We go to the Doug Fir to see to Milo Greene. Being down in this basement venue used to give me panic attacks. It’s a confined space. When I’m in the center of it all, I feel a sense of disassociation. I am in a movie starring a much cooler version of myself. The music starts and it is my heart beat.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom boom boom boom. I wouldn’t have known I was alive if it weren’t for this drummer. I can feel the vibrations carrying into my chest and I am certain that it is pumping my heart. I can feel it knock against my ribs.

It’s unsettling, this feeling of your heart beating, the rocking of your organs cradled in your chest. I am alive but I am human. These thin tissues are all I have. I am disassociating myself again. The beating brings me back.

An opener is like a one night stand. I can never remember their name.

The lights go on and Milo Greene sets up. Their voices are all so uniquely beautiful that I find myself getting angry. I want to hear them sing, one by one, without interruption.

I had been listening to their music online the last week in anticipation. Seeing them in front of me; they’re like angels. I feel instant regret for everyone who is not here, not in this room. This moment that will only happen once. These people in this room with these songs in this order. And then the moment is gone.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

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I’ve got my work laptop and my personal laptop open next to each other on my grandfathers desk. My grandma was going to get rid of it, sell it, but I had too many memories of it to let it go. This big. wooden. desk. Exactly the kind of big wooden desk any kind of grandfather ought to have. I didn’t know much about family or tradition until I was forced to carry it on myself.

I’m on my computer looking for T25, a horrible fitness routine you can do in your living room if you want your curtains to smell like sweat and self-loathing but also mildly of accomplishment. It’s almost the new year. It’s almost time for another me.

I pull up a folder full of mixed goods. FOCUS T25 ALPHA. The training manual for my job at Fred Meyer. A meme with a cat in it. A copy of the app Slack. A grant draft. And a letter from my mother. Dear Lo, I always wanted to have a daughter, it begins. The next file is a book she wanted to write. It’s a few sentences long. The title of the file is book.docx. The file after that is my intake form from the gym down the street. We’re back where we started.

I’m staring at this folder for a while. Here in this folder, a combination of some of the least important and most important things I’ll ever read. So improperly secured. My laptop, sitting dead for weeks on end while I used my work laptop in it’s place. Maybe I’ve been going about this wrong. Maybe there’s some merit to the slowness of this old machine. I think, I think, awfully too much thinking.

My grandfathers desk used to sit in his office which later became the room in which his hospital bed raised and lowered. I don’t quite know the progression. We’d play cards and my grandma would ask me to find a deck.  I’d run to the old desk and pull open the half-stuck old drawer where I knew she kept her cards. Decks on decks on decks of cards. They all smelled like old books, musty and well-played. Her parents cards, and their parents cards, cribbage and hearts and solitaire generations before me. I didn’t know much about family or tradition until I was forced to carry it on myself but now I understand these cards, and these letters, and this desk. They’re all living and breathing things.

I’ve achieved a small dream. I can’t say it’s a lifetime dream because I’m only 27. But it’s what I want to do, right now, in this moment, and it seems like a step. One small step. And if my life is a series of steps, a staircase if you will, I suppose I’m going up.

The other day at work a tweenager came up to me and asked me if they could please have a balloon. I remember this feeling. Grocery stores at the age of fourteen. One of the only places you can go with your freedom and your friends and a twenty your parents gave you. They’re bouncing. Three girls and two boys. Covered in acne. One boy taller than the other. His voice deeper than the other boy’s voice. They say youth is wasted on the young and sometimes I dream of going back to fourteen or fifteen to relive those experiences all over again. But adulthood does something to youth. It idealizes it. Every day is a struggle to figure out who you are. It’s no better than twenty or thirty or forty. Your responsibilities feel just as hard. Your injustices feel just as unjust.

The balloons are only for kids, I say, awkwardly. I don’t quite know how to gauge exactly what a kid is anymore. They tell me that they are kids and I tell them that I’m no longer able to tell who is or who isn’t. This is the first person over the age of 5 and under the age of 20 that I’ve talked to in so long. It’s like talking into a mirror of a younger version of myself. I want to ask these time travelers so many questions. Are you dating someone? How much does it suck? Are you getting proper sex education? What do kids do for fun these days? What kind of music do  you listen to? Does everything feel like it’s crumbling beneath your feet? Are you just happy all the time? How much homework do you have to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? They are so new. A baby is a little human, but these feel even more like little humans. They’re walking, talking, decision-making, emotion-feeling little androids. Please, tell me what it’s like to be fourteen because I have forgotten. And suddenly, I realize how old I am.

I want to lean over in a whisper and say I am twenty seven. I imagine that they lean back in horror and gasp. How do I, like, even function. Do I do taxes? Am I married? Do I make homemade baked chicken and talk about politics in a dry voice? I expect they look at me with the same confusion and fascination that I look at them. The mirror reversed, and they wonder to themselves, what is it like to be twenty seven? What will I be like when I am twenty seven? 

After I tell them my inability to determine age, I hand them a balloon. They tell me that they’re not allowed to trick or treat anymore and no one gives them candy, or stickers, or balloons. At some point in the last few years someone, a collection of someones, have decided that they must let go of foolish things. They have declared that they are no longer children. And what a horrible thing. I give them all balloons, and I give them all stickers. One girl is left at the counter. All of her friends have left, walking through the store, exploring their freedom, emptying their pockets.

