Oh, the Places You’ll Go

This is the poem that was read at A Rrose in a Prose yesterday. It’s a letter from me, now, to my teenaged self, letting him know some good things in store.

A lot of times I get depressed, wondering how things turned out this way–why am I not doing something better with my life? Why am I not able to focus, to remember things, to feel awake, to stir myself into the kind of action that brings success, whatever that means, instead of, I dunno, ramblings like this?

And yet… and yet I find myself constantly in situations where I look around myself, and I think, “If only the teenaged version of myself could see me at ______, hanging out with ________, oh my god! He’d flip his shit!” I’ve lived out my childhood fantasies many times over. So maybe, in a way, I’m a success.

By the way, the below could easily have a twin poem, a Picture of Dorian Gray about the terrible things to befall our poor young sap in the years to come! But that’s a poem for another time. We’re already writing letters from the future to the past, and the least we can do is give the fellow a ray of hope to last him during the remainder of his cold, lonely years of virginhood.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go

You’ll get to visit Harvard and put notes in the mailboxes of John Rawls and Robert Nozak.

You’ll get to leave Tulsa and move to Los Angeles.

You’ll get to lose your virginity.

You’ll get to, mostly, no longer suffer from allergies anymore—part of which is geography, and part of which is that you’ll be less whiny.

You’ll get to live in the city with the cement river, where the giant ants from Them went to live at the end of the movie,

where Mel Torme and Manie Van Doren and, yes, Greased Lightnin’ had hotrod races.

You’ll get to meet Lux Interior of the Cramps and talk his ear off about the Sonics.

Later, you’ll get to interview the Sonics.

You’ll get to meet Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerard Casale

and visit Mutato Inc, with its thousand synths

and keyboards

and peg-board synths

and a giant

foot-operated keyboard like in the movie Big.

You’ll get to see ? and the Mysterians play.

You’ll get to see the Ventures.

You’ll get to see the Standells.

You’ll get to have a threesome,

and then another,

and after a somewhat frustrating decade,

you’ll get to figure out how to make that happen on a consistent basis.

You’ll get to sing “Sugar Sugar,” Germs style, while your girlfriend pours a bag of sugar all over your head and the venue

(and it was a roller rink!).

You’ll get to meet the drummer of the Germs,

and you’ll do a lot of drugs together while listening to cool records.

You’ll get to emulate the life of Lou Reed:

if not in music, then in speed use, and


You’ll get to go to college.

You’ll get to live in a house like the Pit from PCU.

You’ll get to suffer in ways that will forever set you

apart from the


and give you some authority with which to write fiction and punk songs.

You’ll get to fuck people in bands you like.

You’ll get to talk to one of Link Wray’s Ray Men.

You’ll find out one of the guys in one of the bands from Pebbles is your friend’s dad.

You’ll get to write fiction, and receive actual rejection letters.

You’ll get to try long-term monogamy,

and living with someone,

and feel what it’s like to be absolutely accepted,

at least for a few halcyon moments.

You’ll get to obsess about words like “Halcyon.”

You’ll get to meet the Flaming Lips.

You’ll get to see time prove that the indie rock band everyone

loved in


could barely get one song on Buffy and then was forgotten.

You’ll get to be a little nicer.

You’ll get to stay a feminist,

and learn how to be a better one.

You’ll get closer to figuring out your sexual orientation,

and will have fun trying,

but sorrow too.

You’ll get to see the dark side of life.

You’ll meet Sean Bonniwell of the Music Machine in a run-down vaudeville theater.

You’ll meet Davie Allan outside of a bathroom,

and one of the Small Faces at Rhino Records.

You’ll get to talk to Gil Scott-Heron

and take him to task for calling women’s liberationists

“hairy armed;”

you’ll be pleased to hear how much he liked Patti Smith.

You’ll get to hang out with Kathleen Hanna,

and she’ll make you tea and

give you a


You’ll get to see Black Flag reform

and be on the stage with them!

You’ll get in free to hundreds of shows, and on stage for many of them.

You’ll get to see the Pixies, and Kraftwerk, and Salman Rushdie.

You’ll get to date a rich girl from Bel Air, and a Russian girl, and a drag queen.

You’ll get to meet Weird Al,


You’ll get to see TV’s Frank and Joel Hodgson do a

puppet show.

You’ll get to tape dozens of episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000

and watch them over the summer

with dozens of hungry fans

back in Tulsa, a town bereft of Comedy Central.

Lives will be changed,

including yours, who will get to attend the premiere of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie;

you’ll be wearing a jumpsuit,

and you’ll get to meet

Trace Beaulieu and Jim Mallon.

You’ll get to meet Tomata Du Plenty,

and see a painting he did of Herge.

You’ll get to hear Vampira read fiction!

You’ll get a 1966 Farfisa, and learn to play it.

You’ll have Sky Saxon tell you that you are now in the Seeds,

even if you never have a single practice or show.

You’ll get to be part of a scene that accepts you.

You’ll get to see your friends make beautiful art and music and writing,

and get to be less jealous of that than you fear.

You’ll get to be part of other scenes.

You’ll get to help make your own scene.

You’ll become less awkward.

You’ll become an authority.

You’ll get to learn the secret to better writing: do it all the time.

You’ll give to live with, and love, a fantastic musician.

You’ll learn to play lead parts with your right hand while you play bass lines with your left.

You’ll get to tour with a glam punk bubblegum band of your own invention.

You’ll spend years covered in glitter and nail polish.

You’ll get to thinking that, maybe, at time, you’re not ugly.

You’ll get to meet people who have been in L7!

You’ll get to meet Janeane Garofalo

and Martha Plimpton

and Mark Arm.

You’ll get to have a fantastic record collection.

You’ll get to be a DJ on college radio,

and pirate radio,

and people will pay you just to give them ideas for what to listen to.

You’ll get to thinking,


it’ll be okay.



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