Books Music My Heart Hurts Observations Philosophy relationships Think

Media Therapy

Sometimes a change in attitude is really all that’s necessary to change your shitty life (or rather, what you perceive as your shitty life).

Take, for example, today.

Yesterday, I was a ridiculous mess. I’m gonna blame mercury, because there ain’t no logical way to explain it, but when my niece came home at 9:00, she found me in a ball on the couch, crying. Yes, I’d been drinking. But wow, was I upset over nothing. That sadness (but not the tears) stayed with me until I went to sleep…

…but it was mostly gone by the time I woke up (at 7 a.m.!!) this morning.

My niece took the day off from work because she wasn’t feeling well, and she needed to get some errands done. When she told me her errands included the bookstore and the library, I asked if I could join her.

I ended up coming home with two brand new books, four free paperbacks, 9 videos borrowed from the library, and 7 new $1 CDs I’ve never heard, from Aboveground records. That’s plenty of distraction to tear me away from my other distractions, which have been bothersome lately.

Getting lost in a fluff book, or a movie with no cinematic merit whatsoever? Listening to music (that may or may not suck) for the first time? Way healthier than dwelling on real or imagined hurts that you have absolutely no power to change.

(patting self on back)

So yeah, today was a good day.

Blather Making Fun Of People Music Observations Pointless Narcissism Pop Culture Rant School Think

“Molly’s Lips” Are Still Sweeter Than Dave’s “Halo.”

…or, A Big Fat Raspberry For Dave Grohl, And Other Irrelevant Thoughts.

I’ve just finished a thirty page project in which I had to write about people writing about music. For my magazine publishing class (from last semester, I’m that far behind), we each had to choose a magazine to do a final project on, and since Rolling Stone was not one of the acceptable choices, I chose SPIN. I’ve read SPIN from time to time since I was a teenager, and have enjoyed it, albeit less than I’ve enjoyed Rolling Stone. Doing this project made me realize several things:

1) I hate SPIN magazine. The articles are too short, the subjects are too mainstream, and the writing is unexciting. And the design is absolutely atrocious. Having done my research, I know that this is because there was a major overhaul in 2006, when the magazine was sold. If I knew where Nion McEvoy (the buyer) lived, I’d slap him in the face for ruining a good magazine.

2) I love music (this is not something I’d forgotten, but it was reinforced). While working on this project, I thought it would only be right to listen to music I hadn’t listened to in a long time, thereby resurrecting the music in my own collection the way I wished that Bob Guccione Jr., or someone else who cared, would resurrect SPIN. Because the project took longer than I anticipated, I rediscovered Nirvana’s Incesticide, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Mother’s Milk, Frank Zappa’s Lather, The Pixies’ Doolittle, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell, Helmet’s Meantime, Black Sabbath’s We Sold Our Soul For Rock N’ Roll, The Ramones’ The Ramones, and about a dozen others. In addition, I also listened to a CD from a friend of mine’s band, Counter Clockwise, as I would listen if I were a critic–I played it at least six times during the time I spent on this project–and it turns out I quite like it (big shocker there). I also pulled out one of the two Foo Fighters albums I’ve owned for some time but never listened to. It’s on my stereo right now. I haven’t thrown it across the room yet, but I’ll get back to you after I’ve heard the whole thing.

3) I love writing about music. In picking apart the articles I was reading about the music, I found myself weighing in on it, tearing apart the writers’ assertions or areas of neglect while filling in my own opinions and trying to back them up enough so that they were interesting to other people. One of the most satisfying blog pieces I’ve ever written was a post called “Saving Grace,” and writing for this project made me nostalgic for [[I have to interrupt here to say that song #2 on the Foo Fighters album is tempting me to chuck it at the double door]] the feeling I got while writing that post. I can’t put my finger on exactly what that feeling was–I guess the idea that I had something to say about that particular album that other people might be interested in reading.

