13% [chapter 18]


At Amoeba Records on Haight Street, a solid 28 hours a week were spent making garnished minimum wage paychecks and thinking about your anti-social issues while sorting through dollar records and putting them into boxes labelled with their various genres. Over the years, being left alone to listen to music and sort records in that small hallway behind the stage and in front of the bathroom, you came to almost love that job.

In this spot, you met the likes of Thurston Moore, Jonsi, Mos Def, Paul Rubens, John Waters, James Spader, Tura Satana of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Joan Jeanrenaud of Kronos Quartet after their in-store performances or during their low key shopping sprees. Then, along with many of the better paid and insured long term employees who'd been there since the mid 90's, (like Ox, of the notorious band United Blood), you got laid off in the spring of 2010.

It had deeply impressed you that most of those famous people were not complete assholes. Especially Jonsi. In his presence, you instantly felt comfortable, like you'd already spent hours hanging out, giggling and watching cartoons. Other famous people, however, seemed like total idiots. Ariel Pink took like 9 hours to set up their gear, spent long hours in the bathroom while their weeks old body odor fumigated the corridor, then left half their gear behind on the stage for days before schlepping back in to pick up after themselves. Vampire Weekend, wunderkinds of the Music Industry were so adept they forgot to bring guitar picks to play their million dollar instruments. Yeah, duh. Clearly some dues had been waived in their favor and would never have to be paid, as it is for lots of marketable bands.

Flip through any major music magazine and you will see 5 White Guys, 4 White Guys, 3 White Guys, 3 White Guys and 1 Black Dude, then 1 White Woman half naked. Lack of diversity and absence of critical thinking doesn't even begin to decribe The Mainstream Ineptitude that blinded all the kids who flocked into the store to purchase every album Vice Magazine told them to.

Not everyone on earth seeks to hide. 33% of the population are capable of not doing as they are told, according to the Milgram experiment; a shocking study on the nature of obedience that was inspired by a social-psychologist's desire to know why concentration camps happened, and how likely human behavior is to lead us into atrocities via groupthink, for the sake of belonging, no matter how much harm is done to others in the process of aligning with popularity.

With a Steppenwolf scowl, these hangups, or lack thereof, and too many preconceived notions fed your alienation and heightened sensitivity. A lot of it had to do with being an overlooked artist, yes. And then there's that seizure of a brain you possessed. Plus the incessant toxic coffee breath. And your sick pleasure that this one stupid thing, a thing so easy to fix, was so successful at keeping other people at bay, satisfactorally. But after you left, you realized that you had, inadvertently, come close to almost loving some of those coworkers that you'd never see again.

Like a compound fracture, too much built up unmanaged rage lived inside you to lay down and take any harrassment or intimidation that showed up at every job you ever had. While working at Amoeba, you were no longer on drugs every day. So you had no buffer zone to quell that overbearing bone that you'd be caught chewing on, down to the pourous bloody marrow. Whistleblowers usually get left out in the cold, alone. But it was better than saying nothing and passively allowing shitty behavior to go on unencumbered, affecting many other women who agreed that they felt the oppression but weren't willing to complain.

Unlike these other women though, you had no capacity to deal with dating your coworkers. In this way, your meager salary was more necessary to you than the ensuing drama that would stink up the room once the relationship inevitably ended. And you couldn't afford the heartache or the stress of keeping both jobs -- Employee AND Girlfriend.

Don't shit where you eat, as the saying goes. Wise words. Until you start hating your job and find yourself crying in the bathroom on your lunch breaks because of the way your boss treats you or the way certain coworkers talk about you. Then, all you wanna do is get fucked up and rub yer face in shit all damn day. Cuz getting that little fix of a dopamine boost from seeing that guy you're crushing on is the only motivation left in getting your depressed ass outta bed and in to work every day.

