Friday, June 23, 2006

It's like when you think Buffy's dead, but then she springs up to deliver a one-liner and kick some demon's ass

Everything around me is under construction. As I write this, there is one of those crane thingies outside my office window, with a scruffy muscle-shirt dude on it. He is scraping and scraping the paint on the outside window panes. This is what it sounds like: Scriiiiiiiiitch. Scriiiiiiiiitch. Long pause during which I pray that it is over. Scccrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch. He’s actually looking into my window right now as I write this, and probably thinking, “Wow, this bitch never seems to do any actual work. What is her job, anyway?” (he was here yesterday too, so he has proof about my lack of focus). Actually, he’s probably not thinking that. He’s probably thinking, “I wish she would close her curtains so this would be less uncomfortable for both of us.” Or maybe he’s thinking, “Man, this job sucks. I wish I had her job—all she seems to do is look at clothes online (my computer screen faces the window).”

So I can’t really use my phone, which is about 50 percent of my job, because of this deafening scritching. And then outside my door, in the hallway, two other scruffy dudes are repairing the tile on the floor. They are not using this mini-jackhammer thingie that they were using at the beginning of the week, thank god, but they have buckets of murky water and tiles and other mysterious objects lying all around so I have to say excuse me about 10,000 times a day, and it’s driving me crazy. What I really want to do is scream “Get the fuck out of my way!” but then I’d get fired. Actually, they couldn’t fire me because I only have two weeks left at this job, before I become unemployed and homeless and probably even more disgruntled, if that’s possible. And plus my boss (who retires in 5 days and is just as disillusioned with this place as I am) is very old and doesn’t have feeling in one of his feet and I’m scared he’s going to fall and break his hip again every time he leaves his office.

Ok, so now onto the construction going on at my house. That’s right, not only do I get to hear scritching and thumping and loud conversations and drills and hammering at work, but I get to hear them when I get home too. Because my landlord has decided to do some kind of mystery work on my backyard, on my windows, and on the windowsills. I’m not sure exactly what he’s doing, but it’s clear that it’s going to be happening until I move out. My backyard looks like an excavation site, or like someone is trying to find the hellmouth (Buffy reference). My tiny and nervous dog is going nuts. Seriously, barking and screaming all day. I’m not there for most of it, because thankfully their work day ends around 6, but it is very disheartening to leave one construction site for another each time I change my location. The scruffy dudes working on my house give me dirty looks every time I come home at lunch to let my little princess out. They hate her. I can see why; I’d probably hate her too if we weren’t family (she’s my sister rather than my daughter, if you were wondering).

But then there’s this whole thing where I’m trying to love my fate, as Nietzsche recommends. Or see my life as a series of enlightening metaphors, which Jung recommends, and which I’m pretty good at doing. For instance, I’ve diagnosed my chronic head and neckaches as my insistence on making my head responsible for all of my current stress and agony (moving, future insecurity, divorce, etc.). It’s like my neck is saying “This is way too heavy for me—could we like, spread this angst out a bit?” So I’m trying to let more of myself feel this stress—maybe move it down to a lower chakra that would be more equipped to handle it. Maybe if it was in my hip area, I wouldn’t turn it and churn it and process it so much. I could just let it sit there (what can I say; I don’t have cable).

So here’s my metaphor for all of this goddamn construction around me: my soul is under construction. I’m in the process of becoming something different; becoming who I am instead all of the things I spent so long trying to be (wife, good daughter, poet, successful, blah blah blah). This construction is very heavy and painful (my head concurs). So it makes sense that it would follow me around this way externally. Maybe my external life is trying to take some of the weight for me. My old self slaps me on the wrist for having these self-obsessed and narcissistic thoughts. But the new self emerging from the rubble that was my former life feels at peace with this metaphor. I think I need it to get through these next weeks. Everything that was mine in the last year…my job and my home and my mate…are crumbling and falling away (one of these is pretty much completely crumbled). I need metaphors now more than ever. Making my life one big poem seems to be the only way to get through it, and to see that there is still a spark of some kind of magic there even as everything is being stripped away. Ye Olde Christian me would have called this spark God, and I still do on some days. But everything about Christianity is what forced me to build up all of this crap in the first place, crap that must now be torn down or reconstructed. The only way I can deal with the big C (the one that promises eternal life, not the other one) is to see it as metaphor anyway—it’s so much more beautiful that way. Everything is.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Misery Soundtrack

It’s probably pretty obvious to you, dear readers, that this has been both the best and worst year of my life. Sure, my former husband cheated on me with a clueless SUV-driving drama queen ferret, but then there is also the whole thing where I’m figuring out who I am, and who I am doesn’t want a damn husband. So there’s a semi-balance, which is really all I’m after anyway.

