Here are some of my most listened to songs of the year.
Sorry for the youtube format I've been out of the blogging for a bit...
and have less and less patience.
1. The XX Crystalised
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Heads Will Roll
3. Julian Casablancas 11th Dimension
5. Mayer Hawthorne The Ills
9. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Young Adult Friction
*Bonus The XX Islands
I’ve spent a lot of my time caught up with ages and dates. Used them as sporadic milestones, goals, randomly attached meaning to them and waited for something to happen as if the simple passage of time would instantly present me with an answer and turn me into a writer.
I was born on October 12th 1981, my mother was 18.
I spoke to my friend on the phone for an hour and eight minutes this morning and she, using astrology, reassured what I had been thinking but successful in ignoring. I should be writing, doing what I always said I would and what these 28 years have been silently prepping me for. According to armchair astrologers and my friend, Saturn’s Return happens between the ages of 27-30 and as stated in the ever-reliable Wikipedia it means this: if during those years, a person is living out of touch with their true values Saturn, with it’s planetary strength, will force the person to reevaluate and discard old and un useful ways of being, whether it’s a career path, relationship, routine etc.
The reason I feel at odds with myself in my current career while validating data in Oracle and repeating myself like a very computer savvy plumed bird to people every Monday morning is simple; I am supposed to be doing something else and thankfully that stubborn planet Saturn will not let me forget this and, it turns out, Saturn is relentless.
When I was in college I already felt so far behind in the game having transferred from community college. I should have known the New Testament better, been better with names and dates. I should have been published by 23. I should have read more Shakespeare. I never should have dated that short guy who drove that Camaro and took up precious library time and made me act like a teenager. When I was in college all I could focus on were the things I should have done and at that point, even though I didn’t know it, none of those things mattered. It was all past just as fast as it was taking place.
In the time I spent on the Romantic period only one thing stood out to me and that was this:
John Keats died at 25 and with quite a stunning writers resume. WTF. I am such a loser.
In school, as I sat in that grad student workshop, the lone undergrad with plans of beer pong and seven layer dip on my mind I shared my writing because I felt that I knew something that needed to be expressed no matter how trivial my day to day interactions were.
Years have passed and I have been on some other path. I got married in Lake Tahoe on a whim, moved out of my comfortable apartment just as indiscriminately only to find that parking is impossible and it’s lonely being 40 miles away from the old-standby bar where I’m sure to run into someone I know and the Monday night trivia is tough never fails to only give 12 points.
During the time I was commuting on the Caltrain to work I read five books and proved to myself that I would never be in the caliber of writer that I followed in those pages so untouchable and I’m okay with that. The reality is many modern readers in this time and space rarely read at all but rather watch and scan, have fleeting interests and goals with attention spans to match. My writing might never reach the level of all those books that sit at the end of my bed and who’s "about the author" pages I savor and admire but if I don’t try I’m going to always have this gnawing compulsion in me that never fails to come out after a couple of wheat beers.
I am 10 years older than my mom was when I was born and of course after the shocking and unanticipated wedding the word baby pops up here and there and I think about the future and what I would feel like if I had a daughter who had a dream that forever sat at some foggy distance neither close nor far and how that would make me sad but, depending on her age, I would probably know that sooner or later Saturn will rear it’s gigantic, imposing round head and remind her that there is more to life than new boots and boys, computers and status updates.
I guess what I am saying is I am a writer. Not going to be, not want to be, not merely supposed to be. I just am.
Thank you Saturn.
