I have decided to write The Great Friendship Manifesto
It is this:
Trust no one (completely.)
Your trust is like a cookie. You can give it all away and then you are shit fucked with no cookie, or you can hoarde that shit all for yourself and never have any friends because nobody wants a loser friend who won’t share their cookie.
I’ve met plenty of folks on both sides of the board–those who trust too much, too easily; and those who claim to trust no one. The caveat is that there aren’t really two sides: those who trust too easily are those most likely to claim to trust no one. Those who actually trust no one probably wouldn’t trust anyone enough to get into that level of discussion in the first place, so we can only guess at who those depraved nihilists are 😉
Perhaps I am an overly trusting person. Let’s be honest, if I’ve known you for a 24-hour period then I’m good to pop a squat in your front lawn in broad daylight if the bathroom’s busy. I will tell you all my secrets, because I don’t have any secrets, because there is no story I won’t tell, nothing I won’t talk about openly to they who will listen. I figure it doesn’t serve me to keep all my stories and shit to myself; does it save face, really, to act and then live in silence about acting?
Why should I care about saving face, anyway? From whom? Am I afraid The Public won’t love me? Fuck the public. I save face for my mom, who I do not wish to destroy emotionally, and for my dad, who I already have. Certain things are implied or inferred in our conversations; there are certain facts of my life that we never confirm nor deny. That is fine, I’ll do that for them. But not for you.
Posting a smutty photo that I know you’ll see, pissing on your lawn, sleeping on your couch, recounting to you that time in Denmark where I woke up with my underwear missing, memory black and a video of someone’s flaccid cock wearing sunglasses on my phone — none of that is really an act of trust, for me. I’ll do that shit with anyone, provided they’ve got a couch to sleep on or a dick that wears sunglasses. I believe acts of true trust run deeper than stories; they run to emotions and to physical acts, sex, sleep, relapse, bleeding, sobbing, screaming. If I can fight with you then you know I must trust you, although I may also want to murder you..? Oh well. We’re not trying to figure me out. I don’t recommend undertaking that endeavour and I’m beginning to figure that pretty much everyone else agrees with me.
Feeling free to feel freely with people is a lovely thing, but don’t delude yourself. By no means does it signify you’ve got a confidante to rely on for anything — especially the painful or inconvenient things. All people want for themselves and for their clans, and very few will welcome you into their clan with open arms and no fine print. If someone does, be wary. People lie. People act out of accordance with their true desires and beliefs in order to save face, out of guilt or social pressure, or to serve their own means and ends. Everyone has their limits of how much they can love you. There is no boundless love the way we are taught to believe, there is only delusion and an internal battle to balance self vs. us vs. them. And as we all know, them is not us. And rarely does us reach the importance level of “self”. Only when another is considered part of the self do we see that real, authentic bond of trust.
If someone says they would die for you, do not believe them. Jump in front of a bus and see if it’s true. Jump so you won’t need to need anyone anymore. There is no way they will not let you down, no way you won’t hurt them. There is no one but your mother that will love you forever, and no one on this earth who merits your unfailing trust.
Been hearing a lot lately from Europeans grateful as hell they don’t live in the US — talk of bigwigs like Boris Johnson renouncing his U.S. citizenship over tax bills from the states, in spite of never having lived there; gaffs at incredible student debt, astronomical medical charges and the general way the United States milks its citizens as cash cows as soon as they reach proverbial adulthood (though, like a patronizing, overprotective parent, won’t trust them with a drink til three years later.)
My distaste, as a citizen, has only grown since I left four years ago. Though not ungrateful for the luxury my citizenship has afforded me — ease of travel with my passport, for instance, or the ease of obtaining a new iPhone every two years under my family’s costly mobile contract, or the high-quality education that ironically led me to escape the holy land of capitalism in the first place — I still feel more emburdened by the things that define Americanness, the debt intended to enslave me, the brute sense of entitlement that follows like a stray dog until you learn to strangle it off, the intuitive affront at things deemed less civilized, that which is dirty, that which is poor; the social obligation to pretend to be nice until you’ve gotten what you want out of someone, to bend over backwards for the customer who, under sacred capitalist doctrine, is always right.
Capitalism has founded a culture based on for-profit falsities, people taught to swindle as a means to an end — a pasted-on smile and a high-pitched “How are you today?!” that, as we all know, is never intended to invite an honest answer. Like most of my friends without affluent parents, I’ve spent years sucking sacred customer dick in the service industry, tolerating patronizing verbal abuses of all those Good Christians who, you never know, might just be having a bad day — so don’t take it personal (if you do, you’ll be fired or worse — sued for inflicting emotional distress.) It pains me to envision forcing myself back into that industry; never again could I felate a customer for the sake of my job unless I go into literal prostitution, which pays better anyway. Fire me for self-defense or a refusal to bullshit, if you must. I’ll find another shit job, there are millions like it out there. That life is a mere mirage of living.