Last night I ran into ex-fling and he asked me how I’m doing. “Bad,” I said. There just really wasn’t any other appropriate response at that moment. He looked stricken as his narcissism struggled for a way to make the response about him. “Well, I hope you feel better soon,” he said lamely after I asked him how he was and he gave me the usual tepid response in order to prove how together (read: lifeless) he is. “I don’t (hope I feel better),” I said, and walked away. Feel better? I don’t have strep, I’m having a breakdown. I don’t want to feel better; I want to feel how I feel. Actually, the latest breakdown seems to be over. I think I’ve once again gained back the 3 pounds I’ve lost and gained repeatedly over the last nine months, and slept more than 3 hours last night without drugs. And I can usually refrain from crying at work. I thought I was done with all of this kind of stuff last fall, but I was wrong. It’s different now, though. Occasionally there is also some joy.

As with all of my major life events (though none has been as major as this, to date), there has been a soundtrack. Sometimes the soundtrack is only in my mind (like the repetition of the phrase “asshole” or “breathe”) but quite often it emanating very loudly from my car speakers or from my 10-year-old boombox as I wash the dishes. Just as Morrissey’s Your Arsenal immediately transports me to the dorm room where my first boyfriend and I made out on cloudy afternoons, or early 90’s emo takes me back to my friends’ crusty sofa upon which I spun drunkenly after too many cans of Olympia beer, so too (I predict) will the following musical selections conjure up this year of sadness and weirdness and aloneness. Someday in like 10 years I’ll be trying to get my kid to stop screaming, or, you know, on my book tour and I’ll hear Gram Parson’s “Blue Eyes,” and I’ll have to stop and put my head in my hands and remember this and how important and lonely and lovely it was.

This is a weird list. My unconscious probably understands it better than my ego. In no particular order:

X: Beyond and Back: The X Anthology. If you like X at all, I highly recommend this album. It has all of the good songs, as well as live songs and then a whole disc of newer stuff I had never heard. A lot of the newer songs are a response to the 80’s. The best part is that when you listen to the first disc, you can picture Exene and John Doe and all of their punk friends partying in some beach apartment, and when you listen to the second disc, you can hear how sad they are about everything. And really there’s nothing better than John Doe singing “Blue shock!” in the song “Blue Spark.” I might consider marrying again, should he suddenly appear and want to marry me. Even though he’s like 50. Because he’s like 50. Songs listened to over and over: “Blue Spark,” “Motel Room In My Bed,” “The World’s a Mess It’s In My Kiss.”

Gram Parsons: Sacred Hearts and Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology. Oh Gram. I think if you’ve read any of this thing, particularly my first post, you understand more or less about how I feel about him. I don’t know if I even understand why I’m so obsessed with him, but I think it has a great deal to do with the song “Return of the Grievous Angel.”

The Smiths: Meat is Murder. Though this may not stick out as applicable to this time period, because I’ve always listened to this in the car.

The Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady. To be played at high volume in one’s hatchback after a particularly shitty day in January. Or May. In May, it can counter the stupid happiness and beauty that one can see from outside one’s bird-shit covered car windows.

Weezer: Blue Album. “Say It Ain’t So” is one of the best songs ever for your mean red days.

The Killers: Hot Fuss. Along with all of the Gucci-pencil-bag-bearing-14-year-olds in my sister’s 8th grade homeroom, I also find that this album totally rocks. And I am so embarrassed about it. But I’m going to give my little defense spiel and then pretend we never had this conversation. So here’s how I see the Killers: first of all they took their name from a New Order video and how can that be wrong? And like New Order, the synthesized element to their songs rocks. Like New Order, they write really good pop songs with really lame lyrics. (I’m sorry, but you did not have “a fight in the promenade in the rain,” because you’re not from Manchester, you’re from like Pella Iowa. But I think it’s so cute that they want to be English. And actually the singer is not from Iowa but one of the bandmates is—I actually know a lot more about their biographies than I’m letting on because I’m embarrassed about how much time I spend learning these things when I can’t remember whether or not I fed my dog this morning.) I’m fine with lame lyrics. The vocals are kind of Robert Smith-like. Though I do recognize that the band is at best a New Wave tribute band and at worst a crappy knock-off by kids who were in diapers during the first Smiths tour, it’s like I said…cute.

Emmylou Harris: Elite Hotel. Oh my god, I listened to this so much in November. Especially the song “One of These Days.”

The Fall: A Sides. An old standby for anger and sadness. Especially “Mr. Pharmacist.”

This mix tape my friend from college made me about five years ago. It’s all garage music.

Pulp: We Love Life. This is probably the best Pulp album (and if I had to choose a favorite band, which god hope I never do, I might choose them). There are beautiful songs and trademark hilarious lyrics (and not just pervert jokes). For example: comparing a new not-as-good relationship to “a later Tom and Jerry when the two of them could talk.” This was the first import I bought since about 1993 (when they’d come out with a new Morrissey import single about every two weeks).

This 70s country mix my brother-in-law made me: David Allen Coe, Dolly, Tammy, George, Waylon, and Willie. Sad (in a good way).

The Runaways: The Best of Runaways. I think you all understand, or should understand, what Joan Jett means to me.

Green Day: Dookie. I really don’t know why. I don’t have anything to say about this except I’m sorry.

Joy Divison: Heart and Soul. You can’t get divorced without it.