A Happy Day, Then You’ll Pay

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What is it about alcohol that leaves me in a dire mood the next day? I never used to feel the depletion of dopamine, but now Elliot Smith lyrics pound in my head next to a dehydrated hangover. ”A happy day, and then you’ll pay.”

There is positivity in the recovery. A creativity in the dark mood that infects the day after. Is this what it means to get older? I feel better at 31 than I did at 30. And I felt better at 30 than I did at 29. But now there are intrinsic changes happening, even while the core muddles on in the same way it has for 15 years.

Does the sunlight look different today? What has changed? Because something has, but I can’t tell what. The change is irreplicable and catalytic. Like all change is. But I’ll have to wait for years, simply to understand what’s happened to me today.


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She holds my face. Looks at me. Kisses me on the cheek. And then kisses me on the other check. She repeats this a dozen times. I wake. It’s a memory that has infected my dreams.

As I lie in bed I imagine that moment, think of it over and over again. Then my thoughts leave my daughter, only for another memory to bring her back. And I feel regret that my thoughts ever left her at all.

Sundance 2016

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Sundance is one of the few constants in my life. Every year I go with the same friends, to the same condo, and watch a relentless amount of movies. And despite the hundreds of movies over the years, the luster of sitting in a cramped theater and leaving the left side of my brain for the right, has never worn off.

And yet this year I’ve seen the other side of the film festival: a commercialism and cynicism that underpins everything. It’s not Sundance’s fault. It’s not a slow creeping change. It’s the reason these festivals exist in the first place. Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of friends in the entertainment industry. And every year more invites come in, more events open up: IMDB lounge, AirBnB house, Kickstarter parties, Chase Sapphire Event Center, Acura parties, Samsung parties, VR parties, Variety/Fandango/Dockers Studio. Company signs plastered over the already obnoxious establishments. IMDB is Tao, which used to cost $16,000 for a table before IMDB booked it out. In what world can that make sense?

But nothing it does is wrong. It simply is. It’s SXSW, it’s CES. It’s all of the events that people like me flock to, and talk about with friends as we spontaneously shop for 3D printers at 1 am.

And so I’ll keep coming every year. I’ll skip the opening weekend. That’s an assault on the senses that even I can’t handle. But I’ll stay for the following week. And I’ll go to the parties, and continue to spend time with people that have been here for 5 days, but have neither skied not watched a movie. Because that’s what we do. And now anything familiar brings a comfort that is harder and harder to replicate.

Like Prague in it’s Heyday

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I come home alone, by choice. We kissed as we said goodbye in the parking lot. She asked me to come back with her. Her brother watched from the window of her car as we stood out in the cold.

I sit in the driver’s seat for a long pause, watch her car drive away, and then finally check my phone. There’s a line of text messages that I scroll through. A multitude of people, mostly women, had written. I had resisted the urge to check my phone during the concert. But she stood pressed against me, and felt the texts vibrate in my pocket with the same frequency that I did.

My sex life is like Prague in it’s heyday. Except that in Prague, I had an existence that was tailored for that kind of lifestyle. This, I don’t remember signing up for. It crept up on me. And a sense of dread persists, because I’m old enough to know how rapidly it can go from feast to famine. Each of the connections that I’ve made, that I rely on to keep some semblance of composure, instead becomes a liability.

And so I wade deeper into the ridiculousness, and the debauchery, and the self-destruction. With a caution from experience that can only check me temporarily, but never stops me.

Realization on a Saturday

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The early mornings on a Saturday. This is the time when I should be able to concentrate. Instead, I feel the creeping of my approaching birthday, and the lingering effects of a five day bender that lead up to New Years. The radio doesn’t help either, it’s playing music that I can’t recognize, but is eerily similar to the Omaha based record labels I used to listen to in the early 2000’s.

I need to dry out for a month. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, but an actual need. What will dating be like without alcohol? When was the last time I spent the night with someone, without at least two drinks in me?

Day of a Younger Me

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Two wine glasses. An empty bottle. Clothes all over the floor. A sock missing. I drink what’s left of an open bottle of San Pellegrino, as I limp through my morning preparations. This is a day of a younger me.

The calls and tasks begin coming in at 8 am. A normal day, but a normal day is unremitting.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I ask, as I answer the phone.

“What?” she calls from the bedroom.

“Did you get the email I forwarded?” a voice on the other end of the line answers.

“I skimmed it,” I respond. I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“They’re pushing the launch until late 2016,” the voice tells me.

“What did you say?” she asks, bursting out of the bathroom, trying to fasten her bra as she walks.

“Hold on a sec…” I say, to the voice. I turn to her, “Nothing. Sorry, work call, didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Oh, you didn’t wake me.”

“Do you want breakfast or anything? Or a shower?”

“Some breakfast would be good,” she says.

“Help yourself to anything in the kitchen. I’m just going to take this real quick…” I walk downstairs where it’s eerily silent, where I can concentrate.

“Sorry about that. Ok, here’s what we need to respond back with…”