Then there’s the debt. My humble 22 grand used to be enough to keep me awake at night, until I decided it was a social tool to oppress and subdue me (which it is.)
Consider Noam Chomsky’s take:
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.”
I sought an education and was charged an inhuman amount as punishment. I do not, have never agreed with this system but have had no choice but to consent — rape at gunpoint is still rape. Seeking education is not a crime; a society which values its citizens and its future must encourage education and install incentives to seek it out, not punitive consequences. The USA has made its priorities quite clear, and they do not coincide with my own. At the risk of sounding like a cocky piece of shit, nothing is more valuable to me than my time, my youth, my vivacity — I refuse to devote the years of my 20’s, all this vigor and passion and potential, slaving away on the corporate ladder, or behind the sales counter deep-throating spoiled white people just to pay down my interest fees. They can tack the debt on me, but they don’t own my hide. Hit me with the consequences, USA. Threaten me with total financial ruin — the way I see it, with all this debt I’m already there. My years are mine. If I am so free, as a citizen of this Great Nation, then free I shall be and far I shall roam, unburdened by chains, financial or otherwise. The debt’s not going anywhere, so I’ll worry about it later on. Right now, I’ve got other priorities (marrying a charming, wealthy Canadian is relatively high on the list. Canada HMU.)
chasing one little baby tick of unblackened weed around the rim of the pipe, warm in my bone-cold fingers: cold white light and me here on this dingy old velvet couch listening to the boys in AIDS’s bedroom pretending it’s a real gym. they listen to eminem a little too much, but i won’t givem shit for it.
genezareth and hannah are considering busking on a corner on weekends; seabass was turned down for a resto job due to his lack of a work visa; bethany was selling Christmas cards for a euro apiece; i was considering selling knit caps, AIDS and I have discussed becoming regional camgirls.
we are sort of brutally poor, but we do our bestish. combat creeping depression with routines and rituals: open the shutters every morning and close them up every night, go for hikes, go for runs, do pullups and pushups and abs, chat together in the sparsely-furnished kitchen all squattin on buckets and low stools on the ground. we are all in balls deep for bernie sanders.
written fall-winter 2015. entry 1 of a series.
he was at once somehow equally handsome and perverse, with a bit of a hunch from habitually lowering his height to interact with those around him. a life full of forced bowing as if bound to some socially obligatory servitude.
yet this servitude to others, it touches us all — forms a grid, a matrix to which we attach ourselves and from those fixed points create an extended reality. we have shaped it upon the play ground which was provided by mother nature. she threw down the backdrop and now is watching the scene unfold. the grand comedy. cheers Ma.
this net above us is held in place by our own hands and those of our neighbors. in public we expect things of people, and we reaffirm these expectations by accepting that things should be expected of us in the first place as a natural reality. we reinforce that reality by engaging actively in it regardless of our stance(i.e. being “anti-capitalist” but continuing to purchase new items)
peer pressure is the weight of the collective stare of a given population as it turns and questions everything about you in an instant. it is heavy. it is painful. It is a weight that serves to keep us in our places by allowing us to force manipulated behaviors onto others: with narrowed eyes we say, “because you are different, i doubt you.” that type of prohibitive garbage.
who knows. cosmic crap. remember to keep in close contact with friends and not be an asshole.
only REAL MEN please
a REAL men:
-UniversidAd De La kAlLe
-into “butt stuff”
-can survive on pussy alone
-30min underwater breath-hold minimum
-can ask questions
-NOT allergic to shellfish
-SOMETIMES wears thongs
-ability to pivot right AND left
-does NOT use a pillow
-allergic to yogurt OK
I cried for you in the kitchen last night
before I remembered
I live alone,
just like I wanted.
Vienna. Wien. Wiener. Ha ha.
A pulse in the dead heat. Espresso with cream.
Who are you reading? (Hustvedt and Foer.)
Gothic churches, pointed spires, Flak towers that fired 8,000 rounds a minute at Allied forces, including my paratrooper grandfather. Did you know, he would say, that I went up in an airplane twenty-one more times than I came down in one?
Wind. Lots of it.
The fading gloom in Fabian’s massive modern office-turned-flat and his cologne, clearly he has spruced up. He talks of schnapps, good for a stomachache.
