ve never felt like that about a person in my life. Boring shit is boring, whether you love a person or not. Today I think the lyrics to She’s A Rainbow are fine, not really worth reading into, a series of mostly vacant sentences that do a great job of communicating a thing, which is exuberance, or joy, the zeitgeist of a time. It’s not a song about a girl, it’s a song about what songs sounded like in 1967. It sounds like being trapped inside a music box. It traps me inside myself, away from the world, and inside my head it’s always 1967. I wish it really was. I want to put a flower in a gun.
On the day we found out about Orlando, there was a leak at my work and we had to close down one side of the restaurant. It smelled really bad in the restaurant. Everyone was crying, I was crying. I went outside and told everybody “Fifty people died” and my boss said “I thought it was twenty” and I said “It’s fifty now.” I locked myself in the bathroom and cried hard. I wanted what happened not to have happened and felt selfish and babyish about the way in which I wanted it. I stopped crying, because you can’t cry forever. I sat on a bench with my boss’s three-year-old daughter and we watched a cartoon music video for the song B-I-N-G-O & his Bingo was his name-o together and I sang along to Bingo. The little girl put her hand in mine and it reminded me of a tooth, it was so tiny and light. I picked her up and ran around holding her and spun her around in circles. I was exploiting her, nourishing myself with her exuberant vibes.
At the end of the day I had dirt all over my hands from cleaning out the extractor fans or whatever they’re called, and she sprayed the cleaning spray on my hands to wash them off. The cook asked me why I was letting her spray that spray on my hands, it’s bad for your skin, she said, and I said I didn’t care, because I didn’t. I hugged everyone and helped with the leak as much as I could and felt less like shit about things. It feels good to do nice things for people you care about. I thought, “Maybe this is enough, maybe I am doing enough, maybe I can’t do any more than this, maybe this— perceiving every moment of my life as an opportunity to give a gift to the world— is actually something.”
It isn't. I don’t know how to say any eloquent or moving things about how fucked up the world is. All I can ever think to say is There’s nothing easier to do than LOVE but it comes off so naïve, which checks out, because I am naïve. I’m an idiot, like Ringo, who still always tweets about peace and love. I’m stuck inside the year 1967 in my head. I was born in 1967, and I’ll die in 1967.
That night I walked home listening to She’s A Rainbow and it worked: just like hanging out with a three-year-old, or drinking a glass of Verdejo. Like kissing, like eating, like the summer, like the sun. Some people know how to write words that mean something real and other people know how to write words that mean something else. The entire world is crashing down in front of me, but if there is beauty to be found, I will find it.
LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: A Song, My Dress, Anthony's Shirt
Here are my three things of the week:
My favorite is the last minute and a half, where the song turns into a snappy little party full of flowers and fireworks and then gets all dreamy again, and then Burt Bacharach brings the house down with that last line. It's such a cool thing to be totally sappy but also unequivocally true in whatever you're saying. Let's have everything be sappy and cornball and beautifully mushy forever.
ii. MY NEW DRESS
This is my new dress. I got it at Hutch, which is next to the Scoops in East Hollywood and maybe ties with Gotta Have It for my favorite vintage store in L.A. Everything’s under $30 and feels like it belonged to some groovy librarian from 1978. I had the upstairs all to myself and when I tried on my dress “Nothin in This World Can Stop Me Worryin ‘bout That Girl” came on the radio, and I knew I had to buy it: all new dresses should be about “Nothin in This World Can Stop Me Worryin ‘bout That Girl” in one way or another. I also got a beach bag that says “Victoria, B.C.” in beautiful grandmotherly cursive, because Wolf Parade are from British Columbia. And as I was paying the song on the radio changed to “Vincent” by Car Seat Headrest, and then later on I bought that too. Now I listen to it all the time, when I’m not listening to the Posies + Burt Bacharach or to Divine Fits’ hot cover of “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty. My favorite "Vincent" lyric is “They got a portrait by Van Gogh on the Wikipedia page for clinical depression," which I'd bet is most people's favorite "Vincent" lyric. Whenever anyone sings intensely and dramatically about stupid things like Wikipedia, it cracks the world wide-open for me.
iii. ANTHONY'S SHIRT
I love the shirt that Anthony wore for Carpool Karaoke. It’s got a flamingo and a tiger and a palm tree and says “TIME TO SUBMERGE”; it looks like it was made by a weirdo fifth-grader who’s blithely ignoring today’s art-class project in favor of working on her cool flamingo art. The new Chili Peppers album The Getaway came out last night and I’m so happy, I love my guys so much, my buddies and my brothers. One fun thing about there being a new Chili Peppers album is all the bores on the internet get to make a huge deal about how horribly the Red Hot Chili Peppers offend their incomparably refined sensibilities, and I get to scroll past their draggy bullshit and feel wildly superior in my chill joie de vivre. Another fun thing is that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are my favorite band in the world, and each new album always fortifies that joie de vivre and makes me feel like a 12-year-old goof again but also super-reflective and wistful and very chorus-to-“My Back Pages”-y. So in celebration of all that, I’m taking today as a half-holiday and going to eat an egg sandwich at a country store in the woods where they give you free cookies on your first visit. I'm going to wear my new dress and listen to The Getaway and probably "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and "Vincent" and lots of other songs that make everything feel as beautifully mushy and stupid and magic as the world truly is.