Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Professor Obstfeld

She pushes her glasses up with her index finger--for the twenty-first time circa 10:15 this morning--and she strethces her lips away from her teeth. I think she's trying to smile. It's one of those faces someone makes when making ligh of an awkward situation, or when they acknowledge some asinine mistake. But I have no clue as to why she's smiling like that right now.

I also don't understand how she can still sport Doc Martins ten years after the new millenium, why she doesn't put more make-up on her tiny, beady eyes, or how she can be married to someone other than a chick.

But as she digs her hands awkwardly into her boyfriend-fit Levis, I do understand something: I'd kill to be her. I spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars trying to get people to like me, or at least what I'm covered with. This woman is undoubtedly lovable. She cracks an uncomfortable colloqialism, and we all laugh. She makes an expressive insight on a seemingly simple plot, and we all listen. People like this woman. I have this weird thing for her--not in that way--and I'm pretty sure she knows more about things I wish I knew about more than I ever will.


Damn those soft glow


In the bathroom.

That nude

gloss looked great;

the rough draft


But now

sitting underneath

the flourescents

everything looks like



Swiss Miss

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a precocious musical yuppie. When I was a kid, I refused to wear anything but Dock Martins, plaid flannel, and prepubescent-boy fit Levis. When the first ipod came out, I was bound and determined to have a massive library greater-than-thou’s, from classic rock to impressionist classical. I scoffed when people swarmed over MGMT, claiming that I, I relished in the glory of The Management’s 2005 album, Climbing to New Lows, long ago. I was that person who fell to the ground in ear-splitting agony at the mere hint of the lap steel or fiddle of country music, and who raised their arms shamelessly to the grimy synthesizers and British posturing of indie-electronic. So you can imagine my surprise (and consider my words slowly, because well, they’ve got a bite) when I started meandering in, in Christian rock, and…slowly found myself irrevocably in love. And throughout this short-lived journey of melodic endeavors, I’ve come to understand that music isn’t a broken piƱata, its pieces waiting to be scooped up quickly and in copious quantities. Music is a—a cup of hot chocolate—fresh from that box of Swiss Miss in your mom’s pantry. Sure, to the coffee connoisseurs at Starbucks, your powdered sugar might be a good laugh over a Chai latte. But to you, your hot chocolate is what fills you entirely. It warms your veins. It simplifies life. Sometimes, it even evokes a sense of purpose. And if you could have those moments of self-induced happiness, even to where that laughable thing defines you, would you, could you say no?

It’s all Jon Foreman’s fault. “I dare you to move.” He told me. “I dare you to move/ like today never happened/ today never happened before.” I was fifteen years old, and my feet were starting to swell under the hot, rusty rocks of the Grand Canyon floor. I was on this twelve-mile hike to the Havasupai waterfalls, where a bunch of youth-group kids and I would spend the week camping and singing Kumbaya. I didn’t go because of the week-long, “Christ-centered” atmosphere. I went because I needed to get far, far away from my monotonous life in Fountain Valley, and I pretty much dominated physical challenges; or in other words, I was that irritating friend of yours who always has something to prove. So here I am, fifty-pound backpack to boot and six miles to go when this Jon Foreman guy starts whining in my ear. It was a new album that was trekking the charts—Beautiful Letdown—and I had thrown it on a hiking playlist to experience the hype that these youth-group kids couldn’t get enough of. So: I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and the more seconds that tick by with the song, the brighter the rocks are getting; the lighter this pack is starting to feel. At first, I took the irresistible melodic hook of the intro and high-voltage buzz-saw riffs of the chorus as the meaning of the euphoric high I was progressing into. So I played the song again. And again. And I realized: this Jon Foreman guy has a serious grip on existence. “Maybe redemption has stories to tell/ Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell/ Where can you run to escape from yourself?” His words sunk deep beneath the skin, and stayed with me the remainder of the week. As the turquoise walls fell above me, I’d pop in my headphones and listen, the combination of crashing water and sky-scraping harmonies bringing me to that elated state of contentment again. I’d listen to this guy sing about the false security and pursuit of happiness I so blindly held onto, and a faith in a purpose I so longed for. His shimmering balladries weren’t preachy; they were exactly what a fifteen-year old struggling with impending adulthood needed. “I Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot was the initiator of a whole new world I’d never heard before; and it changed me entirely.

