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Air date: June 9, 2013
[1:30] Okay everybody, here we go again, this is it, this is Otherppl, this is altering your brain chemistry, this is entering your brain through your ears. Thank you for being here, thanks for listening. I’m Brad Listi. I’m your host and I am sitting here in Los Angeles, California. I hope you’re well. Things are good here. Today, I figured I would start out by reading some tweets. Some of my personal tweets from my @bradlisti account.
[2:00] I hope that sounds like a reasonable possibility. So, here we go. Here are some tweets. [contemplative piano music begins] “I wonder if Pema Chodron’s friends ever refer to her by the nickname, ‘chode’.”
[2:24] “Involuntarily whispered, quote, ‘there’s no way’ at a barely audible volume, realized it, then realized I had no idea what it was in reference to.” [contemplative piano music stops] Actually, you know what? I am looking here, at my Twitter feed, and I just found a kind of narrative Twitter thread from a few days ago, where I was tweeting during a recent trip to Denver, Colorado.
[2:58] I was in Denver last weekend, visiting some friends for about thirty-six hours. And I tweeted several times during the trip, so why don’t I read some of those? In particular from the portion of my trip where I was flying back from Denver to Los Angeles and had delays. [contemplative piano music begins again] So, I figure this way you can follow along as if, you know, you were there with me at my side, on the road, traveling. Through space. And time.
[3:33] Okay. So. Here we go, here are some tweets of mine from a short trip to Denver.
“At airport. Flight delayed. Girl sitting next to me is reading The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Should I ask her for help?”
[4:07] “Just bought a bottle of water and lost it within five minutes of purchase. Asked girl if she had seen my water, girl seemed frightened/perplexed.”
[4:27] “There is a bearded, bare-footed guy seated on the floor nearby in full lotus, with guitar. Seems wasted. I feel quote ‘emotionally attracted’ to him.” “Might start walking around the terminal in aimless fashion asking random people if they’ve seen my water.”
[5:02] “Have now boarded plane, stuffed into window seat beside large man. Feel claustrophobic, dehydrated, factory-farmed, bereft.” “My dream is to be the only passenger on a commercial flight.”
[5:31] “Landed in LA. Uneventful flight. Slept with mouth open, spot-lit by overhead reading light, breathing recycled air. Try to visualize this.” “Should I try to start a sing-a-long on this shuttle bus?”
[6:00] Okay, so there you have it folks, those are some tweets of mine. From the @bradlisti account. [contemplative piano music stops] I hope you enjoyed that. I hope you found it edifying in some way. So, the next order of business involves the TNB Book Club, The Nervous Breakdown Book Club. For those of you who are not yet aware, thenervousbreakdown.com is my online culture magazine and literary community and we have our own monthly book club for only $9.99 a month. That’s less than the cost of a movie ticket.
[6:35] You get a brand new title delivered to your door every thirty days and the books are hand picked by Jonathan Evison and myself and, better yet, all Book Club authors appear on this program. So, you can read the book and then hear the author in conversation with me. Or vice-versa. This month we’re featuring the new novel from Matt Bell.
[6:57] It is called, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. How’s that for a title? In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. It’s available now, or imminently, from the good people at Soho Press. And because Matt has already appeared on this program for a full hour-long conversation, I talked to him briefly, just the other day, just to get a sense of his brain as his novel launches into the universe. So, here he is for just a few minutes, ladies and gentlemen, this is Matt Bell and his new novel, once again, is called, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.
[7:44] Matt Bell: I’m at home in Marquette. The last time I talked to you I was in Ann Arbor, I lived there, so we’ve moved since then. I’m in my office. It’s an office on the second floor where, you know, I do, like, ninety-percent of my work and writing. So yeah, at home in the office.
BL: Okay, so you’re at home. Because, yeah, last time we talked you were moving up to Northern Michigan.
MB: Right, yeah, I think it was right before I moved, yeah.
BL: Okay and that’s good, it’s going well?
MB: Yeah, it’s great, it’s wonderful here, beautiful. You know, first year down at the university everything went great, I had great students, yeah, I can’t complain at all.
[8:16] BL: And now you’ve got this novel coming out.
MB: Yeah, a week from Tuesday, I guess. Yeah, so, very soon.
BL: Okay, so I want to ask you something about this, because it’s a fabulist novel, correct? And there’s a lot happening here that makes me think that you took copious amounts of drugs when conceiving it.
BL: But you don’t seem like the kind of guy who’s into taking copious amounts of drugs.
[8:46] MB: No, no. I do not take copious amounts of drugs. It’s always funny, because I feel like that’s one of the like pathways to this kind of work. Like if you make weird work, people assume like you’re a weird guy. Or you do weird things. And, you know, editing The Collagist, where I published a lot of really weird work, one of the things I learned was that some people who publish weird work are like weird people who do a lot of drugs or have weird experiences. And the other half are, like, really normal people who just sit in their office each day and just go insane places in their mind.
[9:18] MB: And I think I’m the latter type. I am not particularly weird, I have a really normal like, almost anal, routine to my life and weird stuff comes out of it.
BL: Okay so yeah, where does it come from? It comes from the anal routine? Or like do you have some sort of, like, side of yourself that doesn’t necessarily get presented to the public that’s really freaky and weird?
MB: I think that’s part of it, you know, I saw this great presentation that Brian Evenson gave a couple of years ago at AWP, he gave a talk as part of a panel on non-realist literature.
[9:51] MB: And he talked about something that really like resonated with me. It sounded right. He was talking about growing up, or in his case growing up Mormon, and growing up in a culture that, like, literally believed that supernatural things were not really supernatural, right? That angels came down and interacted with people. And that sort of thing was the literal truth of the world, that’s not a metaphor, that’s how the world is.
[10:16] MB: And you know what, I grew up Catholic in a similar sort of family, we talked about the “burning bush” or something, like, “that’s not a metaphor that’s a thing that happened in history,” right? So in some ways, like these weird worlds I write about are also like the kinds of places I grew up, in a certain kind of mindset, right, there’s a way to think about it that way.
[10:37] MB: And it’s also just sort of what I like, I’ve always been into myths and fairytales and fantastical things and sci-fi and that sort of thing. So I don’t know, it’s a weird thing. On one hand it’s just, like, sort of what interests me but it also does, I think, have to do with the mental mindset that I was sort of raised among. That people interacting with the supernatural is not actually, there’s a way in which there’s a shifted kind of realism. So I like people who are like setting characters in similar locations.
[11:10] BL: Well and I think you know…Yeah, I mean, it’s like, yeah, when you’re raised with religion, you’re raised with, well you’re in contact with mythology from a young age, I was raised Catholic too. And the other thing is that you’re, you know, you’re in the Midwest and I was raised in the Midwest and I know that as a child there, it does kind of force your hand from an imaginative perspective because there’s not, it’s not like you’re in the middle of Manhattan or something where there’s a ton going on.
MB: [Laughs] Yeah.
[11:35] BL: You know, you sort of have to, like, head out into the woods and make up your fun, you know?
MB: Yeah and that’s literally how I grew up. Like my brother and I, my brother’s two years younger than me, him and I were out in the woods every day, you know, enacting these stories and pretending our treehouse was a dragon head and all this stuff, you know? But it’s very normal for me, you know, I remember camping a lot as a kid and going to like Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan and there’s, you know, a legend that sort of surrounds that, that I was just fascinated with.
[12:07] MB: And, you know, at the same time kind of freaked out by, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine a world in which we sort of, like myths, you know, there was this Native American myth about how this area sort of came to be, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine that that could be true, right? I always wanted that to be true and, like, science to be true. I wanted to have them both, you know? I remember at a young age asking my parents all these weird questions about, like, the Garden of Eden and stuff, I was trying to, like, figure out how it could like possibly be real, you know?
[12:33] MB: I always wanted that, I think, so the books are always a nice place to get to.
BL: Sure, and like this, with the novel coming out, just a few days before publication, like how are you handling the emotional content of that experience? Are you nervous? Do you feel pretty zen about it?
MB: Yeah, I mean, both at different times. In general, I often feel like none of it’s real and it’s not really happening, so that helps a lot with being nervous [laughs].
[13:01] BL: Just complete denial, complete denial of reality –
MB: Absolutely, whenever anything happens I’m like, “Wow, that’s amazing and abstract,” so it doesn’t seem like it would ever happen. So it’s great and, really, Soho Press have been phenomenal, they’re just above and beyond my wildest dreams of working with a publisher, really at every level, and I just owe them a lot for it so it’s really great, I feel like I’m in really good hands. I mean, there’s anxiety about things but for the most part, like, I’m proud of the book, you know, the writing of the book’s been done mostly for a year, you know?
[13:33] MB: I’m proud of the book. I feel like I did my best on it, I’m excited for it to be out and I’m glad, you know, the people who have read it so far seem to be enjoying it, I really can’t ask for more than that, that’s fantastic.
BL: Right and then you’re heading out on tour soon, right?
MB: Yeah, yeah so I’m leaving, two days from now I’m leaving, driving to Detroit, then fly to New York and go from there so, and then I’m off-and-on on tour for about six weeks.
[13:59] BL: Wow, how many cities are you doing as of right now, do you know?
MB: About fifteen, I think.
BL: Oh shit, that’s a lot.
MB: [Laughs] So, I’ll be in New York for three events and then I’m, five cities in Michigan and then on the West Coast for, like, five cities and then I’m on the East Coast for, like, five cities. Yeah, kind of an intense amount of places which is really exciting, I’ve never done sort of this extensive of touring and I’m, you know, really looking forward to it, of course.
[14:29] BL: Awesome, well listen man, it’s a pleasure to feature you in the Book Club and I’m really happy for you, congratulations on the success and best of luck on the road.
MB: Thanks so much, Brad, really, fantastic to get to be a part of it, appreciate it.
BL: All right, that’s Matt Bell, go get his novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. You can find him online at mdbell.com. That’s ‘M’ as in Matt, ‘D’ as in, David? Daniel? I don’t know what his middle name is. Mdbell.com, you can also follow him on the Twitter, @mdbell79.
[15:06] BL: And hey, be sure to sign up for the TNB Book Club if you haven’t done that yet, it’s easy, just visit thenervousbreakdown.com and click on Book Club in the menu bar. Okay, so now it’s on to our main event, my guest today is Tao Lin. This is part two of a two-part conversation. Part one, obviously, is already live. Tao’s new novel, Taipei, is available now from Vintage Contemporaries. It is causing a stir in the world of publishing. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
[15:45] Do I need to do an intro in part two? I feel like I already did the big intro in part one. Here he is folks, this right here, without any further ado, is the second half of my conversation with Tao Lin.
* * *
[16:01] Tao Lin: It just seems like they really mean it, and I can’t convince them that it’s not bad just because they don’t like it. I get really upset. [laughs]
BL: What does that look like, when you get really upset?
BL: You don’t seem like a yeller [laughs].
TL: I don’t, yeah, I don’t yell. I just say, like, I just try to explain to them. And my face probably looks depressed.
[16:40] TL: There was something else I wanted to say about that but I forgot it. It was…I get upset when just, anytime anyone, like, makes it seem like it’s wrong or stupid, or something, to like something. I feel depressed, yeah.
[17:11] BL: Yeah, I mean, I felt like this especially in college with relationship to music. And I know, I mean, it happens in literature as well but music just seemed like it was, people consumed more of it, and it’s obviously quicker, you know, and I felt like there was some sort of social strata attached to which music you liked and how many shows you’d seen and which concerts you had been to and, like, there was something to be gained socially from having consumed the right things or having the right taste and it always made me feel strange and a little depressed [laughs].
[17:48] TL: Yeah.
BL: And just exhausted –
TL: I think it’s very, yeah, go ahead –
BL: I was just saying, it makes me feel exhausted, you know, where people are like using art as a way to build a social construct, essentially, and evaluate other people and, you know, create an impression about themselves or something, you know, it’s some sort of rule book that doesn’t need to be there. It’s like, “wait a minute,” you know?
[18:13] TL: Yeah it’s, like, people who, it’s the same with sports and politics except in art, there’s no, like, numbers, like in sports you can say, “the Chicago Bulls are best,” because they scored more points on average per game for the season than whatever other, every other team. And that would be a true statement based on that. But for art, you can’t.
[18:42] TL: Are you still there?
TL: I thought I heard the, it go out. But for art, there are no numbers like that. And people also are, like, expressing themselves to try to make themselves feel better, or to try to communicate with other people, just to feel less lonely, or something. But in, like, basketball, someone’s not like shooting a basket to try to reduce their loneliness.