4) I can’t wait to get back to writing for my own reasons. Although what I’m doing right now is technically “writing for my own reasons,” it’s something I rarely have time to do, and I’m doing it now only because I’m too inspired not to. I miss the freedom of not having schoolwork hanging over my head, telling me that I have higher priorities than babbling on and on about the petty little things I give a shit about, like why Grace is an album that every human being with a heart should listen to at least once all the way through, and why I just might snap a CD I paid for in half in about two minutes.

5) I want to have my own radio show. It’s something I’ve thought about before, but the desire has been cemented by spending the better part of a month closely reading successive issues of a music magazine and realizing that I care about music enough to want to spend the time and energy to expose other people to the music that I love. In coming up with ideas for potential stories for SPIN as part of the project, I started thinking about the demise of radio, and how much I actually care whether or not independent radio–and the possibility of learning about new music from listening to the radio–survives. I care a lot, and I want to be part of it.

6) I really wish Dave Grohl would go back to reaping the profits from the untimely death of the creative powerhouse behind the band that made him famous. Or maybe fire his entire band and start over from scratch–as the drummer. Having now listened to four songs off of the aforementioned neglected Foo Fighters album, I’m ashamed to admit that I paid four dollars for it in 2003. Yes, it was a clearance sale at my college’s bookstore, and yes I got the CD, brand new and sealed, for only four bucks, but I still want to hide my face in embarrassment because it’s garbage and I should have known that before shucking out my hard-earned $4 for it. Boo, Dave. Boo. I think I might have to listen to Incesticide again just to rid my head of the catchy but obnoxious melody of song #2.

Music Observations

The Jimi Hendrix Cure For Depression

My love affair with headphones began when I was about eight years old, when my mother lent me her clunky silver Walkman on a long-term loan. The thing was big, made of metal, and had two headphone jacks. At the time, it was state-of-the-art. What I discovered with the Walkman was that it allowed me to tune everyone else (and everyone else’s music) out, and drift into my own little world, where the soundtrack was entirely of my choosing. I borrowed tapes from my mother and father, and eventually I collected a few of my own (some of which I’m not so proud of, like the New Kids On The Block). I could play my tapes as many times as I wanted without anyone becoming sick of what I was listening to, and I could rewind and fast-forward to whatever songs I liked best.

This habit eventually led to the frequent compilation of mix tapes, which were largely taped off the radio at first, and later compiled from CDs that either I or my friends owned. The tapes were mini-soundtracks to my life–collections of songs which made me feel a certain way whenever I listened to them. At first, the tapes were just random collections of songs I liked, but eventually my mix-tape skills advanced to the point that I had certain tapes for certain moods (loud, angry, happy, sad), themed tapes (love, insanity, drugs, drinking, death), and I also made tapes for friends which contained songs that made me think of them, whether because of a memory or because I knew they liked the songs.

As technology has advanced, so has my method–one of the most exciting things about purchasing my first laptop was that it came with a CD burner, so I could make as many mix CDs as I wanted without having to camp out at a friend’s computer for hours with my boxes of CDs, and the double tape-deck boom-box was a thing of the distant past.

And then came the iPod–the ultimate in personal music experiences (aside from, of course, playing music–which I suck at). With a swivel of my thumb, I could change my music with my mood. I could make endless, melancholy playlists that were good for a long contemplative bus ride, or I could make short, upbeat playlists that would last the length of a bike ride or a workout. Whatever the situation, I’d have the appropriate music at my fingertips without lugging around a case of CDs and changing them all the time.

I know I’ve mentioned before how profoundly the death of my iPod has affected me–but I realized the other day while listening briefly to my father’s iPod before returning it to him, that it’s more than a simple desire for musical accompaniment, or the want to drown out others. There are times when I need the music to set me straight.

Most of the music on my father’s iPod comes from my own CD collection. I have not updated its contents since I gave it to him, so what is on it is primarily my Blues collection (my father is the one who got me to love the Blues). I made a playlist for the train ride to the hospital to visit him the other day, and without really thinking about their connection, I chose a selection of the most incredible guitar songs on the iPod. I chose them because they were my favorites out of what was on the ipod–but I didn’t realize that I chose them because I needed them.

