Maps – Playing with new toys – stomp distortion for guitar, and compression to keep it at a constant level. Oh, and singing like a girl, but i’ve always done that.
Packing always makes me feel like blogging, perhaps because my first week of blogging featured ongoing packing.
Packing for me is never just about putting things into boxes. It is about reviewing, reflecting, and reconsolidating. Boxing my CD collection goes fast (four boxes, now), desk stuff slightly slower. Slower still is looking through a box of “peter papers” to see if anything can be disposed of yet. Nothing can be, of course, but i take the opportunity to reread almost everything inside.
At the bottom, wedged beneath a battered purple binder containing a hand-scrawled short story that only Gina has read, is a summary of a day of media-deprivation i did for my first class with Ron Bishop. My sentences are sprawling and glib (a clear precursor to this diarrheal exercise), and reading through their words to their naiveté is pure nostalgia.
I was tempted to throw this paper out, as it was just a glorified diary, but something i say in the conclusion stopped me. Feeling as though all intrusive messaging had been flushed from me at the end of my media deprivation day, i apparently sat down to write a song.
Attached to the back of my paper, for Ron’s perusal, is what had to have been the first ever printed copy of “Under My Skin.” He might have even been the first person to read the lyrics.
Amazing. So, yeah, i’m keeping that paper, and all of Ron’s wry comments therein.
Somehow, this move feels as if it’s already over. Maybe that’s too much faith to have when my solution to every problem so far has just to throw money at things, but the idea of moving into an entire house where Elise and I rule every room and closet is just too tingly and wonderful to be diluted with any anxiety about the move itself.
I keep saying that we’re moving to a house, and i keep wishing that we were buying it instead of renting it. All in good time, though.
Picking up cigarette butts as the scent of pancakes and sausages wafted over me, I found the sun to be bright.
Wait. Saturday was a day. All days are days, but Saturday was quite one, mostly because of Garbage. They were here in Philadelphia, and I was to see them (a fourth time) with Ayelet (a third).
Outfit after outfit was donned and dashed as I prepared – how to best recapture that youthful androgynous energy I wrapped myself in when I was first introduced to these songs? My past blasted in from the living room, each new track a flashback: I have very visceral connection to those songs, and sometimes hearing one transports me to some other place. Ayelet is slipping earphones over my head as “Fix Me Now” begins on the bus to New York. The sun has not yet risen, and Mr. Benjamin is there, somewhere in the front; Ayelet is telling me that this is her favorite one so far.
Back in the present, I decided on jeans (so unglam!) and made the trip down to South Street, eventually finding both Ayelet and my way into the TLA, which Garbage completely overwhelmed me. Each song was spectacularly re -magined while still taking me to places in time and space I cannot otherwise access. What was also incredible was running into Jen&Mel – direct from one of those flashbacks.
J&M were conspicuously inseparable, those cool older kids when we were in high school – the kind that knew everything about music, and would come back from concerts with pictures and scrapbooks and set lists torn right from the stage. I feel like they coached us – me, Andrea, and Gina a little bit too – on how to live in the world of music and culture. They’re older now, as much as I am, one married and the other an opera singer! (She couldn’t scream, for fear of hurting her voice, so every time she felt moved to scream she tugged on Jen’s shoulder and said “Scream, Jen, scream!”).
I devoured their phone numbers after the show, crossing my heart to call, that it wasn’t just an act of acquisition. I do love to acquire; no toy is ever as good as the next toy. I’ve found that eventually this leaves you poor, and with too many toys you don’t really want or use. It made me think that I treat friends and their phone numbers too much like toys, always looking for new ones, and not too concerned if I lose one. It shouldn’t be that way.
After the concert (at the party; I haven’t mentioned that yet) I had a great time. I hugged and kissed our newly returned Jack profusely. I learned about contemporary architecture from ‘Cesca, and the history of the Marshall islands from Kate. I danced with Laura without feeling as though I’d go into cardiac arrest. The day eventually overcame me, and I nodded off on a couch, with someone laying a blanket on me as they passed by from dancing to the kitchen.
