Your Quarter Life Crisis!

Lots of drugs, not much sex, and a general fear and loathing mark these tales of twenty-something angst.

Reason two:

Our guitarist bought some trucker speed in Wyoming right after we'd left on tour, and it had sat unused for nearly two weeks. Last night's show in L.A. had been surreally, comically bad, and on the drive into San Diego, he popped one of the pills. We were at a rest stop, next to an RV trailer labeled "Sweet Home Masonic Lodge #304" where some rickety old man was offering people free weak coffee, and I talked Dave into giving me a pill as well.

I think I was shaking by the time we got to the liquor store near Ericka's house in San Diego, since there was nothing in my stomach to block the speed's path. My job hadn't sent my wife the check they had promised me, so I'd been eating one meal a day and hoping we wouldn't be evicted before I got back. It turned out, through an act of God, that tall-boys are only 99 cents in Ocean Beach. I bought three, and we all walked to the beach with our plastic bags in time to see the sun set. It was beautiful.

I know very little about how my body works -- it generally does what I ask it to do, despite my occasional abuse of it -- so I am completely unable to explain how the speed and the alcohol interacted. All I know is that, at some point, we made screwdrivers back at the house. The amazing thing about trucker speed is that no matter how drunk you actually are, or how many times you get frustrated because you can see where you're supposed to be going but your feet insist on stumbling somewhere else, you are so goddamn awake that you become convinced you simply cannot be drunk and, sure, you'll have another drink, and why don't we do shots? By the end of the night, you are simply the cameraman at your own hazing.

At some later, undefined time, we made it back to the beach. I was amazed that I wasn't cold, and the ocean was huge and intimidating and loud, and I was the happiest I had been for two weeks. Ericka and Morgan waded out until the water was around their waists, and (perhaps I was motivated by more than just pure concern for the safety of these two young women) it became urgently apparent to me that if we all didn't get naked immediately, someone was going to die.

My pants, of course, were already wet, and while struggling to wrench them off both legs simultaneously, I fell backward in the sand. For a split second, it occurred to me that I had no idea what I was doing. I was 25, married, in debt, didn't know where I was, and was soon to be unemployed. I had been on tour for two weeks; my hand was still healing from attempting to punch out my bass in Portland; I hadn't bathed for three days; I had a degree in philosophy; I was drunk; and I was taking off my pants. This happens all the time.

It took two weeks to get all the sand out of my ears and nose, and the ocean ate my shirt.

We walked home in our underwear.

Nate Stone grew up in a tract home in Fort Collins before trying a stint at CU-Boulder. After becoming annoyingly "politically conscious," he left college to work for a nonprofit that essentially paid him to yell through a bullhorn and get arrested. After that came a series of mediocre but loud bands, minimum-wage jobs and cigarettes. He recently graduated from Metro State and now works for a union as a researcher, writing hideously obtuse poetry in his off-hours.


A Day Like This

By Jason PierceMay 31, 2002. The afternoon.

The phone rings. It's my boss. He's less than fifteen feet away, but he prefers the phone or e-mail to actual human contact. If you knew him, you'd know that this was normal.

He doesn't say hello. He merely barks, "You've changed the cover page I sent you." His voice is terse, and I can sense his anger roiling underneath the crust of civility.

"Yeah," I reply, "I centered it and..."

"I expressly told you that's the proper way. I didn't tell you to change it."

"I just thought...you know...it looks bad," I stammer.

"Before you leave for the weekend, come see me."

"All right," I reply, but he's already hung up.

In my job, I write things. Well, I don't write novels or even reports -- or anything like that. Instead, I take complete thoughts and transform them into fragments, pieces of pre-digested "knowledge" that kids, like baby birds, will one day be forced to eat. This will revolutionize education and transform society into something akin to Star Trek, where everyone seems to know everything about everything. That's the intent, anyway. Mostly, this involves removing nouns and changing verbs into adverbs. Punctuation is strictly forbidden. This work is as exciting as it sounds.

Once, back in college, I majored in English because 1) I wasn't any good at math; and 2) I loved the way writers strung words into beautiful sentences. Now I mangle already homely sentences into dismembered pieces. I'm a butcher in a language slaughterhouse, and I do this for barely enough money to stave off my creditors and the barbarism that would ensue if I missed a few meals.

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