The thing is, I love the guitar. I do not play (yet), but I listen–and when I listen, I react. When I was walking to the train, plugged into Dad’s iPod, I found myself unable to stop smiling–not because things were going well in my life (quite the contrary), but because great guitar playing makes me smile. Jimi Hendrix’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” slows me down to a speed in which the world is manageable, and I find my feet moving to the addictive rhythm while my hands and head move along with the bending, fluid lead. With its guitars alone, The Allman Brothers’ extended version of “Whipping Post” makes adequate justification for a single track to be longer than ten minutes. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Blues At Sunrise” makes me think of slow-dancing in a smoky barroom in a small nothing town…

That train ride spent smiling (and illiciting peculiar looks from strangers) was the longest period of time in weeks that I’ve been purely happy–and it was a happiness caused by music, and completely my own. It was the right therapy at the right time. That’s the thing about portable, private music–having the right music available when you need it is like having the right friend around when you need consoling. If you want to wallow, you can listen to The Cure or Matthew Ryan; if you don’t have time to wallow or you’ve wallowed enough, you can listen to Janis, and you can mouth the bluesy words while your body changes its tune from a slow, shuffling loaf to a foot-tapping frenzy of energy. With headphones, music becomes therapy you can take with you–and keep to yourself.

A spontaneous smile is so much more sublime when you know that everyone around you is wondering what the hell you’re smiling about.

Blather Music Pointless Narcissism Rant

The Laboriousness of Ipodlessness

For as long as I can remember, I have been a musically eclectic person. I know that “eclectic” is a word that’s hideously overused when people describe their musical tastes, as in “I’m eclectic. I like The Strokes and The Vines, but I also like Gnarls Barkley and Sublime.” This is not what I mean when I refer to my own musical tastes as “eclectic.” I suppose “all over the place” would be just as accurate: I like rock, folk-rock, rap, reggae, funk, techno, hip-hop, metal, goth, industrial, Celtic, Bhangra, indie-rock (though I’m very picky within this genre, as a lot of indie rockers tend toward undeserved pretension), jazz, classical, country, and of course my first love, the blues. I have not gone through music “phases” so much as I have layered new music I like on top of the old music I liked, without ever having stopped liking what I started with (1). This is evidenced by the fact that I still have every Guns N’ Roses album ever released.

There is, of course, music I don’t like–but I cannot discount the entirety of any particular genre with the sole exception of disco. I despise most “contemporary pop” in its current incarnation. I believe there needs to be much more old-school musicianship involved in the making of music (like writing songs, and playing instruments) than mainstream pop currently contains. More than that, I simply find the sound of most contemporary pop completely boring. Similarly, I am not a fan of “new metal” or “new country.” Perhaps it’s because I just don’t think I’d have anything to talk about with the people who make it. That said, I do like Nelly Furtado and Shakira (though I prefer the latter in Spanish), I’ve banged my head to a Korn song or two, and I know all the words to most of the songs on Shania Twain’s first album. Within genres I do like, there are also artists I despise–for example, I cannot stand Sublime, though I like Ska (or whatever genre it is that they fit into), and I like rap, including gangsta rap, but if I hear “This Is Why I’m Hot” one more time I’m gonna throw whatever apparatus it’s coming out of through a window.

Like most people who truly like music, what I want to listen to depends on my mood, and despite the fact that my moods don’t swing as often as most people’s, my music moods do. This is what’s so fantastic about the iPod: it’s made the old staple for musically diverse personalities–the mix tape–a labor-intensive and unnecessary thing of the past (this is good, as I don’t think I’ve actually seen a blank tape since 2001). In short, as I’ve said before, I love my iPod. Not only does it hold way more music than a mix tape (or a trunk full of mix tapes) ever could, but it’s possible to change the music fifty times in a minute without ever rewinding, fast-forwarding, or removing anything.

The unfortunate thing, however, is that I cruelly drowned my iPod in soap two weeks ago, and have been living in a desperate withdrawal state ever since. The good thing about my obsessive love of music is that it’s led me to preserve my music collection in its original CD format, which means that though I’ve lost the medium through which to play everything that was in the old Pod, I haven’t lost the music itself. I tend not to download music because I’d rather pay an extra few bucks and have the artwork and the case so that I can look at the rack and see exactly what I’ve got. Call me old-fashioned (or neurotic–my CDs are alphabetized).