A dim, colorfully lit Hungarian café, a nude female mannequin wearing the head of an unknown antlered mammal with eyes on the wrong side of its head — “probably some art piece,” says Fabian, and shrugs.
Onion soup and tea and a seconding of the schnapps notion from the owner of the restaurant (did I ask?), a thin, dramatic woman with spiked bleached tips and a long brown skirt. Fabian drinks three beers and uses Facebook on his phone.
Café Kafka (real), Café Jenseits (smoky 1920’s), Café Sperl (just old), Café Europa (three levels, each one murkier than the last — here Fabian orders a Frankfurter, tells me to “punk up” and drink more Fernet Branca), Café futurgarten (predictably trendy, as a name without capitals will always indicate), Café Phil (for sophisticated hipsters), Café Espresso (a dim bar packed with cool chainsmoking millennials: all seats taken, so Fabian decides to lean up against the doorjamb. I make eyes with a fella in the window. We watch each other, then he watches me walk away.)
Fabian, now drunk, launches upstairs into the swanky wine-and-cheese event of an elite facial reconstruction academy. It is quite small, private, a suit-and-tie affair. Fabian bursts in, raincoat dripping, and shouts (in English, for my benefit) about wanting to eat their “tiny breads” (appetizers.) I am behind him, an actual homeless person. The man who chases us out wears a beige paisley suit worth more than any dwelling I might ever aspire to own.
Hi, I’m Viennese. I study architecture. My grandparents were Nazis, but I’m a vegan socialist. I climb mountains effortlessly, speak English fluently, and my university is paid for. Now you decide, who won the war?
For those too ill to eat:
Sobriety: an unreasonable choice.
Jägermeister: a solid choice.
Fernet Branca: a safer choice.
Averna with lemon: a poor choice.
Café Kreisky and vomiting discreetly into the bright red toilet, Café Bukowski with Charlie himself gazing out from all angles, daring me to do it again (but this time with gusto!) Hey ladies, I think perhaps we should take a cab home. No worries, I’ll pay for it! I’m fine, just going to the toilet. Just real quick.
Small red flecks in the water. Scheisse.
Only one night in the Wien ER (Wiener. Ha ha.) I have become an avid hospital tourist. Thricely stabbed before anyone can locate my artery, as usual, then the waiting room until I’ve been bleeding backwards into the empty IV bag for a while. I sleep in a chair because my friends have to sleep in chairs. We’re there from 1:30 to 5 AM. Stomach virus, Gastritis, the docs tell me. Non-fatal, in spite of the blood in your vomit. Take some carbon. Where shall we send your bill, Miss Worley?
A couple of shows: DOA, a handful of unknown Viennese punk bands at Venster99, Midnight Priest from Portugal way out at Erdberg, me jogging through the industrial district to catch the metro before midnight as I’m still too ill to crash on an addict’s living-room floor. Sometimes I still feel like a phoney — not dirty enough, certainly not a satisfactory alcoholic, sometimes I walk into vintage stores — sometimes I even buy jeans at H&M. Gasp, don’t tell the punks that. But look, I gotta buy pants somewhere and fitting this ass ain’t easy.
One failed departure from the city leading to a short campout at the Westbanhof station and a re-assesment of my mental capacities (Westbanhof is not Hauptbanhof, whether or not you speak German, you scheisskopf.) So back to the house I trudge, and as I am “well” it is high time for a drink — make that three beers — during a Quebecois film about two lovable virgins aspiring to bone each other in public places — 3x4cls of Jäger for 7.50€ (bargain) on the steps of the Volkstheater with Lia and her lipsticked Viennese friends — then one last café to top it all off, tucked under the Gurtel, blacked out on all that Jäger, a couple hours of Actually Dancing to an American swing playlist, and a trek home that I do not remember.
I catch a ride out of the city the next day with a sculpture artist and an atheist physicist Syrian refugee who’s into heavy metal. We listen to the Cypress Hill Black Sunday album on repeat.
That was my Vienna.
“Life is too short to learn German”
A frigid night in Lyon. I lay in the routine position: awkwardly inclined like a sausage propped against a toaster, neck strained forward, sweating into my body brace. It’s the nightly ritual: a wistful trail of martini with lime (affordable and effective!), google searches, flight scanners, sound clips and calendar dates. I haven’t travelled since I made it to France and promptly broke my spine. Mobility lurks in the distant future, and in my fervent, drunken dreams I seek vengeance for lost time: travels awaiting, work to be done, things to be lifted, reckless thrashing at concerts, less-awkward coitus.
A second martini, a third martini, a realization: I am in an optimal situation to make a bet with myself.
