This is the belated follow-up to my earlier NaNoWriMo post.

The old house once removed and no longer standing still stuck that endless day into the sky like a CD spindle, capturing reddish swirling light from the sun almost tucked into bed behind the knobs. Hooked up to a computer in a room that’s since been crushed and vaporized, sometime in 2002 with my desktop speakers whistling through the thin-insulation-invading air, I searched for a review of Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age. I’d mostly read about in Rolling Stone and the breathless British music press (“It belongs in the Tate Modern, 9/10”) and now I got to see some air wheezing out of its balloon that floated like the Adobe Illustrator birthed one on the cover of a 2008 trance music compilation I’d yet to even hear someday would, in the lights over Louisville far away. Less than 8.0 out of 10, said An obsession is born, one that’ll be remade and recast with album reviews for the next 22 years, it’ll pull with a homepage-visit magnetism that’ll become a relic of an antique online land where push notifications weren’t born yet let alone passé.

“Remember that closing to the review of Wolf Parade’s debut? ‘Other folks will still remember where they were when they first heard Apologies to the Queen Mary’? We were out there helping move people into the dormitories of a university overseen by Ozymandias himself the day that was published, incoming blue-faced boxers going to study comparative lit beneath the banner of a Johnny Cash album cover and a muddy shoeprinted flyer for a party bearing John Coltrane’s photorealistic portrait. And on the pedestal, these words appear: ‘Shit, cat.’ I thought the maintenance guy had also said something like that to me as he pushed a coffin-sized cart past underneath the archway glowing damply into the quadrangle where the afternoon sun shone like a face shiny with too much sunscreen in a staring contest.

A puzzled (house) cat, fundamentally: But silently seeming to move in the sky instead of just meowing to end the eye-contact faceoff it’s destined to win with its always-on mouse-alert camera-eyes, big discs like unspinning microglitch records, knowing we’d blink first and retreat into the dorms to contemplate the paper artifacts of freshman-year essays, class scheduling cards, paper course catalogs, notepads with scribbles from landline calls to our rooms, scratched up, all of them, by cats intruding on daylight while we were off at class .”

“Yes, he was looking onward and backward, breathing so hard and shouting ‘Carpe diem’ and thinking this is what optimizing your life is, sucking the air desperately and secretly drearily like someone’s cock you know in advance you’ll only get one taste of, dismissively throat-punched and briefly breathless because you’re as disposable as the paper campus welcome pack 10 years later when you can feel the dust accumulating on your body itself, the paper becoming uncanny to feel because now it’s part of your body, too, maybe it’s all this detritus that makes weight gain unavoidable. The past is a basket that keeps filling up with anvils that I’m obligated to carry and then, even then, it was already ‘bodybuilder’s build’-esque enough, relentlessly solid and heavy despite a surprisingly slight profile that caressing it forced me to pull myself off the floor after a ‘footage not found’ interlude so I could gather for the daily Gospel reading, a 0.0 Pitchfork review of a Dismemberment Plan frontman’s first solo effort, which immediately made air a sacred commodity again.”

“Did you record your reaction?”

“I mean, it’s still there, on the site, it didn’t even get a revision during their second chance series. Reaction videos are some cities-of-the-plain style energy, God knows everyone hates that, they’re for performative enjoyment when the content itself is a pleasure dulled by being mass-produced at an unconsummable scale even for an online completionist and franchised to death, ‘oh look at how HARD I’m laughing at each timestamped moment.’ I should do that for that review, document myself breaking character hard as I react to how the lyrics apparently give no sense of closure, the actual mortal sin that Eve committed in Eden while she was composing some sensuous post-rock and decided to fill it out with some sleepy, dopey vocals, recorded after she’d eaten the fruit and they’d stayed up all night fucking as Milton so carefully described.”

“Speaking of which…let’s go lie down in the quad.”