“Did they just leave you here?”

She looks up at me and gives a little “yeah.”

I came home from work today feeling the small death of my spirit. It’s about the same as I felt when I heard Gene Wilder died this morning. Today has been full of small deaths. And that’s what aging gives you. Little deaths sprinkled like confetti over your life. The older you get, the more substantial those deaths become. Your favorite actors age out. They die. Your family dies. Your friends die. Your mentors wither into solid examples. They die, too.

There’s just no earthly way of knowing.

You become resilient.

I am learning a bad day at work isn’t something to lose your mind over. There may just be, perhaps, no such thing as a job that doesn’t drive you bonkers. It is just another reality to grow hard to. To prevent that frustration and anger and sadness from seeping into your soul. I am happy today even though, even though. And the more of these little deaths I feel, the more I will be accustomed to this feeling. The sads that are simply meant to be sad.

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.

When you don’t write, you’re practicing not writing. You get even better at not writing. You become an expert at not writing. The only writing you publish reads: I haven’t been writing much lately, here it goes, let’s try again. Like a live journal if your mediocrity.

March 3rd 2014

I haven’t been writing much lately, things are really busy.

June 2nd 2015

I’m really going to make it a priority to write here this month.

July 22nd 2016

Writing used to be really important to me but I don’t write much anymore, ghost town night? Lol, I’m the worst.

These are the signatures on backs of checks cashing in on their negligence. A little self depreciating humor won’t make you any more of a writer.

Today I wrote “wrote on POW” in my schedule and then I came and wrote in POW. I suppose I’m not any better than the rest of them, talking about not writing, practicing not writing, complaining about how hard writing is. But at least I’m writing.

At work I take scraps of paper, balloon order sheets, floral delivery invoices, and I write things on the backs. The way customers make me feel or the funny way someone dresses. I tuck them in my pocket and usually I throw them away without looking at them again.

But it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.

You are only twenty seven once, if you make it there at all. That is a terrifying notion. There are just 365 days of twenty seven. Fifty two weeks. Almost nine thousand hours. I looked all that up, obviously, because I needed something tangible. It’s the tangible that makes it terrifying. When you wrap your mind around the facts of it all. Well, all you can do is accept the obvious. You’re dying. Every second every minute every hour of the day you’re tick-tick-ticking away. And you will only be twenty seven once.

Some people don’t understand this. Twenty seven is abstract. It feels as if twenty seven might last forever. Some people sit around just wondering when they’ll be twenty eight. It’s as if it’s some new game they haven’t played. Twenty eight ticks to twenty nine ticks to thirty ticks to forty and it spins like a rock down a hill. At some point you’ll reach an age, whatever that age is for you, maybe it’s twenty seven, where you realize that you’ll only be that age once.

After that age is gone, it never comes back again. There is no second chance. Your life doesn’t rethread itself, it doesn’t twist and bend and restart in the original position. What you did not do at twenty seven you will never do again at twenty seven. This is it. And it’s gone, tick tick tick. Every second moving you closer to twenty eight.

We’re sitting on a bench and we’re drinking beer and it’s so hot outside you can feel your pores opening up just a little bit to let out the sweat. It smells like gas and pavement and grease. We’re making jokes about the Hump! porn festival that rolls through down every year. What if we got together and, I dunno, we all polled our best ideas, and then we crammed those together, and we created the best Hump! ever. There’s a communal nod that waves around the table. We drink again. The moment is gone. It’s gone forever. But it’s a snapshot.

I am twenty seven. I am sitting in the sun. I am on the bench that is already more red in my memorial than it is in real life. That blue bench. Was it yellow? There are five of us but there were only really three. We’re laughing about a film festival and we’re getting drunk. My fingers are sticky. I’m smiling and I can feel the skin separate around the dimple in my face. I press my glasses back up on my nose.

I will never be twenty seven again.

You Are A Sieve For Bullshit

You are a sieve for bullshit.

The older you get, the less bullshit gets through.

Your metal fibers wind, tight, wrapping, pulling, saying no,

fuck you

I’ve already let you come

and fuck up

my flavor.

We’re sitting at the bar that needs no name and we’re talking about the men we’ve dated before. At one point we think, you were there to make me happy. In retrospect we think, you were there to teach me.

What not to accept

what to say no to and

when to say yes.

When you are fifteen, twenty, twenty five, you deal with kid bullshit

He won’t call me, he doesn’t listen to me, we have nothing in common, he doesn’t value my opinions, I don’t matter.

You realize as the years drip through that these are things you will not stand for.

But then you begin to stand for yourself.

As all the men pass through you, you realize that they were just switches turning on, turning off,

genetics,

preferences wound deep inside.

Without them.

you’re better.

And the bullshit you can deal with thickens up.

You don’t have time for men who can’t communicate.

You don’t have time for women who won’t express themselves.

You don’t have time for people who don’t appreciate you.

Now they look you in the eyes every night, and they say

I like the bones your body was built on.

And you wrap them tight and keep them safe because

they’ve seen it too.

You scream what you know about yourself

fibers unwinding, spiraling out in front of you,

the piercing pronouncement as your

tangled mess of cords displays itself

This is what I need and this is what I want and

this is who I am.

You Are A Sieve For Bullshit