Monday, February 9, 2009

Ships & Dip V

I still haven't managed to assemble all of the events of last week into a coherent narrative, and I don't know when that's going to come together. We got home Saturday afternoon and had to whip the house back into shape; my parents had done a predictably wretched job of keeping the children on a schedule and the kids are still a bit jangly and out of pocket. This week promises to be a bit of a cluster - I still have to prepare a lecture for tomorrow, and I'm starting to run participants for the new experiment beginning Wednesday and I still have a sick amount of prepwork to do before I'm ready for that - and I'm beginning to get anxious about what I'll be able to remember when I finally do have a spare moment to string two non-professional thoughts together, so I think it's best for me to just suck it up and bullet it out.

  • Right, so the cruise was this.
  • We booked mostly for the Weakerthans because I adore them and Marc is also a big fan. We've been to a zillion Great Big Sea shows, and they're entertaining - Marc likes them a lot - but they're not, like, the band of my soulTM or whatever. There's a... I don't know, maybe a performative cheerfulness? to GBS that sort of grates at me, just a little, but I can have enough fun at their shows, and a decent part of the trip was about how we celebrated the 15th anniversary of our marriage in December (which, just - 15 years! And he's such a lovely man! How is it possible that I am that fortunate?!) and just needed some time elsewhere, just the two of us, to be joyful and quiet and together.
  • And then the Mountain Goats booked, and we were extra delighted.
  • And that was pretty much our cruise experience - going to Weakerthans and Mountain Goats shows. We saw the Barenaked Ladies sailaway show, and the GBS fanshow because Marc is on their mailing list, and he went to a GBS show and we poked our heads into a few other things, but I really wanted to do a lot of knitting and reading and quiet sitting and canoodling, and so we did, and that was good. I fell asleep early the night we had tickets to Sarah MacLachlan and BNL, and that was fine - I don't feel like I missed anything.
  • Turns out that I hate guided tours just as much as I always thought I would - we've never done one before, but thought it might be worth trying during one of our port days and oh my god, are all travelers so univerally assumed to be brainless? Really not to our taste, and it's good to know that we, with our guidebooks and random bits of fiction penned in destinations and the bounty of the internet, are really not missing anything from the professional travel industry.
  • And I was worried about the cruise ship experience, just a little, and it turned out to not be much to my liking, either. Just sort of generally cheesy and prefab and ... not my place, really. Although friends who mentioned that they can be restful were mostly right.
  • I drank a metric ton of mojitos. There is no bad there.
  • Still really really love John Darnielle. Spoke to him briefly about his book, as mentioned here previously, and I also asked him about that show at the Black Cat that some of us went to back in March last year, when they had just cancelled their Australian tour and he was talking about God and was just sort of generally going off the rails. He was v. frowny, said that was one of the worst days of his life but that things are better, talked about it a bit more but generally seemd OK. I felt bad about that - who wants to remind somebody of one of their darkest days? - but I was genuinely concerned because, man, watching someone who is that clearly struggling is just heartbreaking. I remember walking away from that show and thinking that we might have seen the last Mountain Goats show. I'm glad I was wrong.
  • Embarassing love for the Weakerthans at this point. I just... I can't even talk about how fantastic they were without sounding like I'm 15 and drawing hearts on the soles of my Chucks. I had the hardest time going up and saying hi, I was just crippled with this stupid shyness and if I don't have something specific to say there's really no point, is there - at least up until the very last night. They were playing on the pool deck, and it was so cold, so windy and there were just a handful of us at the show, and they played a full set and it was just so great that, yeah, I had to say hi & thanks. Chatted with John Samson about the fantasticness of e-books (he has a sony reader, and I was too busy freaking out to ask him about the exact parameters of its awesomeness, because... well, I mean, we've met me - we know I'm a loser, right?) and got a picture with him and OK, yes - he's adorable and an incredibly brilliant lyricist, but also seems to be a fundamentally decent guy, and that's really quite fantastic.
  • And what is even awesomer is that they are clearly fans of each other. John Samson and Christine Fellows were always showing up at TMG shows, and John Darnielle and his wife were at all of the Weakerthans sets, and then during the last show I REALLY lost my cool b/c John Darnielle got up and did "The Reasons" with them and there they were, my two favorite lyricists right there together. I hope they wrote something together that week, I really really do, so much.
  • Even just writing this I got so excited about those last few bullet points that I had to get up and walk around to shake off some of the awesome.
  • Great Big Sea fan show: really kind of great. The tickets were quite restricted so they were a get and they all took turns doing solo performances and it was a very different kind of show, so that was nice. Marc got video of them singing the chorus of "Northwest Passage". If the two Johns are not my music boyfriends, I could be convinced to keep Murray Foster.
  • People who are NOT my music boyfriend include Steven Page, who mostly came off as kind of a tool. He just seems to be trying so damned hard to be cool and to be happy, and sometimes you can't be both of those at once. (Hi, my name is Carrie.)
  • And that was that. Great week, so very sad to come home and not have rock stars and soft serve ice cream cones at lunch. World still swaying slightly, etc.
  • There is talk all over the boards that there will not be a Ships & Dip cruise next year, talk that BNL may be in trouble, talk that they're going back into the studio. You guys know what fannish rumormongering is like. *shrug*
  • OH GOD I TOTALLY FORGOT THIS AND IT'S THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE THING! So the day we hit port, Marc and I were walking through the little cafeteria area at breakfast and some girl stops Marc and starts going on and on and on about how fantastic he was last night. There was confusion all around until it became clear that she thought he was John Darnielle. Which, actually, when his hair is a little longer is not that impossible for me to see, except that Marc is quite a bit greyer. Anyway. HEEEEE. Loved that.


  1. I have a strong suspicion that it was you who pointed me, last year, to the sad passing of David Foster Wallace, so let me ask: was the cruise part of the experience A Supposedly Fun Thing You'll Never Do Again unless it affords access to good bands, good people and good times?

  2. Oh, Chris, I love and appreciate this comment so much! I've been in this mindless fast-forward for months (and sometimes it feels like it's been years now since I've had time to stop and rest and unpack my thoughts - these bullet lists have become the rule rather than the exception and the brittle fact-oriented disconnection of them is sadly reflective of my state of mind, and I miss all the interstices of my self) and so I haven't really thought about DFW in the months since his death, and I just went back and read this essay (which I don't think I'd ever read in full before and which is available as a pdf here) and ended up laughing at how very good he was and then just sat in the bathtub and cried. It's the worst cliche to talk about the tragedy and insensibility of his death, but so much of his writing makes clear his wonder and confusion at the way we work, and I can't help wondering if he left the planet still completely bemused.

    And something about feeling his loss opened me up, let me cry and then made me sleep. Funny the things that work as key, and I know you had no idea you would be doing it, but I still can't help saying thanks.

    (And to answer your question - yes, absolutely. I mean, there's much that differs in the detail - this didn't feel particularly luxurious; f'rex, we took meals in a cafeteria, which I tend to prefer as it's still somewhat agentive. But I do think that despair is a somewhat accurate characterization - there is nothing that feels organic on the boat and there is very little opportunity to perform any kind of complex tasks. I was glad I brought as many books as I did, and even so when the boat pulled into Key West and we had US phone connectivity again, I logged onto the Kindle store and downloaded another 4 books. I should also point out that I think that for BNL fans who are active on the fan boards, this thing is something like a con, and that experience, as you know, is a completely different thing from my experience being on a quiet vacation on a boat with lots of great shows to see.)