Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A 2011 year-end meme, about a week late.

I'm a week and a half into a new job in customer service/sales at a music store, and my new second-ish shift schedule has seriously discombobulated my writing schedule. It's my sincere intention to keep this blog going, and in fact, to contribute even more to places like AV Club Milwaukee and Tiny Mix Tapes this year, but i have to work out this whole "get home at 8:30 PM and start cooking dinner" thing.

One piece of annual writing that was a casualty of my first-week-at-the-new-job scatterbrainedness was the usual year-end stock-taking that most of us journaling types do (especially those still holding onto their Livejournals). So in an attempt to get myself back into the swing of things, here's the annual year-end meme that always floats around the ol' LJ. When you get out of a writing habit, it's ok to use a crutch until you can walk on your own again, after all.


01. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Let's establish some common themes right off the bat - 2011 for me was inexorably defined by two awful life events and one excellent one. One thing i've never done before was spend seven months on unemployment...and i hope to never have to do that again. This was compounded by something else i'd never done before in 2011--answer a doctor that asked my mother and me, "if something happens and your father is on life support, do you want us to keep him plugged in?"

However, on the plus side of the ledger, this year i went on a tour where i played two sets a night with two bands, and outside a three-day weekend in 2003, i had never done that before. I visited Fermilab and the Tevatron as part of the first public tour that was allowed in to the Tevatron's collision detector. This was the first year i ever actively partook in a campaign to recall a sitting state governor. And this was the first year that i ever moved in with Liz and jointly adopted a baby kitten with her. Big win.

02. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make any New Year's resolutions last year. This year i resolve to contribute more to local media and (hopefully) finally get a fucking book started.

03. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I'm a terrible person. I'm sure someone i know had a kid this year, and frankly, i can't think of a single one of them. So no one close to me, i suppose.

04. Did anyone close to you die?

Elliott Turton died on stage in Austin with Waxeater before being revived a minute or so later by Ashlee Litkey. I feel very fortunate that i'm in the rare position of being able to answer this question in the affirmative without actually having lost someone.

Of course, in October my family very nearly lost my father when he fell asleep in a hospital waiting room in Madison and didn't wake up. But he's still here, laughing in Death's face, if not audibly, thanks to the trach tube in his neck. Keep laughing, Dad; i'm not ready to see you go yet.

05. What countries did you visit?

Um...we drove through the countryside in Pennsylvania?

06. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

I already have the most important thing that i lacked in 2011--a new job. I also will have the new record that IfIHadAHiFi was supposed to have released last year--the Nada Surf +3 EP. Aside from that, a governor who actually gives a shit about working class Wisconsinites would be nice.

07. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Let's take a break from Dad's health and focus on something awesome: On July 9, IfIHadAHiFi played a show with ARCHERS OF LOAF, and it was one of the happiest, most triumphant days of my musical life.

Another date that i will always remember: March 12 -- 100,000 people and about 100,000 tons of farm machinery descended on the Madison capitol to protest Scott Walker's attack on working-class union employees in Wisconsin. I have never before been so proud to be involved in the democratic process, and in a year after one where Russ Feingold was voted out of office in favor of a cranky, privileged "businessman" who married into his fortune, and a year where Mr. "Hope and Change" signed a bill that allows American citizens to be held by the military indefinitely without a trial, I need the memory of 100,000 pissed off Badger Staters to keep the hope alive that in America, people are actually fundamentally decent and care about their neighbors and understand that no man is an island.

08. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through it.

Aside from that, I'm pretty proud of this:

"Imperial Walker" raised over $400 for Russ Feingold's Progressives United PAC, and it got us a snarky "review" in the largest Republican propaganda rag in the nation, the National Review. Robert Verbruggen is apparently one of those doudes that likes to run photos of himself looking "thoughtful" in order to establish an image as a "intellectual" mind. He's a Republican who likes metal, which probably means that he's a huge Rush and Dream Theater fan. But briefly in early March, he got all condescending in a hilariously misguided attempt to knock a bunch of snotty noise-punks down a peg, while raising our national profile a little bit. WE WIN.

Look at this lame tuxedo-shirt asshole. $10 says he's drinking schnapps

09. What was your biggest failure?

The release of Nada Surf +3 was delayed because we had a brainfart and used a sample that we forgot we'd have to clear. With everything that i had to deal with in 2011, i have to say, getting through it makes me feel like a fucking WINNER, so this little hiccup isn't really such big shakes. Although i do feel pretty bad that we cost Dan money for a CD repress.

Oh! Also, i failed to complete the article i wanted to write about Ashley and Maria's totally legal Wisconsin marriage. I WILL DO THIS.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I did not!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The new litter box, cat toys, and shots for Thackery Binx!

Get the earring, Binx! get it!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Matt Gentling, who let my band open for his simply because i sent him a message and asked nicely. Dude, seriously?!?

Ashlee Litkey, who didn't let Elliott die.

The doctors in Madison who didn't let my dad die.

Ashley and Maria got married!

