Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stray thought pinball

For the last four days, I've had an inflamed nerve in my left arm that slowly graduated from infrequent, minor, dull irritation to throbbing, stabbing, constant pain and back again. I spent the afternoon at work close to tears, head on desk, when it was in its peak intensity, pretending like I wasn't in pain whenever I had to make contact with my fellow humans. It reminded me of a tweet I read today from a comedian I follow, paraphrasing: "Why are we supposed to be embarrassed when toilet paper is stuck to our shoe? It just means we wiped our ass." Why do we expend so much effort pretending to each other that life isn't happening?

Like most Austinites, I spend a lot of time bitching about traffic, rising home prices, constant festivals, condos replacing old houses and small businesses, yuppie gentrification, lack of meaningful jobs and job opportunities, the young people and their love of fitness and hatred of life-shortening hedonism, etc. But I love living in my adopted hometown, and in another year and change, I will have lived here longer than I lived in my bona fide hometown (that's 18 years and one month, for those keeping score.). A biographical sentence as partial reason why I still live here: Last night, for free, I watched a member of one of my favorite UK punk bands play American roots music with one of my coworkers while getting drunk with my cats' veterinarian (who makes house calls), and some permutation of this combination happens at least once a year. Also, these guys regularly play shows with the Boston Red Sox organist who happens to be a frequent caller on my favorite comedy podcast.

I still miss Vic Chesnutt almost like he was a relative. I spend at least 10 minutes a week silently yelling at whatever higher power didn't step in and keep that guy around. His songs hit me some place so deep I can't even find it. I think I was born Southern in a past life, based on many of my literary and musical holy grails. Reincarnation is the only spiritual thing that makes sense to me aesthetically and morally, even if I have absolutely no logical proof that it's real. I used to be an atheist, but I love music, and most other arts, too much to be an atheist. Art is spooky, and it does magical things I can't find a place for in a logical, ordered universe. Fundamentalist religion is bunko, but we all need some magic in our lives, and I genuinely feel sorry for any human who can't leave a little room for magic and possibility and faith. I've had psychedelic experiences while completely sober and drug-free (and, sure, psychedelic experiences while on your popular late-20th century psychedelic drugs), and I think I saw a UFO when I was 17, which also may have been some expensive military boondoggle that took food out of poor people's mouths. I was lonely and sad and young and driving my parents' station wagon in the country near a heavily guarded military nuclear weapon storage facility 40 minutes from my hometown while listening to a cassette dub of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, and thank God the Internet was not accessible to small-town, working-class kids then or I probably would have been home trying to chat with faraway girls who didn't like jocks who were probably middle-aged pedophiles. I have reasonably good explanations for all these experiences, but reasonably good explanations are boring, aesthetically. Goddamn, Vic Chesnutt had so many good songs he left this one off every goddamn beautiful album. It's a bonus track on a reissue. I sure do like typing profanity. Eat some dicks, fuckfaces.