Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I wouldn't trade one stupid decision for another five years of life

It's a bit strange to realize how easy I am moved by certain songs, nowadays. Especially "All My Friends" and "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying." (The latter of which I'm not quite ready to write about, although I think about it, and think about how I'd write about it, and all that it means to me fairly often..)

Once upon a time, certain songs had certain effects, but usually only when I was already in an altered, hypersensitive emotional state. Songs from Jimmy Eat World's Clarity always had that effect, and I enjoyed letting out angst in the form of screaming along to the climactic countdown in the Violent Femmes's "Kiss Off." (Interestingly enough, seeing that song live still brings back intense energy and seemingly repressed anger and angst.) Sometimes they turned into righteous, enraged conviction. Sometimes they made the tears fall faster and dry sooner. Sometimes they merely made me want to do everything my parents wanted me not to do.

I still listen to those songs, in anger, in hopelessness. But it seems less satisfying, then, say, belting out the words to the Used and "All That I've Got" or My Chemical Romance's reassurance that "I"m not o-fucking-kay!" But those are temporary outlets, like punching a pillow to its demise or clutching fists that strain and pain. The songs that brings out something else, something that hits a note deep inside, seem strange choices. Not at all meant to be overly emotional or empowering. Songs like the electroindie of "Just Impolite" by Plushgun or "Myriad Harbour" from the New Pornographers. Illogical choices.

"Just Impolite," after all, is a catchy, catchy electropop song I loved singing and dancing to with friends. "Myriad Harbour" characterized a sort of grand indie rock, with majesty instruments and a storyline. But it is perhaps not the sound of the songs itself, but a certain line, a certain sentiment in the lyrics.

In "Just Impolite," it isn't the sparkling synths or pulsing beats, not even the stuck-in-your-head chorus. Not a bridge nor a particularly grand finale. One little line, one minute thirty in, "but it seems we can't believe that we're two peas and this pod we call New York is so lonesome..." That, with this melody twinkling in and out. It calls to mind New York City at dark, the city lights spread like stars blinking on and off. It calls to mind a melodrama romance, up and down the streets of Manhattan, a romance that plays out on rooftops and hidden bars, with glamorous stars who are glamorous not like famous actors, but glamorous in their possession of the city, the streets, life itself.

In a way, "Myriad Harbour" does the same thing. Who cares, you always end up in the city. The gasps and sharp turns in the song, the full and adventurous instruments rushing to prop a stranger in a city. A city open with a hundred possibilities. The hipsters, the sceneries. It brings to life a fantasy, another world.

It's escape, I realized, that enchants me like no other. Escape from here, to this other world. To a future flashing to life every night. An idea, an image, that lingers.

And "All My Friends?" What of that?

Too many (better) essays and thoughts have been written of that song. Too many things that sounded so true, yet so far from why my friends and I all adore that song. After all, I am far from a middle aged, nostalgic professional longing for the staying up late of youth, and friends I no longer have. I am living the past that I should be longing for.

But maybe it is the now that we all long for. Not the now of this second, this minute. The now of new year's eve, of staying up late, with all your friends. The now of a few years later, when we know, we will be feeling this. We will be wishing for our friends, and where are our friends tonight?

Scattered across America. At colleges, at jobs. Would we still be friends? Would we remember?

Dancing to "All My Friends," singing along with the conviction of something else. Relating to all the ups and downs in the song without really knowing what it's about. Knowing what its about on a measure of days, night. Not months and years.

If I could see all my friends tonight...

And so, that prayer is delivered. Each line, after another. That's probably why I can hear this song over and over again, and never feel tired. That's probably why I can sing it each time, not just because it has become automatic, but sing with emotion, with conviction.

Conviction of a future waiting to happen.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Windy City/I hate California girls

The Magnetic Fields-"California Girls"

For today, not Chicago but San Diego. (Well, okay. It very well could be and probably is very windy there. But seeing as how I'm not quite there and not quite experiencing the weather, and how rarely it gets this windy here, let us pretend.)