[19:18] BL: [Laughs]
TL: So it’s much more hurtful, or way more depressing, when people talk about music and writing in the way they talk about sports. It’s, like, it’s very rare to find someone who doesn’t do that, I think. Like, if I say, “I like the Dave Matthews Band” even [laughs] like, people will just, like, make a face or something.
[19:51] BL: [Laughs]
TL: I hate that.
BL: I used to be into –
TL: It’s really depressing.
BL: I used to be into the Dave Matthews Band when I was in college, I had, like, a year and a half of intense fandom, it was right at that time they were coming out. But I look back on it now, or I’ll hear a song and I’ll just be, like, “What was I smoking?” But I liked it.
TL: ‘Cause I like them a lot, I like them still.
BL: Yeah, I mean, you know, it made me happy, and like…but then I start getting into it with myself, I’m like, “What’s happened now?” Like, now I’m too cool? Or like, now I’m so smart? And so, you know? It’s such a silly process.
[20:25] TL: Yeah. I mean, you did it just now, I feel like.
BL: Yeah, well that’s what I’m saying, yeah, I mean like, that’s it, I’m not immune to it, like I will…or I’ll just have a moment, you know, because it’s more of, it’s less of an evaluation of them than it is of me at the time, do you know what I’m saying? Like was I conscious? Why was I at that concert you know, like, dancing like that? [Laughs]
BL: Why was I wearing a tie-dyed shirt? I can just evaluate the shit out of myself and then, it’s done in the context of them.
[21:02] BL: And I think that’s sort of what I was alluding to earlier, where I feel like people use this art, but it’s really a way for them to say something about themselves or other people, as opposed to, like, the art itself, you know?
TL: Yeah I agree, yeah. When someone shittalks something else, they’re communicating something about themselves.
TL: Not about the work, but they’re, like, making someone else feel bad.
[21:36] BL: So, do you feel, having said that, how do you feel about negative book reviews? Like, if your book gets panned, do you feel like somebody who pans your book, or somebody else’s book, is behaving in that way? Or do you feel like there’s a place for, like, genuine criticism of a work as a way of creating a dialogue about it, or whatever?
[22:03] TL: If they define a context and a goal for it, then it would make sense, but I think it’s impossible, though, to. And then it would be only the context and a goal for themselves. Like, they would have to say, like, “Based on what I want in life and what I know about, what, my context, this is what I think.” And that wouldn’t happen, I don’t think.
[22:30] BL: Have you ever written any literary criticism? Like a book review?
TL: I don’t know. Book review. Yeah. I’ve written things. But probably no…I’ve written about books but not anything saying whether it’s good or bad. Maybe I have before, like, 2007.
[22:59] BL: Well, just talking like this, it would be super interesting to me to like read a book review in, like, The New York Times Book Review, by you. With all this in mind, do you know what I’m saying?
BL: That to me –
TL: Well, I just wouldn’t do it.
BL: Well but I mean it would be interesting for you to do it, or to try to do it in a way that would subvert, maybe, the traditional format, because I don’t understand people who can read book reviews.
[23:27] BL: I mean, I can, every once in a while I can read one, especially if it’s about a book I’ve read just to, like, get somebody else’s thoughts about it, or to see if there’s like a counterpoint, or if somebody agrees. I just find it pointless or unhelpful, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to read them. And especially because a lot of them seem to be like, “I like some things about this book, but there were some things I didn’t like about this book.” Or even if it’s, like, a really positive review like it’s almost inevitable that about a paragraph or two before the end, the person will say, “But there were some things that I didn’t like.”
[24:04] TL: Yeah.
BL: It’s almost like an insurance policy in case somebody disagrees with them, it’s like, “Well I caught that too,” I don’t know, it just drives me crazy, it doesn’t seem helpful, or something, you know, or necessary.
TL: Except it’s never, it’s never like that, it’s never, “I like this and I don’t like that,” it’s always, “This was bad and that was good.”
[24:29] BL: Yeah, it just feels always like, kind of like a milquetoast combination of the two. It’s like, it never feels like, or maybe I want it to be more decisive, almost, but it just always feels like someone’s hedging, or that like the praise is sort of laced with anger [laughs] you know? Like, “I liked it, but I sort of hated it.” Or I don’t know. I find myself unsatisfied. And I don’t need it necessarily, like, I feel like I would, I get more, I find my way to more books through friends like saying, “This is good,” or, “I enjoyed this,” or through reading a book that I like and then figuring out or reading about what that author read, you know, that’s often the way that it goes.
[25:15] TL: Yeah. Yeah.
BL: So, when you say –
BL: [Laughs] When you talk about, you talked about that depression and getting into writing, you know, as you got into college and you were going to a workshop and stuff, did the depression lift? I mean, obviously it lifted somewhat, right? I mean, did you feel like writing, and getting into that and finding it as a pursuit, helped you pick yourself up a little bit?
[25:44] TL: I don’t know. I really don’t know what depression means, I don’t think, at all.
BL: Well –
TL: I can tell you, like, when I was more productive. Or less productive. But it’s really hard to say, like, when I was depressed or not.
[26:07] BL: And what about, like what about medicating, you know? I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far into the interview and we haven’t talked about it, because it seems like everyone asks you about it, but like when it comes to drugs, and, particularly, drugs that are, you know, medical, pharmaceuticals, you know, like Adderall, Xanax, you know, and then into like MDMA and mushrooms and stuff like that, like, how much of your intake do you feel is, you know, medication?
[26:38] BL: Like are you medicating depression? Are you taking these things recreationally? Is Adderall, I know like a lot of Taipei was written on Adderall, correct? I mean, like, how much of it is just, like, “This helps me work,” or, “Makes me more productive”?
TL: I never viewed anything as medication. I viewed those things, like, mostly, in service of adding variety to my life, I think.
[27:21] BL: So, like, what kind of variety, what do you mean by variety?
TL: Just, well for mushrooms, for example, I feel like [pause]. Um.
[27:52] TL: Well, when I’m on mushrooms I feel in-sync. In ways that I –
BL: Insane or in-sync?
TL: I was saying, “in ways.” [laughs] In ways that I don’t ever feel when I’m not on mushrooms, so just variety.
BL: And I know that we were, we were emailing a while back about Terence McKenna.
