A day of rest

I’ve been juggling a lot at one time in the last few days and definitely have a “burning the candle at both ends” vibe going on. It’s nearly 11pm and I didn’t get edits done today, but I did write for pay. Which I need to do. If I didn’t need the money, and didn’t need to not blow money, I would have gone on a road trip today. The plan was to work on the book. Maybe I will still. I just finished a coffee and have a little steam left.

Not writing has been killing me. There’s a big difference between writing content for rehabilitation centers or spray coating companies and doing the work I need to do. Last night I watched the second half of the movie Franklyn (I’m a big Eva Green fan) and the whiskey I had while relaxing turned to sugar and I was wide awake until about 3am. I can’t do nightcaps I guess. I was able to write a little bit of character description for the book, which was beautiful and clean.

Today, after writing 1000 words of copy, I did dishes, caught up with a friend I hadn’t spoken with for a few weeks, and then decided to have a little downtime to watch Finding Forrester. Such a neat movie and really encapsulates a lot about writing, even though the main character is a bit too perfect. It’s the last of Sean Connery’s really good roles, in my opinion. It was hard to believe the movie was made in 2000. How the world has changed since then, and not necessarily for the better. Twenty-two years.

Sean’s gone, Anna Paquin is middle-aged, and I’ve got more grey in my beard. Hell, back then I didn’t even have a beard. But I did have hair.

They always say the years will flash by in the blink of an eye. One day you are 25 and have aspirations to be a writer, and twenty-two years later, you’re still chasing that dream. Maybe not noticeably closer. Three kids, a divorce, a series of relationship misadventures, and a dog later, I am now 46 and have a slightly better idea of how to get where I want to go. I’m not sure knowing what I do now would have helped me at that age. That’s pretty much what the movie is about anyway. The raw talent of youth meeting the temperment of experience. But you still have to do the work. You have to show up. You have to want it.

And today, I needed to rest.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and there will be no eggs or candy or chocolate bunnies this year. No fake plastic grass in a basket. It will be another day. Another Sunday. Life comes and goes in waves. Next Easter might be different, there’s no way of knowing.

Would I go back to 2000?

No. That was an awful year. Plus I kind of like having a smart phone and an internet connection that doesn’t go eerrrrrrr—boingboingboingboing!!!SCRREEEEEEEshhhhhhhh. I was a lot more insecure back then too. Easily led and blown about by every wind. I had a hard time understanding the difference between what I wanted, what I could do, and what I was supposed to do.

I’m still working on that, but at least now I know it’s something I can work on.

Every generation has its own disease

Lately I’ve noticed that 30 year cycle of nostalgia rolling across the internet. I happen to get lots of GenX posts on my For You Page on TikTok. If you are born between 1965 and 1979, you are part of this generation. We are a lot like the Lost Generation, which I’ve always been a big fan of. Only instead of surviving World War One, we survived the Cold War.

Though my classmates and I didn’t participate in air raid drills to duck and cover underneath our desks for fear of nuclear war, the subject was always talked about. Our parents, the Baby Boomers, back then were very into themselves. They were the first generation that really had both parents working. They worked hard. They played hard. I won’t get into it.

GenX is characterized mostly by our cynicism and inability to give a fuck. We’ve been Slim Pickens riding the Bomb for a long time. But one of the things we actually did care about–passionately even–was music.

I was at the tail-end of GenX, and so when my musical tastes ripened, I found more identity in the Alternative and Grunge genres than I did hair bands and the earlier “Classic Rock” though I am not ignorant of their contribution. I’ve jammed out to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Doors, then Slaughter, Cinderella, Ratt, and many others. But those jams were not my…er…jam, I guess, as much as what hit in 1990-1998. What I consider the golden era of GenX music.

But here’s the thing that bugs me. People show how little they know about GenX when they think that Nirvana encapsulates the musical experience. Honestly, before Kurt Cobain died, people who listened to music were mostly tired of their shit. Nevermind had a few good songs but mostly it was a novelty experience of listening to Kurt warble incoherently with some garbage lyrics and stoned out of his fucking gourd most of the time. In Utero was some alienating crap with a few mainstream tracks like Heartshaped Box and About a Girl. Unplugged actually gave them verasity. I mean, listen to Scentless Apprentice, (awesome drum track, but the rest of it is some bullshit). Talking up Nirvana is a lot lot telling a Boomer than Woodstock was the ENTIRE experience of the ’60s.

We didn’t wander around playing Smells Like Teen Spirit all damn day. Most people I knew couldn’t even stand Nirvana until Kurt killed himself. The band itself was on the decline by then, with him hitting the horse pretty hard. When he nearly died in Rio, most people figured that was that.

We had other bands too, like Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Love Spit Love, Edwin Collins, Mazzy Star, Pornos for Pyros, Sonic Youth, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Samples, Folk Implosion, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tori Amos, Nine Inch Nails, Machines of Loving Grace, Rollins Band, the Cure, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, Live, The The, White Zombie, Oasis, the Cranberries, XTC, Jane’s Addiction, Jesus and Mary Chain, Fat Boy Slim, Concrete Blonde, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, Belly, Veruca Salt, and so many others. Those were just some off the top of my head.

Yet everyone on TikTok plays fucking Smells Like Teen Spirit like any of us actually liked that song. On that album alone, Come as You Are and In Bloom were the actual good songs. Lithium was good too. I had the single! On cassette tape! But it was hardly our anthem.