I’m reading a book about a porn star and artist. Each time I
stop I close the book and admire the thick portion that I have already gone
through and how this is my 4th book in three weeks. I am back in
action. Inaction. The regular shuttle to
car trip is taking an hour of more longer than usual. I have a book and a iPhone
and a wireless card and an untouched Guardian yet I am bored. I hear a guy say
he’s going to be late to his son’s first soccer game. “What can you do?” He says this in a happy
way, uplifting even, maybe he doesn’t mind missing the first half, maybe he prefers this adult
conversation with random Caltrain riders maybe he prefers this to talking with
soccer moms and dads, maybe he prefers this delay. I do not. I hear the
speakers of an iPod 3 rows ahead of me and recognize it is Gwen Stefani and
remember hearing No Doubt on the car ride to the station this morning as I sat
parked behind a street sweeper and its entourage of lighted trucks. So I guess
my day started with a delay and No Doubt and now is ending with even more
delays and Gwen Stefani, this is much mush worse. I’m reading about sick things
and enjoying the tone and style of the writing I begin to feel I’m learning
more and more about myself each day and with each good book choice I make. The
train conductors voice sounds like any of the men or women whom the Today Show
recognizes for turning a century old. He
sounds at least a century old and he tells us that instead of being a bullet
train that this train will stop at each and every one. I swear he said there
are 59. The guy talking, the one with
the son's game to go to sounds really, really happy. He’s talking about baseball
and help-desk tickets, what could be more fun? The girl behind me is reading
the Fountainhead for the second time and she says she appreciates it even more
this go-round. I don’t know why but I’ve always used Ayn Rand as one of my many
litmus tests for people. If you like Ayn
Rand then you are stupid and therefore banished from my world. Turns out my
world is getting smaller by the day. My little cousin is a Scientologist in a text message she tells me "there are things you will not understand." The man sitting next to the Rand woman asks her what
she does she says she works for a tobacco company (I didn’t know there were any
around here) go figure. Guess everyone on
this train doesn’t work for an internet company. I am typing on this embarrassing
piece of company issued machinery called Dell. It is ugly and utilitarian much like
I am sitting on an old wooden chair at my parents house having much needed cup of coffee #1. The first cup of coffee is always the best making the subsequent taste like poorly made sequels where the extra caffeine is nothing more than a overused anecdote or predictable pratfall, but the first cup...that is pure greatness sent to us from the South American gods. So I am drinking this great cup of coffee, just changed into my old jeans and t-shirt and I am reading the boringness that is a Tuesday front page of the San Jose Mercury News. Sometimes the police blotter is the most entertaining few sentences I scan and the horoscopes only remind me of when I was the editor of the high school paper and how, besides political commentary, the horoscopes were the most enjoyable things to write. I loved walking around campus the afternoon a paper came out overhearing girls gush about their compatibility or lucky numbers, their destinies I had created. If only life could remain so basic and in the palm of my hand.
So the point is I am sitting here drinking coffee and my left butt cheek is stinging like hell. Somehow I ignore this, get a few articles in and then I finally make my way over to the bathroom to investigate. Before I get down the hall, and since no one is around, I put my hand down the back of my pants and feel something is there. I grab something, pull my hand out and look...I see that between my fingers is a portion of a spider body and a few legs. I can only come to one conclusion and that is a spider crawled into my jeans during the night and when I put them on I disturbed the sleeping arachnid and it had nothing else to do but attack my ass with a vengeance of only a spider.
I pull my pants halfway down and discover a quarter sized lump on my lower left cheek, in my pants is a small circle of light brown blood. Until now, I tell no one, even though all day my butt is seriously stinging. I think back to an acquaintance who had a spider bite and it ended up being a 6 inch in diameter pussing crater of skin and scab. This, of course, scares me because, unlike the guy from my memory, it is on my ass and I'm self conscious as it is. Then I google spiders to get a photo for this blog post and the first thing I see is a giant infected spider bite on some guys' thumb, but let me remind you, this is not on my thumb, it is on my ass.
I am sitting on a wooden stool drinking a Blue Moon and waiting for bread and my ass is stinging. Moral of the story: if a spider is hanging out in your pants it will bite your ass.
I am at my parent's house typing. I haven't spent the night here in years and for the first time I felt old, an adult, disconnected from my memories of childhood and the images that shaped me. I took melatonin to sleep because I thought sleeping in this old room might make me feel weird, make me think of things, remind me of the various times I came to visit my aunt who lived in this room, we'd drink Budweiser talk about love interests and I would just watch her in both fear and awe because I never witnessed a person like her with that magnitude of nothingness and full fledged ego, just wanting 5 dollars for a six pack or a ride to her ex-husbands little trailer. I would just watch her, maybe I learned something, maybe I did not.
Contrary to what I anticipated I actually had the best nights sleep I've had in weeks. The bed was comfortable, the room neat, the sheets fresh.