TL: Oh yeah.
[28:20] BL: You’re a fan of his?
TL: Yeah. Yeah. I find his ideas very interesting.
BL: Yeah. He’s maybe the most amazing talker I’ve ever heard, like the guy’s unbelievable.
TL: Yeah. At first his voice turned me off, it was like a very nerdish voice, but I got used to it and I watched a video where you could see him and, yeah, I like him.
[28:53] BL: Yeah, he’s like sort of hypnotic. I got into, like, there was a period of like a month or two where all I did when I would go like walk the dog, or whatever, was listen to him, or I’d be at the grocery store. And that alone like put me into a different state, you know? [Laughs]
TL: What’s, like, an idea by him that interests you?
[29:20] BL: Well I mean, I think it’s just the basic, something he says repeatedly is that for people to not experiment with hallucinogens is like for people to not have sex and to not like experience that part of life. I did all of my experimentation with that stuff when I was in my early twenties and I just sort of, like, drifted away from it and haven’t done anything [laughs] at that level, or whatever, since.
[29:47] BL: There was a part of me, I think, that sort of was like, “Oh I’m done with that,” or, “I’ve moved beyond that,” sort of lame thinking, really, and you know, he just like, I guess gave me more confidence in the instincts of my youth and also made me at least stop and question, like, I don’t know…I think there’s a lot of validity and value in the psychedelic experience, and I think too often it gets brushed aside or lumped into some category that’s not positive or that, you know, it’s just some sort of hedonistic, idiotic thing.
[30:24] BL: And I think there’s a lot to be gained, you know, and he’s very eloquent in talking about it and, you know, I don’t know, I mean, there’s some things that probably he was wrong about but I think, broadly, he was a really good, deep thinker and a courageous person, you know?
[30:48] TL: Yeah. Yeah. I’m really interested in his idea about how we’re moving, we’re not moving, the human species isn’t moving towards anything, but we’re being pulled by a point in the future that, like once we reach that point, we’ll, like, advance to this, or change into something else.
[31:29] BL: Yeah, what does he –
TL: I’m not making sense, just [laughs] –
BL: No, but I remember because he talks about it and it’s, like, what does it he call it? Like, the monolith, or not the monolith, he has some word for it, like, in the future, and here goes my memory –
TL: It’s like, the concrescence, I think.
BL: Yeah, yeah, yeah and he has this, you know, this lingo, but he repeats that.
[31:54] BL: And it does sort of feel like that, like there’s a lot of times when I listen to him where I might not necessarily fully understand what he’s talking about, or I haven’t had a chance to fully think it through but there’s just a strong sense in me that there’s a lot of truth in what he’s saying, even though it might sound kind of, like, unusual or outlandish or something, you know? Or abstract.
TL: It makes sense to me, I just can’t explain it well.
[32:20] TL: It’s just, like, everything’s becoming more computerized. And there’ll reach a point when, and since information technology advances exponentially, it’s going to move like faster and faster how everything’s going to change into a computer.
[32:50] TL: And at some point we’ll be able to, like, upload the information of ourselves into the computer. And since all the computers will be connected, via like something like the internet, then we’ll just all be uploaded into like the same thing. And then at that point is, I think, like, the point he’s talking about where, like, there’ll be something you can’t imagine, now.
[33:32] BL: And that’s the concrescence.
TL: Something like that. Yeah, something like that.
BL: He’s worth listening to, if nothing else, I mean it’s strange to me that somebody like him wouldn’t have a bigger audience, or something. It feels depressing to me that, like, he’s, that voice is marginalized, I guess maybe that’s just where society is now but, like, I don’t know, he doesn’t strike me as being crazy. He strikes me as being, making an attempt to be sane, I don’t know.
[34:05] TL: Yeah. Yeah.
BL: So with respect to like drugs, and drug use, do you feel like, do you ever worry about addiction, or do you ever, like, do you check yourself, you know what I’m saying? Or is it something you feel like you have a good handle on from a control perspective?
[34:25] TL: Um I don’t think I understand the word addiction. Like, if I was addicted to something that would mean that this thing has control over me and if I viewed my life in terms of that, like, I don’t know how I would act each day.
[34:50] TL: If I earnestly believed that this pill had, like, mind control over me. I just don’t know what that would mean. But, yeah, I feel like I’m constantly, like, debating, “Should I use this now? Should I wait a day? What’s the point?” It’s a troubling, like I feel troubled that drugs exist, sometimes.
[35:25] TL: But I also feel, like, even before I had used any drugs in middle or high school, I felt probably as depressed as now. So.
BL: So it hasn’t made things worse?
TL: I can’t tell, at all.
[35:50] BL: I was gonna say, do you foresee a day in your future where you won’t use any drugs?
TL: Yeah, there’ll be one day, probably, I mean [laughs]. There will be days when I don’t use any drugs, probably. But I don’t foresee myself thinking, like, “That’s off-limits forever,” or something. To anything.
BL: So if you live to be, like, eighty, you might still be, like, eating mushrooms and seeing what happens?
[36:21] TL: Yeah. Yeah. Well, based off what I know now, I don’t want to predict –
BL: Yeah, well –
TL: ‘Cause I view…I had the same troubling relationship with, like, food, big time. Like, I don’t want to eat, like, a cookie or something. Or I’ll debate like, “sSould I eat a cookie? Should I not?” The pros and cons, stuff like that.
[36:53] BL: Yeah, but no, you, that’s another thing about you and like reading you online, especially early on, was that you wrote about food a lot. And, like, vegan food and food choice and I’m sort of in that same space where like I monitor what I eat because it has a big impact on how I feel and I’ve never, like, I mean I sort of understand people who perceive food from, like, a sensual, or, you know, purely from a pure pleasure perspective.
[37:23] BL: But like to me it’s always like about fuel, like, I’m always thinking like, “Is this going to be good for me? Will I feel good if I eat it? Is it going to give me energy?” Do you know what I’m saying?
TL: Yeah, that’s what I feel, too. To a big degree, yeah.
BL: So, but then, I love to eat a cookie. And then, I’ll eat one and then be like, “Why did I just eat that shit that just isn’t really helping me but tasted good, I just got tricked.” You know? [laughs]
TL: [laughs] Yeah. A cookie is, like, the least rewarding thing because you only enjoy it for like the ten seconds when you’re biting it, right?