I got home from that trip and jammed my ipod into this portable-speaker thing and yelled at my dad to come in from the garage. Short introduction: my dad is the reason for my strong inclination—borderline obsession—with music. When he and my mom divorced, he’d play Nirvana’s Nevermind over and over again in his car, and I realized from a very young age that music changes people; or in his case, can help you cope with the seemingly impossible. Continuing: so my dad came in and I insisted that he listen to this small bundle of gloriousness I’d experienced in the Grand Canyon. I played a couple of Switchfoot’s stronger songs and sat Indian-style on the carpet, thinking I’d just provided my own father with the true nirvana of post-modernism. But the opposite happened: as “I Dare You to Move” came to a dramatic close, he gave me that “I’m smiling out of necessity because if I tell you how I really feel you’ll throw an Academic Decathlon debate in my face” face. “That’s nice, honey.” He said. The words were crushing; so much heavier than that toddler-sized backpack I’d carried for a round-trip of twenty-four miles. So, out of necessity for approval of not only my father but from the rest of my high-school peers, I hid my love for Christian rock, only listening to it in the privacy of closed quarters. I shoved the box of Swiss Miss to the back of the pantry, and continued back to my cup of black Sumatra coffee.

But the cravings were always there. You see, you feel cool with that big cup of bitter liquid in your hand. But it doesn’t change the taste of it; and the more time that passes by, the more you long for your sappy-sweetness again. It wasn’t until this year, as I Myspace-stalked some old friends and foes of mine, that I delved into my love for Christian Rock once again. This girl Jackie had a typical Urban-Outfitters inspired page of Poloroid-quality pictures and starred lists of “likes and loves”. She had a lot of friends. And yet, a familiar acoustic-sounding, string-centered melody filled the air as her music player opened, and I found my veins beginning to pulse in endorphin-like happiness. There wasn’t much innovation to the lyrics: “Love is here/ love is now/ love is pouring from/ His hands, from His brows”. Yeah, I’d heard that before. But for one reason or another, I stayed on her page for two hours, clicking the replay button. The band, Tenth Avenue North, sang a typical Christian-themed song called “Love Is Here”, and invited listeners to “come to the water” to experience the understanding of Christ’s love. And as much as I would’ve gladly turned on some electronic, film-noir sounds of Portishead or Kings of Leon, all I wanted was more Tenth Avenue North. These gentle chords made me feel warm inside. The lyrics engraved a deeper purpose into my heart and mind. The grandeur choruses brought light into my perspective on the world. If this seemingly cool and popular Jackie could play “Love is Here” on her page, well, then I could too.

That day, I consolidated my entire itunes library, changing all of my discreet “misc” genres back to their rightful place in “Gospel and Religious”. I probably bought a couple-hundred songs too, finally showing the Christian-rock world the support I so owed it. And the more I uncovered in Christian music, the more deeply in love with it I fell. Sure, much of it can create a borderline overkill of raised hands and joyous, unashamed praise. But when the majority of what I’d be listening to otherwise consists of cynical doubt and hopelessness, I guess a little mind-numbing glee can be the right dose of perspective I need. So, today I stand tall (although as a categorical Amazon-woman, it’s not too hard to do) and proud: I am a Christian-Rock lover. I love Jesus. I love bright and shiny things, and Swiss Miss hot chocolate with marshmallows on top. Jesus music defines who I am, and well, I might just be that blissfully ignorant to not care.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Airport

I squirm uncomfortably in the black plastic chair. There is a small swoop, you see, in the seat, to provide some uninspiring source of comfort. This swoop does nothing for me, because I have no ass to fill it. Considering my Italian roots of simple carbohydrates and fat-filled cheeses, you'd think I'd have some cushion to fall back on, literally. But I'm the only member of my family with a hyper-active metabolism. So consequently, I have no ass to fill this uncomfortable chair.

The airport is unusually quiet today. There's a flight attendant calling the delayed time of my flight to Rome. Her voice is muffled, but I catch the part that I won't be leaving for another hour and a half. An old woman has some chunky heels on that clop on the marble floor. And then there's a young woman with long, thinner heels that tap, not clop. A middle-aged man in a business suit quite like mine is sitting in one of the plastic chairs, rolling his suitcase back and forth in front of him. He coughs roughly. I move a couple of seats down.