“I don’t have any blankets, and without them, I’m naked to the grass and the world—”

The quad is minded by kids turned into fully grown skeletons with clipboards, fingered bonily with more speed than either thought or an uninvented iPad could muster. The crowd speaks from beyond in a cursed undocumented post-Tower of Babel tongue and there’s talk of Mogwai, how if you mixed their albums into one playlist you couldn’t even tell where one ended and another began unless you’d once been the grindset type who spent all night in online forum research rituals, soundtracking your long drives along roads dark as VHS magnetic tape spared from light while you hallucinate cat’s eyes looking at you in the trees to the side that have definitely been used as scratchposts for massive paws shaped like a playful mouse cursor indicator that the game was safely paused. They’re quiet, though, keeping alive the myth that nighttime is just the world on pause mode instead of when it rewinds itself, respools its energy to catch you in the sun-hot pain of its feline teeth the next day.

“In that case, I’ll go get some myself. But I’m fine if you want to go ask about the Mogwai discourse, in fact I’ll feel for now welcomed when you go. I’m gonna make it after all. We’ll part and then I’ll be embraced by the invisible entirety of the ‘gay community’ in the interim, who’re just out of frame in my room where I’m back reading the Wolf Parade review again and thinking ‘this is where I’ll remember I was, and though it’s a thin condom’s width away from the feeling of an abanoned house weighted down by old computers and boarded up rooms.’ Nostalgia is the desire for a previous era of commodification, it’s looking back at a computer catalog and reveling in not only how close it feels but how far, the missing pages and bygone references that were once manufactured with obsessive all-nighter paper-writer energy long since turned into sewer-clogging trash.

“I’m going to hide under the arch and think about my afternoonlong journey out into the soft storm to buy Zen Arcade by myself. I felt, in my every joint, a resolute anti-loneliness on that impromptu walk—no one arguing with me, no one flicking on and off a gas light in the attic when I was looking for my keys while giving a soliloquy about the impossibility of sending 5.1 PCM audio over an optical audio connection despite its seeming sci-fi future-codedness, no anxiety from seeing some guy’s yellow undershirt if I’d fatefully stepped into the dining hall on the way there. I was alone except for my thoughts and my iPod, no way I was lonely enough to even think of taking my cellphone with me, that is the total security of knowing that anything could wait, that there was anti-radioactive armor ensconcing me in a public boudoir.”

I’m still driving and now it’s light enough to see the old house catching some red-wavelength light to stir the shadows and make then rotate up into oblivion, for now. It’s safe, music is coming from within, people from across the street are coming over to start picking their own corn.

“When I finally got there, the record store was folded away in a sleeve-like building quietly off the crackling university thoroughfare. You were with me the whole time—”

“Yes, I came after all, you weren’t even the hero of your own story.”

“—and we’d become blue clouds: Like tiny software icons, dark logos with shapeless God-faces like cooled-down burning bushes optimally colored to pop and sizzle someday against the white-hot apocalypse sky. But for now: Stretched to fuzzy resolutions across mere pollution. With a tear I’d stolen from the rainbow—a lubricant for fucking around in reverie—I opened the record store door on the side of the mountain that scratched the palette-swapped cirrus. Where is childhood? Is it in here?”

The hillside avenues glittered outside. A man with a blue face, not enough oxygen to appear on Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, approached me inside and asked if I liked Wolf Parade.

“I remember where I was when I read the review, but for a while I only thought they were some screechy guys with tight jackets listened to by people who overdress during mild winters. When I heard it, I filed away ‘I’ll Believe in Anything’ because I knew I’d have some moments with it, when I’d want to look back on where I was, the sad times when I was enjoying something that has to be aged before it tastes of eventual happiness.”

Meanwhile, Zen Arcade, it gave me the courage to no longer wear sunglasses indoors. I took a picture in my dorm that day that would launch a thousand online flings but that for then was an etched proof-of-life to myself. I’d made the long journey to get the Holy Grail and Jesus and his disciples were digging through the crates, not for bread or fish but for 80s hardcore.

“Well that’s the thing about Johnny Rotten, he’s maybe as energetic as Sigmund Freud or at least Fredric Jameson, still writing books into 90s and here I am taking off my dress now, without touching my chest,” one of them who was the record clerk for the day was explaining to a customer hear in the land beneath the mountain. A dragon coiled so tightly it was the size of a big cat purred in the corner.