[37:58] TL: Once you swallow it there’s no, you get immediately, the negative effects kick in and there’s no drug that is that, like, shitty. [laughs]
BL: Yeah. So what do you eat? Can I ask you that? Because there’s always like this debate online. I think maybe two of the principal debates about you online is, like, “Does Tao have Asbergers?” And, “Is Tao a vegan?” [Laughs]
[38:24] TL: Oh, yeah.
BL: Or, at least, there was a period of time. So, like, what do you eat? Like, you know, are you a vegan, do you have any strict dietary regimen? Or is it something that you have as an ideal but you don’t always adhere to?
TL: My ideal is to only eat raw fruits and vegetables. And I probably, I do that three times a week, three days a week.
[39:02] TL: But the other days I’ll eat something else, like, chicken fingers or something.
BL: So you do eat meat?
TL: But the ideal. Yeah. But the ideal, I read a book recently called 80/10/10 that made a lot of sense to me. It’s a diet of just raw fruits and vegetables with eighty-percent of the calories being carbs, ten-percent protein, ten-percent fat.
[39:32] TL: So it’s, like, almost all fruit and, then greens, like spinach, and then, like, one avocado every three days, or something like that. Something like that would be ideal. But I don’t know if that’s ideal because, like, I feel like eating the cookie provides some kind of variety or something, I don’t know.
[39:58] BL: [Laughs] I mean, and that’s the thing too, is that I can be, like, you know, “I really need to eat well so that I can be, so I can feel well and so that I can have energy and, you know, go about my business,” or whatever, but then there’s also a part of me that’s like, “Just enjoy the fucking cookie and quit worrying so much,” you know?
BL: I don’t want to be, like, wound up so tight that I can’t have a cookie, and so then I can easily convince myself that that’s the right thing to do.
[40:25] BL: What I find too is that, like, there’s so much being said, constantly, about food, it feels like it’s an industry now in publishing, it’s like, there’s always a book out that’s like on the bestseller list about what you should eat and, like, what the best diet is and these books are always contradicting one another and, you know?
BL: And I just feel like, it can be hard to sort of, zero in, and so lately I’ve been saying to myself, “Just eat mostly plant-based diet, like, eat water-based, plant-based foods and natural foods. And don’t eat too much.”
[41:02] BL: “And you’ll be okay.”
BL: And that’s the best you can do. I mean, I don’t know, you know?
BL: But I also, I mean, I don’t want to like preach or anything but I also feel like it’s legitimate, I have legitimate concerns about food that’s, like, factory-farmed and cruelty and, like, that stuff affects me.
[41:24] BL: Like I don’t like the idea of participating in that, you know? Like I feel bad about animal suffering. And I feel like in our culture, in America, you can sometimes be demeaned, or considered silly, for having that feeling and it’s, like, dude have you watched those videos? Like they’re insane. You know, these poor creatures are treated horribly, you know?
TL: Yeah, yeah.
BL: I don’t like it.
TL: Yeah. There’s like a, I feel like there’s a type of person…nevermind.
[42:02] BL: A type of person what? [Laughs]
TL: I just said nevermind.
BL: Oh, okay. Yeah, I mean it’s a terrible topic, you know? Everyone has their own personal feeling about it but, you know, yeah. So I want to ask you about Taipei, you know, like –
BL: Just in terms of how you, like, the writing of it. You know, I read, I want to say I read an interview with you and Giancarlo DiTrapano where you were talking about, you know, the process of writing the book and going to the library and taking Adderall.
[42:38] BL: And what I found sort of, I don’t know, relieving or nice to hear or, I don’t know, there’s something about hearing about other writers’ struggles that makes me feel less lonely or something, but just talking about how much self doubt you experienced while writing it. And how you were, like, working on the book in the earlier stages and you could, like, pick up a book by somebody else and read, like, a paragraph of their book and be suddenly, like, you know, crushed by the feeling that, like, “I should write it like this,” you know, or, “I should use this kind of voice.”
[43:12] BL: Like just talk about how the book was written, like how it came to be, where the idea for it, or…
TL: Okay. Well it started with, I had a short story and then I was foreseeing that, like, I was not going to have any way to make any money.
[43:47] TL: Unless I wrote and sold a book. But all I had was twenty pages, the short story at that point. So I emailed it to Bill Clegg, or, I emailed Bill Clegg asking if he would want to try to sell twenty pages and an outline to a publisher. And he said, “Yeah.” So that happened. So then I started working on the book.
[44:19] TL: And then I just kept working on it until it was finished [laughs] I guess.
BL: [Laughs] And that’s how a book is written, ladies and gentlemen.
TL: Yeah [laughs]
BL: But let’s rewind a little bit, because like the situation where you, you know, you email Bill Clegg who’s a big agent and who’s actually published a couple of books with some success himself, like, that’s not the easiest thing in the world for most writers to do. I guess you’d built up enough of a fan base or enough of a name for yourself that he was aware of your work.
[44:53] BL: And then the idea of being able to sell a work of fiction based on twenty pages and an outline, that’s unusual too, especially for, you got a fifty-thousand dollar advance, correct?
TL: Yeah. The thing was, Bill Clegg, I had emailed him, like, a year earlier telling him that I liked his book and I was like, “Can I send you my book?” and he was like, “Actually I already read it,” and then something positive about it. So, we already had some kind of, we had communicated already.
[45:27] TL: And then, so, a year later when I, and he was like, “What are you working on now?” and I said I didn’t have anything. So, that was all we talked about. Then, a year later, I emailed him with the other thing.
BL: And you didn’t have an agent at that point?
TL: No. I was with Melville House.
BL: Okay. So you did the books with Melville House without a literary agent?
TL: Yeah, without one, I just got five hundred to one thousand five hundred dollar advances for each of the books.
[46:06] BL: Wow.
TL: Why did you say, “wow”?
BL: I was just thinking, you know what I was thinking of? I was thinking of New York and just, like, surviving in New York and how small advances are and how difficult it is. Like –
TL: I had – go ahead.
BL: No I was just saying, that entire train of thought, like, raced through my mind in about one point five seconds [laughs].
TL: Oh. Yeah, I had jobs all through my other books, like, part-time jobs.
[46:40] BL: Doing what? Like, just waiting tables, and?
TL: In libraries and at a restaurant here.
