Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and not getting arrested. - Hunter S. Thompson
- Stayed with a DJ who lives in a cotton mill turned lofts with Salvador Dali prints and a Tron poster on the wall. Discussed urban planning, travel and music over beer I can't remember the name of (a vissen type that came with a lemon?). Conversations with a handsy forgettul Russian girl on "it smells like spring" (x4), careers (x2), Easter -- "did you know that in this country they put candy into eggs and hide it for the children to find?" (Told her a rabbit is the source of the eggs and her head exploded) -- hiccups (x5), and why her English boyfriend needed more culture. Discovered the Atlanta underground and the crazy cool folks who organize it, partied in an abandoned high school, got hit on by Muslim guys from India and Serbia, played wingman for a former Marine, and finally crashed on the couch with a heavy bass line throbbing in my ears.
- “Glad my plans got delayed by a day. I had a blast in Atlanta, now on to Detroit.”
Reality: A big portion of this drive was spent in nostalgia mode with the playlist to match. Living in the same place for 10 years can do that to you, I guess. My life is benchmarked pretty well by the relationships I’ve had over the past few years. And that needs to stop. I’m an amazing person regardless of what I mean to someone else. Enough of being someone’s someone.
“Goodbye Blue Sky” - Pink Floyd
“Why Cry” - Panic Channel
“Glow” - Alien Ant Farm
“Right Now” - SR-71
“Thanks for the Memories” - Fallout Boy
“Hell Song” - Sum 41
(And then the whole album)
“My Paper Heart” - All-American Rejects
“The Old Apartment” - Barenaked Ladies
“All the Small Things” - Blink 182
“Say You Will” - Wakefield
“Inside Out” - Eve 6
“American Idiot” - Green Day
(And then the whole album)
“Pot Kettle Black” - WIlco
(And then the whole album)
“Say Yes” - Elliot Smith
“Put Your Records On” - Corrine Bailey Rae
When I'm done with this trip, I should probably reevaluate the music that's been on my phone since I graduated high school.
- Couch surf log: 040113. West Detroit. Pleasantly uneventful. Tiny half-flat with an urban developer. We drank watermelon and blueberry smoothies and talked about news, the sequester and obsolete-but-beautiful architecture. Now to find a coffee shop that's open on Mondays. (Roxana: o.O How does society function if there are no coffee shops open on Monday??? Skyler: It doesn’t. Me: This may be the real reason Detroit's downfall.)
- “First Day— at Detroit Free Press.”
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Reality: Crossing into Detroit, there’s this feeling of accomplishment and overwhelming pride. I did this.
Me. I am this good.
I made it here because I am good at what I do and they want to pay me for it. And it’s so nice not to have to worry about someone else’s career or feelings. This is what’s best for me and my child and I got us here. And there’s no one that I have to say “And thank you to my wonderful (insert sappy title here) for being supportive along the way. Without him I wouldnt be the person I am today.” No. Bullshit.
This is my accomplishment and I get to own it.
“Pictures of You” - The Last Goodnight
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” - Deep Blue Something
“Yours Truly” - Paradise Fears
Deleted all the music off my phone. Started listening to 88.7 (89X) out of Windsor.
"People like you can move here and make Midtown and Downtown and Arts Center and Corktown and the Villages into these nice little havens, but most of the city still won't have streetlights or bus service or dependable running water. The change has to come from the inside. People like you can't fix Detroit. It has to come from the neighborhoods."
This morning he took me to Scripps Park and the library there. And that drove it home in ways none of the blight, homelessness, stories of crime and corruption never could. The shelves are more than half empty. Where are all the books? "Gone. Burned maybe. The library is just a way for people to get in out of the cold for a bit."
Reality: I found out later that the library there is actually intended for the visually impaired. There was a section that we couldn’t get to. The part for the sighted that we saw was scarce, but more understandably so. Still a depressing conversation.
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FB Log - “Found the record store. Happiness may now ensue. — at Peoples Records.”
(Emily: what will be your first purchase? Me: Found a clean copy of Wish You Were Here. A lot of the names I recognized were albums I already had. But they had a small selection of local music (not Motown stuff) that I want to check out when I have more time. Emily: "wish you were here"......seems fitting)
“Radioactive” - Imagine Dragons
“Shine on You Crazy Diamond” - Pink Floyd
FB log - The last host took me to a bar in midtown where I met some other couchsurfers and found a place for the next few days. These guys build benches out of wood from torn down houses and leave them at bus stops. And they have a turn table. My faith has been restored somewhat.
