Wednesday, March 17, 2010


so alex chilton died today. it's always sad when someone talented leaves the world, especially someone who can write song lyrics the way he could. the way the man could wield simplicity always cuts me to the bone. he wrote what is possibly my favorite mushy love song, and one that's sadly become kind of mainstream, "thirteen."

on its face, it looks like a sweet little ballad about teenage love. "won't you let me walk you home from school? won't you let me meet you at the pool?" awww. it's about eighth-graders being awkward and halting around each other. even the music, a simple acoustic chord progression, is simple, charming and almost hesitant. but by the last verse, the concept takes a remarkably mature and resonant turn...

won't you tell me what you're thinking of?
would you be an outlaw for my love?
if it's so, then let me know
if it's no, then i can go
i won't make you

simply perfect. obviously, this can be read a number of ways, like something as simple as making out in the back of a car when you're, well, thirteen. it could also describe something secret, something forbidden, something that requires a leap of faith that a lot of people wouldn't accept or be willing to make. that's the reading that resonates the most with me. i mean, hell, i'm becoming the master of the secret and forbidden.

this is the deal i made with the other boy: be an outlaw for my love. i won't make you, but that's what i'm offering. i undoubtedly took advantage of him; the stage was set, the circumstances were perfect, and i knew what he was thinking. i knew resistance would be token at best. but the setup was risky from the start, and i made it clear that he never had to give more than he felt comfortable giving. this frustrates me. i've set myself up for confusion and discomfort by granting him all the freedom here. but that was the way this would work best. and sure enough, he's been willing and able to break the rules with me. it comes with conditions, but it's still there. in his way, he let me know.

truly gifted songwriters can wind a lyric so tightly around your heart that you're simultaneously grateful and overwhelmed by the power of the emotion. that's what alex chilton did for me with "thirteen," and that sort of contribution is worth noting.

writer of fictions [TRUE STORY]

[note: when i bracket "true story" in a title, you can take every word of the post to the bank. sometimes it's fun to pull the mask off, eh?]

i've been a writer since i first learned how to form words with one of those big fat little-kid pencils. i've found "stories" that i wrote on penmanship tablet paper in 1986, largely concerned with dogs and adventures. i've never been an essayist, really; my one true artistic love has been fiction. writing stories is perhaps the only place in this world where i can sort out the static in my head, look at things i will only ever imagine, and extrapolate small impulses to their logical extremes, and sometimes beyond.

therapy, i'm sure, works for a lot of people. been there, tried that, and have SO moved on. my problem with therapy is that there's no real exploration. it's a pretty reductive process: "this happened." "what did you think/feel about it?" "i felt X." "why?" ad nauseam. that is not helpful to me. i am the kind of woman who needs to vent. i am also, despite law school's best efforts to break me of this habit, a highly imagination-driven person. i need to tear things apart, look at the reality, and take that next step into the surreality.

so you hold in your virtual hands, by and large, the internet version of a lifelong process for me. these little stories, these flights of fancy, these midsummer night's dreams all have roots in my heart, my mind and my soul. but they truly live in my imagination, the most vibrant and important part of my psyche. there's a kernel of truth in everything i say. how much of that kernel makes it to the page, however, well... let's just let that be my little secret, OK?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

song cues

sometimes i swear the universe is speaking to me through my ipod. today has been a bizarre head-state day, and the music i listened to accidentally fed right into all of that. earlier today, i was out running errands and stewing about the other boy. i get like that with him sometimes; it really gets to me that things are so... unsettled, i guess, between us. anyway, as i'm grumbling over the weirdness, these lyrics come through my speakers:

baby, i compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray
ooh, the more i get of you, the stranger it feels, yeah...
there is so much a man could tell you
so much he could say
you remain my power, my pleasure, my pain
baby, to me you're like a growing addiction that i can't deny
won't you tell me, is that healthy, baby?

gaah. there's nothing like a middle-of-the-road pop song from the second-worst batman movie to reinforce everything you're feeling. it's painful because it's spot-on and doubly painful because it's so freaking cliche. but that cut me straight to the bone. after a fashion, the other boy is my power, my pleasure and my pain. he validates me in ways i can't describe. he does things to me that i can't replace. and he hurts me more than anyone else on this earth. i am addicted to this, too; i can't fathom letting this go, no matter how destructive it feels.

but the moment, as these things do, passed. the day went on, and i went to spend some face time with friends. we had a real purpose for being there, but no small part of the reason i'm involved with this crew is that it gives me an excuse to hang out with my newest infatuation, contestant #3. oh, my lord, this boy is BEAUTIFUL. there's no other way to describe him. he's brilliant, shrewd and just magnetically attractive. some guys just have this... pull. i am powerless to resist lusting after him. we've been locked in what seems like a mutual flirtation for weeks now, and he's got me feeling like a freaking twelve-year-old girl all over again. after two and a half hours of trying to play it cool (and hoping to all things holy that i got my message across without being obvious), i got in the car to drive home. the ol' ipod was at it again:

you wear sandals in the snow
and a smile that won't wash away...
you're so beautiful with an edge and charm
and you're so careful when i'm in your arms
'cause you're working
building a mystery...

(it helps to know that contestant #3 wears flip-flops everywhere he goes. it's another thing i adore about him.) this boy is always smiling, but it seems like there's so much more to him. he almost feels dangerous, in a way; it's the kind of thing where i sense trouble, but i almost don't care. i mean, hell; i'm only going to be in this state for another two months, tops. why not have some fun? damn the consequences, full speed ahead.

these narrative threads are about to get seriously tangled, too; both the other boy and contestant #3 factor prominently into my weekend plans. a bunch of us are traveling to the homestead this friday for a school function. the other boy will be my friday night entertainment, then i will wake up saturday morning to spend the day with contestant #3 and our mutual friends. the day with the school crew will culminate with a bar run, and frankly, i have evil, evil plans, if the heavens align properly. then sunday, i have a brunch date with my other big brother, who is as tight with the other boy as he is with me.

oh yes - my life is drama. there will be a LOT to think about come sunday afternoon.

being a heathen, i don't do the whole "signs from above" thing. but on days like today, it's really hard to keep it rational when there are omens all around me. coincidence? i wish so...

Monday, March 15, 2010


the weight of my life is heavy. i have many demands on my time and my sanity. much of this is self-inflicted: the academic life i've chosen comes with a lot of responsibility, and my personal life is certainly not something that was forced on me. but even though i do all of this of my own volition, the stress still builds until it's next to impossible to take.

that's why the warm early-spring sunshine that spread throughout the southeast friday afternoon made up my mind for me. yes, it was a beach-going weekend. so, with the ball and chain in tow, i got a weekend in my homeland to recharge, regroup and reconnect with a few people i care about. and man, was it amazing. forty-eight hours of cocktails, sunshine and socializing. it was exactly what i needed. yeah, i'm still enervated about a number of things, and yeah, my emotional health could be better. but there is almost nothing in my life that can't be cured by a day in the sun, drinking rum drinks and listening to the waves hit the shore. my decolletage is now an interesting shade of reddish-pink, my laundry is unfolded and my schoolwork is largely undone, but my soul is basically at ease for now. i'm now ready to face the world again.

i needed that.