BL: Okay, and so, with regard to Taipei, you know, you get this money ahead of time, which is a little bit unusual, or, I mean I guess you get small advances, but you get a sizeable chunk of money and you’re with a bigger house and Bill’s representing you. Did you feel a pressure? Like, a higher degree of pressure to perform that was in any way stifling or difficult? Or did it motivate you in a good way?
[47:17] TL: I think, I think I’ve always felt the same amount of pressure. Like, it just has to be, it just has to be, like, not perfect, but like, it has to be, I can look at it and say, “I’ve done as much as I can on this.”
TL: Using what I have. So, no, I didn’t feel more pressure.
[47:47] BL: How many days a week do you work? Like, when you’re working on Taipei are you working seven days a week? Are you really, like, super-disciplined about how you do it, or is it more sporadic?
TL: Yeah, everyday. Just my entire life, I would say. But I would have days where, like, I would think, “Don’t work on it today,” not because I want to rest but because it would be good to have one day without working on it. But basically, my entire life would just be structured around it.
[48:21] BL: And go to the library, peak on Adderall.
BL: Was most of the book written on Adderall?
TL: It just depends on how much, like, “on Adderall” is kind of hard to define, also, because depending on, like, does only when I’m peaking on it count? Or, like, if I used it eight hours ago there’s still probably some in my system.
[49:00] BL: No I’m thinking of, like, the peaking, it’s, Adderall’s similar to like an amphetamine, right? It’s just when you’re peaking on it you’re just, like, ultra-focused and energetic? Is that right?
TL: Yeah, yeah.
BL: So in, like, a good, let’s say, because I’ve never done it, this is another thing I’m curious about, like I feel like a lot of writers are taking Adderall these days and I feel, it might sound strange to say, but I feel sort of bad that I’ve never tried it.
BL: Or I feel, like, deficient or something. I want to, like, at least know what the experience is.
[49:31] BL: But, like, if you take Adderall and you’re peaking for a couple of hours, how many pages can you get on a good session? Like, did you ever shock yourself and write, like, a twenty-page section of the book? In like a short span of –
TL: No. That never happened. No, the thing is, probably a lot of it was written not on Adderall.
[49:52] TL: Because probably ninety-five percent of the time was spent editing a draft that I had, like, I had a draft of the thing, basically, the rest of the time was just working on that and working on passages throughout it.
BL: And –
TL: So –
BL: Go ahead.
TL: The Adderall thing, some of it’s just, like an excuse to use Adderall, since Adderall makes you happy.
[50:33] TL: And, I don’t know. But if you have more questions about Adderall, I’ll answer them.
BL: [Laughs] Well, here’s a question, just because of my own naivete, but it’s like, you take the Adderall, I feel like most people who take Adderall either on some sort of prescription or they take it recreationally, or whatever, tend to take it in tandem or in some sort of balance with Xanax. Like, so you take the Adderall which winds you up and then you take the Xanax which helps you get to sleep.
[51:06] TL: [Laughs]
BL: [laughs] Is this a ridiculous question, or?
TL: No, no. I think, like, well for me, like, two years ago, hearing of someone taking Adderall and Xanax at the same time would be, like, a joke, it would be ridiculous, because Adderall makes you more alert and stuff and Xanax calms you down, it would, like, not make any sense at all.
[51:36] TL: But over time, more people have come to, like, enjoy both things at the same time. [laughs] So, more people, it seems, that I know, like to take Adderall and Xanax. But it’s like a, seems like a, if this was part of a downward spiral, like, that would be the next step. From taking Adderall and then taking both Adderall and Xanax.
[52:05] BL: Well, and I mean, what about, like, the danger? Because isn’t there some sort of, like, pharmacological danger in taking an upper and a downer? I sound like my mom, but you know what I’m saying like, there are dangers in mixing pharmaceuticals, you have to be careful and, like, there is an element of risk involved in taking a lot of pills.
[52:30] BL: I mean, do you ever think about that or do you have concerns or, do you ever worry that like, say, younger readers who might be reading your Twitter feed, or something might, who might not have as a sophisticated a sense of, you know, what they’re doing, might start taking these things in a reckless manner, or anything like that? Do you ever think about that?
[52:54] TL: Yeah. And I think, I think that the long-term solution to situations where people are talking about using drugs or, like, killing people.
[53:23] TL: The long-term solution to that is to try to spread the way of looking at the world that is to not believe what you read, but what you experience yourself. And I think I try to do that.
[53:54] TL: Like, if every person in the world was able to read something or see something on the news and just be able to use their own brain to discern, like, you know what I’m talking about? [Laughs]
[54:24] BL: Yeah I mean, I think what you’re saying is, like, people have to judge for themselves based on experience and shouldn’t be swayed based on something they read or see that someone else is doing.
TL: Yeah and if me telling them, if I went on Twitter and was like, “Adderall’s bad, don’t do it,” I would be, I feel like I would be teaching people to base their actions on what other people say, so I would not say something like that.
[54:56] BL: Yeah, well yeah, that’s the thing about it too, it gets tricky.
TL: Well I think I have expressed this somewhere else articulately I just can’t do it right now.
TL: I encourage people to google my name and like, “the media,” or something.
BL: [Laughs] Well, I think, no, I think, I’ve had this conversation on this show, even, before and when you start talking about this stuff it gets, for me it gets blurry very quickly, you know? Because I can think, like, in ten different directions about it but…
[55:34] TL: To me it’s clear, though, it’s just, I just don’t, the long-term solution is just to teach people to think for themselves.
TL: It’s not to, like, block out information. That’s just a short-term solution.
[55:54] BL: Or to feel, I mean, you feel I guess like, maybe like, there’s a part of me and maybe this stems from the fact that I have a kid now, but I sort of like, I feel maybe more careful about what I say because I worry about what the ripple effect might be or how someone might perceive it or, I don’t know, but you’re right, ultimately people have to use their brains. And it’s not like I know –
TL: But it’s not like, yeah, if I had a kid I think I would, because a long-term solution would not just, it would take, like, centuries or something.
[56:34] TL: Or, is a century a hundred years?
BL: Yeah. [laughs]
TL: [laughs] Yeah and that would, my kid would not, like, if I was more concerned about my kid I wouldn’t be focused on a long-term solution. So it’s, it’s just, I don’t know the answer.
[56:53] BL: Do you want to have children? I mean, is that something you envision for yourself? Or do you have any strong feelings one way or the other about that?