I'm generally not a fan of Sundays (nor Tuesdays). It is far too easy to fall into meaningless/fester filled depression, or become so plagued with the idea of school and homework that the day ends up wasted with procrastination, and staying up late to finish essays become habit, making Monday morning all the more horrific. Although I lack homework today, having work in the middle of the day...slow, slow, with not much to do...clips the day in two and makes the evening stretch on forever. Not necessarily a good thing when one doesn't quite know what to do. The highlight of every weekend, at this point, is generally feeling a little better when reading Post Secret. Today isn't an exception.

Cold lazy Sundays like this can only get better by curling up with a good book, a hot cup of tea and a fuzzy album...perfect time for The Magnetic Fields! (Then again...really, when isn't a good time for things like that?)

tan and blond and seventeen
photo via Flickr

I'm in love with more than a few of the songs from Distortion, but this one, in particular, has a particular line in its lyrics that rings especially true. The repeating refrain. "I hate California girls." Yes, they who are blonde and tan and seventeen. Every day, I see them, and every day this sentiment plays out in front of my eyes. It's not just the superficial exterior, not just their ugg boots and miniskirt in the never appropriate weather. Not just the way they crowd the bathroom mirror during breaks, smoothing out too tight tops and pumping on lip gloss. Not just the way they giggle and talk, the way they dress in the typical SoCal style and justifies every stereotype slapped on them. Not just their tight knit groups of friends who look the same and their desires to be nothing more than a pretty face...everything, everything in their attitude on life, that's what makes them unbearable.

And this song, distorted, fuzzy, vocals floating beneath layers of fuzz, an unassuming voice, perhaps, not one of the tan and blonde and seventeen. Someone who observes them and their coke snorting, teeth bleaching ways. Someone who understands that being a part of the O.C. is nothing to strive towards, someone who is willing to someday take revenge with her brand new battle axe...

love.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Things are beautiful

Some things I did today:

Africa presentation in art history. Featuring Hilary dressed as a lion, long long blocks of reading right off our slides, and really awkward wet sponge Ethiopian bread.

Feed the tons of leftovers of said Ethiopian bread to cute waddling ducks and vicious terrifying seagulls at Mission Bay.

Go the the Same Old Grind, sit and chat forever and delving into deep deep discussions of capitalism and people and style.

See Megan, an old acquaintance/friend via association come in for work and chat with her.

Head to Fashion Valley/Bloomingdales, for prom dress shopping. This turned into a long, long shopping journey through all the unaffordable stores and then some. I did find that one heart necklace I truly needed at forever21, though! And Ariel did find her prom dress at Betsy Johnson.

I think I'm still in love with vintage prom dresses from the '50s, and can't quite justify $400+ dollars for a dress that's not absolutely perfect and I can bear to live without.

It's been a bit of a strange week. And today felt nothing like a Friday.

Last night I dreamt that Rachel died (and it was quite disturbing and unhappy in the dream), and there was something that had to do with being underwater and being on acid. I'm not quite sure what that's supposed to mean. I did, however, fall asleep before midnight, which made getting up slightly easier.

Lovely things indeed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Obsessions

Some things I've been obsessed with lately:

The Magnetic Fields, Anna Karina and Jean Luc Godard, the Sweeney Todd soundtrack (and that movie in general), "Homecoming" by The Teenagers, The Postmarks's cover a month project and their first excellent playful and airy song "One Note Samba", making fun of Jack Johnson and feeling a little disappointed about the general state of the Coachella lineup.

Oh, and exceptionally large amounts of festering and nothingness. Really, existence feels a bit like a joke.

Maybe I'll just continue staring at beautiful stills from Godard films and dream of UChicago...(and that interview was rather wonderful. As if I needed any reason more to want to go to that school.)

une femme est une femme

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anticipation

So I finally have my U of C alumni interview in a little more than an hour. