Forgetting the Promo Parts

Beowulf — an epic poem that was taught as the first major work in what would become the English language — is an exercise in bragging and machismo. It’s, in essence, a series of wrestling promos. It’s hype before a battle, and it’s hype after a battle — in fact, Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation leans heavily into this “Bro-and-hype-as-storytelling-device” aspect in a way that almost lends a bit of nobility to Macho Man Randy Savage’s past promos.

February 2021: Forgetting the Promo Parts

  • “A Peace Of Light” — The Roots (w/ Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, & Haley Dekle)
  • “Flutes of Chi” — Ween
  • “Robber” — The Weather Station
  • “Greatness” — WooDaRealest (w/Killer Mike)
  • “Think Twice” — J Dilla (w/Jay Dee)
  • “In Cold Blood” — alt-J
  • “Pleura” – King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
  • “Dead and Gone” — DRAMA
  • “Call It In the Air” — Jimmy Eat World
  • “Re:Definition” — Black Star
  • “I Ran Away” — Dinosaur Jr.
  • “Isabella” — Hamilton Leithauser (w/ Lucy Dacus)
  • “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” — Laura Jane Grace
  • “A Clean Break (Let’s Work) (live)” — Talking Heads
  • “Let’s Work” — Prince
  • “Contact” — Daft Punk
  • “Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World” — John K. Samson

In fact, the poem itself is light on the actual battle; Beowulf tackles Grendel in maybe a few dozen lines, and then talks about Grendel for a few hundred. Grendel’s ma gets a few more pages, but the recount lasts what feels like ages. Yet, if you were to explain the story, you wouldn’t say “A bunch of dudes talked about their fathers and honor.”

You’d say “Beowulf kicked ass,” despite the small amount of focus that ass kicking garnered.

In professional wrestling — a form of entertainment designed to sell tickets to a big fight, and thusly focused on extreme hype on the road to the event itself — the bulk of the story is told elsewhere. Entire segments are dedicated to pushing the story a small bit.

And then the event happens. The match is what we remember — more specifically, the moments in that match that call back to the hype — until years later it’s all rolled into a single video package. Hundreds of minutes boiled down to a five minute retrospective. Everything else feels like it’s blown past, victims of the high points. Everything else is disposable.

This is all a way of saying that, here at the Vilhauer house, we lost February. We unloaded an entire house’s worth of stuff into a new home. We dove into the unpacking. A few weeks of sub-zero temperatures forced our hand: there’s nothing to do but dedicate ourselves to arranging and rearranging, to making things look right. To fill in the gaps. And, because of that, February came and went.

The high points are still there: our house is a home, and we live in it, and it feels like we’ve always been here. Bucking our own assumptions, we didn’t let it drag on forever. We just unpacked and got back to life.

The consequence of our marathon is that I don’t remember much of the month itself. For four straight weekends we straightened things out, but we skipped the part where we settled in. We just kept working and, then, at some point, we realized we were already settled. The highlights of completing each project have dwarfed the day-to-day. Those places where we talked about making things work overshadowed by the few hours we spent actually doing it; our meals and walks and nights overshadowed by those high points.

Which is to say the month got away from us, but we’re better off for it. I made you a mixtape, and here it is in the last hours of the last day of the month. Now that we’ve wrapped up the recap, next month we can focus on being more present. Less epic poem, more novel. Less wrestling promo, more in-the-moment.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 28th, 2021