Buy a ticket somewhere, make yourself go. Come summer you’ll be able. Pick a place.
The place is Copenhagen, the challenge an eight-day music festival, camping on private farmland, a very eclectic setlist (see below.) I’ll have no friends, no contacts, maybe even no tent (will I even be able to carry one by then?) The ticket price isn’t bad; this month I can skip meals. I hardly eat anyway, too depressed. It’s December. The festival is in July. I am four martinis deep. I buy the ticket.
Alone on a train crammed with day-drunkards lugging cases of beer back to the plots of land they had fought to stake off a day in advance. Other festival-goers were traveling in close-knit social groups and possessed advanced technology such as human food and beer coolers. My mission: infiltrate a group. Gain its trust, gain a patch of its grass to sleep on.
Niko was chubby and slouched back in a blue folding chair. His camp, notably playing decent metal, had regurgitated itself into the staked-off walkway between blocks of tents. At first I thought he might be dead of alcohol poisoning, but he reached out to me as I passed with my pack, slurring in Danish and throwing up bullhorns. I stopped for a beer. Danes speak beautiful English and carry beer with them everywhere.
I pretended to look for a different spot to pitch my single tent, then came trotting back to Camp Niko. “Guess I have to live with you guys,” I shrugged. Didn’t give them much of a choice.
Potential expansions to this blog post included:
Planking every morning for my back, much to the amusement of other campers.
Peeing in my tent accidentally – trying to aim into a bag?
Almost tipping over an employee trailer, from the inside (employee was present.)
The time I woke up with a video on my phone of an uncircumcised penis wearing sunglasses and laughing — no recollection of this being recorded.
Names — Niko, Lasser, Chris, Christina, Bender? The one always wearing overalls with no undershirt, what was his name? Biscuit?
Spoke at length with Chelsea Wolfe and Amalie of Myrkur, nearly peed myself a second time.
Camp Red Warszawa was a camp of female punk rockers and their pleasantly drunken male cohorts. I stopped in and noticed Dunner immediately. He was nearly seven feet tall, had crappy tattoos, was wearing socks and slip-on sandals. He held a water fountain on for me while I rinsed the salt/dirt/beer/urine from my face.
I taught him how to pitch a tent properly. He had propped it up, damn city fool—what did he do? Poles inside the tent? Man, if that whole ordeal wasn’t to become a really effective metaphor. He gashed his hands open on the metal stakes, I tasted his blood in my mouth, tasted his mouth on my mouth.
Eight days. Survived.
August 5, 2015
Kristina, smexy red-haired hot-blooded sugar mama waitress wonder woman, booked us a night in a swanky hotel called The Phoenix where all of the highbrow employees didn’t even bother to hide their confounded staring — what the fuck are these muddy brokeass chicks doing in our establishment? We got stoned, delineated The Friend Zone, shared our ex-boyfriend histories start to finish and fell asleep to late-night Danish television: documentaries on hawks, strange compilations of sleeping people dressed as animals, surveillance videos of empty hallways. There are so many questions about the Danes that will never be answered.
Sick in the shitty hostel: Lame efforts to get out (invent a tolerable mucus metaphor?)
Not worthy of further elaboration.
this is why I haven’t written about any of this
Dunner’s apartment took me a bit aback. I hadn’t expected a 35-year-old seven-foot Danish metalhead to be so neatly organized or so devoted to such a strict color scheme (purple and orange — how thoroughly metal of you.)
We had agreed to one (1) weekend visit. By that I mean we were both drunk in the dark in his dilapidated, bloodstained ten-person tent on Night Eight Of Roskilde and I straddled him on the twin inflatable mattress and said, “Can I come visit you when this is over? Just for a weekend,” to which he (presumably) agreed.
But the weekend after the festival, the flu set in. Everyone said it was due to over-inhalation of the piss-dust for which Roskilde Festival is particularly notorious, which might be true. I spent the one (1) weekend visit collapsed on Danish Dunner’s Danish furniture, blowing chunks in his Danish toilet, sliming up his purple Danish shag rug. When the weekend was over, he headed down south with a group of friends, a trip he’d had planned all year. I bought a bus ticket to Berlin. He left the apartment, lingered down in the stairwell blinking up at me, wrapped in a blanket in his doorway.
