This Weekend Needed More R. Kelly Masks

On Friday, I was thinking about what I might write about on Monday. I had hoped I’d be writing a post today about how weird it was to attend an International R. Kelly Day party on Friday night. (This post would have been accompanied by plenty of photos of me wearing an R. Kelly mask.) But it turns out that the party wasn’t that weird. And there was a serious dearth of masks. It was just like going to an uncomfortably crowded bar that  happened to be playing an R. Kelly playlist just loudly enough that you could just hear what song was on. Actually, that’s exactly what it was like.

I did manage to have fun. I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people and there were plenty of drinks involved. HOWEVER, I realized toward the end of the evening that I didn’t get  to hear “Slow Wind”, which was the thing I was most looking forward to that evening because it’s the most important collaboration (between R. Kelly, Sean Paul and Akon) of our time, so I asked one of the bartenders if he could put it on again. (If you want something, ask for it. Amirite, ladies?) He said no. VERY rudely. Actually, he ranted at me about how he was sick of R. Kelly and he had played him all night and now he just wanted to listen to something else. So then I asked for my check and went home. Not really because I was mad, but more because I was tired and had been drinking since like 5.

The rest of the weekend was so normal that I can tell you about it in just a few sentences because I think writing any more about it would be cruel to me and to you. It was full of brunching and TV watching and a little partying. Yesterday, I realized the sun was still out at 6:30 because of Daylight Saving Time and that the day was not yet over so I went out to the grocery store and bought a bunch of ingredients for dinner and ended up making this Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage for me and my roommates. Then I watched TV until 11 but did not go to sleep until, ugh, very late and I had a few horrible dreams so today I’m in a bad mood and I’m sorry that these few paragraphs are about so little.

photo (58)

just for fun, a photo of our roomie dinner

Friday Roundup

Keeping it short today.

I guess I’m pretty fond of train travel, so I really enjoyed this Nathaniel Rich piece from last week’s New York Times Magazine. “How to Spend 47 Hours on a Train and Not Go Crazy” is phenomenal in its storytelling and portraits of the characters you meet on trains. (If you read any portion of this article, PLEASE read the part about Final Destination-obsessed, wandering airbrush artist Michelle Love. I need her to write a memoir, ASAP.)

Speaking of storytelling, here’s 22 Rules of Storytelling by a Pixar Storyboard Artist. I want to start reading this list on the reg and see if I get any better at telling stories.

This post on the Awl includes the following sentences:

“All of these things, in the end, mean nothing. You will die, and everything you’ve learned will be blown by the wind until it is as if you never knew it.”

But somehow, I found the whole thing oddly reassuring. So that’s what I’ve been like this week, I guess.

Also, for fun, here are three songs I’ve listened to today.

[h/t Bailey]

I’ve been listening to the new Waxahatchee album all week, along with the rest of the internet, it seems. (It’s good!)

And finally, I can’t complain about this new Laura Marling song. (It’s good! But it sounds like all of her other good songs.)

Why Can’t You Commit?

A few months ago, I decided to start hosting an informal reading series at my apartment. There were two reasons for this: 1) I needed motivation to actually produce any writing and a forum in which to share it and 2) many of my friends had expressed these very same needs. So, three times now, I’ve invited some writerly friends – and some friends who are appreciators of writing – to come over, drink some wine, share some work and indulge me in reading (or performing) some of the most horrible fanfiction found around the internet. (I needed a gimmick and the fanfiction thing seemed weird and delightful enough.) The first two readings were great. The participants were eager and we got to hear some great writing. Naturally, I was really excited to host the third reading, which was last week. And then no one showed up.

OK, two people showed up. Which is better than zero, I know. But it made me feel really shitty. And not just because there were so few people there that I was forced to read the 500 unedited words I had written of a new story that’s based on an Appalachian murder ballad. (We would have had one reader otherwise.) I had invited people to an event that I’d committed to and cared about and invested in. (Planning this kind of thing takes time and a little bit of money.) And then not only did very few people respond to tell me whether or not they could make it, but also many of those who said they planned on coming told me that evening that they could no longer attend or didn’t bother to tell me at all.

I’ve been frustrated for a long time by the general lack of response I get when I invite people to something. I never seem to know how many people are going to show up to an event I’m hosting, which always makes me anxious. When I hosted the first two readings, I didn’t get many responses and those that I did get were pretty noncommittal, so I didn’t know that anyone was going to show up to those either. This last time, all of my worst fears were realized when I was sitting in my apartment 30 minutes after the event’s starting time and there was still no one there but me.

