Having a week of vacation without school or work for the first time since I was fifteen was amazing but I really don't mind coming back to the routine, now that the apartment is as clean as it'll get, I got plenty of socializing and time to read books, listen to good music, drink tea and watch awesomely terrible Ernest Angley Christmas specials ("And Jee-zus IS the Christmas Tree!), white rapper videos from the likes of House of Pain, 3rd Bass, and Snow, and Krull with my neighbors around the corner.
Everyone acts shocked when we get the annual thaw, and it was great to leave the house in a hoodie instead of a winter coat to pick up a fellow DJ and go up to the station on Friday afternoon to do a "Grungy New Year" with the sweet and sludgy sounds of the Pacific Northwest. We did the more obscure bands (Green River, Mudhoney, the Wipers, the Gits) and then the b-sides and rare cuts from the ones that get played on the radio still.
It being the middle of the day meant that we couldn't play most of the requests we got for fear of being smacked by the almighty FCC so we threw in some Stooges and midwest 80's punk like Naked Raygun but it was fun to play Nirvana covers, dig through the racks of vinyl, and have guys in Lakewood singing this song over the phone to us.
I wanted to take pictures of the frozen lighthouse on the lake but it had already begun to melt like a wicked witch but we went to Whiskey Island and took pictures anyway and I fell through a snow drift into the lake but the water was only up to my ankles. The park was closed technically but everyone was out there with their cameras and pets.
It's days like that when I feel damn lucky to live in this city when the lake is greenish blue and icy, the shore is littered with sticks and Black & Mild stubs and I got a full tank of gas and no plans except to be a slacker for the day.
We got food and went up on the balcony at the West Side Market before making excursions to the Glass Bubble Project to hang out with random friendly people who give me history of Parma while I take pictures of Morty the chicken, random stuff on the walls, and lamps that I would have in my house if I had money.
I took her to the graffiti walls before it started to rain, and we took pictures of paint and general Rust Belt disintegration that never gets old. It was too cold for the skaters and the gangbangers, but "Cleveland/LA" graffiti covered the art that was left and the skaters had built jumps and ramps on the concrete.
I had a lot of New Year's Eve invites, but really wasn't in a mood to be social among strangers, or drink so Lindsay and I went to Algebra for strong cardamom-laced coffee and Scrabble and overhearing earnest conversations from zealous recent converts to Islam on the evils of Facebook as a tool of Western fornication. It seemed like every major social ill went back to the other major branch of Abraham's descendants owning the media or fornication which I should have counted because it was said more times than I've ever heard anyone use it.
Meanwhile, we dispensed with scoring and the banning of proper nouns and Shabba made an appearance on the Scrabble board before going back to her parents' house to watch the ball drop and bang on pots and pans. I still don't understand boy bands or Ke$ha, but I probably never will.
I came home and stayed up awhile longer thinking about all the crazy that transpired over the past year as the gunfire crackled a few streets over. One of my friends stopped over the next night with her dog and we're plotting trips to Boston and road trip excursions to weird places, with my flexible vacation time and her teacher's schedule. It's too bad This Noah's Ark/Tabernacle extravaganza is on the other side of the country because she said it's amazing.
My great-aunt died this weekend as well, making it into the new year at the age of 99. She was sassy and completely lucid up until the end and spent most of her last days going to Mass and playing pinochle. It's the side of the family I don't know nearly as well with cousins I only see at funerals, but the ones I did know outside of that were telling me about their trip to Poland, giving me some family history and asking when I'm going to make something of myself and go to law school, considering my lack of income and matrimony.
"I'm happy with the way things are," I insist, knowing that I can't explain my cynicism about the rat race of modern society or this whole idea of romance, that I prefer cheap rent and something that looks like bohemianism but is really more that my interests are eclectic and that all my furniture has been inherited from previous roommates and elderly relatives.
And yet I enter 2011 with uncertainty, wondering if I'll still be employed by the end of the year, wondering if having something on my record really means it's expunged if I try to get another job, wondering what proverbial shit is going to hit the fan this year, trying to trust God with an increasingly uncertain future.
I'm ok with the possibility of downward mobility but I know that there's not too much further down that I can go, knowing that while there's a lot I contribute, I'm ultimately disposable, with little seniority and being constantly reminded that I'm just a kid by my boomer overlords even though I'm closer to 30 than 20. We were all young once, right? Right? Or maybe everything was just handed out back then, the right hands were shook, the right credentials earned back when it meant something.
Is part of the fight of climbing the ladder a response to this anxiety, because it's better to be knocked down a few rungs than be at the bottom completely? Is the whole culture of sucking up and tooting one's horn born just as much out of desperation as ambition?