Reality: I didn’t really think about whether I wanted a shot with the guy or not. He was just a refreshing change from the constant downer that was Chuk. So when Chuk started getting on him about “You need to ...” I jumped in with no, no you don’t. And while Chuk sulks off to pout, we talk about public transportation and inroads on poverty through lasting connections to jobs and grocery stores. Did you know there’s no chain grocery stores in the city itself? I mean how do you fight an obesity epidemic if many residents don’t have cars and the only store they can get to is a gas station? So Charles buys me a drink. Then hands me a cigarette. And the challenge in the way he did both made me take notice. Outside for a smoke, talking couchsurfing and newspapers.
Chuk comes by say he’s going to head home. I drove, so there’s not really any reason for me to say no. He says the door will be open, and I don’t really want to leave yet. Certainly don’t want to go back to the negativity that’s apparently common with him.
Southern versus Detroit racism. Urban revitalization. Schools. Record stores. Public transportation. Car bombs. How did we get there? Doesn’t matter, let’s drink one. Another challenge, of course I can do this. A bet? Fine. I don’t care if I know I’m going to lose. Too drunk to back down. It’s just a kiss, right? I should go now, but we both know I won’t.
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Last call. All of my things are at Chuk’s sorry, can’t go home with you. Feel free to call me.
Chuk locked me out. Um, ok, I guess I am going home with you.
Standing on the edge of the roof surveying the city with his arms around me. “I really live here.” Yeah, you do. Does it feel great? “So great.”
“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” - Fallout Boy
FB log - Explored the Heidelberg Project (think neighborhood-wide art exhibit), drove around Belle Isle, and met some people at the Recycle Detroit warehouse where they reprocess material from torn down houses. Stayed with my Aunt for the night and got a chance to walk down to the lake this morning. It was cold, but nice to have some time in my own head.
Reality: Charles took me back to Chuk’s the next morning to get all my stuff. It was supposed to stay in my car while I was traveling around, but had Chuk insisted that was a bad idea. But then pouts like a little bitch. Sigh, men. He still won’t answer the door, so I’m stuck with the backpack of a few items that was still in my car. From there Charles just drove me around doing the tourist thing and smoking a joint. Belle Isle, where they’re prepping for the Grand Prix and the zoo should be opening soon. It was supposed to be sold to the state as a park, but activists in Detroit blocked that plan. It was right after that the larger zoo on the island had to close. But how dare they expect us to pay $1 per car or $10 per year to access what’s free now. Forget that Detroit can’t maintain it like they used to. Although, that’s where the riots started (? - nope not true), so used to is a relatively recent time period.
Heidelburg Project. Everyone’s been really excited when I say I don’t know what it is, so it makes me kind of nervous as we’re driving over there. I thought it was a housing project. It’s art. I guess this artist just appropriates houses and yards and whatever he can as canvases for his project. Every house on two blocks has been decorated. One creepy one is covered in stuffed animals, but there are others covered in large dots, records, etc.
After work, went to Kathie’s for the night. I got to cook for the first time in about a month. She had some chicken and some broccoli stashed in the freezer that I turned into a decent stir fry dish. Moving around the kitchen, experimenting with spices and food, it almost feels comfortable.
But the sounds of her kids playing Minecraft and Batman with our cousin through a Skype call kind of kills that for me. “Zach, you know what we saw when we were at the park? Someone spelled the F word at the park. Do you know what the F word is?” - Miles. “Yeah Zach, it’s spelled F-U-C-K.” - Matthew. “MATTHEW! You can’t spell that!” - Miles. “Yeah guys, that’s probably not something you want your mom to hear. So, back to the game then?” - Zach.
I probably shouldn’t be amused by how sheltered her suburbanite, Catholic school kids are. But it gets me thinking about Dylan. We are pretty much suburbanite too, but he’s been exposed to so much more than these kids (because I’m a horrible stereotypical single mother, apparently). And I wouldn’t want him to grow up to be the personalities these kids are becoming. But is the path that I’m charting for him the best one?
Talking to Kathie later we start discussing dating as a single mom and who’s allowed around her kids, etc. And I think that’s where the deviation lies. She restricts all the people around her kids to relatives and a few female friends. They aren’t allowed to “use language that judges someone on how they look.” They aren’t allowed to say anything remotely like a cuss word, omigosh, geez, freak, fooey, shoot, stupid, etc. are all out. The only men that spend time with them are the ones they’re related to. They can’t jump on the bed. Or the sofa. Or play ball in the house. Their days are so packed full of school and sports that they don’t get any down time until 8 at night.
Walked down to the lake the next morning...
