Thursday, December 30, 2004

purgation



i just purged another 3 shelves worth of books.

every once in a while, the urge to reduce the number of my possessions strikes me, and i find myself ruthlessly expurgating items from my inventory of crap. "ruthless" is the word my good friend adrian uses to describe my attitude towards my stuff.

(as an aside, you should visit his live journal by clicking here. he's not only awesome, but he's also one of the strongest beams in my emotional house. he'd be one of the doorways i'd run under if there were an earthquake. lately i've found myself standing under a lot of doorways)

so anyway, he uses the word ruthless, but i counter that there is some ruth. there's stuff i ultimately decide not to get rid of. like my copy of four major plays by ibsen, or my pinback cds, which came within a hair of being given away, cast to the four winds or at least the used music shops, i can only imagine. for the most part, however, stacks of cds and box-loads of books have been disappearing from my shelves for a while now.

it's an odd feeling, getting rid of a book. when i get rid of a cd, it's usually a relief. i think of it as making room for something new. an empty space in my cd wallet is like an opportunity to fill it with something newer and more interesting to me. it's a chance to shed my skin, get rid of an identity that no longer suits me and select something else that i feel better about.

i have so many cds i don't like because i used to be a completist. if i liked an artist, then dammit, i had to own everything he or she put out. but after a while, you realize that's stupid. do you have to own all that stuff? for whom? so that people can look at your collection and... i dunno, figure out that you like REM? it's just silly.

the worst are the cds i bought just for cred, just to be indier-then-thou. thankfully, there aren't a lot of cds that fall into this category, because i was only interested in that for a few years, and most of them were sold back during the great purge of 2002, during which selling my belongings was my primary source of income.

that was a bad time.

anyway, i realized a lot of the cds i owned were more for show than for me. so there was an initial purge, but it was not ruthless enough (there's that word again), so that i still find myself getting rid of a few cds now and again. someday i think i'll have it pared down to a minimum.

then again, i keep buying more cds.

cds don't last long in my collection. i'm usually very disappointed by what i buy, even after researching them. the latest victim of the sold-within-a-month-of-purchase: the legends, "up against the legends." really upset about that one. it's a great cd, but i just don't find myself listening to it. oh well.

getting rid of books is a much different affair. when i get rid of a book, it feels like a broken promise. and i think i only get rid of them because, when i stare at them, wondering what i want to read next, i realize that the things i want to read are at the bookstore, not in my collection, while the things i have on my shelf are so far from what i really want to read as to not even be worth it. when i am reading them, i find myself asking, why, if this is my leisure time, my time to relax, why am i forcing myself to read this boring piece of shite?

so why do i even have these books? because a long time ago, in what feels like another life, they were books i felt i should read.

see, i was a student of literature. clearly, as a student of literature, i am obligated to read certain books. there's a class of books you read if you're in graduate school for english, and i bought a lot of those books. but the older i get, the more i realize two things:

a that's what libraries are for, and
b there's no point in pretending to be something you ain't

so really, by removing these books from the shelves, i'm not making room to buy new ones, i'm trying to reconcile the person i was with the person i am, trying to see where the overlap is (apparently, me and my former self have henry james and albert camus in common).

but there's a sadness about the work. the sky is grey today in san diego, my room is dark, and the music quiet. it is a pensive moment, as it always is when i confront, not the things that i am admitting i don't need, but the fact that i'm not the person that i wanted to be, i'm not the person who reads derrida for fun, who gets off on nietzsche. it isn't that i won't read it if i have to, but that's the point. i don't have to, so i don't.

still, all the same, it feels like a broken promise. a promise i made to myself a long time ago, when i bought these books. a promise to be someone i respect.

other people might take comfort in what they are. i find that i am oriented antagonistically. i mourn the fact that i am not someone else.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

keep your guard up



yesterday, our gardener/landscaper/miscellaneous handyman extraordinaire cut half his nose off with a circular saw.

we don't know exactly how he did it, because circular saws come with guards to prevent gruesome accidents like this from happening; however, i hear it is not uncommon for construction workers and miscellaneous handymen extraordinaires to remove the guard because it slows you down. it unfortunately also transforms the tool into an efficient disfiguring device.

according to my dad, he's fine, but we're waiting to see if the piece of tissue my father rescued from the garage and hurried to the emergency room in a bag of ice will take, and there's always the question of infection. and apparently, it cut into his cheek and so we're waiting to see about that as well. but it could have been far, far worse. we think the saw hit a nail or something and bounced into the man's face. and i know this sounds terrible, but i'm happy to know he wasn't working on our house when he did it; one of our neighbors, impressed with the work he's done for us, hired him for some construction.

my father's demeanor throughout the ordeal was quite impressive. but then again, my father is no stranger to emergency situations. consider:

1 when i was 6, my father was in a 17 car pile-up. he was driving an old car with no seat belts. his left arm was broken, his jaw shattered, his face burned by chemicals from somewhere under the hood. it took almost a year for him to recover, though to this day there are still aftereffects from his injuries. in fact, they had to re-break his nose because it set improperly; my father, not willing to be aenesthetized, took local aenesthetic and was conscious while the doctor pounded away at his face with a hammer and chisel;

2 when i was 13 or 14, my father's thumb was nearly sliced off by a machine at work. he described to me later how it was attached to his hand by a thread of skin for an hour or so as he waited to be seen at the hospital. it was reattached and basically works;