And I do have a stereo in my room. Which means that as long as I’m at home, I can listen to whatever I would have listened to on my iPod were it not incredibly dead. Only the process is much, much slower, and requires a hell of a lot more labor. If I were, for example, listening to Fugazi and all of a sudden wanted to listen instead to Atmosphere (a segway which happens more often than one might expect), I’d have to go over to the rack, pick out the Atmosphere CD, open the player, take out the Fugazi, put in the Atmosphere, close the tray, hit play, put the Fugazi CD back in its case, walk over to the CD rack and put it back in alphabetical order–because, as I said, I’m neurotic. That’s entirely too much work to achieve what a little piece of genius can get done with a swivel of my thumb.

And I can’t take the damn stereo with me. Anywhere. Which means when I’m on the train, I actually have to acknowledge that there are other people on the train, which I never want to do. I enjoy the train only if I’m tuned out enough to pretend that I’m all alone, and even a good book can’t get me tuned out the way a good Pantera song can.

In a few weeks, perhaps even this week, I will buy a new iPod. Not because I technically need one, and certainly not because I can afford one, but because if I can reach in my bag and immediately be connected to the simple but brilliant bass lines of Joe Lally, then change my mind and decide I’d rather hear Axl Rose whining at top volume about whatever it is that Axl whined about in 1987, then change my mind again and decide that I’d rather listen to the thirty minute extended live version of Whipping Post (which can only be achieved in full if one is either stoned or not paying attention to what’s playing), it will make me a little less crazy.

And we all want me less crazy.

(1) The exceptions to this rule are New Kids On The Block, who I liked for approximately a month in 1986, before I discovered Guns N’ Roses, and Alanis Morrissette, whose use of the word “fuck” in her most popular song duped me when I was fifteen into believing that her music was more than just self-absorbed whining over loud guitar riffs.

Blather Music Observations Pointless Narcissism Rant Tattoos

In Which The Salt Girl Unwittingly Gets A $700 Tattoo.

I often joke that my life is governed by Murphy’s Law. Those who are close to me know that this is at least partly true: I am afraid of skunks, and I come from an island that is hideously overpopulated by them. If I am dressed up, with my hair straightened, it will undoubtedly pour, thereby rendering both my outfit and my hair worthless. If I like a guy, he will instantly be attracted to my best friend. If I go somewhere on vacation, the most exciting thing in my home town will happen the day after I leave, and the most exciting thing in the city I’m visiting will occur the day after I return home. If I get a shift covered at work, the person who covers for me will make twice what I’m used to for that particular shift.

And I’m clumsy. I’m a dalmatian-spotted mess of bruises most of the time, and I’m almost incapable of crossing a room without walking into something. I have slammed my own fingers in car doors, I have thrown out my back by tripping over a cat, I hit my head on the car roof nearly every time I get into a car that’s smaller than an SUV.

And I’m unlucky. When I’m riding in someone’s car, they hit every red light until they drop me off. Likewise, when I’m riding my bike, I encounter not only every red light, but every traffic impediment imaginable (like street fairs with renta-cops). I have never won more than ten dollars on a scratch ticket–but I’ve watched the person who bought the ticket after mine win $500. I lost a spelling bee once because the judges made an error three rounds back, and didn’t catch it until I was going for the win. The next year, in the same spelling bee, my first word was one that I’d never heard before so I was out in the first round, but I correctly spelled every other word in the competition without even a second thought.

That said, I was terribly disappointed but not surprised to discover this evening that I have just purchased myself a seven hundred dollar tattoo. According to the care regimen for the tattoo I paid $250 for last week, I am supposed to wash it several times a day with “a gentle, antimicrobial soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s.” I have done so, faithfully–so faithfully that I made the awful mistake of carrying the soap with me in my bag when I went to work. The soap, somewhere between work and home, inexplicably opened and spilled all over the inside of my bag, destroying not only the bag (which I adore–and paid $70 for, but I am willing to part with grudgingly) but also my four-month new $350 80GB video iPod.

