Sorry it’s been a while friends, but the doc has been in crisis mode!
Somewhere in the midst of turning 25 and having no savings or life plan, I got a little bit lost. Then, because I had to, I got found…I got a job, I got another one and another, I moved back to a practical place, and I reassessed the old drunken suitcase mantra.
The Old Mantra: Drink or be Drank
“Drink or be Drank” is a helluva good time. It’s a gritty way to live and I fancy myself damned good at it…But by taking on that mantra I also kind of have to be a dick…The fun drunk hobo life means that you make friends with people, and then you ditch out…It means that you break hearts and also you break lawn furniture and door knobs and bikes and promises and all sorts of things because you’re drunk a lot. It’s a hard life (no it isn’t)…and it’s giving me all sorts of gray hairs. (Totally true! I’ll be salt and pepper by Christmas! Ladies line up!)
What all of this really means though, is that Dr. Unken is getting old, and with that comes a lot of guilt and remorse and hangovers. The three of these make for one powerful martini, one that has forced me to face up to the fact that borrowing money and favors from everyone I know in order to continue having fun transient adventures, isn’t actually the most responsible thing to do…In fact, it’s kind of an asshole move…
Stuff that’s fun=bad probably
Now, because I’m smart, I get most of my ideas about adulthood and life from the 1989 Steve Martin movie Parenthood.
For about the last year, I have been feeling a lot like the fuck-up son in that film, Larry Buckman, who is played by Tom Hulce. Larry Buckman has a black son named “Cool.” (Cross your fingers ladies! I could be naming our son “Cool” soon!) Also, remember that kid in The People Under The Stairs? His name was Fool. “RUN FOOL RUN!” That movie was messed up.
Anyway, I drew up a graph of the similarities between me and Larry Buckman, and the parallels are STRIKING!
This graph is confusing!
From an insiders perspective (i.e. my own) the last few years can either be looked at as a great success, or a massive failure. If I could sum it all up in a sentence it would be:
“Well I’ve got no savings and little to no ability to transition into the real world but hey, that was a hoot.”
Also, sometimes, when I’m feeling epic I like to think that I’m like Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull…Which can’t be summed up in a graph because we have almost nothing in common. Nevertheless, here’s that trailer because it’s the fucking greatest film trailer of all time.
I’m getting ahead of myself. What I was saying is that sometime last year (right around the time I stopped posting on Drunken Suitcase) I got freaked out. I had this mound of debt that could shame Nicholas Cage (that mound has grown) and my nerves had been getting shaky for a while, and finally I had this kind of false epiphany drunk one night, and decided that I needed to get a career…But I didn’t know how to do that, so I started to make random decisions.
(I really like Nicholas Cage…Nick, if you’re reading this, I like when you punch people, we should hang out..I forgive you.)
One decision, which I followed through with, was to move to New York and work at a major political blog as an unpaid intern. There were both positives and negatives to this decision. One of the positives was that it taught me a lot about new media and news and politics and the New York scene. One of the negatives was that it was unpaid and intensely hard and I would work ten or eleven hour days sometimes and then go home and fall asleep and wake up really early the next day in order to do it all over again. I didn’t get a lunch really, and I didn’t have any money to eat one if I did, so I would just leave and walk around the block and contemplate how much of a fuck up I was, before I went back and sat and cropped photos and I kind of wanted to die a little bit. I liked working hard but the not getting paid part gave me a sense of anxiety that never really went away and I’ve already done unpaid internships and I’m almost too old for them so I felt a bit pathetic doing this thing that was for recent grads and it made me feel old and passed over or outdated. Not having any money to go out with made me kind of embarrassed when I would see all of the successful people I know that are my age, so I would drink Ballantine XXX before I met up with them and that’s how I discovered that Ballantine XXX is the greatest thing ever.
= most amazing thing to ever happen to anyone on the planet.