However, drunk at the bar or at a party after work, some of your peers tried to stick their tongues down your throat, and you ran off in a disturbed haste. Butthurt victims of blue balls make for dangerous hostile work environments so watch out! But you refused to live in fear, so it seemed easier to confront them rather than hide everytime you had to pass them in the hall. Just like high school. A middle finger and a friendly smile can work wonders sometimes. Alas! It's always the people that you're not attracted to that want to ride yer pony. The ones that you would've enjoyed spending time with, watching movies or playing music or spooning fully clothed, they had absolutely no interest in being saddled with your janky mule. Again, just like high school. It was all lies. High school was NOT the Best Time Of Your Life. How very convenient that high school dynamics would unfortunately continue throughout adulthood in every group setting ad infinitum. Sorry, kid.

To dethrone Romance -- there's that reality that once you do spend time with those whose company you craved, you are setting yourself up for failure. Down drops the veil of disappointment and they are not what they seemed. You're irritating to them in some sandpapery way, too. Or simply not resonating in the correct way. Fair enough. But that makes the whole process of getting what you want not only impossible but moot. The only thing that can keep up the illusion for the clinging to others, as if you'll fall off the face of the earth when you finally let go, is your willingness to forgive them their faults and wish that they could do the same for you. Trying not to end up as one of those half-people, connected to the hip of the other half-person, seeking to live out a greater fantasy other-life buried in the digital backyard, right under a faithful nose, 10 or 20 or so years down the yellow brick relationship road.

Feel that hopelessness? Embrace it. It's all you can do. This is as good as it gets, dude...!

So you did. It felt real and true. And the more you embraced the hopelessness, let it in, saw it for what it was, really looked it in the eye, the less fearful and ugly and alarming detatchment from that sphere of mortal love became. At some point on the way down the asexual slide, the realness of that soft hopeless embrace became preferrable to wasting more of your precious time chasing beguiling shadows. Perfect imperfections. White pee. Fantacide. Fake glory. Future lovers who would also one day stop listening. Or finally admit to you that they're gay.

All that confusion caused by love and hate transformed itself through a nearly constant production of music and art. So it was good that you never got too close to crushing your male muse. The intense creative energy that was produced from being in his presence was the best kind of love that could've ever happened to you: non-mortally. So it all worked out just great. So you say. Now if only you could give up, stop flogging the dead horse and let him slide away, the way that he naturally would if you could stop picking at it. Like a scab. Just to see if it still hurts as much as it used to. Just to prove to yourself that healing has occurred. But whenever you peek back into those rejected memories, you find a new distracting weed of hope growing. Hope, that some day you might be Good Enough to share your life with another person who neither worships the ground you walk on nor beats you down into a diminutized pulp, but stands there next to you on equal footing. Not bloody likely.

Like a disease, everytime that hope flares up, it slowly kills every sense of stillness and peace inside you that made you feel worthy, that made you, at long last, feel free. Free from wanting or needing anything from anybody. And in that way, you could be complete and giving, unconditionally. No strings of wishful thinking, no grasping, no emotional defecits dangling. Maybe it's unrealistic to think anyone can ever be free from those haunting self-doubts, from useless subjectivity, from cowardice and inadequacy.

Your truest strength is your weakness, your willingness to face the pain of annihilation because that is where the indestructible and the infinite always live. There is a Buddhist saying that everything in life is like a starving dog standing over a burning bowl of oil. The oil's too hot to consume, but the dog is too hungry to abandon it. Though some short bright sparks marked the fragile times sequentially between the black matter of long slow loss, all you could do was be patient. Wait for the constellations to rise again. But there's nothing to grab onto when they do.

And this is how you saw through The Pissing Contest.

It was infuriating to see men act all jealous when you spoke to other men, but then ignore you when you approached them alone. The only time they seemed to show any interest in you was when other men were watching. Especially those who employed you. All of your short-lived jobs in SF after Amoeba suffered from this dichotomy. Some kind of claim had been placed on your slaving ass, and it didn't matter how good of a job you did or didn't do. You were quickly fired for not complying with this other after-hours duty that was expected of you.

That was how you concluded that this real life video game had Absolutely Nothing To Do With You. You were just so much meat. A pawn made of pussy in the scheming between bored men competing with each other. They had no real interest in the winning "the prize" that they seem to be jostling over, but only in humiliating the other competitors for their own sense of pride.

Yup. That's how evolved we are. Might as well be beating on our chests, swinging in the trees, chomping on bananas and flinging shit.

Oh wait. We still are.

*u can call me ph!*