I don’t like judging other parents for their decisions. Of course that says nothing of her judgement of me (Oh, I would never let a man we aren’t related to spend time with my kids. You should live in Grosse Pointe, it’d be near us. Even better, you should buy the house next door to this one!). This is how she has decided to raise her kids. From everything I’ve come to understand, this is how she and my mom and uncle were raised. My mom turned out OK. But my mom raised us to recognize influences for what they are rather than hide from them. She raised us around a variety of adults and taught us how to speak to authority figures. We always had friends who were closer than family and who stepped up to help in ways family refused to. I need to remember that I’m doing something right so far. I want him to be exposed to friends and neighbors. I want him to know right from wrong because he knows what they both look like, not because one is new and scary. Because let’s face it, new doesn’t always look as scary as it should. I want him to decide not to cuss because he looks like an idiot doing it, not because I tell him not to. I want him to know when to let a few slip out as an adult, because there will be jobs where it is better to cuss occasionally than be completely straight edge. I need to remember that just because we are close to family does not mean that relying on them is the right thing to do. Convenience should not be the deciding factor in interest. I built up a support network of friends once, I can do it again.
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I got back to find an email from the Florida photographer with the photos from last weekend. We are so happy in these photos. I know I’m doing something right.
“Holding onto You” - Twenty One Pilots
FB Log - Won concert tickets to the Twenty One Pilots concert Saturday. Met the regulars at a sports bar. Watched the hockey game and traded music suggestions with a social work major who let me crash on her couch.
Reality: Drove out to Rochester Hills and talked on the phone with Ashleigh for a while at the bar. I’ve bene avoiding talking to people from home too much since I’ve been up here. Finally realizing it’s because I feel restless and can’t sit still long enough to talk on the phone. Maybe she’ll help me chill a bit. It doesn’t help. Sounds like she’s falling apart and everyone else there is in the same boat. I want to care, but just can’t bring myself to offer anything of myself to anyone else. Every time I start hearing about things falling apart, I clam up again, because honestly I’m just this side of a break down and I can feel it coming.
Finally off the phone and talking to the regulars and 89X staff and watching the hockey game. I want so badly to enjoy this and pretend that I’m going to see these people again, but honestly I’m keeping an eye on the door hoping someone will come in that I can try to go home with. I haven’t heard from Charles and I haven’t arranged for anything else, because he was supposed to host tonight. This isn’t really one of those places, though. Then, “Are you Alicia? Here’s your concert tickets.” Seriously? I actually won? Considered giving my second ticket to the couple sitting next to me when they gave me one of the two CDs they won. But I didn't. Maybe I’ll see them at the show. I doubt it, but it feels nice to have a moment of camaraderie. Watching the game and this pretty Asian girl comes in. Bartender introduces her to me and she comes over to sit with me. We talk about couchsurfing and music and her activism with an HIV awareness organization. I’m convinced she’ll let me stay with her until she asks where I’m staying. My response of “Still waiting for someone to get back to me” is met with a good luck. Huh, well, so much for that one. And the Wings are losing. An old guy at the end of the bar sends us beers on his way out the door. The restaurant starts closing up, but Dana and I stay at the bar watching the game. I like the sense of community as I’m introduced to the other bartender and waitresses. I don’t think I’ll be back, but it’s nice to pretend that I’m going to become a regular.
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Left the bar about 1 a.m. and Charles finally calls me back. Do I want to meet him at the loft and stay the night? Not really, but at this point I’m willing to trade sex for a place to sleep. I’m a litle tipsy, and I tell myself I don’t mind when he wraps his arm possessively around me in the lobby. Or that him calling me “baby” doesn’t make me cringe. Somehow all of these things that should put me at ease are rubbing me the wrong way. I want the reckless abandon that we had just a few nights ago.
“Car Radio” - Twenty One Pilots
FB Log - Host fell through for the night ... I cheated and checked into a hotel.
Reality: Get up a couple hours after falling asleep with Charles and snuck out on him. I tell myself it’s because I have have to be at work early, but really I don’t want to confront the breakdown. I need to hold it together through 8 hours of training.
I was supposed to meet Jessica (my host’s girlfriend) for opening day festivities. He had said he was busy all weekend, but I could crash on his couch if I could be out all day on my own. I really need some downtime at a house somewhere, to I spent my lunch break trying to find a back up. Finally leaving the paper and stuck in traffic. Jessica texts me “We’ll be at D’mangos in 30 minutes.” I nearly run over a drunk baseball fan. Time to leave the city for a bit. “Sorry stuck at work, I’ll text in a bit to see where you guys are.” It’s easy to lie to strangers.