But really, I’m not really complaining, because it was a pretty amazing experience and everyone there is incredibly talented and nice. A lot of them are younger than me or we’re the same age and they’re just so much more inundated into this world and so much quicker and pithier and write with a sort of electricity that I don’t purport to yield…I think they also just all work very hard. What this is really about, is that Dr. Unken Suitcase doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing ever, and that’s the whole reason this blog exists maybe, that’s what it has been from the start. Drunken Suitcase is just this wobbling thing that kind of wanders through the fog. I have no idea, and I pretended like I did for the last half year, and Drunken Suitcase fell by the wayside, but that was fake and a lie and I’m the first to fess up to it.
My boss took me out for burritos (classy!) the day before I finished and he was trying to help me get a job by asking me what I wanted to do and I felt really embarrassed because I couldn’t answer him. I mean here’s this guy, this incredibly talented successful guy that is, in many ways, the model for everything I want to be, and he can’t help me to forward my career because I have absolutely no specifics about where I’m going or what I am specifically interested in. Afterwards we went back to the office and he turned into the door and I kept going because I felt like I would burst with disappointment in myself and so I walked into the bathroom and washed my face and all I could do was laugh at myself and feel like shit.
But anyway, when the internship was done I felt pretty good about it even though I hadn’t “Made It” in any sense, and they were really nice and gave me a big send off and we all liked one another even if my sense of humor wasn’t the same as theirs, and I had no more answers about what I should do than when I had started.
So then as I took the elevator down to the lobby of the building, and I held the door-close button and the first-floor button together so that the door wouldn’t open for anyone and I would go straight down, I had this one thought pounding in the back of my mind, and that was that I never ever ever ever wanted to work in an office again. I never wanted to stare at a screen and listen to TV’s while my ass went numb and my face got white for the entire torso of the day. We had these big windows, and so I could hear everything going on and I could see all these people running around and packing up trucks and unpacking trucks and I wanted to be a writer so bad and I still do, probably more than anything in the world, but maybe I won’t be and maybe I would rather just be outside.
And then I thought about how when I was 21 I worked at this mini-golf course in Green Bay and I was heartbroken and it was the greatest job I ever had. I’d moved home and was feeling low, and my parents were pissed at me for not staying at school and earning real money. Then a funny thing happened, I got this job that paid minimum wage at Fort Fun, and what should have made me more depressed than ever, kind of ended up saving my life. The job was incredible. five days a week for three months, I ate soft serve ice cream and popcorn and nachos and drank diet root beer for seven hours. I got to read Hunter S. Thompson in the paintball gallery while little kids shot these rusted out bullseye markers and I told them good job and my boss was an ass but he was lovable and my managers were all like 16 years old and I’d always volunteer to do bumper boats and the batting cages and stuff because no one else wanted to and I always did because I’d been saved. We would call the top 40 station which played at the course and we’d give different excuses as to why we were requesting Murray Head’s “One Night In Bangkok.”
Us: Hey it’s our best friend Jerry’s bachelor party and he’d like to hear “One Night In Bangkok,”
DJ: Are you guys those same goddamn kids that requested it last night!?”
Us: What? No.
And we had this rivalry with the Go-Kart Race Course next door so we would order pizzas to them and then they’d see us laughing when the delivery car showed up and they’d yell obscene things across the parking lot and then some parent would yell at them. And sometimes when it was really hot outside parents would give me tips to just spray their kids with the hose!
So there I was, getting dollars for blasting kids in the face with water, and I’d drench families on the bumper boats because I knew which ones were the most inflated and had the best engines and I could hit the batting cage balls the hardest because I had the machine’s timing down and I was so happy. Then the summer ended and I went back to school and the next summer “Fort Fun” called my parents house and asked if I wanted to be a manager (makes 8.50 and hour!) but they said I wasn’t interested and they never told me because they didn’t want me to move home again, because I would have, in a second.
And so I think I’ll be fine, and I guess I’m not really worrying all that much about it anymore. I think that I would rather have a part time job or two part time jobs or even three if I get to be outside and they pay me a little bit and maybe I get to work with kids or just serve beer to happy strangers on a roof top. I think in the end I’m OK with that and I’m pretty good at it and that’s alright for the time being. If I somehow got to write Drunken Suitcase and get paid to do it, I’d be a pig in shit, but if I get to write it sometimes and do other work sometimes too, well maybe that’s just fine.