Picking up cigarette butts in Ross’s yard, I checked the brands on the stubbed ends and imagined which of my friends had probably smoked them. Some were butts were longer – a few ill-advised drags, quickly abandoned. Others were sucked down to the filter. Every one a story.
I love my friends. All of them – even the ones who I might not even recognize anymore.
I wish they would all stop smoking, though.
When I first got braces (an event I bless and rue) my mom’s best girlfriend told me that she had wanted braces as a kid. So bad. But, her teeth were too nice.
She wanted glasses too, but her vision was nearly perfect. She was healthy, and pretty, and she just had this need to have some sort of artifice between her and everyone else. Why wasn’t she allowed a disguise, she reasoned, when so many other people were afforded them?
She never said it in as many words, but that’s obviously what I would have thought if I was nine year old girl in 1964.
Having had my fair share of wearing braces, I didn’t think I wanted glasses; I had pair in high school, just for reading. I thought they looked like John Lennon’s, but in them I looked look a great owl.
It was bright in California when it wasn’t raining, and Justin and Sara shopped for sunglasses with me. I subsequently became so enamored with the tiny square frames of my pair that I didn’t like to take them off. The indoors are brightly lit anyhow. I wore them in Amoeba on my second trip, peering over them at the most used CDs I had seen in my life.
Returned for LA-land to my primarily indoor habitat here at home, I promptly scheduled an optometrist appointment. And, well, when I said I was worried because I use a computer eight-to-sixteen hours a day the doctor was convinced immediately. I needed to protect my assets.
(When was your last checkup?
Um… during the Clinton administration?)
Three days later, I had indoor-appropriate glasses (I could only get away with wearing the square ones on my head at work; even on the way down in the elevator I got looks). I feel as though I have located an entirely new me, a me as sharp as I used to be, as precise and witty. I attend meetings, dinners, and soirées in them exclusively. I wear them to bed to scan through magazines. I look better in them when I sing.
I think I might call my mom’s best girlfriend to let her know that I finally get it.
For a few years of my life I despised the phone, somehow convinced that picking it up could only result in unfortunate news (or telemarketing). I’m not so afraid of it now, but for a few minutes this morning I felt as though I was right back in that place.
The feeling owed to an emotionally draining weekend, and from this side of Sunday it seemed to me as if every phone message was a loaded gun waiting to fire a little bit of conflict or a touch of bad tidings – waiting to sidetrack me with more bad news or bad karma.
As a result, when my mother left me a message on both my cell and desk phones with terse instructions to page her without delay I was concerned. Not only was the lack of verbosity completely unbecoming of her, there were children screaming in the background all the while.
Where had she found screaming children, and what was I supposed to do about it? Naturally I imagined the worst. She had found a baby abandoned in a dumpster, and needed me to alert the media while she whisked it to CHOP to have it nursed back to health. She was trapped at gunpoint in a daycare center, unable to stay on the line for long. A school bus had overturned on the 95 South, and she was triaging the children until the paramedics arrived. She had to avert a national nuclear disaster in less than 24 hours of consecutive screen time, less commercial breaks.
I soon learned that, in reality, she was in Sears portrait studio, arguing with the receptionist because the software on their picture discs isn’t compatible with Windows XP (presumably holding up a line of screaming children all the while), and she called me to consult. As the anxious knot in my stomach quietly dissolved into an afternoon case of agita (odgida), I calmly explained that though the hopelessly proprietary software might not work on her computer, the pictures would probably be BMPs or JPGs scanned directly from the negatives, and that she would definitely be able to open those
I wonder if working in the hospital for so long has rendered her immune to the dramatic connotations of such terse messages. Is her day so typically filled with a string of human tragedy that she has lost the ability to discern the difference? Does she find everything to be tragedic? Or, worse still, is everything so commonplace that her emergent response is a tacit reaction?
I refuse to react to all things as catastrophic, or to live in the specter of fear – fear of the phone, or of anything else. I refuse to, unless that same fear can illustrate to me what it is I love so much about the moments after and before it. I am in love with walking, and with singing, and with loving, and with you, and I would not have it any other way.
So, call me.
St Gines de la Jara – La Roldana