An hour ago, I was ranting about being considered a Mommy Blogger.
I’m not a mommy blogger! Here, have a photo of my kid!
OH MY GOD.
All of this is happening simultaneously:
Oh my god, so much is going on, my head is spinning and just now, I started to cry.
Corey and Chooch are looking at my old pictures of dead pets.
It’s a sobering moment.
Now Corey is telling me that he was in the garage attic looking for something for our mom, who called up to him, “You know, your dad used to have a big glass bong in that corner over there, see if you can find it!” Unfortunately, it must have been something our dad remembered to take with him after The Divorce.
It was nearly noon by the time we managed to park the car. Blake didn’t have a ticket yet so he and I stood around idly outside the entrance to Post Gazette Pavilion while Henry went and bought his ticket. We were approached by the singer and guitarist of Uh-Oh Explosion, who were toting around a box of their CDs. Making small talk, the singer asked if Blake and I were “together.” Instinctively, we both took a step apart and emphatically answered “NO.” Trying to figure it out, he squinted his eyes and guessed, “Brother and sister?” We shook our heads. I saw Henry lingering a few yards away, knowing better than to walk over and lame-up the convo. I pointed to Henry and said, “OK, see that guy? That’s his dad, and my boyfriend.”
This kid (he was only 17) thought this was so fucking fantastico for some reason. “That’s so awesome! Like, talk about closeness. And you guys all came to Warped together!” He paused for a second, before sending my stomach to the meat grinder. “So do you guys have threesomes too?”
I was ready to whistle for the cement mixer to come and seal up my sex organs for real. So disturbing and awkward. I still bought their CD though, because what I heard sounded good and proceeds went to the animals. And what’s a little quasi-incest discourse in the name of stray cats, am I right.
Once we got inside, I was like a kid on Christmas. My eyes had a veritable scene kid feast as we weaved our way to the main stage, where Sky Eats Airplane was playing. Blake and I have the same taste in music — the more scream-y the better. Henry, however, shits himself when he hears hateful bellows, so he took this as an opportunity to go and find a set schedule and then conveniently lose us. Sky Eats Airplane was a good way to start the day.
In between bands, I got to ogle more scene kids. I was wondering why I was so fascinated with them when it dawned on me: If that scene was around when I was a teen, I’d totally have been the first on board. I used to make fun of them, but now I want to like, write a book about them or something. I’ll start with Blake.
Averting the Hare Krishnas, we went to the Highway 1 Stage to catch From First To Last. Henry was all, “I’m perfectly fine standing all the way back here” and sent Blake and I into the crowd to get pummeled without adult supervision. Anyway, FFTL’s singer Sonny left two years ago and it was a little strange watching them perform without him. Their new material is a little too easy-to-digest and mainstream for my liking, but they ended the set with “Ride the Wings of Pestilence” which always makes me want to sacrifice a shack of Mexican prostitutes. And drink some of Henry’s blood.
Not interested in any bands playing right after FFTL, we walked around and looked at t-shirts and other merch for awhile. Henry, who had bragged on the way there that he NEVER gets sunburned, started complaining about his nose getting burnt. He kept trying to sneak away and pose under trees in his signature old man-stance. Blake and I would pause and hunker down over the schedule, trying to determine which bands were must-sees and which ones we could skip without losing sleep that night. I kept trying to include Henry, but he would grumble, “I don’t know, does that band actually SING? Then NO, I don’t want to see them.” Perhaps Henry should have just went to that twanged-out Jamboree with Tina instead. Fuck.
After the Human Abstract, it was nearly time for Pierce the Veil. They were the main reason I was there and all day it felt like butterflies were fornicating in my belly. It was either Pierce the Veil anticipation or the residual side effects of being asked if my vagina is friendly with both generations of Robbins. Henry once again stood in the sidelines, but I weaved my way as close to the stage as I could get. Which was fairly close since they were still sound-checking.