The previous night I felt fidgety, at odds with myself, worried. I tried to read a book I purchased written by an old Russian Absurdist and it made me feel dissposessed. This world is not absurd, it is real and anyone who has feelings knows this. It is absurd to think otherwise. It is absurd to take this all in and take it lightly. The book was called "Today I Wrote Nothing" even as I held the paperback in my hand and read the title to myself it felt like nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. Making real my own thoughts about writing, my recent resignation, the dismal way I tell people I do not want to pressure myself anymore so from now on plan only to read, not to write. Because I don't want to let anyone down. But when ones' sole communication is writing, what happens when it stops? What gets communicated are only tangible ideas, my favorite fruit, my dislike for African-American comedies, my love of summer dresses and wheat beers. What comes out are simple tactical creations. You know me because you have read my reviews on Yelp and have seen me come home from work and talk about nothing else and then get on the computer to compulsively check email, but I only became those things when I stopped writing in my heart.
Sounds basic, like a movie or book, maybe John Cusack or Beth Lisick but it is basically my entire existence.
I flipped through the San Jose Mercury News, my parents house is good for three things: the daily paper, a good hot breakfast and an hours worth of venting. When my car turns down their court I never fail to be reminded of my youth the life I left behind to be less ordinary. As always, I read each obituary, because you really never know. I glanced at a name of a particular obit and saw the birth year was mine, 1981. I remembered the name well, from the 5th grade, Mr. Davis' class, remembered the way Mr. Davis would bring his guitar to class and sing Puff the Magic Dragon and how when he gave my best friend the set of Chronicles of Narnia books I was secretly jealous because I knew she didn't love those books like I did. Didn't believe in the wardrobe. This boy, now a deceased 28 year old man was probably the most memorable person, besides my childhood sidekick, in all of my elementary school existence.
He, like my part Salvadorean cousin Ruben, was covered in freckles, had a shock of red hair and by the typical understandings of childhood interactions, probably had a crush on me because he made fun of me constantly and was relentless in his attacks. Nigger, wetback, ugly, you name it, that was me in this boys' words. So you can understand my surprise when I saw his face and name in the obituaries. Instantly I was transported back.
Laying at the pool at the Venetian in Las Vegas I am a world away from that girl. The dark one, the quiet one, the blackest Mexican girl. I'm 27 I want an even tan now, I want to be as tan as possible because it looks good against the orange and bright blue and I feel beautiful when I take time to see myself. I will even pay a girl to spray tan me if I have to just for that perfectly bronze-brown.
I stared at that newspaper and tried to remember a story something I could recall about my brief interactions with this kid who I called a jerk, asshole and idiot. Then I remembered being in the woods on a great day as field trips always were. We were at Big Basin, it wasn't a field trip, it was a three day camping trip and for many of the downtown kids a first time being away from parents for days on end and the first time away from the TV and Sega Genesis while immersed in a world of nature.
We are on the day-long hike, the one the cool teenage camp counselors had mentally prepared us for, we have our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, our institution provided juices boxes, we are wearing our good walking shoes. This day is great. As always, the boy and I exchange insults, basic ones like dummy, fart-smeller and turd and it goes on and on but I am used to this I am quick, always ready when it comes to words but no matter what it seems the boys always win because when it comes down to it, there is no lower low than being an ugly little girl in a 9 year old's mind. We approach one of the highlights of the hike, besides the banana slug and possible Mountain Lion droppings. We are at the base of an enormous giant Sequoia, a marvel of nature the trees can grow up to 300 feet sometimes with a diameter over 20. We are 25 city kids standing at the base of a giant toppled redwood tree that has been hollowed out, allowing for a space to walk through. The camp leaders prepare us, get us excited about the greatness we are about to experience, the sheer vastness, but we are just kids and we just think its cool we can stand almost the whole way up inside of a tree-trunk and we can be as loud and boisterous as we want.
The camp counselors tell us to each make a wish as we walk through the cavern that is this hollow tree, we walk through and the sun's light travels through the bark in places brightening the darkness in spots. I think of no wish I think only of a comeback to tell this boy when he makes fun of me again. I do not wish him to get a bad case of poison oak, nor do I wish for a shopping spree at Macy's so that I can be the cutest most stylish girl in class. I use this moment to think of a retort to this boys constant harassment.