I love my iPod. I don’t ever leave home without it, and I am frequently able to play it through the sound system at work so that everyone else can enjoy my music too. When I fly, I load videos onto it so that I can sit in my seat and be passively entertained for hours on end. I am addicted to music–so much that in the Time Before Ipods, I used to spend hundreds of dollars every year replacing Walkmen and Discmen so that I could constantly have a portable source of music. Ipod eliminated the need to do this–until Murphy’s Law and my own ridiculous stupidity eliminated my iPod.

The kicker of the whole thing is this: up until a few weeks ago, I always kept my iPod in a protective case, which, had it been on my beloved gadget this evening, probably would have saved it from the Dreaded Soap. Unfortunately, I discovered a few weeks ago that the reason that the speakers often buzzed when my iPod was playing at work was because the case prevented the jack cord from going all the way in, meaning there was a faulty connection–hence the buzz. I took to taking my iPod out of the case when I played it at work, and about a week ago, I was unable to find the top part of the case when I retrieved my iPod. It could have fallen in the recycling bin, which is located just under the stereo at work. Needless to say, I did not go right out and buy a new case like I should have, nor did I refrain from stashing my iPod in my bag while in transit.

The music itself is replaceable, as I have very smartly retained all of my CDs–but the basic fact is that I cannot afford a new iPod. I cannot afford food at this point, if you take my current debt-to-income ratio into consideration. I couldn’t afford the goddamn tattoo. I suspended my guilt over that at the time, but now it’s hitting me like an anvil dropped from on high: If you’d just refrained from getting the tattoo, you’d still have your iPod…

I’m devastated, because I’m pretty attached to the little sucker, but more than that I’m frustrated and disappointed because I did this, just like I am usually the culprit when things go wrong in my life.

And to top it off, after an entirely mosquito-bite-free summer, I’ve just been eaten alive while I’ve been typing this blog, and I think one of the little fuckers got me on my $700 tattoo. And I’m out of the damn soap because it’s all in my iPod.

Books Music Nostalgia Observations People Pointless Narcissism School Think

The Two-Dollar Cure For Brain Death

When I was a teenager and had little in the way of responsiblity to worry about, I read. I mean I read a book a day, almost every day. I’d stay up into the wee hours of the night on a school night to finish whatever book I’d had clandestinely hidden behind my textbooks in class, and the next day I wouldn’t feel any worse for the wear. I read voraciously, and I read anything. I’d go to the local Thrift Store because the books were fifty cents, and I’d buy heaps of them. Some I’d never read, but most I’d pick off within the week.

This unflagging ability to read continued into my early twenties, and ended promptly when I returned from a three month trip to New Zealand in 2003. While I was in New Zealand, I read books I found on hostel shelves, I traded books with other travelers, and when there was nothing free, I ventured to used book stores and usually came out ten minutes into the visit with twenty pages under my belt already.

Upon my return from the trip, I enrolled in community college in Monterey, California, where I was living. I was also working full-time at a restaurant. While I did still read–often by average standards–I did not have the time or the focus to keep up my previous pace of three books a week or more. It also became more difficult, as my attention drifted to academic reading and my mind reeled over the unprecedented fullness of my schedule, to pick a book to read. I’d stand in front of loaded shelves and stare, pick up book after book and read their jackets, and leave the store empty-handed. Because I am incapable of riding buses or sitting around without some sort of reading material, I begun to read magazines–Spin, Outside, Backpacker, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker–whatever glossy cover attracted my attention and boasted of having something intelligent to say inside. After a few weeks of “reader’s block,” I’d find a book, usually by accident, and I’d be back in the saddle again, so to speak.

As my educational pursuits have continued to become more focused (writing and literature) and more difficult, the reader’s block has stayed with me, and it’s gotten more frequent and more… well, blocked. During the semester, I am able to read my required reading (which last semester consisted of two novels, fifteen to twenty essays and ten to twenty short stories per week), but I become incapable of reading anything else, due largely to lack of time–and guilt. It is during the semester, however, that I routinely find books I’m desperate to read–only I can’t read them, I have to put them off. By the time I have time for them, I’ve either forgotten what they were or lost interest.