Random text on my way out of the city:
o.o a silent wind of deception and boredom
Damn, you're good.
Texting Skyler as I sit in traffic to get out of the city. Go to my aunt’s for a nap, then headed back downtown, but can’t get a hold of anyone. Consider calling Tunde, but call Charles first. Dumb move, but I just want to lie down again. He’s gone for the weekend.
I finally concede defeat. Crashing pretty hard. Check into a hotel.
So nice to sleep in a real bed.
Murder is Frowned Upon in Polite Society - Me
Wake Me Up If the World Starts Burning - Me
FB log - “You know those concerts where you catch an elbow to the face and it's totally worth it? Yeah, it was one of those. — at The Crofoot.”
- Twenty One Pilots concert. Fans that know the words to every song. Croudsurfing singers. New friends. Trespassing in city parks. Dreaming of summer.
Reality: Spent most of the day lounging in bed and chatting with Aryn via Facebook. So nice not to immediately have to go anywhere. Talked to a girl on okcupid for a while, but she wasn’t available to go to the concert with me. I was supposed to meet Jenny and Evan, but their dog was sick so those plans fell through.
In Pontiac, there was a bar across the street from the concert hall. I chatted with some people about the concert, but everyone was with someone and not really interested in adding another to their groups. I really don’t remember how to meet people, honestly. The nice thing about being alone at a concert though is being able to make your way up to the front of the crowd as far as possible. I thought I was close until Twenty One Pilots got on stage and every one surged forward propelling me even closer.
Everyone around me knew the words to every song and it was just this giant wave of people. You can close your eyes and pretend everyone around you is completely connected to the sound and knows exactly what you’re going through. “We’re broken people.” The singer crowd surfed a few times, and then asked everyone to split. And they did. Every single person stepped one way or another and the singer made it all the way down and back up to the front. And when it came back together there was even more energy than before. For the last song, they played “Car Radio” and then stayed on stage and chanted the encore with us. Because “why should we expect you to put energy into something just to stroke our egos when we know we’re going to give you ‘one more song’ anyway?”
Afterward, as everyone was filtering out, I sat at the bar and watched them all. As connected as it seemed, I feel the energy seeping back out of the room. Each person taking a little bit of it with them as they leave the hall. The cold seeps into me as I step outside. It’s a miserable wet kind of night, and I’m trying desperately to hold on to that feeling of connectedness, manufactured or otherwise. I stop for a bottle of apple juice and sit in a city park. It’ll get better when summer comes.
Twenty One Pilots
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Still at the hotel ... I did absolutely nothing. All day.
“Tightrope” - Walk the Moon
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Reality: Stayed with Kathie again. “Dylan isn’t really family.” Excuses and judgement.
“Broken” - Ghosts of August
Seething anger and disgust
FB Log - An environmental reporter and a wedding band musician. Discovered that the somewhat edgy-looking LP (The Cathode Terror Secretion) I found in the indie bin was actually a terrifying mash up of sounds that someone has surely been murdered to. Do you think the record store will buy it back from me?
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Reality: Parted ways with the best hosts yet. Drank tea and smoked before leaving. Hit the record store and hopefully hearing back from the apartment soon.
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041313. Eastern Market and ???
FB log - “Midnight beach trips aren't the same alone. But I need one, so here I go.”
- Album release party for the Jamaican Queens in a former spice factory. Bought the album, but not the scene. Ended up in Midtown for a while to wash off the smell of desperation and contrivance from all the hipsters. Tried to go to the beach, but the ones nearby were closed at night. So instead, I just drove. Sad, lonely insomniac kind of night. Slept at a rest stop outside Ann Arbor. Awake in time for breakfast in Jackson with a friend from elementary school. She helped me rediscover my contentment. I'm doing alright.
“Black Chandelier” - Biffy Clyro
“Ode to Sleep” - Twenty One Pilots
FB log - So close to having my own place, I literally cried when the ATM wouldn't give me enough cash for the security deposit. Seriously who waits until 3 p.m. Saturday to say "we don't take checks"?
- So close to having an apartment, but the logistics were just out of reach. Hadn't arranged for a place to stay this weekend, so checked into the hotel in Farmington Hills again for a few days. Slept all afternoon, then talked my way out of a speeding ticket at 3 in the morning when I woke up and decided that was a good time for a slurppee. On the advice of a friend, I started compiling my CS logs and filling in some of the blanks. It's been an interesting couple of weeks.
FB log - Checked back into the hotel. Slept all evening. Went to the gas station for a drink and talked my way out of my first Michigan speeding ticket.
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“Such Great Heights” - The Postal Service