The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive

You can't go wrong with Grampaswhiskers at Shirershire.
At Hamptonsouth: Whips-a-Sicky and Tom Burger Run.
Titty Lorraine at the Wolfenschlaven is this week's best bet.

My car radio has been stuck on one station for two years, ever since I destroyed the electrical system in the dashboard. I destroyed the electrical system in the dashboard when the driver’s side visor came loose and kept dropping in front of my eyes while I was driving. I would prop it back up, but inevitably it would drop again, and I would prop it back up, and it would drop, and I would prop, and it would drop, and this was the way of the world.

One morning, I got in the car already frustrated about something else -- the mess the dog had made that morning, or the trajectory of my entire life up until that point -- and the visor dropped in front of my eyes, and instead of propping, I pulled. Violently yanked, to be honest. What I didn’t realize was that there were wires running through the visor, and I was violently yanking out a link of the chain that kept the clock, lights, and stereo functioning properly. Everything is connected, of course.

The radio station is 101.9 KINK FM, Portland’s choice for people who love Dave Matthews Band and all of today’s stomp-and-holler hits. (Though sometimes they play Paul Simon, so it’s okay.) Over the summer, KINK had a contest to win John Prine tickets, and I really wanted to win. I sat in the car calling the busy signal over and over again, but eventually they went to some dude with a hillbilly accent who has waited his whole life for this moment. Good on him. When I first moved to Oregon a little over two years ago, to my parents’ place sixty miles south of the city, I was surprised by the amount of country music culture. The place is littered with gun shops and lifted trucks. Country is country, even in the Pacific Northwest.

Of course Portland is like a separate state. Most of the Fred and Carrie sketches are true. I’ve lived in the city for four months, and I can’t decide how I feel. I like it fine. I don’t hate it, I just can’t muster any passion one way or the other. I feel safe everywhere I go. Portlanders are passionate about niche causes. They are terrible drivers, and earnest and kind. It’s easy to live here, what with the low cost of living and the abundant vegetarian menu items, but it’s also easy to get stuck. It’s easy to wake up to the same old gray skies and drift through like an ether addict, like someone drowning, content but doomed.

My most passionate moments are in the car. I started a new job recently, a fine job with a not-fine commute. For several years, I lived in a fantasy world of university schedules and teaching jobs less than five minutes from my front door. Suddenly, I’m nine-to-fiving with a commute, and commuting is as terrible as everyone has always said, and the rage-beast within me has awoken. Hell knows no fury like me in stop-and-go traffic with timid Oregon drivers who seem to think we’ll all harmoniously drift into highway-lane nirvana without use of turn indicators or accelerated speeds. I do my best yelling in the car, and my best punching of inanimate things (the passenger seat). Violence is not the right answer, but it is an answer, at times. Usually I’m as complacent as the next terrified human, but sometimes it feels good to yank out all the cords.

I’ve developed a Stockholm Syndrome-esque relationship to 101.9 KINK FM. It has me under its spell. The first time I heard the Frank Turner song “Recovery“, I thought, what is this crap? The second time, I thought, I know this song. The third time, I turned it up loud. It just takes some time, or some I-have-no-other-choice. I could get it fixed, but the car is old, and money is tight, and I don’t hate Dave Matthews Band as much as my indie rock background tells me I should. The latest problem with my falling-apart car is a leaky roof. I was driving to work when I felt something drip into my lap, and when I looked up another drop was forming, and the fabric on the ceiling above the door frame was damp. I can’t imagine having it fixed any time soon. I could say something about Portland seeping in, but the truth is that I am forever leaving keys in the car, and the door frame is loose from being pried open by locksmiths one too many times. Car is not metaphor. Things get old and fall apart.

Have a great day at the races!