A few months ago, I was applying for a fellowship that I clearly shouldn’t have gotten, but I was assured by the website that most people who are awarded the fellowship didn’t think they should have gotten it. Most people. The other people invented cures for shit I haven’t even heard of, and they pretty much knew they were going to get some kind of gift bag for that. Anyway, one of the questions on the application put me into a crisis. All it said was, “What are you most known for?” What was I most known for? The easiest way to find this out, or really find anything–jobs, places to live, fog machines, someone to call your phone so you can find it somewhere in your laundry basket–is Facebook, so I put a call out to friends. I said:
Need help with a fellowship application question in regard to my creative work: What am I best known for?
I asked this question in earnest. I really needed help, and I was hitting a wall, and I was thinking to myself that if I got this fellowship, if I could put my life together and really assert myself creatively into the world, this, this would be it.
Here are some of the responses I got:
“Meeting Mike Ness” (Mike Ness once gave me a pep talk at a bar, while simultaneously giving an off-duty stripper a titty twist.)
“Shotgunning Champion!”(I get nervous in crowds, so I shotgun beers when I get to the party.)
“Eating bacon” (I once ate a pound of raw bacon while I was drunk and naked and told this story on a national radio show.)
“And I’ve always loved your cute bangs.” (I have only had bangs for roughly two years of my life.)
“wicked pterodactyl noises and the trampy-v” (Sometimes I hiccup really loud, and my friends call me Trampy V, because I cut all my t-shirts down to the tits.)
“trivia championship belts” (I was one-fourth of a sports trivia team one night in Collingswood, NJ, when I was couchsurfing. I know a lot about NFL logos from the 1990s.)
Yeah, so those were the responses I was getting, none of which I could put on my fellowship application, unless they really needed someone to do a TED Talk on how one should approach Mike Ness in the wild. Sometimes we want things we haven’t done the work to deserve. For instance, when I moved to Portland for my boyfriend, I had this fantasy that I would get there, and we would find a nice little house to live in, and I would make us steel-cut oats for breakfast everyday. My fantasies are pretty commonplace. Well, that’s not how it worked. Turned out he didn’t want to live with me. He had his own valid reasons for this, but I lived in a sublet for a while, and I’ll talk about that sometime, too. What’s important, though, is that since I got to Portland, I haven’t been drinking much. That’s the plus. On the minus, I haven’t been going out much, nor have I been making many friends. It was difficult for sure, because I’m a pretty social person, or rather, an explosion of thoughts I can’t control. Drinking, I thought (think?) sometimes helps with this. Then I met my buddy Shannon. The first night we went out, we got kicked out of a vegan bar, tried to call my wallet (this isn’t actually possible), then drank a bottle of wine in the middle of the street. Here’s the text I sent Shannon the morning after:
Shannon, I just woke up. There’s a torn-up box of Annie’s organic Arthur-shaped mac and cheese in my bed. I apparently started dipping the uncooked pasta into the cheese powder and ate it. The powder is all over my bed. This is probably why —- doesn’t want to live with me. FUN!!! THANK YOU!
Wow. Look at that juxtaposition of self-loathing and capitals with exclamation marks. Just…wow. (But check out my awesome hyphenations!!!) Sure, I had fun with Shannon. She’s a blast. But I remember very distinctly feeling throughout the night that I had to force myself to do these things. Inside me said, “Do something crazy, because that’s just what you do,” and the compulsion to do it felt sad and weird, like forty-year-old men with Harleys and Rush cover bands. It’s a complicated situation, and it’s never easy to grow up, even when you know you need to. But sometimes you gotta earn your adulthood. Sometimes you gotta stop eating raw Arthur-shaped mac and cheese like a Fun Dip if you want someone to tolerate you. And sometimes you should probably just get shit-faced drunk while you’re still in your twenties and save the steel-cut oats for when you both have trouble digesting solid foods. He doesn’t like steel-cut oats anyway, texture freaks him out.