Tour Diary: Chelsea Martin

Chelsea Martin


Nov 5: New York
There was some confusion at KGB bar about the microphone set up, how it worked, etc. “We aren’t sound people,” I told the bartender. I think we were all expecting something a little more formal? From the KGB bar? We figured out the microphone though. There was a button that turned it on.

Spencer Madsen, Mira Gonzalez, and Sarah Jean Alexander came over to our hotel and we gossiped a lot, which I feel is what happens when you get people together who know each other through the internet.

On the train we talked about our bathroom habits, and I have to admit… I wasn’t completely honest.

I felt a little obsessed with a text EE got from Michelle Orange after the reading, saying that I was an asshole. Not surprised at being called an asshole, but literally barely spoke to Michelle. I said goodbye to her when she left and thanked her for reading. Seems like I could be developing next-level asshole status if people get that vibe from me while I’m on my best behavior. I brought it up a couple times when we were hanging out with Spencer, Sarah Jean, Mira, Amy, and Dylan in our hotel. The general consensus was that Michelle was crazy, which didn’t satisfy me.

We drank whiskey and ordered pizza.

Felt surprised by how much I liked Mira. Her internet person doesn’t totally work for me, but she is probably trying to appeal to a different set of ideologies or something.

Nov 6: New York
Elizabeth invited Tao to our hotel to hang out. He accepted but then invited us to his apartment to hang out with some other people that were over. I was feeling stubborn for some reason, kept thinking (maybe immaturely) “I came all the way from California.” Tao said he and the friends he had over were set on staying at his apartment. Felt myself engaging in a Battle of Wills (which Tao was probably oblivious to) but I ultimately gave in, got in a mood that happens when I lose a Battle of Wills. When we got to Tao’s, his friend that was over had some pointless errand to run and Tao wanted to go with her (apparently their plan to ‘stay in’ was unimportant when it came to pointless errands), so we decided we would all go instead of sitting at Tao’s apartment without him.

Tao asked me to roll a joint and me and him smoked it before we all left. We walked around NY seemingly aimlessly for over an hour, mostly ignored by Tao, until we finally reached the destination, which was a cheesy souvenir shop that was closed, then the friend left and we walked back to Tao’s. I felt amazed at how terrible Tao’s manners were. Elizabeth Ellen (EE) had reminded me earlier that I neglected to feed her and Scott breakfast when she had stayed with me in Oakland, so I tried to keep that in mind (that it is sometimes hard to remember to have good manners).

I rolled another joint at Tao’s request. He offered me beer and a frozen burrito and I accepted in a rude manner. I was still moody (I may have a mood disorder).

Told some stupid story about how I had thought I was Jewish for a long time and had recently found out I wasn’t Jewish after all. Tao interrupted to ask me to tell the story in a different way, with an emphasis on whose fault it was that I thought I was Jewish. I thought he was asking me how I had come to the conclusion that I was Jewish, and started telling my story that way. Tao interrupted again to ask whose fault it was, emphasizing the word ‘fault’.

I kinda feel (in retrospect) like I’m super-critical of Tao’s behavior because we share some of the same social qualities (i.e. oblivious of other people’s needs, tendency to give up in the middle of difficult interactions, maybe other qualities). Feels sort of like sibling rivalry.

The new Eminem album is great, btw.

Nov 7: New York
I arrived at Mellow Pages like two hours early. Was confused about show time. Jacob seemed to be in a terrible mood but assured me he would start having fun later. No one else was there except maybe one other person who I never introduced myself to. Matt Nelson showed up and I felt so awkward I went to buy a hot tea and took a Klonopin, even though I was planning on not taking Klonopin that night. Other people started showing up. There was a cat there. It scratched me. I kept telling people it had scratched me but they all loved the cat and thought it was so cute. Jacob asked me if I had looked like Taylor Hanson when I was a kid, and I said that I did. Then some girl said that everyone looks like they’re Taylor Hanson when they’re a kid, and I ignored her.

After the reading we went to some nearby bar with heated outdoorish area. James Yeh told me some secrets I vowed never to tell. I tried to convince Spencer that he and Sarah Jean should come to Northampton with me. At one point I started acting mean to Mike Bushnell to be funny, I think he ‘got’ it. He said mean things back to me. It was great. Fuck Mike Bushnell.

Felt crushy feelings towards Stephen Tully Dierks, asked him about the schedule/logistics of Pop Serial with no intention of listening/retaining the information, just so I could have his attention.