As I enter the light walking out from within the tree I tell a few kids I bet he wished for a freckle remover, they laugh and instantly the fight is on. We are the rest of the kids' entertainment, a 5th graders train-wreck they can't help but watch. Other than that I don't remember exact words or phrases, in a way I was kind of proud of my smart remark, I thought it was very funny and so did the other kids. The boy, of course, did not. He pushes me I push him back the cabin leader grabs me and tells me if I do one more thing I will be sent home early. I stay quiet and I am sad, I never get in trouble. I am simply defending myself with simple words.
I see that the boy who died suddenly at 28 who was my 9 year-old bane of existence was no longer living in San Jose and didn't go to high school in the south bay, but rather moved to the east bay where I assume he probably never thought about the freckle story or the joking that all along I felt somehow shaped me. Maybe he did have a crush on me, who knows.
I watch the Michael Jackson memorial from start to finish, have read every article deemed worthy by music critics and have listened to every track from the Jackson 5 catalog from front to back in the week or so since Micheal's departure, even delved in the 80's where I always saw Jackson as too otherworldly to be a real musician. I like small things, little obscure 3 piece bands, I've always liked to hate things people admired, rub my hand into splinters to learn on my own by buying a shit CD with my last 20 dollars so while growing up MJ was always too much for me but as an adult and lover of music I've searched for every speck of information since the announcement on June 25th. I've scoured the good and bad, the Time magazines the People's the dozens of trustworthy music blogs. In the big-print places I have read the journalists hung-up on allegations and though we live in a society where you are innocent until proven guilty, I do not blame them for trying to get to an answer in an analytical way even if it may make the articles very predictable. They are just doing their job, writing the words for us to ingest. I watch Michael on YouTube singing The Love You Save and I Wanna Be Where You Are because I love those songs and I see his brown face, his birth nose, smiling eyes and neon disco get-up and in a whirlwind combined with all the articles I have stored in my mind about his white kids, his surgeries, the Vitiligo I feel a deep unsad sadness a popular aloneness an over-the-top fashionable tackyness solitary in a crowd of similarity. In essence, I feel a conflict as deep as the first day of summer is long and I understand.
Race and color, if you ask anyone who's experienced the lasting sting of comments of constant ridicule, they'll tell you that it is very personal and at times, very difficult to put into words.
8:31 pm and I am taking a break from packing. I'm moving from the
apartment I've been living for the past 3 years, this apartment where I
finally became an adult, made enchiladas from scratch and woke up
extra early everyday like clockwork for responsibilities
It's 8:31 pm and I am taking a break from packing. I'm moving from the apartment I've been living for the past 3 years, this apartment where I finally became an adult, made enchiladas from scratch and woke up extra early everyday like clockwork for responsibilities sake.
I've come across old pictures, birthday cards from years past and
little notes I've composed to others but always with myself in mind.
Sometimes I wish I could compile them chronologically to create a
story, the real me, the receipts of my life, the proof of my existence.
I opened a document holder and saw my first offer letter, back when I
was happy to be making 40k and still hopeful I wouldn't get caught up
in the corporate lifestyle. I thought back then I would never stop
wearing my converse and hoodies. I believed in a future I could
Today I've come across old pictures, birthday cards from years past and little notes I've composed to others but always with myself in mind. Sometimes I wish I could compile them chronologically to create a story, the real me, the receipts of my life, the proof of my existence. I opened a document holder and saw my first offer letter, back when I was happy to be making 40k and still hopeful I wouldn't get caught up in the corporate lifestyle. I thought back then I would never stop wearing my converse and hoodies. I believed in a future I could create.
come across funny things too, the contents of the Easter basket I made
for my now ex-boyfriend. It reminds me that I can be thoughtful,
sometimes. The Michael Jackson tribute list I created is playing in the
background and the combination of the innate sentimentality of moving
and the young Michael of the Jackson 5 saying "I'll be there" is sad so I skip to the new Kanye instead and consider going out dancing tonight.
