Teachers giving explanations that i’ve already figured out the punchlines to, and office work i know how to complete before i start doing it. Everything feels as if it is in slow motion. Still waking up at eight in the morning and doing something, until five in the afternoon because how can i sleep late or watch television when i know how many things i can get done in an uninterrupted day?
Archives for September 2003
A few nights ago i had a peculiar dream, of Ross and i in Texas, me improbably crashing on Alison’s floor, though she seemed somewhat perplexed that she was suddenly responsible to house anyone who has linked to her for over a year, and Ross and i missing our plane back to Philadelphia, and me losing him in the endless depths of an airport bar.
Lately i feel fertile; full of potential. Two songs have come now, in the last week, appearing at odd hours like a radio stations that suddenly tune themselves in as you are driving across state lines, one at work just after lunch, the other at 4am on Saturday night. They sound as though they came from different channels — in fact, the one sounds like it came from two or three different channels all by itself. You’ll hear soon enough; Season Four of CK’s one-of-a-kind feature Trio debuts next week.
I have five days of corporate life ahead of me before this internship, my last, is over. I have become so used to its daily routine, so much more daily and routine than any other that came before, that it seems impossible that i won’t have to keep tying my tie by eight a.m. so that i can make it onto my bus, or swing my chair around with a nudge of my knee when i arrive at my desk in the morning.
Yesterday i welcomed Kate and Lindsay back to the contiguous United States with glee, saying that it had seemed like they had been gone on their paradise vacation forever, and as i said it i knew that it was true. The sensation was just like being young … how everything seemed at once brand new and as if it could last forever. Wonderful bubbling laughter, awful nauseous sickness, and ever just simple sleep.
I think i am broken, my growth impossibly stunted, because i seem to have never outgrown that feeling, and so i remained convinced that i would live forever in that dream airport, in this state of fertility, or at this desk for the rest of my life and i think that maybe some little piece of me will be left behind at each of those places, imagined, perceived, or actual, until i arrive at where i’m really meant to be.
But, i think, if there were more hours in the day, then there would be no sense of urgency. As much as my ambitions outstrip my intent, and as much as i lament that i typically have too much energy to be contained within a simple 24-hour cycle, i know that if we just added two, or maybe four or five hours to the rotation then suddenly they’d each become that much more meaningless, like how i always make a trip to Borders on a day that i’ve earned overtime pay — not because i’m trying any less hard to save money than i was the day before, but because it’s harder to remember its value when it comes in a larger amount.
The 24 hours that we’ve got make me conscious of what i’m doing. Contemplating a re-read of all of this year’s lamentably edited Rolling Stone, i instead rerouted my attention to cracking open Atlas Shrugged for the first time; rather than sit down for a second daily helping of The Sims i tidied up my room and rehearsed for the impending fourth season of Trio. How else can i do all that i keep resolving to do, other than cutting out the things that i don’t?
I am convinced that those who claim “There just aren’t enough hours in the day” really need to be given a few less hours to work with for a week or two. After that they’d be fine.
”Why finish a song when you can start a new one?”
It might sound silly to you, but to me and a lot of other songwriters it’s a question that comes up every day. It happens to be posed from my favorite living songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/arranger/producer, Jon Brion.
(Here’s where i was going to link to the excellent NYT article about him, but now you have to pay to read it. Which is sad, ’cause this was such a nice link-centric weblog post, but, oh well.
Maybe i’ll shell out the $2.95 and mirror it here. Some excerpts are currently living here. Luckily, Izabelle is a freaking genius and reminded me that all of Drexel has a free subscription to the NYT, so here is a virtual clipping.)
Brion, a genius along the lines of Brian Wilson or Phil Spector, not only plays on and produces recent work from songwriters Macy Gray, Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, and (my personal favorite) Fiona Apple, but also wrote and arranged the score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s latter two films, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love. Oh, and he has his own (previously impossible to order) album, Meaningless, which apparently represents less than a tenth of his entire song catalog — because, if we only hear the recordings of his songs, we’ll never hear them “finished.”
Genius. Freakin’ genius. If i were to put together an all-star cast to record an album with, Brion would definitely be my number one, no exceptions, no substitutions, no replacements choice to be the producer. And, actually, maybe also the guitarist, pianist, drummer, string arranger, and backup singer as well.
That was the final post of my first day of blogging. Over three years ago i said that i would elaborate on it, but in the absence of any elaboration the post became a kind of private in-joke, a punchline with no setup.
Honestly, i forgot what i had meant to say. For three years the post has stared at me expectantly from the top of that first archive page, as if to say, “Haven’t you figured out yet?” Today i finally did.
This morning i watched a co-worker addressing an envelope, and i caught myself thinking his handwriting was unbearably sloppy. Not because it was illegible, or irregular, but because he did not use any straight lines. The side of his N bowed inwards; the cross of his J was like a wry grin.
In that moment i was reminded of the post, and i suddenly understood — both the post and how i can spend four hours of recording the vocals of just one song, never quite satisfied. It’s not that anything about his writing and my singing is incomprehensible, or incorrect. No. It’s the unintentional lack of precision. I dislike my singing because i scoop vowels and slur consonants without consciously meaning to — i just sing the way that i would speak. It’s not wrong, but it’s not on purpose either. It’s exactly the reason i cringed at my coworker’s version of “NJ” on the envelope – he didn’t have any straighter lines to offer it.
I used to covet good handwriting — perfect, font-like handwriting. I strove for perfection, writing my letters correctly, perfectly vertical, perfectly rounded. After a few years the perfection came with relative ease, so i allowed myself to slowly slip away from it. I began creating my own font, stylizing my fs and as, not because i was sloppy, or lazy, but because i was personalizing. Making it my own. Whereas, i cannot yet force my voice to be perfectly rounded or piercingly straight, so i cannot afford to blur its edges.
From there, it’s easy to complete the analogy that has been plaguing me for so long. My hair is something i used to be so apathetic to that i just let it grow, hanging down my neck in a nondescript tail or surrounding my face in a bushy halo. I was specifically against styling it an any way — it seemed to be besides the point. However, in college i started paying more attention. Now, though i tend to wait a few weeks too long to get a new haircut, i always look in the mirror before i walk out the door. My page’s layout is the perfectly analogous to this — it’s something i used to treat as transparent, but that i now detail carefully, if not often. It has a function: it is part of my appearance — the impression that i give off.
In short, at the time i hadn’t yet exercised control over my hair and my handwriting, and had just got the inkling that i would have the same issues with my layout and my voice. And, three years later, i feel as though i have mastered the former and am just now beginning to consciously control the latter.
Wow, i just freed up a few brain circuits that have been locked up for the majority of my collegiate career. I ought to do a crossword.