Went to another bar that James Yeh recommended because of the ‘rice balls.’ Matt Nelson requested ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ by Robyn, and insisted everyone (James, EE, Tully, a person named Jordan and a person I don’t know the name of, also Mike Bushnell may have been there still) dance with him, saying that we should pretend we were at the wedding reception of a very important friend. Was very impressed/inspired by the spirit of Matt Nelson.

Nov 8: Northhampton
Left EE in the hotel and went to the bus station.

Missed my bus stop in Northhampton and Mike Young had to drive to get me in Amherst. A lot of people later asked me how it was to drive with Mike. I assumed it was the ‘Northampton hospitality’ I’d heard so much about. Several days later found out he had a lot of anxiety about driving/ hadn’t driven that far before or something like that. Let it be known: Mike is a great driver.

We were very late for the dinner reservations Mike had made for everyone. Jamie Iredell offered to share his dinner with me, and I wanted it but felt afraid to take someone’s food, even though Jamie is like one of the nicest people ever and totally wanted me to share his food. Laura Van Den Berg offered me half of her veggie Panini and I took it almost immediately.

A college friend of mine came from Vermont to see the reading and got very sick afterwards. I didn’t get to spend much time with the Northampton people. I have a lot of questions still, about the Northampton lifestyle.

Nov 9: Philadelphia
Woke at 6:30am after 3.5 hrs sleep to catch train to Philly. Mike and I rode train w Jamie, but Jamie stayed on train to go to… Baltimore I think. Met EE at train station, went to hotel to drop stuff, went to Mutter Museum. Could have spent all day in there, but Mike and EE had already been before/were done quickly, and also I was very hungry. Somehow waited all day until 5pm or whenever to finally eat.

Took 2 Klonopin by mistake, was zombielike for the whole reading, couldn’t communicate properly with anyone who attended. Not sure if my low energy brought the rest of the group down, but the group seemed kinda down. Or maybe I was just down and could only see others as also being down. I was really happy to go back to hotel.

Watched two episodes of Sex and the City with Mike and EE, and then played lit version of “who would you rather” for probably 2 hours.

Nov 10: DC
Took a train to DC with EE and Mike. Mike texted Mark Cugini and arranged for us all to hang out.

Mark Cugini, his girlfriend Laura, and their friend Amanda came over to our hotel. Mark and Mike caught up, though they said several times they chat online regularly/seemed to know everything about each other’s lives.

They seemed really excited to see each other. Felt surprised that Mark could be a writer with the kind of personality he has. Seems like most writers miss out on some crucial part of personality development, but Mark did not miss out on that development, whatever it is that I mean by that. He is a gem, like the topaz maybe, which was the name of the hotel we were in. No, that’s a stupid comparison. That’s so stupid. Maybe a ruby.

The reading was fun the whole time. Felt really interested by every reader and felt excited the whole time.

Pretty drunk, went back to hotel with Mike and EE. Mike took off a sock and I said something negative about his toenails, and Mike made such a sad face like I’ve never seen him make before. I was so amazed by the face, and back-stepping seemed impossible (an honestly I didn’t even try to back-step), but I felt horrible that I made him feel the way his face implied he felt.

Just changed all the dates in this diary because I realized I don’t know what month I’m in.

Nov 11: DC
Mike left early, I got up very late. EE and I went to the zoo, went back to our hotel, I organized some FedEx packages and scheduled them for pickup. EE expressed discontent about how much we had been gossiping with people, promised herself not to do it anymore. She seemed to have some vague discomfort with Mark Cugini. We went to visit Roy Kesey, though still don’t know who he is. Got drunk on one glass of wine because I hadn’t eaten since the zoo. We had late dinner with Mark Cugini. Me and him had Reubens, EE had a grilled cheese. We took Mark back to our hotel and talked more.

Nov 12: Norfolk
We had to leave the hotel kind of early to get the rental car, but we got to the hotel in Norfolk with plenty of time to take a nap.

Arrived at house party reading in Norfolk. There were multiple promises of dinner leading up to our arrival. There was no dinner when we got there, only beer. A couple of the guests seemed to be very clearly on heavy drugs, or perhaps “that’s just Norfolk” (pronounced NAH-FUCK, I was told, perhaps as a joke). Andrew Squitiro had posted on the FB event page that he had strong arguments for my work being poetry (as opposed to fiction). I asked him about it, and his argument was simply that my work “has no narrative and it sounds pretty.”

Got pretty drunk and forgot that I was hungry. EE took this as a sign that I wanted to hook up with Andrew. Kinda feel like she is trying to encourage bad behavior.

We drove through McDonalds on our way back to hotel. I texted my boyfriend about it (McDonalds) because I knew he would respond with some variation of “bad girl” and I just wanted to be right about something.