Also, i can't express enough how much i appreciate the understanding and support of my friends during everything that happened to me this year. Everyone who ever asked me "how's your dad?" at Cactus Club--that meant so much, you guys. My old roommate Andrew was incredibly understanding of my financial situation, and i'm very happy that soon i'll be able to repay him the several hundred dollars in utility and cable bills that i owe him as a result of his understanding. And Liz--i hope that she knows how much i treasured her company, her understanding, and her love and support this year. I hope i show her that often enough.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Easy: Scott Walker.

Here's the thing--at the beginning of 2011, i was totally over the 2010 election, and willing to move forward and deal with the fact that, hey, a Republican won. Fine. It's how elections work--sometimes the person you don't like wins. But his subsequent overreach and naked power-and-wealth grabbing on behalf of campaign contributors, corporations, and Rich Assholes in general was enough to enrage a lot of conservatives in Wisconsin, so you can imagine how appalled I was.

14. Where did most of your money go?

The most basic bare essentials.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

IFIHADAHIFI - Bottom Lounge - Chicago : July 2011 from GONZO CHICAGO on Vimeo.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

"Mary Jane's Last Dance" by NAP JUSTICE!

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:
hotter of colder? The apartment with Andrew was a big of a sauna, so colder.
Fatter or thinner? Static.
more active or lazier? I don't think there's much change here, either.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Every year, i wish i wrote more. But i really wish i had read more.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Nothing (literally--as in, i wish there were fewer times where i did nothing).

20. How will you be spending/did you spend Christmas?

Spent the day with my family, as i always do. Spent the night with Liz's family watching Aaron Rodgers throw 5 touchdown passes against the Chicago Lolbears.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?

Fuck yeah i did.

23. How many one-night stands?

This really is kind of a dumb question. Who would be really proud of, like, hooking up one-time-only with, like, a dozen random dudes or chicks in a calendar year?

24. What was your favorite TV program?

I don't watch a lot of first-run TV, but my favorite show via DVR and Netflix this year was Louie, by a country mile. The way Louis CK confronts the uncomfortable absurdities of life is thought-provoking, boundary-pushing, and piss-your-pants funny.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I really didn't hate Scott Walker at this time last year, i swear to god. But now...

26. What was the best book you read?

I finally finished Leon Lederman's The God Particle, a history of particle physics focusing on the Higgs Boson. Sexy Results, y'all. See ya on Feb. 18.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

HiFi band pal Russian Mike came to town with his new alt-country-flavored indie-freakout Memory Map, and i was unable to shut up about them all year. If you haven't listened to them by now, well, i've given up hope on you.

28. What did you want and get?

A new job!

29. What did you want and not get?

A new job in the writing biz! Ah well. No one wants to hear from someone who doesn't like popular things.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Another year of criminal under-attendance in movie theaters. But X-Men: First Class was a wholly unexpected and welcome return to the time when X-Men films kicked piles of ass. Yeah, yeah, purists got all pissy that the first class wasn't the real first class of Cyclops, Angel, Marvel Girl, Beast and Iceman, but quite frankly, it was the most engaging and character-driven of all the X-films, and i'm pretty sure that includes X2. Also, a mainstream movie that features so many allegories for so many facets of the LGBT struggle with societal acceptance merits years and years of revisiting, and hopefully worthy sequels (since they're inevitable anyway).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

You know...i honestly don't remember. Karaoke?

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

You know, it's weird--had i not lost my job this year, and had my family not had to endure what it had to endure, it would have, in many ways, been Just Another Year (albeit one with a much-welcomed upswing in the personal life). But having endured the challenges of 2011, and done so in a position to make the subsequent years more fulfilling in the long term, has made the ending of 2011 intensely satisfying. I couldn't be prouder of my survival this year.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Mondo Lucha hoodie.

34. What kept you sane?

Liz, the kitties, and rock and roll. And they really did keep me sane this year. True stuff.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Liz has this thing that she calls her "list," a list of five(?) celebrities that, should she be in a position to sleep with them, she is given a free pass by whomever she is dating at the time. She gives me a lot of grief for my weak attempt at a "list," because whenever i mention potential candidates, it's always people i fancy for their brains and sense of humor, not purely based on their looks.

But if there was one famous person this year that i would add to that list, based purely on raw, unadulterated HOT, it would be Dr. Who's Amy Pond, Karen Gillan. I know she's like 23 in real life, but whatever, that's legal.

I mean, in her first episode, she's dressed up like Sexy Cop. NOT FUCKING FAIR.

35. What was your favorite video game of the year?

The original Legend of Zelda for the NES.

36. Who has made the most cameos in your dreams this year?

See #34

37. Who did you miss?

I got to see a lot of people this year despite my financial constraints! Some Oakland/SF pals, Police Teeth, Waxeater, and several other band pals, even Kory made it to town. I guess i'll say Jeff and Maija in Los Angeles, because i didn't see them in calendar year 2011, which was the first time since like 2007 or 2008 that i didn't see them.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

(4-way runners-up: all four members of Archers of Loaf)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

For years i've considered my friends part of my family, but there's something to be said for the real deal, and i love my fucking family.

Last weekend i took Liz up to the large Mueller family Christmas gathering on my mom's side, where my great-aunts, the nuns who are my grandma's sisters, told me it was great to see me and talked to me about everything my family's been through this year. While we talked about my parents, one of the Sisters said to me, "you know she's an amazing woman." I nearly started crying, but i nodded and smiled instead.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

All of this.