My entire three (3)-week stay with Dunner was to be an eternal series of us saying goodbye for the last time, once, twice, three times. I repeatedly intended to leave, but was repeatedly too ill to go. Week One I passed locked alone inside his apartment, without a spare key to leave or go buy medicine or food. When he returned he found me red-eyed in a blanket fort re-watching his downloads of The Simpsons, having subsisted on canned tuna and corn for three days. On Week Two, he made me an offer: he’d cancel his family vacation if I canceled my bus to Berlin. We started Game of Thrones. Life was free and air-conditioned and Dunner cooked a good deal of dishes involving bacon while wearing nothing but his boxer briefs. On Week 3 he drove me to the hospital, where I was curtly informed that the antibiotics I needed were impossible to acquire in Denmark. We explored the Danish countryside, the harbors, the farms, the flatness, the city — through the remains of the destroyed Youth House in Norrebrø, in and out of squats, over public structures and playgrounds and cemeteries, where the trees smelled mysteriously of semen. I limped around and he limped with me, just to make me feel better.
When I was well enough he dropped me off in Copenhagen, his eyes rimmed with tears, pressing his spare apartment key into my palm for “just in case.” He told me he loved me. I told him I was late for my bus.
Ferry, København to Berlin
August 22, 2015
Yesterday I received my Spain placement. In IBIZA.
IN MOTHERFUCKING IBIZA.
Perhaps this is some kind of sick joke from the higher powers/malignant forces of evil in the world? The exact last place I would have chosen. Nasty tourist rave-kid madhouse in summer and a total ghost town in the winter. Mallorca (the bigger island) is covered in mountains, a cycling paradise, good climbing rocks. Ibiza is covered in used condoms, discarded bikinis and probably AIDS. Do I have to get a Brazilian now? Will they even let me access the island without one? I will trade my post with someone, if possible. Otherwise… I don’t know, I’m so conflicted. Who am I to moan and groan, homeless as I am? Beggars can’t be choosers, and at this point I’m only a step away from beggar. Might as well get the visa and see where it goes from there. Going back to the US is not a viable option. It’s not what my gut is telling me to do, but my gut is also not feeling Ibiza.
More good news — French debit card has been shut down, I just got a text that my phone usage rates have gone up to 3€ a minute, my bank login info is stuck on my computer, which is still in Milan — sometimes I am a dipshitty, rookie traveler. Another white kid with a backpack. I brought too many clothes and the wrong type of shoes, gave up on my only pair of pants too early (although the thigh holes have been giving me rashes and I already failed at fixing the shorts.) I’m too grubby-looking to avoid being surveyed with considerable distaste in public but not nearly grubby enough to be taken seriously by other hobos. I feel an urgent need to somehow turn all my shit a darker color, maybe sprout a couple of natty dreads for Street Cred. Darken my sleeping bag so I can’t be found so easily at night. Urban camouflage? Dirt is not dirty enough — I mean what can I use, like actual shit?? Certainly not DYE. That costs money and requires washing services (those cost money too.) Now I need a shit phone with some breed of prepaid plan. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been and my fucking back aches like a shitty ole bitch.
Tired fatty just wants to lie down.
I needed you, and you needed me.
Maybe it was the tacos (actual Mexican tacos, not this pita-burrito-shaved-mystery-meat bullshit I’ve been victim of for two years) or the potential English-speaking sex partners (such potential) or the mountains (likely) or, actually, the text my younger brother sent me:
Hey Jessi. I hope Europe’s fun and all, but if you ever come back to the states, I’d like to spend some time together. I think we could be really good friends now.
Two years, 1.5 years, doesn’t really matter. People figure some shit out in two years. They flip-flop their lives around and get new girlfriends and married and a dog. The stench of the change I was headed to witness, so dank and meaty like that of aged crotch, assaulted me through the Ibiza airport, the Barcelona airport, the Paris airport, the Turkish airport, all along the 30-some hours of flights, and when I arrived in SFR I was sweaty and anxious and physically weak. But it was just me, as it turned out. Much of what I came back to was exactly the same, or improved un poquito.
Maybe that’s it, that everything was the same.
I don’t want you to go, but I would never do anything to keep you. I am so, so proud of who you are.
Thanks, Mom. Hey, Aunt Jeanne told me you used to be a wildcat yourself.
Smiling. I was.
My old ex-boyfriend faked sick in Tahoe to come see me in San Francisco. We ate burritos in the Mission and drove up to Coit Tower and I sucked him off in his Subaru, parked on the street in some suburb. It was fine. I won’t miss him.
My friends in Portland are all depressed. Portland sucks now, they say. Flooded with shitty Californians and rich hipsters driving up the rent. We can mostly blame Portlandia for this. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, go fuck yourselves. Now I have to pretend your shit’s not funny.
It’s like that all over: rent is higher, apartments are smaller, college is cheaper for women with babies and Food 4 Less is always hiring. They ask me when I’m coming home, but what can I say? Home has never really existed.
We’ll talk about this next year.