By Jes Skolnik.
4:06AM: Right on schedule, I pop awake. It’s rare that I sleep through the night. I’m a night owl on a day schedule and an anxious person. Frankie Teardrop, an 18-lb linebacker snowball of a cat, follows me out of bed and into the kitchen, where I have a handful of cereal and he has some cat food. We retire to the couch, where I answer a couple of emails about band booking and other projects and start writing this. Frankie T presumably has no emails to answer; he curls up beside me and washes his paws.
In the bedroom, my partner slumbers peacefully.
I’m not even envious at this point; this is just how it is.
5:23 AM: My lids get heavy again.
10:16 AM: Up and at ’em. My closet is a dense pile of clothes, the kind of mess that has crossed the rubicon and will require so much work to fix that even thinking about it is exhausting.
Clothing is a big snarl in my life. I have what reads as a very feminine/very sexualized body – chubby, all hips, tits and ass, made even more outsized and ridiculous by my tiny frame. I do not feel particularly female/feminine and never have. More ‘androgynous’ (read: further toward the masculine end of the spectrum) clothing doesn’t fit me, partially because it’s more structured and would need to be tailored for me, which I don’t have the money for. I throw on a sweater, a miniskirt, tights and a denim jacket and call it a day. Looking at myself in the mirror is not fun.
11:07 AM: At Wishbone for brunch with Steven and Lisa, two pals from Bloomington who drove up for Thursday’s Scharpling & Wurster live show, at which my partner Stephen’s band performed. They’ve got two young kids at home and have taken the opportunity to spend a weekend by themselves. The ride over here was oddly silent, and I spend the whole time trying not to spin out into anxiety about Stephen being angry with me for some undisclosed reason. (He isn’t. Neither of us are all that awake yet.)
I am so wrapped up in my thoughts that I don’t recognize that my miniskirt is fully pushed up and the entire world is looking at my tights-butt for the block walk from the car.
Keara (Split Feet’s drummer) meets up with all of us. I have too much coffee. Shrimp and grits. Good conversation, the sort that revolves around trading funny anecdotes. Steven, Lisa and Keara all met in the mid-’90s in Dayton. We talk about the recent Brainiac reunion and I learn that Mark Hamill’s son Griffin is apparently a huge ’90s Dayton indie rock fan, even though he’s too young for that scene and has zero connection to Dayton. Celebrities’ sons: they’re just like us.
1:43 PM: Back home, there is something upsetting happening with my guts, probably due to a) all that coffee; b) all the hot sauce I put on my shrimp & grits. I avail myself of two Tums from the 500-count bottle that we have in our bathroom because we are both approaching 40.
Stephen throws on a free jazz record I am unfamiliar with (‘Air Raid’ by Air) and starts filing records he has out from DJing. I should do something about this fucking closet.
2:15 PM: The flute is bonkers on this record and the drummer is way too heavy on the crash. My stomach hurts so much that I’m lightheaded. So much for the Tums.
3:05 PM: Drinking a peach-pear LaCroix, putting together laundry to do tomorrow, which is really Step One of dealing with the Closet Monster.
LaCroix is the only brand I would do an endorsement deal with.
3:22 PM: Found! Authentic, butter-soft fake leather studded white belt from 1999.
Also found: $10, several unused boxes of fake nails, a manila folder, an umbrella, a portable heater, a really bizarre conspiracy theory fact sheet that I am pretty sure got handed to me at a protest.
4:28 PM: I don’t know which track on this Hyperdub comp sounds like zooming through outer space on a surfboard made of modular synths, but one of them sure does.
Have made enough progress on the closet that I feel comfortable pausing for today.
Stephen and I discuss record storage (we need more; the records already have a dedicated room and a couple shelves in the front room, but that is not enough). I look to where our bikes are propped next to a book shelf. He bought me this bike for Christmas three years ago and I haven’t ridden it because I haven’t been on a bike in well over ten years and am terrified.
It strikes me that now is the time to relearn, springtime. I ask him if tomorrow he will take me to a parking lot and hang out with me while I wobble around.
‘You’re going to fall,’ he says, not to discourage me, but to remind me.
I have to go through the fear before I can be confident.
Part of the reason I don’t ride my bike is also that I hate being reminded of my awkward body, but maybe this is a chance, like dancing, for me to feel at home in that body for once. Biking is work. That helps.
4:47 PM: Why did I read that 200-comment horribly bigoted Facebook thread? That wasn’t cool or fun.
5:13 PM: Attempt to work on piece I’ve been chewing on for the last few weeks about the cycle of critiques of call-out culture and defensiveness, which I am trying to write with empathy and understanding lacking in nearly all writing I’ve seen on this matter. Disentangling the threads here is tough going.
6:32 PM: I am headed out the door and I go into the bedroom to kiss Stephen goodbye. He is sacked out face down – it’s been a long week for both of us. In the dimness I kiss the back of his head and scratch his back gently and feel an immense swell of tenderness. You can get used to someone you’ve been in love with for ten years and have been living with for over five, lost in familiarity and the dreariness of everyday minutiae, but I try never to take his presence or these small intimate moments for granted.
7:04 PM: At Jacqui’s cozy home to return her keys (I spent the last three weeks catsitting for her buddy Tahini while she was at a writing residency) and catch up for a minute. In exchange for my catsitting services she has made Frankie Teardrop a cat-sized bandana with a ‘Riots Not Diets’ print, because we enjoy gently trolling ourselves and most of the people we know via cat apparel. We talk shit, trade jokes, pet Tahini (who is headbutting both of us) and decide that the ice cream cake she’s getting me for my just-passed 36th birthday will say ‘Congratulations, You’re A Troll.’
8:02 PM: Looking for a parking spot on a poorly lit street while listening to Richard Pinhas = guaranteed jumpiness.
8:16 PM: Party at Dave and Christine’s is in full swing. Christine (the bassist in Split Feet( has a birthday on Monday. The atmosphere is warm, intimate and festive: homemade pizza and a house full of their close friends.
I settle into a corner with Keara; conversations we engage in range from mental health to animal friends to music we’re into right now to the abysmal nature of punk houses and how we’re all too old to deal with places that don’t have toilet paper these days.
I feel very lucky to know the people I do.
11:03 PM: I have only had one beer but I have a terrible headache, so it’s probably time for me to call it a night. Hugs all ’round. Pickle, Dave and Christine’s adorable and enthusiastic dog, tugs on my jacket sleeve and doesn’t want to let me go.
11:49 PM: Stephen is at work; our home is dark. I award Frankie Teardrop his new bandana, which he kicks at for a minute and then settles into wearing. The executive stripes look good on him. I cover myself with an afghan and eventually fall asleep on the couch with terrible true crime reenactments on in the background and Frankie draped over my hip.
Jes Skolnik is a freelance writer who usually writes about music, culture, and politics. They play in a band called Split Feet.