It seems like just a couple of minutes ago I was sitting next to Liv, downing a warm Bud Light, watching her sleep. When she woke up, I was going to hurt her, leave her, tell her that things just weren't working out. First she would give me a bewildered look, then her eyes would glaze over with salty tears, and then she would start to yell. But for the next couple of hours, I could just watch her, face blank in dreamy wonder.

It wasn't that I didn't like her. I wasn't in love, perhaps as she was, but I enjoyed her company, nevertheless. I won't be modest or humble or a gentleman by any means. She had started to settle down, she'd adapted to my eccentric behavior. I couldn't have that. I was in it for the lust and excitement, not the dutiful and redundant relationship of an experienced couple. Longevity meant commitment and familiar comfort.

And who the hell would ever want that?

She woke up eventually, to the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen. Her rich chestnut hair fell partially over her face. Her eyes were seductive, unintentionally, as they were opening, arising from a long night's sleep. I was sitting in an armchair opposite the bed.

"Morning." I said to her.
"You're drinking beer from last night." Her eyes were stuck to the bottle in my hand.
"And it's only nine in the morning." I reminded her. She sighed, and her gaze moved towards a duffle bag at the end of the bed.
"What's that?" She enquired, already offended.
"Your things." We sat for an awkward couple of seconds. My statement wasn't processing.
"John, it's too early for this. Tell me why are my things at the end of the bed." It wasn't even a question. It was a demand. I took a long breath.
"Liv, these past two months have been fantastic. Exhilarating. Passionate. But I feel that lately we've moved towards a different direction…and I think it'd be best if we didn't see each other anymore."

Much to my surprise, she didn't swell up with angry tears. She just looked at me, contemplative; confused. Finally, she spoke.

"You're serious?"
"You know, John," She said calmly, "you are the most peculiar son-of-a-bitch I've ever met. Why?"
"Why am I leaving you?"
"Well, not leaving. Kicking me out, apparently." Her words grew angrier.
"Because I'm British. And you're American. Southern to be specific. We are match proven throughout history unable to coexist."
I wanted to push her buttons. Make her angry. Give her less of a reason to ever think of me kindly again. Make this separation faster.
"You're acting like this is a joke. It's not a joke, John. Relationships are not something you can just laugh off." She put her head in her hands and rubbed her temples.
"But I am. Which is why I can't continue this. You're far more serious about it than I am."
"You said you loved me."
"Not eternally. Or unconditionally. I loved your vivaciousness, your unpredictable and intriguing sensuality. Quite frankly, I got bored. And I'm bored with this conversation. It's going no where…we're going no where. So I packed your things. And I suggest that you leave, unless you'd like a cup of coffee or a shower first."

She looked at me, with both disgust and disbelief. Fantastic. She quickly got out of bed and threw on a yellow linen dress lying on the floor. Her eyes darted about the room, searching for a missing part of last night's outfit. Oh god. I could sense an aura of panic about her. The break up was starting to sink in.

"Here, darling." I held a pair of brown leather boots in the air. She looked at them, looked at me, and then…ah, there it was. The tears.

Drops of water spilled out of her emerald eyes, plunging down her sun-kissed cheeks. She sat down on the bed, shamefully covering her face. And then the quiet sobs. The soundless heaving.

Now, I'm an asshole. An accomplished, experienced asshole. But I'm not completely heartless. To watch a woman crying alone, all because of your own damned words…well, not many can go without trying to console that woman. I got out of the chair and scooted close to her on the bed, putting my arms around her. Her head fell in to my chest, and I felt her hair between my fingers. I had hoped she would've stormed out of my apartment, like the proud woman I thought she was, but she was apparently more attached than I had guessed.

