Built to Spill.

(Foreword: I know that it might not appear to be true from the looks of this post but I’m in a really good mood today.)

My friend, Brad had a reading last Friday at a small bar in Manhattan. He sent me the invite about 2 months ago. And I looked forward to it. I told Tobyjoe about it right away. “Set aside September 29th!” I had said. “Brad is reading some of his work.”

As one might imagine, I was pretty bummed when I found out I had a soccer game that very same night. The game was to begin at the exact same moment as Brad’s reading.

A little over a month ago, I went out drinking with Anna. I was having a really rough time that week; I needed some Anna time. And if any of my girlfriends would understand what I was going through mentally, she would. Even though we’re two very different people, we both have a knack for spreading ourselves too thin because we want to do everything and anything. We both have a fondness for noise and clutter and constant motion. We both have a fondness for romanticizing something, attempting said something until we find something else to romanticize about. Thing is, every time I do this, every time I come up with a new idea or a career change, I believe wholeheartedly that I will do it. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that’s what I want to do at that very moment. I’m so enthralled by it; it consumes me.

I have written about this before. In fact, I think I’ve written about it a hundred times before. I am very much aware of my downfalls. I’m well aware of how manic I am. I’m also aware of the fact that when I hit a low I’m almost as unbearable to be with as I am when I’m up.

Anna said something to me that night that still resonates. Anna’s a member of the Bombshells. I find what she does admirable to say the least. During our conversation about new projects, I gave her my latest list of whims, one, of which, was joining a soccer league. I told her I wasn’t sure why I had signed up. I had missed soccer since I stopped playing over a decade ago. She told me that out of all of the whims I shouldn’t give up on soccer. “If you flake on that, you’re not hurting only yourself, Michele. You’ll have a team counting on you as well.”

Not much makes sense when I’m just about to fall from a maniacal state but that sure as shit did.

I had already missed one game when we were in Florida. I’m on a coed team, which means 3 girls have to be on the field at all time or we must forfeit. What were the chances of my team having to forfeit because of my not showing up? There are only 5 girls total on our team to begin with. The chances were huge. Suddenly, I felt necessary.

I went back and forth and then finally made a decision. It was the decision I wouldn’t have made several years ago, which surprised me. In the end, no matter how many times I went back and forth, I always came back to what Anna said.

I went to my game.

I didn’t go to Brad’s reading. I didn’t go cheer on a friend.

And my team lost. But that’s OK.

We all believe we deserve a certain amount of attention from our friends. Some of us demand it. I know I want people to notice when I’m not around and feel good when I am. Aren’t friends supposed to make us feel important? Don’t we want to feel necessary? Don’t friends serve as living proof that we exist? Shouldn’t I be their proof?

When Katrina died I cursed myself for not spending more time with her. All the times she called me to hang out and all the reasons I had (I’m too tired to go to Virginia. I’m too tired to go out this late.) came back to haunt me. The years moved through our friendship with the ease of quick seconds; there was nothing I could do to bring them back again. “Later, later.” I thought. And then she was gone, just like that, gone.

The older I get the more precious time becomes. And there seems to be less of it. I have 32 (almost 33) years behind me and who knows how many ahead. The closer I get to halfway (assuming I haven’t reached it already) the shorter the moments that create them.

I keep wondering if the choices I am making now (or the ones I’m not making) will come back to haunt me later. Only hindsight will tell. I know this. Right now, however, I can’t help but feel that some of my moments have been all sorts of empty.

I see Katrina all the time. I see her on streets and in dreams and in crowds and in movies. I saw her on the subway platform last week and I made a sound – an audible one – a groan of some sort. Why couldn’t I have seen her in crowds when she was alive? Does our subconscious wait until it’s too late? Do these ghosts serve as reminders that we should be doing something different with the living? Is this my punishment or my reward?

“I want specifics on the general idea. I wanna think what I should know. Want you to do to me what you showed. I wanna see movies of my dreams.”

After my game tonight, we have a show to attend. Normally, I even flake on live music shows. But the band we’re seeing tonight reminds me of Katrina and Soung and Vanessa and Garret and David and Greg and Missy. This band reminds me of me.

I haven’t seen them perform in almost a decade and I was a different person back then; I had less of a history. I had made fewer mistakes. Cliché as it reads, I do hope that they play some of their old stuff. I want to shut my eyes and pretend for a little while. I want to go back before I thought about halfway.


  1. I hear EXACTLY what you are saying. It’s far too easy to say “Later”, “Some other time”, “Not now”, “I’m too tired”.

    There are too many things to be missed. It’s finding that balance between spreading yourself too thin and missing out… I guess that’s what we all have to try to do.

    Enjoy yourself tonight. Be well.


  2. “i wanna see their faces turn to backs of heads and slowly get smaller.”one of my all time favorite lyrics and my second favorite is in that same song….”i wanna see it untame itself and break it’s owner.”

    buck up there camper


  3. Yep. And that CD reminds me so very much of you, mister Greg.


  4. dude, i am sad and disturbingly cheered/flattered to be the subject of such angst. (and as a champion angster myself i submit props, because you are good.) but give yourself a break. you had shit to do. not that i wouldn’t have been happy for you to be there, and with any luck someday there’ll be another occasion; but still.

    when i was in my 20s most of my friends were either musicians or artists of one kind or another, and i spent lots of my social time going to watch them do what they did. it was great fun; i learned a lot and had a good time.

    what i didn’t do was my own shit. it wasn’t their fault, of course; it wasn’t even that they superceded something directly, like time spent doing x instead of time spent doing y. it was more a matter of focus and seriousness, and procrastination. along with a few other personal failings, it left me 10 years behind.

    so the lesson, i guess, if there is one, is that you gotta do what you gotta do, and the sooner the better. and also that you gotta be a little ruthless—with the world, and, maybe more importantly, with yourself. something’s gotta go if anything’s gonna remain.

    all that said, if there is a next time, and you are free, i will personally buy you the angst-relieving adult beverage of your choice.



  5. hey, what league do you play in? my wife’s looking for a team…


  6. Zog sports. We could use her! (Email me, John.)

    Awww, brad’s here. Next time i’ll be there but I’m buying the beers and drinks.


  7. “what i didn’t do was my own shit. it wasn’t their fault, of course; it wasn’t even that they superceded something directly, like time spent doing x instead of time spent doing y. it was more a matter of focus and seriousness, and procrastination. along with a few other personal failings, it left me 10 years behind.”

    I wonder if people who don’t do that – spend time doing what they want when they want – I wonder if they ended up happier people?


  8. as one of them (one who didn’t spend the time doing what i wanted when i wanted to), i’m gonna guess the answer is no. especially if you are unable to relinquish that desire to do whatever it was/is. because it means you’re going to have to get around to it eventually anyway, only when you’re older, with less time and (probably) a more complicated life.

    therefore, play on. (or play through, as the case may be.)


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