To show his unwavering adoration, Vic vowed to wear his Jaws shirt every day for the duration of Shark Week. He kept going on and on about sharks and I know this is going to make me look bad but I’m going to be honest: all I could think about was Tina’s vagina, gnashing against flailing legs. Thank God they started playing right after thhat because fuck — my mind disgusts me sometimes. And holy shit, their set was fucking fantastic. It was so good, that I didn’t even mind the heat or having two bitches dropped on me (thank God for Blake, else they’d have hit the pavement). They basically just play a blend of alternative rock, with some screamo-lite thrown in for scene cred, but what makes them stand apart for me is their lyrics. They’re smart, morbid, sad, and just overall clever. At the end of one of their songs, they segued right into a thirty second cover of “Bleeding Love” which was a million times better than the original we’re guaranteed to hear every time we walk into a grocery store. They also threw in a cover “Beat It” which was energenic and really fun to watch, and they ended the set with “Party Like a Rock Star” gone metal.
I did NOT want that set to end. Even Blake admitted that he was surprised how good they were live, and Henry was like, “Yes, fine, I liked what I heard all the back there in Parent Alley.” It was one of those moments where you want to call everyone you know and give them a hyper review in a shrill voice, but you know no one will give a shit. So then you’re just depressed.
We had a lot of time to kill after Pierce the Veil, so I bought a five dollar soft pretzel while wishing for once I ate meat so I could get a corn dog for $3.50 — the cheapest foodstuff there. Henry got nachos which looked like slop. Henry’s demeanor seemed to uncurdle a bit while he was coating his ‘stache with cheese sauce. He even smiled a few times and I think he laughed once.
While we were chilling out at the picnic table, Blake proposed that he move in with us. Maybe it was just the contact high of being with someone who actually gave a shit about music, but I declared that this was the best idea I had ever heard in all of my life, even better than my idea to direct porn, so now he might be moving in with us. It would make my scene kid research easier, for sure.
Blake was so sad that we missed Katy Perry while we were foraging for discounted sustenance. He even pulled his hat down low to hide the tears. But maybe it was because he saw kids he knew and was embarrassed of Henry.
The day was coming to an end by this point, and Blake had re-joined us in time for Dr. Manhattan. I was torn, because they were playing at the same time as Norma Jean, side-by-side. And I love Norma Jean. Norma Jean blocked out Eleanore’s nerve-prickling coupon-cutting many a night for me. But I chose Dr. Manhattan, along with fifteen other people. It was sad! But you know a band is good when there are OTHER bands in the crowd watching them. And they were good — they were quirky and fun and energenic and they made me laugh out loud a few times. Unfortunately, Norma Jean was one stage over, luring people into their crowd. They had gigantic black beach balls and I won’t lie — I’m a sucker for a beach ball. At one point, I yelled to Henry, “Hey, do you want to go over and watch Norma Jean for the rest of their set?” but right then, two people left Dr. Manhattan’s crowd and the singer — in the middle of a song — stopped and yelled, “Hey! Where are you guys going??” It was so sad/cute/scary that I looked at Henry and said, “Never mind!”
At the end of their show, some of the bands in the crowd started chanting, “One more song!” but they weren’t allowed because of time constraints. So the singer started chanting back, “One more crowd!”, the retardedness of which made me laugh. I was also dehydrated, though. Overall, I was glad I stayed loyal to Dr. Manhattan, because their set was rewarding.
And that was it. We walked back to the car and already I started to feel the body-dragging effects of post-show depression. Then I thought about how all day long I had been talking about all the bands I wanted to see, but by the end of the night, all I wanted to see was Chooch.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Today I was looking for Chooch’s juice cup and thought perhaps he left it on the window sill. When I pulled back the curtains, something small and grayish in color hit the floor with a plop. I screamed and jumped back. A few seconds later, I saw it jump underneath the TV stand. I called Henry immediately and reported to him that we had in the house what I assumed was a toad. “It’s definitely something that makes a plopping sound when it hits the ground, so whatever that is, that’s what’s in the house.” Happy birthday, Henry!
Chooch stood by the TV for awhile, lining up some of his cars on the shelf. Looking at his bare legs and feet, I figured it was probably not the best idea for him to standing so close to our house guest (whom I lost sight of). What if it wasn’t a toad at all? I entertained the idea of a brand new species hulking around back there in the corner, perhaps something with tentacles, venom, and red pubic hair. I pulled Chooch away from the TV and made him play somewhere safer, like near the basement steps, and continued flirting with that thought.
I kept my feet tucked underneath me on the couch for the rest of the morning.