"Please Olivia, don't go crying now." She wept harder. "I'm just…I'm not the man you deserve. I'm a—a—playboy who has no right to your love and commitment." The words coming out of my mouth sounded forced, robotic. I would have to step it up if I wanted her to leave. "I just…I couldn't go on pretending like there was more to me than that. I can't lie to you."
Although that was partially a lie; and then, not. She looked up at me, with her poor, soaked face and wet chunks of her hair, leaving her looking like a lost puppy. She tried talking through broken sobs.
"You—and—me—are so—perf—"
"Never going to work." I interrupted her. I gave her a hard, piercing stare. She stared back, as if trying to search for some deeper emotion behind my eyes. She sniffed loudly, put on her shoes, and picked up the bag. And as quickly as I ended our two-month liaison, she walked out of my apartment and slammed the door.
"No goodbye?" I said aloud to myself.

I picked up my briefcase and walked down the boarding hallway, or whatever it's called, on to the plane. I hate planes. I'm not afraid of flying, or heights. I hate sitting with a bunch of strangers for elongated periods of time. I hate the smell of planes. (You know what I'm talking about.) The lack of air, of space, of reasonable sized cups for your soft drink. I hate the dirty bathrooms, the crying children, the little tv screens above the aisle that no one can actually see.
Today, I hate the man sitting next to me. The fucking hacking man from the boarding area. He sounds like he's trying to throw up some long lost memory in Barcelona that has buried itself into the depths of his intestines. His coughing bellows deeper and louder, and I feel molecules of spit land on my arm. There is one thing I've decided in this world and this is it: there is no such thing as karma. The universe just has a sick sense of humor.


Such a fool
Look at the freak!
She stands on a pedestal
Her head stuck between
Her own two feet.

She can stretch herself
Beyond her means
Watch her
Try to make this show

Make sure to laugh
It obviously adds
To her fire
Her justification
Of life

Be sure,
Not to say, I love you
She might just believe it
Mumble them and
Annunciate now that you’re

Faded Glory

Your locks are not as they used to be.
We bear too much on our shoulders,
So we cannot expect to always
Glow golden of youth.
But you are still sunlight.
You still grasp my veins and let
Them go, keeping the blood that
Runs through me alive.
Although it breathes
The end of winter,
I don’t believe the orchids
To bloom this year.
The soil is rocky, the dirt, dry.
One cannot expect anything
To live without the sun
And rain it so needs.
Damn, we cry, why didn’t we live
For what we had, for while we
Had it all was right in our little world.
God, I’d give every strand of faded hair
Just to feel your warmth pressed
Upon me once more, for
My heart beats not as is used to beat.
You’ve suffocated it for too long,
So we cannot expect to always
Blush ruby of love.
Alas, your skin still burns mine.
You still leave your mark and break
My heart, keeping the blood that
Runs through me alive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Think You Know...Well, and You Probably Have a Good Idea

The tale, I suppose, starts with Mr. Narcissus himself. A ravishingly handsome Greek lad, he broke the hearts of many adoring women, including the nymph Echo. Which, if you can dig up your 10th grade reading comprehension, was a seriously bad move. In revenge, Echo doomed him to a life spent vainly staring at his own reflection.

Short story short, he ended up kicking the bucket pretty early.

Now, the thing about Greek mythology is that the stories...are just weird. Nymphs, Sirens, Gods, Goddesses, heroes, and men all coinciding in one strange universe, living these lives of metaphor-turned-reality, and so and so forth. And to top it off, most of these tales ended up being completely contradictory anyway. How come Narcissus suffered an inevitable doom, while pompous heroes such as the infallible Hercules triumphed in the annals of Greek history? You read these stories, thinking about how lame and gullible these ancient Grecians were, believing in all the fable bullshit fed to them by priestly story tellers.

But frankly, the actual irritating part thing about mythology is that you probably come to the realization that they at least had understandable insight behind why the world works the way it does. Our generation has traded in fable bullshit for scientific bullshit; which in actually, most of us will never come to comprehend anyway. Ok, so I’m a vapid narcissist. Which, according to modern psychology, is a mental disorder. But why? Why do I care so much about myself? In essence, my personality problem allows me to stand out amongst the status-accepting droids, existing each day of their monotonous lives.

I guess with me, it comes down to this: in mythology, I would’ve been a Hercules. Today, I have a mental instability.

So, to avoid more lengthy introduction allegories, this blog is pretty much going to be me bitching about the world, and life. And, in the vapid narcissist fashion, avoiding putting any blame on myself.

Because I’m that fantastically glorious.