I've come across funny things too, the contents of the Easter basket I made for my now ex-boyfriend. It reminds me that I can be thoughtful, sometimes. The Michael Jackson tribute list I created is playing in the background and the combination of the innate sentimentality of moving and the young Michael of the Jackson 5 saying "I'll be there" is sad so I skip to the new Kanye instead and consider going out dancing tonight.
I got sidetracked reading my old stuff, below is something I wrote around my 24th 22nd birthday. It appears that not much has changed.
I got sidetracked reading my old stuff, below is something I wrote around my 24th 22nd birthday. It appears that not much has changed.
THE MAGIC CITY
When we met you made it clear you weren’t staying long you said you wanted to go to the airport, (which was the best place to meet people) meet a girl and go wherever she was going. Just leave. I believed you but figured you wouldn’t be going that soon. Now looking back I imagine what life would be like if you had. I wouldn’t Google search you and find you had been arrested possessing crack you might be living in Hawaii or Vancouver two of your favorite places so natural. Your mom would be quietly pleased.
I sleep to resurrect people sometimes. Sometimes it is the only thing I can be certain of that familiar faces of my past will be there with me as I dream impossible combinations. Usually when I have these dreams it is not a current me that I see but an old younger me happier much clearer and the people are content too brought back to life unscathed from circumstance. There is a utopian quality to this type of dream.
You told me you were leaving and the truth was you already had a flight booked. I can’t listen to the Nightmares on Wax CD or The Grouch without knowing why we intersected; our shared hatred for phoniness and inability to conform. We could have lived like that forever sick and afraid, suspended in time, paralyzed by the outside world. But I had another plan and my flight had already been booked too, so to speak.
It was probably comforting that I was crazier than you and you could worry about me surviving just as I did for you. That crazy poetry girl in thrift store clothes holding a notebook as a shield and weapon when the truth was I had already been hurt more than anyone would have been able to by that time. A devout believer in Anne Sexton, and Malcolm X. Passionate to tears and fits of anger everyday. I couldn’t maintain a job or a bank account, parallel-park, or even make it to class one week straight. You could worry about me surviving, making it in this big world. I was your distraction. Like a hurricane in your head you could not dismiss my power.
Everyday I blow dry my hair and carefully plan what I am going to wear and hope that I will be able to connect with the words in my head and I see that I am phony just the way I hoped I would never be thinking that I can be both a writer and a corporate slave simultaneously. Sometimes we have to make compromises. Logic appears. Saves us.
I sleep to bring people back into my life the way I want them and most of the time the life is completely different so much that I almost can’t recognize the person from my past. I had a dream that you, me and my best friend Alex were camping somewhere amazing and playing with a dog and taking pictures of the view as it sparkled under the blue sky. A magic city. We were probably around 19 or 20. I was telling Alex that I worried about you.
One day you’re smoking a blunt, drinking a 22 and writing on freeway overpasses and the next day you’re pathetic, you’re gone.
I overheard a side conversation at my birthday party between my mom and a friend. He said he always dreams about a mutual friend that recently died and my mom said “Veronica does too” and for a second between beers and bullshitting I thought about the way dreaming brings things to the surface but murkiness covers everything and it is too unclear to take seriously. Like looking at your feet standing on the edge of a dark river. I thought of the way I dreamt my grandma wealthy and driving an expensive car. It was a vision diametrically opposed to the truth where she rode the bus and was on welfare. I try to hold on to dreams when I wake up. Scramble to remember every detail but they slip.
One time when I was about five years old I really, really wanted a Popple, the popular plush toy of the time, I had a dream that I had one and when I woke up I looked on the dresser and expected it to be there but it was not. It was a dream. Later I got one but it didn’t have that anticipation and beauty that the dream one did, fluffy and bright. But that is just it. A dream.
I think sometimes I have built too many monuments to the past with my writing that I have tried to answer too many rhetorical questions by way of practical prose. I think of where you were when I met you, ready to jump and I stopped time for a little while for a couple of perfect days. We could see the existence of humanity in a magic city where a kick flip off the City Hall steps and a perfect sentence were our only goals, distractions.
Each night I patch the holes, make them all whole. I remember what was and I move forward.