Henry came home from work and pulled the TV back. “It’s a mouse, you retard.” Then he left to get sticky traps, because I was adamant about not killing it.
People at work have informed me that those sticky traps kill mice. “Sometimes a mouse will chew its own foot off to escape from those traps,” my boss said. I texted Henry: ABORT, ABORT. Henry says mouse removal is officially my responsibility.
“Tell me you’re not this worked up over a MOUSE,” Eleanore said disgustedly. I ate a good almond cookie.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Diary, it is 1:00 in the morning and the mouse is perched above the screen on the front window! He’s really cute; I’m talking to him and feeding him shredded cheese. I don’t know what his name is yet so I’m just calling him “Hey little buddy.” It reminds me of when I was in elementary school and I taught a Praying Mantis how to count change. Henry said he’s a field mouse. “Like Secret of NIMH?” I asked. “Yeah, like Secret of NIMH,” he said, sounding a bit impatient. We’ve been watching it intently for fifteen minutes now. It just scratched himself and then stepped on the cheese I sprinkled. Every time Henry gets too close, the mouse tenses up and makes like he’s going to run — I’d get tense too if I saw a big bearded douchebag approaching me — but when I approach, he is calm and we make casual eye contact.
I’m thinking of the cozy house I’m going to build for him, with a little chimney and fresh daisies in a tiny vase, but then Henry just tried to catch him with an empty iced tea canister, causing the mouse to attempt suicide by leaping to the floor. Look Diary, that mouse is cute and cuddly, sure, FROM AFAR. But I guarantee if that thing starts scampering around my feet, it’s going to get booted into the wall. Losing sight of it, I tug on Henry’s shirt and hug him from behind and I bet he wishes I was wearing a strap-on. Henry is mad now because he “could have had it” but he couldn’t bend down with me grabbing at him like that. He was all, “GO STAND OVER THERE,” and if he had it his way, “there” would be at the bottom of the ocean with a few cinder blocks and a chain.
The mouse ran back behind the TV.
Hey, I haven’t seen that mouse in awhile. I can only hope it’s off making hundreds of babies somewhere in my house.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
A few minutes ago, I was treating my brain to some quality reality TV programming, as you do, when I heard a strangulated growl coming from the dining room. I looked up and saw Nicotina (aka Speck, Breakfast Nook, Pickles) with my little buddy IN HER MOUTH. At this point, I don’t know the mouse’s status (breathing, not breathing), but my rescue mode is activated and I start screaming bloody murder for Nicotina to release the damn mouse. Henry and Chooch are upstairs and probably think the house is on fire or there’s a hatchet lodged in my head with the way I’m flipping out. I yelled up to Henry what was going down and heard him mumble, “Jesus Christ.”
Cornering Nicotina on the back porch, I grabbed her just before Marcy came stalking through the kitchen to get a piece of the action. Marcy does NOT need to be involved in this. She scares me. Nicotina looked highly confused, her eyes said, “Is this not what I’m supposed to do?” I held my breath and snatched her, mouse and all, and keeping her at arm’s length, I ran with her to the front door. Before I had a chance to pull the door open, she spat the mouse out onto the couch and he scurried behind the pillows.
Henry and Chooch are downstairs at this point, and Chooch started crying; probably because he didn’t understand why Mommy was raving with bugged-out eyes like a woman scorned. I ordered Henry to help and he reluctantly grabbed a diaper and held it open like a catcher’s mitt, muttering under his breath about how he should have just killed the fucker on Friday. I put aside my desire to donkey kick him and focus on making it through the night with no casualties. The mouse ran off the couch and fell into one of Chooch’s toy bins. “PICK IT UP AND TAKE IT OUTSIDE! WE STILL HAVE A CHANCE!” I screamed. Henry threw the bin on the front porch and said, “YOU go out there and YOU dump it out.”
So I did. And the mouse ran to freedom. Nicotina wouldn’t look at me for the rest of the night.
I was so amped up after that, that I couldn’t sit down. Fuck, Diary, I wish you could have seen it; it’s the most amazing feeling to save a life. I highly recommend it. I kept wanting to talk about it with Henry, but he was thoroughly unimpressed. “Normal people would have killed it, but not you. You have to turn it into a Thing.” He won’t admit that I deserve to be knighted. I called Christina and she said the whole time I was telling her about it, she kept envisioning me as Dog the Bounty Hunter.