TL: I haven’t thought about it, I mean I’ve thought about it. I feel open to it. It depends on when you ask me.
BL: Yeah. Are you in a relationship right now, are you like dating someone?
TL: No, no.
[57:20] BL: And then Taipei, I feel like you’re, you know, like, Richard Yates and Taipei both deal with relationships and I feel like you work autobiographically or at least, you obviously stray from the facts of your existence, you know, you fictionalize here and there but I feel like you have a strong interest in making your work autobiographical and some sort of direct record of your life. Is that accurate?
[57:53] TL: Um. No. I think the autobiographical element is largely just because I view my memory as material to work on and make into a novel. Because my memory’s probably, like, if you wrote it all out, it’s probably, like, a ten-million word first draft of something.
[58:27] TL: And it would just take my entire life to write, like, as connected and long and dense first drafts. So since I already have that I use that and edit it into a novel, I think. I’m not trying to record my life, I don’t think.
[58:59] BL: But your work is definitely, I mean, I don’t know, I feel like there’s, I have you categorized in my brain as a writer of fiction who works, quote unquote, “autobiographically,” as opposed to somebody who’s writing, like, I don’t know, I guess every writer’s working, or every artist, is working autobiographically in some vein, but it feels to me like, there’s less of a, there’s less separation between you and the work than there is in say, somebody who’s writing, like, fantasy fiction or, you know something –
[59:28] TL: Yeah.
BL: Something that’s more explicitly like, imaginative or other-worldly, or something.
TL: Yeah. And what do you think about what I just said, though? The memory thing.
BL: Well I think that’s it, I mean, I think you’re working, you’re using your memory as a primary creative resource in your fiction.
[59:56] TL: Yeah, ‘cause a fantasy book, like, it would take, nevermind, [laughs] go ahead.
BL: With regard to relationships as, like, a theme in your work and, you know, human relationships and the dissolution of relationships and how difficult relationships are, you know, to maintain between people and especially when it comes to intimacy and stuff like that.
[1:00:28] TL: Yeah.
BL: You know, do you, I don’t know, I mean, I know like the backstory, I think a lot of us know that you and Megan Boyle were together. I remember you guys got married on a whim in Las Vegas.
BL: Talk a little bit about that, that was serious? You really wanted to marry her? [Laughs] It wasn’t like, some sort of stunt or some sort of, like, joke between you?
[1:00:58] TL: Um, it’s hard to say what it was exactly. I mean [laughs] –
BL: How did it feel at the time? I mean, were you guys on drugs and partying in Las Vegas and like woke up and were like, “Oh my god, we’re married,” or was it more –
TL: No, no.
BL: A romantic gesture, where you felt really good and you were like, “Let’s get married,” and then you did it? You know, or?
TL: Yeah, that’s kind of it, yeah, that one. And just that, it just seemed funny. Fun. It’s more the second one you just described.
[1:01:30] BL: Yeah. And so, I don’t know, do you have, I mean, do you struggle with relationships with people? Like, do you find yourself able to maintain friendships or do you feel like the dissolution of that relationship inspired Taipei, or, you know, is that something you were trying to kind of wrestle with, in the writing of the book?
[1:02:02] TL: I feel like all my relationships have, like, kind of just ended naturally. With both people sort of just, like [pause] I mean. I mean, I still talk to Megan and we don’t hate each other, or anything like that, at all.
[1:02:29] BL: Yeah, I’ve noticed that you guys are, like, have a really, I mean, it seems like very civil, different from most breakups, or most of the time I think people just never talk to one another ever again. And that has always seemed, to me, because I have like exes from my youth, or whatever, that I just, I haven’t heard from them since it happened and it always has felt very strange to me and sort of wrong, like that you could date someone or even be married to someone and then somehow like never speak to them again. Like that seems awful to me, I hate that, you know?
[1:03:03] TL: Yeah. But they could also just be prioritizing. Because now they get more time to speak to their new boyfriend or whoever, right?
BL: Yeah, people move on with their lives, as they should. It just, I guess like, in my idealistic mind it’s like, “Oh my god we were, like, you know, we dated or we were married,” or whatever, and like that means we should always check in once a month and see how each other are doing, you know, it’s like that kind of idealistic thinking but life doesn’t always work out like that.
[1:03:38] TL: I don’t have any answers in this regard.
BL: So I guess I’m going to let you go, I’ve kept you for a while, but I want to ask you about your fans before we hang up –
BL: Because I feel like you inspire imitation. I think a lot of people sort of adopt, I think with good writers or writers with kind of a singular voice it’s a common thing where, like, you read them and you find yourself writing like them or talking like them or something, and there’s certainly, like, a lot of Tao Lin mimicry that happens online, in particular, but also among authors who have published books.
[1:04:16] BL: So have you done anything in particular to cultivate that, do you think? Or is that something that just sort of happened organically, or is it both?
TL: I don’t know. Probably, well in many interviews I directly tell people that in Eeeee Eee Eeee I copied many elements of Ann Beattie’s Chilly Scenes of Winter.
[1:04:46] TL: And then, in my story collection I modelled it after Lorrie Moore’s Like Life and was, like, highly influenced by her and copied many of her techniques and her tone. So by saying that, that might have cultivated or, like, made people say that it’s okay or something. But I haven’t, like, emailed people telling people to write like me, no [laughs].
[1:05:18] BL: But you certainly notice it, I mean, you must notice it when people are, there’s a certain aesthetic. It’s, like, the Helvetica, the lower case, the, you know, there’s certain things that I feel like you have been somewhere either at the forefront or near the forefront of, in terms of how people write, especially online, internet writing and stuff like that, feels like it takes a lot from an aesthetic that you cultivated.
[1:05:45] BL: Like, do you, like where did that come from? Like, were you, I don’t know, did you, how did you arrive at Helvetica? [Laughs]
TL: Helvetica. Let me think. I used to use Garamond and I liked that the most. At some point. I don’t remember how, I’m sure there was a thing, though, but for lowercase, I mean, everything, there was a certain kind of thing that I copied from Ellen Kennedy, I feel like.
[1:06:28] TL: Certain tone and lowercase thing, maybe. I don’t know. Are you asking where I got those things?