3 when i was 17, my father had a stroke, destroying the part of his brain that controls equilibrium and his sense of temperature in half his body. it took him a few months to learn to walk again, as other parts of his brain took over for the section that was killed. he is nearly 100% recovered from this, save that half his body usually registers warmer than the other, which is kind of a pain in the ass.

and one can only conclude from this that my father's one tough son of a bitch. i would say that these events have given him a kind of nonchalance when it comes to emergencies, but that would be wrong. his basic attitude is oriented towards survival, towards doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, and that attitude is what enabled him to get through everything he's gotten through. so when the landscaper came to our house, my father wasted no time getting him into the car and rushing him to the hospital.

now, personally, the flipside of this kind of disposition, at least in my father, is an inadequate ability to understand or deal with human emotions. you could say that a more balanced approach would exist somewhere between my father's utter lack of sensitivity and my constant need to wallow in my own feelings. however, i can't blame my emotional nature for the way i shut down during emergencies. for instance:

1 one day during my first semester of college, in my freshman seminar, the girl next to me laid her head down on my arm. as i got warm all over thinking this might be love, she started to twitch. this was less like a swoon and more like a seizure, and i quickly jumped back, her head thudding lightly upon my desk. we realized that she had given blood at the blood drive and was now losing consciousness, and while i stared, mute, frozen, two girls from across the room helped her to a clearing in the middle of the desks and laid her down. seeing a package of cookies on her desk, and wanting to do something to look less incompetent, i reached for them and struggled in vain for 30 seconds with the shrink wrap before my classmate next to me relieved me of my burden.

2 i was an RA during my sophomore year of college. a wildfire made its way to our campus and i had to evacuate the residence hall to the school's cafeteria. i had no problem disseminating the message, but had no ability to think of grabbing extra clothes, a jacket, my checkbook or wallet, etc. thankfully, freshman students were around to fill in the blanks for me.

my extremely few experiences in emergency situations tell me that, if anything ever happened that was seriously bad, and required quick attention, i would be the first person to jump up and begin to repeatedly run into the wall until i passed out. which might actually be better for the gene pool, when you think about it.

whereas my father's level-headedness makes him well suited to dealing with the kinds of situations children and teens can get themselves into (scrapes, broken bones, sucking chest wounds), my complete bewilderment during times of crisis suggests to me that the women of the world know something i am only beginning to figure out: we are a better world without my offspring in it.

at any rate, i wasn't in any mood to pick out a christmas tree yesterday.

my dad was.

he did a good job.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

maybe if my fantasies had fantasies?



these days, there are few things that bring me more satisfaction than writing in my journal. and that is because i am completely and totally in love with every thought i have. ever. how in love? so in love that i pose questions to myself and then answer them in order to simulate a dialogue that is, in fact, me talking to me.

how in love? remember that scene at the end of blade runner where rutger hauer is talking to harrison ford about dying? i always lose it during that scene because i imagine a world in which my thoughts do not exist.

worse yet is the thought that i might not ever be able to share my thoughts. i mean, here i am, thinking all of these things, and they're just flitting by, not being captured, saved, held, preserved. and then i'll die, and no one will have heard them. like wallace stevens once wrote in a letter, "It is quite impossible for me to express any of the beauty I feel to half the degree that I feel it; and yet it is a great pleasure to seize an impression and lock it up in words: you feel as if you had it safe forever."

there's a total arrogance to everything i'm doing and saying right now that would make one think i have a lot of self-confidence, but that would be false.

how false?

so i'm sitting in a coffee shop yesterday afternoon, writing in my journal, an activity which, around the right people, generates a certain degree of mystery. i'll talk about generating mystery later. but nevertheless, with glasses on, pen in hand, and that unmistakable look on my face that says i am a danger to myself, i sometimes feel like i can warp space-time and draw attention to my little event horizon in the corner.

facing me from the next table is a woman with a laptop island emerging from a sea of books. the book at the top of the heap has something to do with the movements of the poor, so i can only assume she's into the intersection of kinesiology and marxism ("winchester, you throw like a prol"). she is beautiful; she is beautiful because i felt there was something concrete about her. she is a woman who pays bills, who drinks too much coffee, who likes ridiculous things because they are ridiculous and because she is well-acquainted with the frustrations of trying to keep a roof over her head and spare change in her pocket. it is the beauty of age, of maturity. she is beautiful because i saw her and i made assumptions and ultimately, she is beautiful because i say so. call it an act of creation, or at the very least, of interpretation.

and i began to fantasize an encounter with her, and my fantasy ran like this:

she gets up from her table, and instead of walking the long way around, she takes the shortcut by my table. i seize my moment.

"excuse me? i know this is very forward of me, but i was wondering if you would meet me here at this time next week?"

she would be flattered, and she would say, with a smile,

"it's nice of you to ask, but i'm seeing someone."

my fantasies are kinda like the corn chips at the bottom of a month-old bag. they've been exposed to the oxygen of reality and now they're slightly stale. but if there's nothing else in the pantry, they'll do.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Bush Adamant on Iraq Election Schedule



oh wait, i think i misread that headline.


for a minute, i thought we'd found a new tactic in the war on terror.

"what do you call this?"
"we call it the new wave. it harnesses the power of punk and the rhythm of dance. with it, we will be unstoppable."
"ummm ... they have bullets."


"... what?"