I think I want to do this for a living, this saving mice thing. I want to be on Animal Planet.
Monday, June 9, 2008
I’ve been telling everyone about my rescue success, about how valiant I am. Kim and Collin said something about me needing therapy, but I know they’re really just trying to downplay their awe. I showed Kim the picture of Frederick (that’s the mouse) and she admitted he was really fucking cute.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 TODAY
Chooch just pointed to the floor in the living room and innocently asked, “Whassat?” A dead mouse, that’s what. Shit, isn’t this chapter closed yet? I’m trying not to panic, trying not to wonder if it’s Frederick. Maybe he came back for more shredded cheese. All I know is that he wasn’t there five minutes ago when I walked across the room to the couch. I asked Chooch who put it there and he said Speck. That bitch.
I called Henry and yelled SOMETHING TERRIBLE JUST HAPPENED. He told me to throw it outside, then hurried up and made sure I knew not to touch it with bare hands. So I wrapped it gingerly in a paper towel and placed it on the front porch.
THE MOUSE IS GONE. A FUCKING BIRD TOOK IT. I called Henry and, in quick-speak, relay to him the latest development. “….and so I had it on the porch so that you could bury it when you come home—” Henry interrupted me with genuine laughter. “–and now it’s GONE.” Henry gave me a talk about nature.
Bob told me there are probably a hundred more mice in my house.
I don’t want to do this for a living anymore.
The night before I left Pittsburgh, I started to lose my voice at work. I had been sick all week with some kind of throat thing and general congestion, but nothing was stopping me from seeing Xiu Xiu. By the time we left Huddle’s Café, I possessed the vocal prowess of a dying frog and began coughing my lungs up all over the grimy streets of Newport. My gift to ye, Kentucky.
Christina and I jaywalked back to the Southgate House at 9:00pm. The ticket person wasn’t there yet, so we loitered in the hallway with several other people who were all staring listlessly at the wide array of concert posters plastered along the walls. I took clandestine pictures of the people in front of us because at the time, it offered more enjoyment than conversing with Christina.
It wasn’t until around 9:45pm that the ticket people finally filled their seats behind the table and we got to enter the ballroom area of the building. Small round tables were scattered around the room, and we grabbed the last empty one near the stage. If I had any foresight into how much time we were about to spend at that table, I’d have lugged in a La-Z Boy on Christina’s back.
I’m not really offended by indie/hipster types, the dominant populace of the venue that night, but Christina developed an immediate disdain for the girls with Pocahontas-style headbands and messy half-ponytails. "I was just thinking that some of these girls are cute, but the fact that I know they’re assholes ruins it for me."
It’s people like Christina who keep our nation from kicking prejudice. Okay, and me, too.
It wasn’t until 10:30 that Thao with The Get Down Stay Down took the stage with their inoffensive brand of indie-folk. In other words, it was pleasing to the ear, but boring. It made me feel really hungry though because I couldn’t stop thinking about how they would have sounded so much better if they were the house band at a restaurant and my back was toward them while I shoved spaghetti-wrapped forkfuls into my gaping maw.
Then I started to think about how I hadn’t eaten in five billion hours and my nose was starting to run and I couldn’t stop coughing and I really wanted to die. Plus, my aging body isn’t used to attending 21+ shows that don’t start until after 10:30 at night and so I kept yawning and resting my cold-stuffed head on my hands and basically illustrating how NOT to act if you don’t want everyone to know you’re the token square at the show.
Also, probably you shouldn’t use words like "square," either.
During Thao’s set, a Super Tall Guy meandered over to the throng of people that had slowly collected at the front of the stage, obstructing our view completely. I didn’t care, because I was only there to see Xiu Xiu, but we still got pissy about it because that’s what we do at shows, us old people — we bitch and complain about those goddamn kids with their long fucking torsos and mop-topped heads that make better doors than windows. When the second tallest guy in the room sauntered up behind him, we lost it.