Elizabeth has been smiling differently the last couple of days. Think she’s falling for me.

Nov 13: Chicago
Elizabeth left me to drive to see Scott McClanahan in West Virginia. I flew to Chicago. Felt kind of frustrated that we had planned this gap in the tour. I think Elizabeth and I were worried that we would get sick of each other, or assumed that we would at some point, so this separation would be good for us. But all day I wished that I was driving to see Scott with her, and that she was coming to Chicago with me.

Looked at tour footage in airport and on planes. Staying with my friend Rami in Chicago.

Nov 14: Chicago
Ate at Red Apple Polish Buffet with Rami and Amanda. I have literally been thinking about Red Apple for months. Then Rami and I went to Quimby’s and I bought two graphic novels. Then we saw a movie about juvenile incarceration, then went to really fun bar where the bartender gave us lots of free drinks in exchange (it seemed) for Rami’s kisses. I spent $6, went home totally hammered.

Nov 15: Chicago
I miss Elizabeth today. She texted me that she was jealous of whoever I am hanging out with, but I am hanging out alone in Rami’s bed while he is at work. Have been laying here for hours, trying to decide what to wear when I go get a sandwich from Subway. Told my boyfriend I got a tattoo of his social security number on my neck (thinking I was being silly) and we got in a fight about it. He said I broke his heart. Apparently I’m a really great liar.

I downlaoded/watched a lot of the tour footage in Rami’s bed. Feeling really down on myself from watching tour footage. Lots of moments captured of me being mean to people/being overly brash/insensitive. Also, I don’t know, having all these weird feelings like “what am I doing with my life” and “what is the point of happiness” in reference to the footage… I don’t really understand what the thoughts mean or why the footage is inciting them. Something about loving the people in the footage, and how pointless and inconsequential that love is. It’s possible that I’m just extremely hungover. Also I might be reacting to not being in a social whirlwind for the first time in ten days.

Texted Elizabeth that I was feeling bad and she told me it was just part of the tour experience and something like ‘suck it up.’ I put jeans on over my pajamas and went out to get Subway, brought it back to Rami’s, ate while watching more tour footage.

Went to reading / went out for drinks / went to a stripping party / blah blah blah.

Nov 16: Columbus
Seven-hour Megabus ride to Columbus. Not hungover today but feel very depressed again. Trying to listen to the new Polyphonic Spree album to try to feel better but keep unconsciously switching to an old Polyphonic Spree album that makes me sad.

Nearing the end of tour, so thinking about going home and what that will be like. Feels really sad to meet/hang out with people who I really like and then have to go home to a place that I’m not sure I want to live in and where I have almost no friends. Also the end of tour marks the end of it being okay that I don’t have a job.


Feel determined to like Jordan Castro.

Arrived in Columbus, went to EE’s grade school friend Becky’s house to hang for a little while. Becky independently picked the restaurant Lorian invited us to for dinner with Scott and Two Dollar Radio people, but we skirted around the issue of meeting up with them. Didn’t want Becky to feel that we were ditching her or something.

Ended up going to some dive pizza place with everyone. Didn’t really talk to Jordan until after the reading. Felt instant unexpected kinship/comfort with him. Didn’t have to try at all to like him, as I had sort of been planning to do. Feel a sibling thing but not in the rivalry way, but kind of like we would support each other unconditionally. That sounds so stupid.

We invited him to read in Ann Arbor the next day.

Nov 17: Michigan
Woke up at 10AM but it felt like 6. I feel more and more exhausted every day, physically, socially, and emotionally… Drove to Ann Arbor with EE. Stopped at McDonalds. Got fries that literally tasted like poopoo. Elizabeth smelled a fry and confirmed that it smelled like actual poop. I think someone put poop in the fryer. I really do. Feel sick thinking about the one fry I ate. I’m actually really happy it happened though because I don’t usually eat at McDonalds and this was our second time at McDonalds and it was beginning to feel a little too comfortable but now I am back to feeling sick at the thought of poopoo fries.

Jordan and his friend came over to EE’s and EE and I were still getting ready so they hung out with Aaron and Jamie.

Met Zac Zellers after the reading. Was kind of expecting a geeky loser, but Zac is cool. He gave me tips about movie making. Wish I spent more time with him.

Went back to EE’s and played Scattergories with her, Aaron, Jamie, Jordan and JR. Jordan and JR decided to leave when everyone went to bed, instead of staying the night as planned.

Nov 18: Michigan
Gave EE a weak hug. We said goodbye.