Monday, March 01, 2010

Analog Girl, Digital World

My people, I think it's high time that I crept back into the writing world. If anyone is out there and cares, I would like to write more stories along these lines for you to read. S'alright? S'alright.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Singles Going Steady: Phil Collins's "Separate Lives"

Editor's Note: No, it's not deja vu; I really am republishing this entry, newly edited, but not new. I decided I need to finish this story because I don't like having it out there all unraveled. It does have an end. If you want to go back and read the story from the beginning, click here and scroll to the last question.

It felt exactly like an authentic break up, which I wasn't expecting. I spent a lot of time chain smoking and staring forlornly out my bedroom window, listening to The Smiths. Still, I had to laugh at the absurdity of it: I was trying to get over someone I shouldn't have been under in the first place. Along with being completely inappropriate, it just made me feel like a fool. It started out as a game to me and had devolved into something reckless. I kept replaying the argument in my mind and kept stopping on the look Matthew gave me as I walked out the door. I'd never seen hurt like that before. I didn't even know I was capable of evoking such a reaction in someone.

The week slumped along. I halfheartedly reviewed for my finals and just as halfheartedly took them. On Wednesday, I had to drop off a paper for the GA who was teaching my _______ class. All the _______ GAs shared an office space, and I'd been avoiding it because I didn't want to run into Matthew, but this was the last day I could turn it in and I needed to talk to my GA. I waited until office hours were almost over then walked down to the _______ office. Of course, Matthew's voice met me at the door, coupled with a giggly, annoying female one belonging to someone who I guessed was one of his students. She was asking questions about an assignment, though it was clear she was flirting with him. I hated her. Standing outside the door, I listened to them talk and felt my blood boil. I wanted to beat the shit out of her. I thought about it, what it would be like to feel my fist connect with her face, to feel my knuckles smash into her nose. Every giggle increased my anger and I tightened my fists until I felt a sharp prick in my right palm. A staple. I was crushing my paper. Then I thought, You have no right to feel like this. Of course, "Separate Lives," the awful Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin ballad from the 1980s movie White Nights, came into my head:

You have no right to ask me how I feel/
You have no right to speak to me so kind/
We can't go on just holding on to time/
Now that we're living separate lives…

Annoyed with myself for being so maudlin, I took a deep breath and walked into the office. Matthew stopped in the middle of his sentence when he saw me. I stared to mouth, "Hey," but he looked away and turned back to Giggle Girl and said, "Sorry. I was saying that the reliability of the narrator is in question, and what you need to do now is..." I slunk into my GA's cubicle and didn't listen to one thing that came out of her mouth the entire time I was there. When I left, the office was empty.

By Friday, I was jumping out of my skin, anxious to get out of town. I thought about leaving for home that night, but never felt safe driving on the highway after dark, and I had work to do at Avery's. Victor called a few times, said he needed to talk to me, but I hadn't called back. I hadn't thought about him much since he'd been gone. That seemed significant. Matthew had been right: It was preposterous to think that Victor didn't know something was going on. Maybe that was what he wanted to talk to me about. The thought of being found out made me feel more relieved than guilty.

Without the usual thousands of students milling around, the campus seemed larger than usual and somewhat institutional. D_____ Hall was like a ghost town; the only person I saw was the janitor. We talked for a minute about the weather, the news, then I made a pot of coffee and dove in to the work Avery left for me—-a mostly administrative project that I'd been avoiding, a lot of filing, a lot of sorting. It didn't require much of me mentally, which was exactly what I needed. I turned on the radio—an oldies station was all I could get—and bounced around the office, singing along, sorting, filing. When I looked up again, I saw a silhouette outside the office door. From the shape, I could tell it wasn't the janitor. My heart skipped and I opened it to find Matthew in mid-knock.
He didn't smile, but his eyes were bright. "Hey."
I was elated. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough to understand why you're not a music major," he laughed.
"Yeah, well…" I just wanted to stand there and drink him in-—his face, his voice, that laugh.
"How have you been?"
I shrugged, "Well, finals are over."
He nodded, "Yeah, I had a lot of writing to do this week. Don't think it's exactly prize-winning stuff."
"I'm sorry."
"It's no big deal. That's what backspace is for," he set his backpack on the floor. "You leaving soon?"
"Yes. I was just finishing up. Are you?"
"Yeah," he looked at me, then at the floor. He said quietly, "I'll wait for you."