I’m sick of this.* I don’t think it’s personal when people don’t show up or respond to an invitation. Generally, I’m angry that nobody can commit to anything. Like, is everyone too cool to say, “Thanks so much for inviting me, but I won’t be able to make it”? Are people “avoiding confrontation”? Are they just lazy? Or are they all waiting for some better option to materialize? I mean, I get it. I like seeming cool. And I hate confrontation just as much as the next person. At times, I can be lazy. And sometimes, I like waiting around for better options. But…I don’t like being an asshole, so usually I try to give people an idea of whether or not I’m coming to something. (Even if I don’t have to RSVP. Which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually mean anything to like 50% of you anyway.)

I don’t plan to host an event and invite people to it because I’m bored or I feel like forcing them to do something. I invite people to things because I like them. And I want to spend time with them. Or I think they’d be interested in attending a party/reading/whatever. (I know for a fact that everyone is interested in parties. I’m less sure about who is interested in attending literary readings, so if you’re definitely not into it, let me know!)

It would have been nice to know in advance that no one could make it last week. I could have canceled the event. Or I could have still gone through with it, but without any of the anxiety I was feeling about so few people showing up. I personally would have had a lot more fun if I hadn’t been worried for that entire day. And I’d bet that would have made it a lot more fun for the people who actually did come.

This rant isn’t directed at any individual. I feel that non-commitment is a larger – perhaps “societal” – problem. But we can change this! Starting now! So, can everyone just, the next time you get invited to something, think for two seconds or look at your calendar and respond to the invitation. You don’t even have to give them a definite answer. (Though definite answers are really nice.) Any answer is better than no answer at all.

*I mean, I’m definitely guilty of having said that I was going to a large public event/birthday/holiday party and then not going. I’m not perfect.

An Evening with Aidan

Aidan at dinner

Aidan at dinner

My youngest brother, Aidan, was born twelve years after me, almost to the day.  It’s well-known, at least within our family, that Aidan never “liked” me when he was younger. It’s hard not to dote on an adorable little brother, but he just wouldn’t let me. As a baby, he would bite and scratch me if I tried to hug him. When I was a senior in high school – all six of us were in the same school building for one year – I would visit his kindergarten classroom and he would go to the corner and turn his back, refusing to look at me while all of the other five year olds wondered aloud how he had such an old sister and sometimes, if I would let them touch my hair. He was six when I left for college.

We lived under the same roof again for one year, after I had graduated. I started working full-time as soon as I returned home and was more interested in lamenting being a 22 year-old office drone who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life living with her parents  than figuring out what made my then 10 year-old brother tick.

So, what I’m really saying is, I never got to know Aidan all that well. But I think I’m starting to get to know him better. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him this past weekend when I stayed overnight with him while my parents were away. While we were eating dinner out, it hit me all of the sudden that he’s pretty much a young adult. And that was weird but, I guess, kind of delightful at the same time.

As an older sister, I’ve always felt obligated to ask my younger, school-aged siblings the boring questions that kids always get asked. All about sports, their classes, etc. Conversation has gotten easier with my younger three siblings as they’ve gotten older and on Friday night, I finally felt like Aidan and I were having a discussion rather than a Q&A session. We talked about the Oscar movies we’d seen and the books we’d been reading. His English class is doing a unit on the Holocaust and I guess I was something of a YA Holocaust literature connoisseur when I was his age, so we had a good discussion about Night and its sequel and some other non-Elie Weisel books. (Aidan, if you’re reading this, read After the War by Carol Matas! That was one of my favorites.) And he tolerated my talking at him about pre-WWII Eastern Europe for longer than was necessary, which I think shows real maturity.

After dinner we watched The Grey, which I had been meaning to see for a while and it was only made better by Aidan’s commentary – ‘Do you really think you’re gonna get cell phone service in the middle of Alaska?’ – and the fact that my dog actually climbed up in the chair next to me and watched along with us. Aidan fell asleep with like ten minutes left in the movie so I had to tell him the ending, though I don’t think he really cared. Then I got back into big sister mode and made him get all of his stuff ready for his swim meet the next morning so, we were done being friends for the night. I left the next morning after he’d gone to his meet.

A part of me feels like the above might seem boring and sentimental to anyone who doesn’t know me as an oldest sister or know me at all. But I guess the night felt like a turning point to me? Like maybe it marked the beginning of the end of me acting like a third parent. Like now I can be more of a friend to all of my siblings because the distance that’s caused by age is really starting to disappear in my family. I don’t know. If anything, I had fun and I was glad for the opportunity to spend some time with Aidan and am also glad that he doesn’t scratch me anymore.