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#22. Birds, Joe Alwyn, and You
In no particular order of importance!
As I write this week’s newsletter I am fighting off a cold. Although, in fairness, I’m not putting up that much of a fight. I’ve been trying to nap and drinking some tea with honey, which is more like passive resistance than active warfare. I’ve also been frequently Covid testing and have so far beaten the charges each time. So, up to this point, I’m the kind of feeling bad where you’re expected to keep doing everything, rather than the kind of feeling bad where you’re not allowed to do anything.
My plan is to keep napping until conditions improve, and I may introduce Gatorade into my lax recovery regimen as well. If the situation deteriorates, I will attempt the dreaded “going to bed early,” a strategy that I can only seem to successfully employ when I have just enough energy to make it from the couch to the bedroom (any less, and I stay on the couch) but not so much energy that I am tempted to leave my apartment. Wish me luck!
Also this week: I wrote a silly little piece ranking celebrities by their Boston-ness, and only a few people yelled at me! With the NBA playoffs around the corner, I talked with my friend Sally on their podcast about what’s to love about basketball.
Finally this week, I was back on The Gargle with host Alice Fraser and first-time guest Gabe Mollica!
Plus it has seemed so far away for a while, but I’m back on the road NEXT WEEK at Dead Crow Comedy in Wilmington, NC 4/21-4/22!!! Come out and see a show if you’re in the area! Or if you know people in the area, tell them about the shows! We’ll have a good time!
PEP TALK FOR THE BIRDS OUTSIDE MY APARTMENT WINDOW
Hello, birds of Brooklyn. There are so many of you, and you are so bad at singing. I have never lived around this many birds before, and I’d always assumed in a group you would sound like the chirpy little sweeties who helped Cinderella get dressed. Instead, your collective tune is more like when an entire office sings “Happy Birthday” to a coworker. Some of you are belting out your songs with all the air in your lungs. Others are barely murmuring a melody. None of you are doing quite the same thing as one another. It adds up to sonic chaos.
To me, birds, your myriad warbles are annoying, but also beautiful. You wake each day with songs in your hearts, and you treat the world as your private karaoke room. You are confident, and you greet each day with undeniable enthusiasm, no matter how vehemently I would often like to deny it. And, with each off-key trill and tuneless twittering, you dispel the stereotype that all birds sing beautifully.
I understand that singing is not just art for you. You’re probably attempting to entice worms to crawl out of the earth so you can eat them (I don’t know; I’m not a bird expert) or trying to mate. And if that second thing is the case, good luck. I do not know any humans who would find your songs to be romantic. No one I know (as far as they’ve publicly disclosed or privately confided in me) has a single birdsong on their sex playlist. And yet, you remain undeterred. In fact, I’ve never heard a single story about birds nearing extinction because they’re not horny enough. So you’re doing something right!
You’ve got a great work ethic, birds. And you are clearly successful on your terms. Much like Pavement and Travis Scott, your music is not for me, and that’s okay. You’ve found your audience, and that’s enough. But also…sometimes…that’s enough, huh? I’m trying to get work done here.
PEP TALK FOR JOE ALWYN
I’ve had tough breakups before, but never one that I was absolutely certain would inspire a #1 album in the next 12-24 months. (Newsletterer’s note: For readers who have not yet heard the news, Joe Alwyn was but is no longer Taylor Swift’s boyfriend of six years.) Life probably feels pretty turbulent right now, but in the grand scheme of things, you will be fine. You’ve extremely handsome, and you have a great career. According to Wikipedia, you’ve starred in films such as Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which I assumed was about soccer, but is actually about war (which I believe is called “fightie” in the United Kingdom). Your breakup was allegedly very amicable, which is good to hear, because if the press reported it was your fault, an army of Swifties would have already amassed outside your door ready whisk you off to whatever their version of Guantanamo Bay is. I assume torture is not only allowed but encouraged there, and they only let Tom Hiddleston out for seven days a year to shoot a Marvel movie so no one gets wise to their scheme.
Usually what your ex does after you break up isn’t about you, although in this case there will probably be a fair amount of extremely high profile music made that is literally about you (there’s a chance an even more famous actor will play you in a music video), but it’s still not about you, you know? You’ve got to worry about your life and not Taylor Swift’s 2024 album called The Phoenix about finding yourself again after a long, stifling period of subsuming your own identity for someone else’s benefit. Especially don’t worry about the song “Quiet Mornings” which internet sleuths will 100% diagnose as being about you even though the lyric “we did crosswords together/but you never gave me a clue” doesn’t give any identifying traits about who “you” could be. There’s no way around it. This is going to happen, and you’re going to have to be a good sport about it. Sorry, big guy! (Or small guy! I have no idea how tall you are!)