Then the two most annoying girls in Kentucky wandered over and stopped, naturally, directly in front of our table. I’m not sure exactly why they chose that particular spot, but there was feet upon feet of empty floor separating them from the stage. I thought that maybe they were deliberating where to go, but no. No, they planted their feet down, staked the floor with a flag bearing their name, and stayed there during the entire set. They even gradually migrated further back until the one girl’s asscheeks were nearly resting on the edge of our table. Christina suggested using the threat of rape to get them to stand elsewhere and then tried to slip one of my Moo cards in their back pockets. The one girl wore an ugly tweed blazer and seemed to be confused with where to place her feet; she kept shuffling them like a deck of cards, but then I noticed she was also swaying and slightly moving her arms, and that’s when it occurred to me she might be dancing. A male friend joined them later and he danced as though he was listening to Yacht rock.
I’ve never been more embarrassed to be white.
The next band to play was Why?, short for Why Are They Still on the Stage Oh My God Kill Me Want To Die Please End It All Now WTF Do They Think This Stage Is Their Summer Time Share? Turns out Why? is originally from Cincinnati and 75% of the people there that night were there to support them specifically. We’re talking everyone they knew from college. People from their sixth grade study hall. Bus boys who may have once refilled their water at Olive Garden in 1997. Their parents.
Before the inaugural note even had a chance to resonate in the atmosphere of the room, the crowd went fucking apeshit. People were clotheslined against the balcony, frantically waving in the air, lips moving along with the lyrics. The crowd in front of the stage amassed a head count that quadrupled what it was for Thao.
It sounded like they said they were only playing three songs from their new album, but after ninety minutes of relentless xylophone malleting, I realized what they meant was, "We’re going to play three songs from our new album, ten songs from other albums, some B-sides, I’m going to try and sing the Star Spangled Banner and then give up when I forget the lyrics after the second line [this really happened], and then if we start running out of material, I’ll sing a song I wrote when I was four about how dogs sniff butts and girls have vaginas and I think I might too."
They would tease us, Christina and me. They would say things like, "We’re going to play one more song," and we’d exchange looks of utter relief, thinking there was a God after all, Christina would kiss her imaginary rosary, but then after that one last song they’d start playing another song that sounded like the song two songs before the last song that was supposed to be their last song and why did they have to have so many songs? I was getting sicker, coughing harder, speaking less. I even fell asleep a few times because it was after midnight by this point and I was TIRED.
During one song, the singer stopped and said, "That got messed up, so we’re going to start that verse over again," and the crowd went wild. "YES PLAY IT AGAIN! WE LOVE YOU! WHY? FOREVER!" Clearly, Why? is a band of local heroes. Then to our horror, someone would shout, "PLAY ONE MORE SONG!" and dozens of people would follow and Christina would shout, "NO DON’T!" loud enough for both of us since my voice was completely gone by then and no one actually retaliated against Christina’s protests but I wasn’t ruling out a potential beating with orange-stuffed socks after the show. She kept shouting, "XIU XIU! WE WANT XIU XIU!" to counter the pleas for more songs, and I was relieved that I taught her how to pronounce their name. (Shoo-Shoo, not Zyoo-Zyoo.)
Look, they were a decent band. Probably I’d have written a glowing review if they kept their set down to a thirty minute maximum. You know, since they weren’t HEADLINING.
What I’ll always remember about Why? is that the world’s most huggingest couple stood in front of our table and used their music as the soundtrack for all the hugging and lower back-caressing they shamelessly engaged in. I’ve seriously never seen two people spontaneously embrace with such nauseating passion and urgency. The man was about to leave to get a beer and they hugged as though he was never coming back.
By the time Why? left the stage, it was nearly 1:00am. I looked at Christina with sad eyes and croaked, "I don’t think I’m going to make it." But then Xiu Xiu came out and started setting up, reminding me that I had driven five hours to see them. Even though I was so sick, probably had a fever, may have been hemorrhaging from all the forceful coughing, I still marched my ass up to the front of the stage because I’d be damned if any fucking hugger or tall Indian-sweatered douche was going to block my view. Christina stood behind me, just in case I succumbed to the sickness and fell to the floor, I guess, and we watched curiously as Xiu Xiu dragged their carnival of instruments onto the stage. They had a gong, a hand-pumped piano, some weird Casio-looking keyboard that was played like a clarinet, a flute, whistles.