BL: I don’t know I just feel like there’s some sort of like, cumulative, you know, like the combination of all these things, you know, and the sort of deadpan and the neutral, there’s like a neutral tone, you know? And there’s the no question marks and…
[1:07:00] BL: I feel like there’s like a composite that, you know, that basically equals your aesthetic, do you know what I’m saying? Like I feel like…
BL: I can point them out, and I can’t do that with a lot of writers, you know, or with most writers, I can’t do that, where I go, “Oh wow, this is, like, a distinct aesthetic that is happening,” and, you know, it sounds like a lot of it just was like an intuitive process that it sort of snowballed as it went and now here it is, but, I don’t know, it’s fascinating to me that it happens, you know, and it doesn’t sound like it’s something you, like, preconceived or like said, “This is what I’m going to do,” as a way of making people interested [laughs].
[1:07:42] TL: Yeah [laughs] I don’t know.
BL: Do you hear from, do you have a sense of how enthusiastic or interested your readers are in you? Like do you hear from people a lot?
TL: Sometimes. Usually if someone emails me [pause] if it’s a long email.
[1:08:18] TL: I don’t know, I don’t hear from that much, I don’t think, because I don’t encourage it at all. Because I don’t, like, I don’t, just my entire way of thinking about good or bad in art doesn’t place me in like a position of knowing anything more than anyone else.
[1:08:43] So, like if someone comes to my blog and reads my blog and sees that, like, I talk about writers I like the most, I won’t aggrandise them or say they’re the best, I’ll just be like, “I like this book.” So they’ll feel less inclined to tell me, like, “You’re the best,” or something.
[1:09:16] BL: Right. But you must appreciate people’s enthusiasm, right? I mean like that they’re appreciating your work? I mean I don’t know, I feel like, let me phrase it a different way, I feel like I sense that Taipei could, if not like, you know, explode or whatever, but I feel like it could be a significant step forward in terms of how many people you reach and how many, you know, new readers you get.
[1:09:44] BL: I just have this sense of, like, there’s buzz building and this thing could go. And like, do you have a sense of that, or no?
TL: A sense of that. Hmm.
BL: Like a feeling that it might go well. Like, you know? Are you optimistic? Do you have a good feeling? Or are you too superstitious to allow yourself such a thing? Or do you feel like it’s fucked, it’s not gonna happen? [Laughs]
[1:10:07] TL: [Laughs] I don’t think it’s fucked, but. I don’t know, I mean, I think it will go well, because the, probably one of my main obstacles before was being taken seriously and Vintage is a press, I feel like, that is taken seriously. So I think it’ll probably get reviewed a lot in places that earlier didn’t review me.
[1:10:38] BL: And you’ve got, like, Bret Easton Ellis, you know, he tweeted about how you’re, like, the most, what is it, like, the “unique prose stylist of your generation”? That’s pretty heady stuff.
TL: Yeah, and he also said, “which doesn’t mean Taipei isn’t a boring book.”
TL: But my publisher asked if we could just use the first part and he said, “Yeah.”
[1:11:02] BL: So have you been in touch with him? Have you, like, emailed with him or anything?
TL: Um, I met him in 2010 at a reading.
BL: Like, you guys really hung out and exchanged words? Or was it more, like, he just signed your book and said thanks?
[1:11:21] TL: No, well the first thing he said was, well, I think I was giving him a galley of Richard Yates and he was, like, preemptively saying, like, I don’t blurb anymore and then he was like, “You got a lot of mileage out of Dakota Fanning,” and then he said something about having read my, all my prose books and that was it.
BL: Well that’s cool, I mean, you know?
[1:11:50] BL: Here’s the thing, well, I love following him on Twitter, like, there’s not much that gets, it doesn’t seem like there’s much that gets past him, he’s, I don’t know, he’s got his eye on everything it seems like, and he’s a funny tweeter [laughs].
TL: Yeah. I’m surprised how he never makes any typos or anything.
BL: Yeah, he’s got impeccable usage [laughs].
[1:12:16] BL: Well listen man, I’m so pleased to have had a chance to talk with you, I’m excited about it, and I thank you for your time. And for what it’s worth, I have a good sense about Taipei and I wish you all the best with it.
TL: Thank you for having me.
* * *
[1:12:32] BL: All right you guys, that’s it, that is Tao Lin. Be sure to go get his novel, Taipei, it’s out there now from Vintage. You can find Tao online at taolin.info, you can follow him on Twitter @tao_lin. And he’s also on the Facebook and, hey, while you’re at it, be sure to go get Matt Bell’s new novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, published by Soho Press. It’s the official June selection of the TNB Book Club.
[1:12:58] The Nervous Breakdown Book Club. And you can sign up for that over at thenervousbreakdown.com. Just click on Book Club in the menu bar. Thanks, as always, to Kill Rock Stars for all the great music, except for the music that played during the tweeting portion of the monologue, that is a track called Late October by Brian Eno and Harold Budd. Hey, please remember to go get the app, the free official Otherppl app. The official app of this program, it is available now, free of charge for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device.
[1:13:30] BL: It’s the best and most convenient way to listen to this program, to access premium content and the full archives, etcetera. So please go get the app if you haven’t done that already, it’s free. Otherwise, I think that’s it. What am I going to do right now?
[1:13:48] BL: I’m going to go for a bike ride. I think. I’m gonna go ride around the city. I like doing that. Some people don’t like doing that. I like to ride around the city on a bike. It’s a little treacherous. But it helps me clear my head to ride a bicycle in heavy traffic. I need to go to Target, I need to get some note cards, so maybe I will ride there. I need some colored note cards. I really do. And I also need some kale. Do they sell kale at Target?
[1:14:25] BL: Please remember that Wordsworth suffered from chronic headaches and that Paul Celan’s body wasn’t discovered in the Seine until eleven days after he stepped off the Pont Mirabeau in a tragic suicidal leap. Did you get that? Paul Celan jumped off the Pont Mirabeau, it’s a bridge, into the River Seine and then eleven days later, they found him. I’m sorry I told you that. That’s it for now. Thanks for listening, thanks to Tao Lin, thanks to Matt Bell, thanks to Vintage Press, Soho Press.
[1:15:00] All the presses of the world. I’ll be back again on Wednesday with another episode, another author, another conversation. It’s two shows a week. You know how it works, Sundays and Wednesdays. You know the drill. Right? Okay. I think that’s it. I feel like I’m talking too much.