All you can do now, Joe, is focus on your own happiness and well-being and not try to “win” the breakup. Breakups are not about winning and losing, and also Taylor Swift always wins. So don’t fight it. You will go down in flames, and teen girls will devour your roasted flesh like brisket.
PEP TALK FOR A READER
Apologies to last week’s pep talk requester who I identified (based on their Twitter handle) as Mom Distance, who I actually should have called Long Dadstance! Unrelated, I’ve done a little tweaking of this week’s request for the sake of clarity!
Just got dumped yesterday on the 3 month mark of dating someone; regular bummed about the breakup, but extra bummed because I’m in my 30s and this is the 5th time (out of only 5 relationships) I’ve been dumped after almost exactly 3 months! Am I cursed? Am I doomed to never experience long-term romantic love? Ahhhhh.
- Quarter-Year Crisis
Hi, QYC. I’m sorry about the Garden Variety Heartbreak you’re feeling as well as the Big Existential Relationship Fears. Those are some thorny feelings! I know that you know from experience that the first set of emotions will fade with time. The Big Fear is tougher because that can resurface any time (even when you’re in a thriving long-term relationship…spOooOooOoky).
Here’s a piece of cheerful news: The person you’re afraid that you are doesn’t really exist. There’s no such thing as a person who is only good to date for three months! Maybe your dating history is pure coincidence; maybe there are skills you’re still developing. We all have things we can be better at in relationships (even when we’re in thriving long-term relationships…spoOOoOOoOooky), but the kind of cursed-ness you’re worried about is both terrifying and unprecedented. Have you ever met anyone like this? No, right? Think about the worst person you know who’s in a long-term relationship. They’re probably so much worse than you, right? Right. HIM???? you think to yourself every time your coworker who refuses to tip on principle celebrates another anniversary. HER you practically shout when you see on Facebook that your old college roommate who said things “It’s not drunk driving if you’ve got coke too! They balance out!” has gotten engaged. They don’t deserve love more than you. But they have it. Which, counterintuitively, is good to remember!
That doesn’t mean everything’s okay right now. Or even that it will be good soon. Just that your worst fear, that this pattern is a pattern for an immutable reason or some phantom quality of yours that you can’t identify that makes you unacceptable to romantic partners the way some people genetically reject cilantro, won’t come to pass. My guess is that you’re generally good news and will find someone who appreciates your good news qualities and will stick around through whatever slightly annoying habits you have. (I snore and am extremely bad at planning trips in advance—I’m working on it—and my wife has not yet thrown me out of our apartment.) But, and I mean this sincerely, even if you were terrible, someone would still probably love you.
PICK-ME-UP SONG: Kayleigh Goldsworthy - “You’re Good”
With so much breakup content in this week’s newsletter, it seems only right to include a sarcastically upbeat breakup song! I saw Kayleigh Goldsworthy open for Laura Stevenson (and play/sing backup in Laura’s band) this weekend and enjoyed the post-relationship snark of the lyric, “I’m so happy that you’re good…to her.” Musically, “You’re Good” is the kind of tune that might scratch the itch of mid-career (so far) Taylor Swift, if you for some reason were uncomfortable listening to Taylor’s music (hint, hint…Joe Alwyn).
Excellent bummer song of the week is “Warm Blanket” by Worriers, who have a great new album (also called Warm Blanket) out now. I saw them play live this weekend too, and they really ripped through their set. It was so good! Yes, I understand that staying out late at shows all weekend is probably not helping my cold. What do you want me to do about it?
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
I’m gearing up for the second leg of my 1900s Kid Tour, and the first few dates are listed here! The rest of them are of course on my website! Unfortunately, I’ve had to postpone my Tulsa show that was scheduled for June since it’s a new venue and they won’t be quite ready to open up yet. More info soon on a make-up date!
4/20 - Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Live Taping in Chicago (I am a panelist this time, not the host)
4/21-4/22 - Dead Crow Comedy in Wilmington, NC (Four Shows)
5/10 - Spokane Comedy Club
5/11-5/12 - Upper-Left Comedy Festival in Seattle
5/19-5/20 - Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia (Three Shows)