Fourty-Six and Two

Started my birthday on a conference call, waiting to unplug a rack of servers and move them to another corner of town. Four hours later, the project was a success. Wrapped up the event by driving a pair of customers to their hotel, dropping off a coworker at the office, and heading home to consume the last inch of my bottle of vodka.

Four hours later, I woke up again. Circadian rhythm can’t be beat. Made breakfast, cleared the cobwebs, put on some Tool, Sepultura, King’s X, whatever. Far cry from the electronica of late. Shaved, showered, found clean clothes. Went out.

10-meter Net went up at 3; band was noisy due to contesting. Station in central America was sitting on the net’s usual frequency, so there was a lot of interference. Still managed to log 10 stations in the Austin area, which is usual. Not bad.

Spent some time up on the parking garage to try out the 2-meter flexible J-Pole antenna I built Friday night. The damn thing works well. With my handie-talkie I was able to reach a repeater in Georgetown (30 miles north) on 7 Watts. Scratchy, but readable. That’s a massive success. Punched in my new amplifier and was Full Quieting. This makes me happy.

Reached a repeater in Marble Falls / Dripping Springs to the southwest with the amp and J-pole. Either nobody was on frequency or I was too noisy to read, so no signal report. Anyway, the repeater itself responded with its station ID and squelch tail, so I know I got in.

Bummed around, took myself out to Ramen Tatsu-Ya for a solo meal. Terrible line and noisy joint with zero personal space. Food was good, but everything around it was not what I needed that day. My birthdays are usually spent alone; space and solitude are the best gift. I blame the over-the-top birthday parties of my childhood. Now I’d rather just be left alone. For once, Austin denies solitude when I actually want it.

However, my buddy Doug did take me up the street to Workhorse for a beer, gratis. We had a decent time hanging with other Epochians on the back patio. I spied a lady sitting along the wall alone with a book, something from Vonnegut. I thought I was the only one who read in bars; glad to know there’s still others.

Got home tired and bleary-eyed. Lack of sleep keeps me mute sometimes (today especially so). Otherwise, it was an OK day. 46 is going to be more fresh Hell. Here’s hoping it’s not that terrible.

The Spaces Between

I have so many mixed feelings about SXSW this year. I had a good time; went out every night of the music festival portion, actually saw stuff. Didn’t take a usual night or two off because of “con crud” or fatigue — I just needed to get the fuck out and do things, see things. Find novelty. Seek out serendipity. Played each night by ear and generally landed on solidly entertaining path.

It was ultimately very satisfying to get out of my usual rut. Went a whole week without stepping foot inside Epoch Coffee, which is a stretch for me. Just no time, and it’s the last place I’d want to go to spend my post-show afterglow. Trying to explain what I’d seen and experienced to random acquaintances who had no common ground would just kill it. And I think my life was made better for that decision. Fresh air. Different views. A kick in the pants. I can go places that aren’t The Default. Y’know? I needed that.

There’s more to life than work, cafe, and home. So much more. JFC why have I wasted so much of my life in that triangle of locations? It’s a vortex of suck. This year’s south-by just reminded me that The Bigger World can be had right here. Austin’s a big town if you’re on foot and walk slowly enough to pay attention to the spaces in between the traffic lights.

I saw some of the most random, serendipitous stuff all the way through to the most insane. Saw Todd Lewis of The Toadies do a solo acoustic set across the street from my office. Saw Marie Davidson and her husband Pierre Guerineau perform as Essaie Pas. Discovered new bands like Boy Harsher, Automelodi, I Am Snow Angel, Emme, Museless, Sloppy Jane, Champagne Superchillin’, and so on. I have more than enough to try out and explore for months.

I spent most of the evenings on my own. Saturday night, I hung out with my buddy Doug and we had a blast. But most other nights, it was lonesome to experience these shows and have nobody to compare notes with. But whatever. My life is usually solo anyway. Turns out my calls out for companions on social media and chat were just wasted energy, wasted time. Pissing in the ocean hoping to raise the tide. Most of my friends either didn’t respond, or responded to the negative that they’d have nothing to do with the festival. Instead, I should’ve just spent that energy asking specific people directly. That’s what real adults do, y’know? Half drunk, fully lonesome, I wrote a thing between shows Friday night:

Instead of calling out into the void
I should have been calling out to you
The emptiness is echoed
The other is true

I’ve wasted so much time and effort. So much. I needed this week. With all the other shit going wrong or failing stupidly in my life and job and my social circles, I needed this. Maybe next year I’ll go back to hating on SXSW like all my fellow townies, but for now, I’m fatigued yet rested.

All the Ladies

So, in the renewed spirit of gender equality with the recent progresses made by the #metoo movement, I’m trying to figure out the most appropriate thing to say when addressing a group of women.

See, last week I was getting a haircut; the staff on shift was all women. My stylist laid a hot towel on my neck and instantly I caught myself before I blurted out, “Oh, I forgot you guys did that.” Instead, I edited myself to be more true, but what actually came out was “Oh, I forgot you folks did that.” She guffawed at my use of the word “folks” because who the hell actually uses that word non-ironically?

So my question: is it okay to use “gals” instead of “guys”? My problem is that “Guys” is masculine and not gender-neutral. “Gals” is condescending. “Y’all” or “Folks” or “You” is too provincial. Is it okay to use “ladies” or “gals” or “women” when addressing a group of women? Is that a safe thing to do? Or should I just buck up and say what I feel is right anyway and take my lumps?

I know the romance/latin languages use the masculine pronouns and conjugations even in gender-neutral or mixed-gender contexts. Is that still appropriate here in English? I just don’t feel right walking up to a counter and greeting the women there with “Hey guys, what’s up?” You know? What gives?