We also had Enigma, Faith No More, Queensryche, and don’t get me started on 90s R&B and hip hop. We had SWV, TLC, Salt n Pepa, New Edition, Bel Biv Devoe, Beasty Boys!, Sir Mix Alot, then Wu-Tang Clan(!!), Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, Skee-lo, Geto Boys, NWA, and a plethora of others.

Maybe it’s fitting for a generation who were labled disenfranchised slackers as we were coming into our own even then that were as associated with a song that was overplayed and we were sick of even then. A whole generation who hates their birthday because all it does is prove that nobody even comes close to understanding us.

GenX huh? I love Smells Like Teen Spirit!

Yeah? Fuck you.

That isn’t us. Anymore than the Boomers are free love in hippie busses with Mamas and the Papas lilting out the windows, or Vietnam just being Fortunate Son blaring out of the side of a Huey.

They’ve tried to capture the zeitgeist of my generation (and failed) a few times in movies. Reality Bites was one. With Honors was another one. I think Singles came close, but that was very niche and very early GenX. Probably one of the best movies of the time was Kevin Smith’s Clerks. It’s childish and jejune, but the entire concept of “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” caught the spirit of my generation. Maybe Pump Up the Volume, but it was a movie about GenX written by Boomers. Sorta like Hackers, which was a movie about computers or something. Honestly it’s just a spoon for Angelina Jolie.

You want a good GenX movie, hit up Trainspotting. Or even Grosse Pointe Blank. The soundtracks alone…

The reason I’m writing this was because I was listening to my Amazon station and Alanis Morrisette came on. Jeez, I probably wore out my Jagged Little Pill album. I used to like playing it when I was doing dishes and folding laundry. I liked a girl in college who looked like Alanis from the video for “Ironic.” “You Oughta Know” was the weakest song on the album too, but it was shocking so it got play. I liked “Forgiven” and “Head Over Feet” the best. To me, Alanis was closer to the rage and heartbreak of the 90s and being GenX than any Nirvana song.

The disillusionment. The angst. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has somehow ironically become what it was written to make fun of.

Stupid Sh!t we do

I’ve sometimes said that wisdom comes from pain and the wiser a person has become is a measure of how many painful things they have survived. I don’t really think that is true anymore. I think that even people who have endured pain can be lacking in wisdom. Because how else do they keep sticking their hand in the fire and saying “Ow! I got burned! Why does this keep happening?”

I think of some of the stupid, most inconsiderate things that I have done in my life. The pettiness. The shots fired from a safe location. The stupid shit we do when we haven’t healed from the last time we stuck our hand in the fire.

When I turned 21, my GF at the time used some of her student loan money to buy me a kilt. An honest-to-god tailored kilt that had been made in Scotland. It was beautiful. I wore it one time with her at a Valentines dance at my university. Men don’t get a lot of attention for how they dress–until they don the kilt. You’ll get a lot of attention, from how you look to how so-and-so’s grandfather came from Inverness to the eternal question of “Are you wearing anything under that?”

Just think of a world where men felt that seeing a woman in a dress was an invitation to ask her if she was wearing panties. Jeez. That’s a whole other post. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I hardly ever wear a kilt.

That, and I’m no longer 150lbs. (I got too fat for my kilt.)

That relationship ran its course and I was the one who ended things. I wanted things to progress to marriage, kids, etc. And she didn’t.

A year later, I started seriously dating someone else (meaning I was sleeping with her regularly). Then we moved in together. Then another year later, we were married. And I got married in my kilt.

It’s something cool to get married in, and the whole getup with the Jacobite jacket and kilt and fuzzy sporran and hose and all of it are a sight to behold, and run the risk of ecclipsing a bride on her day. On that day, the grandmother of the bride was the one who asked me if I was wearing anything underneath. (Facepalm).

My bride to be liked the idea of me wearing the kilt because it was a slap in the face to that girlfriend who had bought it for me. As though she would hear about it and think “What wasn’t that me?!” In a petty, stupid way, I agreed. But that shouldn’t have sat well with either of us, because in my spite I thought it should have been that girlfriend who is likely still paying off the interest on the kilt she bought me with her student loans. My (now ex) wife’s spite should have woken her up to the idea that someone was probably a better match for me than her, and she was being petty because she “won.”

My pettiness was because I was settling and I wondered why I had to, and I wanted to make someone miserable because of it. Someone I still really cared about, but was still hurting because they wouldn’t be with me on this journey. I had settled though. The journey wasn’t going to be the same. It was going to be long and painful. In some ways it still is.

My kilt doesn’t fit right anymore. It’s made for a young man with 8% body fat. That isn’t me anymore. I’m sturdier. Balder. Beardier. Wrinkly. I drink too much coffee. I stay up nights with my mind running over and over. My teeth are yellowed like the keys of an old piano (from coffee). And I make the old guy sounds when I get out of chairs.

I’ve made mistakes.

I’ve stuck my hand in that fire so many times now that it no longer hurts like it once did. I could pick a broiler pan out of a stove and carry it to the table and get confused about what I’m smelling, the cooking slab of steak–or me.

I don’t know how much wiser I am now as compared to back then. Hopefully a little bit wiser. Probably not though.