I’ve found, disappointingly, that this block has continued well into what is supposed to be my relaxation time–my free reading time. School does not begin again until mid-September, so I have all the time in the world to sit around and read, but by and large I can’t. Since the end of the semester in May, I have read a total of three books. Three books in six weeks. That’s a sixth of what I used to be capable of. I’d like to say that my disappointing reading record is due to a busy schedule, other projects, a sudden burst of artistic creativity–hell, I’d even willingly blame it on a new friend or boyfriend. But it’s not that. I’ve got plenty of time to read, I just don’t. I stand in front of my shelves and look at books I’ve intended to read for months or years–half-finished biographies, books of essays and letters, “must read” classics. I stare, I ruminate, I walk away empty-handed.

When I do find something, I’m grabbed and I hold on for dear life until the thing’s done, but I’m reluctant to read the last pages, because I know that when I’m finished, I won’t have anything to read for days, or even weeks. This was how I felt the other day when I finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams, which I’d borrowed from a friend months ago and left sitting untouched until in a moment of desperation I forced myself to read the first twenty pages of it. From there, I was golden–but I don’t like forcing it.

I’ve just moved into a house with three other people–three other people who read–which means that I’ve got their entire lot of books at my fingertips as well as my own. The morning after I finished Animal Dreams, I stood in front of the shelf and stared not at the same familiar titles I’ve been looking at all year, but at new ones. A few of them jumped out at me: a Vonnegut book I’d never heard of; Steppenwolf; Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang; a history of cults. It was this last which piqued my interest–I’ve always been fascinated by cults and the people who join them; I am baffled by the ability of some people to suspend free thought and blindly follow the rules of a charismatic but megalomaniac leader. “I think I’m gonna read about cults,” I said to my roommate, excited. Five minutes later, I put the book back on the shelf, along with The Monkey Wrench Gang and Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

Then yesterday, the unexpected happened. I was loafing around in Harvard Square, slowly going about my errands, and I followed the smell of cheeseburgers toward Bartley’s, a legendary burger joint. Of course the place was packed beyond consideration, and I turned around. On my way back, I passed the Harvard Book Store, an independent with a great selection of used books and nearly everything new that I would ever want. I spent five minutes inside, considered a few things, and walked out, disappointed.

On my way back to the train station, I passed the Book Guy: a bespactacled, Z.Z. Top-looking vendor who sets up a stand on the sidewalk (it used to be downstairs inside the T station) and sells books, his dog tethered to his director’s chair the whole time. I paused at the Book Guy’s stand and a thick white paperback caught my attention immediately. Rolling Stone Magazine, its cover declared. A history of the magazine’s beginning, and its polarizing, revolutionary/capitalist founder, Jann Wenner. In small print under the book’s title I saw Hunter S. Thompson’s name, and when I flipped open the cover, his words of praise for the book were printed at the top of the first page. I’ve been a reader of Rolling Stone for years, increasingly reluctant to shell out my five bucks for what will largely be ads and stories on music I don’t give a damn about, but unable to pass up the chance of reading the occasional gem that it seems only Rolling Stone is capable of digging up. And Thompson, well, he was the clincher. I would enthusiastically read anything he ever touched.

I paid the Book Guy my two bucks, and by the time I’d reached the platform in the subway station, I had read twenty pages. By the time I got home later in the evening, I’d read 78. And this book, which takes place largely in the late 60s and early 70s, is the perfect segway to reading about cults.

For the moment, I’m cured. Thank you, Book Guy, for throwing a mountain of books in my path and making me stop. I’m eternally grateful, and will continue to give you my two bucks as often as I am able.