We walked toward south campus, smoking, both of us quiet, much like the first time we walked home together. When we got to 12th and Neil, we stood under the same streetlight and looked at each other.
He stubbed out his cigarette and adjusted his backpack, "So, you're leaving for home tomorrow, right?"
"You staying the whole week?"
"I'm not sure. Depends on what goes on, I guess..." I kicked at some rocks on the sidewalk, "Listen, I'm sorry for what I said. I hope you know—I didn't-"
"Me, too. I didn't mean to lecture you or insult you—"
"No—" I reached for his arm, "What you said was important. It was important for me to hear it. I mean, I needed to hear it." I looked up at him, "I have some things to work out. On this trip."
He nodded, took off his glasses and cleaned them on his Clash t-shirt.
"I know it's last minute, and I don't know if you have plans later—"
He put his glasses back on, "No."
"No... you have plans?"
He looked a little unsure but he half-smiled, "I mean no. No plans. Come over."

Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, "Separate Lives"
From the White Nights OST
Y'all is buggin' if you think I ever bought it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mixtape: The Most Melancholy Songs in the World, Like, Ever, Part the Second

Hello, Internet Friends.

It's been far too long since I had the time to write for myself, no thanks to all the writing I've had to do of late for The Man. But tonight seems as good a night as any to revisit this list, what with Gilmore Girls coming to an end, and all. [Sidebar: Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann OWNED that show, especially during the death rattle that was this last season.] Yes, it was never as good once the Sherman-Palladinos dipped out, but I was a wee 24 year old thing when it started and for some reason, that makes me feel...melancholy. Holler if you hear me:

* All Mixed Up -- Red House Painters
* Carry Me Ohio -- Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelek's voice makes him sound like he's seen some stuff. Seen a lot of broken hearts and promises, been on both ends of each. Plus: Soft spot for songs that name check my home state.

* Full of Stars -- Turin Breaks
* Into Temptation -- Crowded House
* Lonesome Tears -- Beck
* Not Dark Yet -- Bob Dylan
* Open Heart Surgery -- The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Fans of DiG! will recognize this as the song that's featured prominently in the movie.

* The Rising Tide -- Sunny Day Real Estate
* See You in the Next One (Have a Good Time) -- The Verve
* The Shadowlands -- Ryan Adams
* Xtal -- Aphex Twin
I've never really considered Richard D. James to be an especially thoughtful composer. But when he came out of the gate with Selected Ambient Works: 85-92, a cheeky title for a first release, I was enraptured. To these ears, however, it's as though he did everything backwords. SAW:85-92 marked an important point in electronic music; his output after that alienated me ("Come to Daddy"? Drukqs? Er, no). "Xtal," with its subtle but pulsing bass and ghostly female sounding vocalization, was entrancing. It's a headphone listen, no question. My one-time roommate, affectionately known as "Krista Big Pants," for the redonk JNCOs she insisted on wearing everywhere, gave me a tape of this track back in 1995 when we lived in our big, smelly, cat-infested apartment on Highland Street near 8th Ave. in Columbus. No idea where she is today, but KBP, if you're out there, muchas.

* Rhymes of an Hour -- Mazzy Star
* Rags to Rags -- Eels
* Realize -- Codeine
I don't know much about this band. I slept on them when this album came out and really only discovered them about a year ago. All I can tell you is that Barely Real, the EP from whence this lovely, grand, and somewhat theatrical song came, has cover art to match.

* I Had a Time -- Embrace
* Shame -- Low
* In a Lonely Place -- New Order
* The Slow Drug -- PJ Harvey
* Sunday -- Sonic Youth
* Step into My World -- Hurricane #1
Does anyone remember this band??? And relatedly, am I the only one who bought the Gay Dad album? Probably? Yes.

* Dead Man's Will -- Iron & Wine and Calexico
* Here's Where the Story Ends -- The Sundays
* Don't Know Why -- Kostars
The Kostars record, Klassics with a 'K', has long been one of my most favorites in my collection. This song, with backing vocals and guitar by Dean and Gene Ween, may be the album's highlight.

Wow. This seems like it is a much better effort than my first go, no? As ever, please do let me know what I've missed.

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