I’m currently funemployed. I’m coasting off money accrued from two years teaching in Taiwan and spending my time catching up with family and friends. I’m about to start a trip out West to see even more family and friends. Thus, I’m not looking for work or any sort of “stability” or “purpose”. As I result I feel very hedonistic. Not in the dictionary sense of sex, drugs, rock and roll*, but in the fact that my actions have no purpose outside of to entertain me.
On Tuesday I woke up. I laid in bed for two hours after waking up, listening to the entire Angel Olsen discography and drifting in and out of dreams. At ten I decided to get out of bed and eat because there was nothing else to do. Also because there was nothing else to do, I got in my car and drove into the city.
I had plans to pick up an Angel Olsen ticket for her show at Thalia Hall at 6 PM in Pilsen. It was 12:30 PM when I arrived in Pilsen. What to do? The National Museum of Mexican Art is in Pilsen and frankly everyone should go. It’s small, but free and very interesting. Probably the most interesting thing about it is the framing of art in Mexico as the building of a national identity post-Revolution. Although this should be obvious, I’d never thought of art as a conscious political weapon of idealogical change.
So I suppose I stimulated my brain a bit in this museum. I was there for three hours and promptly got a parking ticket. This should’ve prompted feelings of anger or disappointment, but instead I was apathetic.
I drove around Pilsen for an hour in late afternoon traffic. I had nothing better to do but try and find a parking spot close to the music venue. Once I did it was 4:30 PM and I had another hour and a half to kill before picking up my ticket. I walked to the post office, I walked to the Bank of America, I walked back to my car afraid I would get another ticket (I didn’t), I walked to the apartment to meet the person who was selling me their ticket.
It was interesting to walk around this place for almost two hours and observe the shifting landscape. As the sun went down, the high school kids leaving school were replaced by the professionals returning home, walking their dogs. I thought it would get cold, but it never did. In flip-flops and a skirt, with the sun down and the wind blowing the temperature was still perfect to me.
I picked up my ticket and then went to a cafe my friend Maisie has told me about. I ate a chocolate chip scone and wrote a letter to a penpal deriding myself for haven’t written in over three months. Why have I not written? Because I have been traveling? Because I’m lazy? Because there are things I feel like I need to do but for some reason am not doing them and instead am watching television and driving around.
Doors open at 7:30 PM. It’s 7:15 when I finish my scone. As I’m walking to the venue I see a Spanish-language bookshop (Pilsen and the area around it is a traditionally Mexican neighborhood. I heard just as much Spanish walking around ). I pop in and buy Sandra Cisneros’ La Casa En Mango Street because I’ve read it in English before and want to get better at Spanish. Having taught ESL kids in Taiwan, I realize after 9 years of learning grammar, the only real way to get better at a language is to read it and speak it. So…
I drop the book in my car then get in the line outside Thalia Hall. It is 7:20 PM. Doors open at 7:30. Show starts at 8:30. I proceed to wait and wait and wait. I have to tell you, I have social anxiety. A lot of people don’t think this about me, but I do. In particular when I’m alone in a room full of people I don’t know. I get some water. I check out the merch table, but then because I’m there so early and I don’t want to just walk aimlessly around, I decide to just get up against the front railing. So now I’m front row at the Angel Olsen concert.
So I stood there for almost an hour before the opener Rodrigo Amarante. And then the thirty minutes between . I think most people look at their phones. Become absorbed in the internet at times like this. I wish I had, but for some reason that makes me feel worse. Like, to be alone and just on your phone. I feel like it looks pathetic. This is strange, I know, but it’s the feeling I get, so I don’t really touch my phone except to reply to some messages.
Nope, I just stand there, against the rail, looking at an empty stage, listening to the dialogue of the cute couple to my left. I don’t really meditate, but I’m starting to recognize that this is a form of meditation. Allowing my mind to wander to ideas and not forcing newsfeed or dashboard headlines or images down its throat. And when the music finally gets going it’s amazing and time flies as if actually meditating or watching a perfect film. And then the music ends and I shuffle like everyone else, out of the music hall and out onto the street and into my car and drive home.
The thing is, this was not a bad day. It was a good day. Many good things happened. I ate food. I didn’t die. I saw an awesome live show. It just feels like nothing is created. It feels like I am only consuming things and making nothing. I need to edit my podcast. I need to write my stories. I need to clean my room. Why am I not doing these things?
*Although I have been to more rock shows in the past three weeks than I’ve been to in the past three years.