Health Islands Music People Pointless Narcissism Rant

The Good, The Bad and the Vicodin Itchies

The Good: I’ve finally, after many weeks of anticipation, moved into my new apartment–and as I must have mentioned at least once before, it’s fan-fricking-tastic. Tonight is the third night I’ve spent here, and so far there’s a 2 for 3 record of guitars being played on the back porch, which ain’t too shabby if I do say so myself (I must also say that I have an 0 for 2 record of being one of the guitar players, though my mother’s vintage guitar has been lovingly played both times). Tomorrow’s project, aside from laundry, is to get my room into a more lived-in sort of arrangement, as right now there are still a heap of empty plastic boxes in one corner, and there’s a bunch of stuff sort of strewn atop surfaces–things which have been unearthed from previous storage and have yet to find homes. My books are coming home on Thursday from their epic stay in my father’s shed–they’ve been sorely missed, and I’m anticipating their arrival with untempered joy. My roommates, too, are looking forward to my books–my room’s previous tenant had quite a few, and she took most of them with her.

The Bad: I’ve spent most of the week in fluctuation between extreme agony and numb dopeyness, due to the dental issues I’ve had recently–infected wisdom tooth and broken filling in desperate need of a root canal, concurrently. Not fun. It seems the wisdom has chilled out for the time being, and I haven’t had to take the painkillers to sleep for two nights–in fact, I haven’t taken one at all today. Unfortunately, the other tooth has grown more sensitive, to the point that I cannot chew at all on that side of my mouth for fear that it might break off entirely (not to mention the excruciating dagger-in-the-jaw pains that accompany biting down. I cannot entirely close my mouth. It’s ridiculous. I’m a dental invalid. So next week, and perhaps for weeks to come, I’ll be eating oatmeal and Jell-o and tapioca pudding. I went ahead and bought the tapioca today, just so I’d be ready–only I didn’t feel confident in biting the little tapioca bubbles like I usually do because I didn’t want to lose a &^%$#! tooth over tapioca. Not Swiss Miss, anyway.

The Vicodin Itchies: Beginning last week and continuing until yesterday, I’ve felt like I had a mild rash on my arms and legs (and sometimes my face and chest), but when I looked, there were no bumps or spots or hives, or any other sign of irritation. I have not been exposed to anyone who was likely to have given me Hippie Bugs of any sort, and I had taken both of the prescriptions I’m on before. I was at a loss, flummoxed. And itchy–but not maddeningly so. In fact the itch was very minor, like the feeling you get if you go too long before taking a shower after being in salt water. Then on Monday night when I was at the beach with my friends, I took a Vicodin and a friend commented, “Vicodin always makes me itchy.” Aha! I thought. It is the drugs! So I don’t have Hippie Bugs, I’ve got a lesser version of Coke Bugs. Go figure.

I haven’t had any Vicodin today, so I shouldn’t be itchy, but of course I went and got myself a minor sunburn this afternoon, so I’m itchy anyway. And in a day or two, the skin will peel off of my shoulders, and maybe my face. Right about when I get my tooth drilled to bits and they send me home with more Vicodin.

I’m a mess, really. But I’ve got a great apartment, and it’ll still be here long after my wisdom teeth and the Vicodin Itchies (and all of my money) are gone. I’ll clink my fucking non-alcoholic Dental-Invalid beer to that.

Blather Islands Music Nature Ocean People Pointless Narcissism Rant

A Tale Of Boredom In The Form Of Lists

Things I Love About Summer:

THUNDERSTORMS! (There’s one going on right now… wish I were near the ocean)
Swimming in the ocean
The feeling of having gotten just enough sun to make me tired, not enough to fry the hell out of me
Ice cream sandwiches
Eating lunch or dinner on a dock, dangling my toes in the drink
Going barefoot (even better than flip-flops)
Salty skin
Night-swimming when there’s phosphorescence (or really any old time at all)
Long, protracted beach days
Reading books that are not required for school
Wooden sailboats
Live music at sunset in Menemsha
Attempting to surf
Giordano’s pizza
Wandering the beach at 3 a.m.
Tiger Lilies and Snap-Dragons
Explosives (fireworks–but not the big organized sort)
Wraparound skirts
Baby turkeys in my yard on the Vineyard
Shark sandwiches
Super-fresh fish

Things I Decidedly Do Not Love About Summer:

Tourists who walk around agape, as if they’ve forgotten what species they are
Swimming in pools
Long ferry lines and crowded boats
Belligerent New Yorkers (I know, this falls under tourists, but they deserve their own mention)
Men in pink pants
People who refuse to put sunscreen on their kids (who are so white they’re practically blue)
High-heeled flip-flops
Fake tanner
All of Giordano’s’ food besides the pizza
Having sand lodged in my unmentionables
When the air is colder than the water
The dreadlocks salt water turns my hair into
Miniskirts that are so short that you can see the girls’ underwear
Fiberglass sailboats and most of the people who wield them
Litter on beaches
Mosquitos and No-See-‘Ems
The reappearance of my arch enemy, the skunk
Poison Ivy

Insomnia Music

Insomnia Playlist

Alberta–Eric Clapton (Unplugged version)
A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun–Tom Waits
Om Ah Hum–Colin Ruel
New Mexico Rain–Bill Hearne
Beautiful Girl–INXS
To Wish Impossible Things–The Cure
Not For All The Love In The World–The Thrills
Alexandra Leaving–Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Fool–Matthew Ryan
The Blower’s Daughter–Damien Rice
Goodbye–Eddie Vedder
All I Want Is You–U2
Little Martha–Allman Brothers Band
Innocent When You Dream–Tom Waits
She Talks To Angels–The Black Crowes
Something In The Way–Nirvana (Unplugged version)
It Can’t Rain All The Time–Jane Siberry
Sara–Bob Dylan
Homesick–The Cure
Stormy Weather–Etta James
Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave–Morphine
Into My Arms–Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Kristen and Jim–Eric Clapton
Hallelujah–Jeff Buckley
Release–Pearl Jam
Dark Water & Stars–Natural Calamity
Witchi Tai To–Harpers Bizarre
The End–The Doors
Wish You Were Here–Pink Floyd

Blather Music Observations People Pointless Narcissism Rant

Whiskey River, Break My Mind

For the past thirteen hours, I’ve had Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” stuck in my head. And I’m not talking about a song that you end up humming every half hour or so, I’m talking about a single line that comes out of my mouth every time I stop talking, listening, or thinking. Every thirty seconds for thirteen hours. That means I’ve sung Whiskey River take my mind approximately one thousand five hundred sixty times.

 Don’t get me wrong–I love Willie Nelson, and “Whiskey River” is one of my favorite songs of his. I also know why it’s there: this morning while I was sitting on my friend’s porch, trying to bribe my hangover into submission with a vat of black coffee, his roommate turned on the radio, and Willie belted out “Whiskey River,” and even with a headache (partially attributable to whiskey) that felt like I had midgets repeatedly punching me in the eyes, I enjoyed the hell out of the song.

Until about the thirtieth time that I heard myself sing, Whiskey River take my mind…

I made the mistake, of course, of telling the friends I was hanging out with this afternoon and evening that I had an internal form of auditory torture going on–and I made the even bigger mistake of telling them what song it was. Not that I could have hidden it for long–every time there was a silence, awkward or comfortable, I filled it. I hummed. I don’t hum, particularly not when I’m hung over, but I hummed all goddamned day. Like a lovesick little girl with a complete inability to recall more than five words of the lyrics. I hummed, I whistled, and I sang. The same five notes. Over and over and over again.

Then on the car ride back from Menemsha, where we’d gone to listen to some live bluegrass music on the dock (which did nothing to tear me away from Whiskey River), They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse In Your Soul” came on the radio… and that got stuck in my head. It’s a much more amenable song to be stuck with, seeing as I know all the words to “Birdhouse,” and can keep the hum going for longer than five notes.

 But then I opened my big fat mouth and told my friend that the voices in my head had changed their tune, to which he replied, “Well, at least it’s not ‘Whiskey River.'” A few minutes went by, then between bites of my dinner, I spontaneously busted out in song again, loud enough for only me to hear: Whiskey River take my mind…

“You’re an asshole!” I said to my friend. Of course, a few minutes had passed, and everyone at the table thought that perhaps I had Tourette’s. There was an awkward silence… and then I filled it.

“You’re right,” my friend said. “I am an asshole.”