Caralee of Xiu Xiu gave her synth one last fiddle and then they started playing. As soon as the singer, Jamie Stewart, opened his mouth to utter the first string of lyrics, wrapped with dramatics and dipped in pain, I turned to look at Christina. I’ve never before seen so much of the whites of her eyes and her lip was slightly curled back, exposing her teeth. She looked fearful, like she had just walked in on her mom fucking a dwarf. The room buzzed with dulcet tones of chimes and electronic beeps while Jamie’s voice would fluctuate between anguished whispers and short phrases spoken in a staccato’d monotone before launching into soaring crescendos that socked the breath out of my lungs and made my heart ache. The mood would go melancholy again, lyrics murmured with delicacy, mellow strumming of a guitar, only to jar the crowd with unexpected crashes and stangulated shrieks.
Jamie had a tower of cymbals in front of him and he would occasionally grab a fat drumstick and sweetly tap at them. He would start to walk away, only to turn back and lunge at the cymbals, violating them with frantic beatings while shouting, "Oh my God oh my God oh my God" into the mic. His face would contort into the primal twisting of a killer, sweat dripping down his temples in rivulets. I forgot about being sick. Though I was still using the edge of the stage to keep myself from folding.
Xiu Xiu’s music is dark, bleak, unsettling. I admit that if I’m driving alone at night and one of their songs comes on, I’ll usually skip it because it makes me shiver and instinctively toss furtive glances over my shoulder.
During one song, Jamie fell to his knees and continuously screamed into the mic while scraping a metal washboard, his tortured soul was vomiting angst and passion all over the stage, and it was one of the most satisfyingly horrifying things I have ever seen. I was telling this to Collin and he looked confused, having heard one of Xiu Xiu’s songs before. "But they don’t sound like a heavy band," he argued. A band doesn’t have to be playing Viking metal to earn the right to belch out blood-curling cries. Don’t let Xiu Xiu fool you into thinking they’re some cute little indie art band, because they made me want to hold my mommy’s hand.
In 2004, I wrote this in my LiveJournal:
When I listen to Xiu Xiu, I drift off into a different realm that’s occupied by talking antique dolls that reside in a pastel village surrounded by millions of miles of open pastures and no neighboring towns. I’m dressed like a ballerina with a thick ribbon tied around my neck, only it’s tied too tight and I run around scratching my neck, trying in vain to remove it, while people roam around me with vacant smiles and backward limbs. And even though the sun is shining, the sky is dark.
Then I come upon a tiny steeple and the singer from Xiu Xiu speeds out on a unicycle and starts singing "Clown Towne" in my face while throwing over sized lollipops at me. His smile is so wide and then I notice that it’s because the sides of his mouth are ripped. Then he starts stabbing me while albino midgets stand around giggling and throwing confetti.
And then I’m raped by a mannequin.
But I still listen to Xiu Xiu. I kind of like feeling disjointed.
Four years later and I still feel the same way. By the time their set ended at 2:00am, I was wide awake and wanted to rehash every single moment of it the whole way back to Christina’s house. Of course, as we walked out, I overheard people complaining about not getting what they wanted. "They didn’t play ‘Fabulous Muscles!’" some people griped to each other. I scowled at the complainers as I walked out. They could have played the same song over and over for the entire set and I still would have been grateful at the opportunity to see them. It easily secured a slot in my Top Ten Best Shows.
The eye-watering viewings of "Cars" have quietly dwindled down, being replaced by less frequent demands of "Blue’s Clues." I’m happy for this. He still plays with his cars though, which I support because it’s cute to watch him ram and crash them into Marcy’s fluff. However, the past few days he’s insisted on toting around a can of "Cars"-edition Campbell’s soup. Today he even held it out to us very urgently when we were about to leave the house, so Henry had to unzip Chooch’s backpack and let him plop it in. I mean, whatever makes him happy, but I’d prefer he’d stop playing with canned goods because those hurt much worse than plastic cars when chucked at your head. Also, he had a check-up yesterday and is now nearly three feet, placing him in the 95% percentile. Underneath his weight, the nurse wrote "uncooperative," which makes me laugh. He fucking hates that scale. Life can never be dull with Chooch in it.