As soon as I saw the first Twitter about Michael Jackson's passing I knew it would soon be everywhere. Inescapable and constant on the airwaves and the internet, stories of his ascent and decline, photos of him as a talented boy and a frail man. Like most people, it is hard to get the image of the strange, enigmatic, troubled man out of my mind and when I listen to the Jackson 5 it's hard to imagine that boy would years later become the man of plastic surgery and child abuse allegations.
As a person who loves music I have an ability to appreciate the artist separate from the life, and although the life, often times is what makes the artist, sometimes it feels best to simply listen and leave the interpretation to the tabloids. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
So this is what the end of four years looks like. The trees that line the wall blocking us from the condos are larger now in a few more years they wont be able to see this patio at all someone new will live here and they wont know we ever existed.
When I graduated college my moms friend, the one who saves any stray animal she encounters, couldn’t stress enough how bad she wanted me to continue writing and, most importantly, continue my education. I understand her worry, but know, I have learned a lot in this strange bumbling life that seems to have been completely out of my control the entire time, yet entirely planned.
I wish I could go back to my old iPod, the one with my music from college, the one before I became so self-conscious, before I began compartmentalizing every aspect, every facet of my being. I’d listen to anything then, now I listen to no one just follow the slow conservative path moving forward highlighted by the most recent pop song I’ve paid a dollar for.
The kiddie pool we bought at Target the summer we discovered we had air-conditioning lays in a dump somewhere, the plastic may never decompose, but that’s not our responsibility, not ours to fix.
I remember the day I first felt rejection. How I cried on the phone when I called you and tried to keep my voice straight when I called my mom. I didn’t get into graduate school and I didn’t have a plan for failure. Instead I let that be the reason my writing ceased, because I needed that motivation because I couldn’t motivate myself. I’ve been confused ever since.
I look at the items we’ve accumulated over the years, things that are supposed to say something about us and I see nothing but misguided pressures. As I scan a stack of books on the shelf I remember the feeling of first reading T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock out loud and how the professor stressed an understanding that in our early 20’s we could never get, how fleeting this all is, how fast things change and how without even paying attention life passes. The professor is no longer alive and at his wake, feeling a big lump in my throat, I knew I was lucky to encounter someone who understood the power of passion and how we all should strive for that in our lives.
My best friend and I were doing it up big in West Hollywood, looking hot and feeling especially free. We met two nerdy guys poolside at The Standard and this was before the whole hipster thing, before greasy hair was acceptable on guys, we must have been 21. We went to their apartment near UCLA and had a couple vodka tonics. Then they brought out Trivial Pursuit and we started playing and I didn’t get one question right, I was totally humiliated and thought to myself, how am I the dumb girl? Even my friend got a couple easy questions landing herself out of the realm of the airhead-club-girl. I immediately began talking on the only subjects I knew I could redeem myself with, music and books. Turns out one of the guys really liked Junot Diaz and emo-rock and I left feeling I was perceived as less ignorant at least in the mind of one of them. I wonder if they’re architects now liked they planned and if they still look up to Philippe Starck the way I looked up to Mary Karr.
So this is what the end of four years looks like. The garden on the patio never came to be and that might be for the best because we might not want to leave it behind, all that work, all that possibility. When I clean up the pile of magazines by my bed I discover my interests have always been narrow. Music, writing, traveling. The pile of magazines is too heavy for a garbage bag so I dump them in the kitchen garbage can and hope you will take it out. Guess this is a good time to start doing things on my own like taking out the trash.
We’ve seen things come and go in this neighborhood, a nail salon opened and closed, the cheese-steak place had a grand-opening with no cheese-steaks and that fancy sandwich place that was so highly anticipated on Yelp is nothing more than a shell, a failed attempt at profitability. We saw pedestrians get hit crossing The Alameda and despite the high home costs in the area, my tires were cut and I’d wake up regularly to the sound of tweekers fighting and homeless people looking for respite in our nondescript parking lot.
I don’t mean to be sentimental. But that is the thing about writing, retrospective introspection. If today is as productive as I would like it to be I will make a playlist to go along with this writing and I will do one more load of laundry and fold it too. At 27 years old I feel much closer to knowing what to say.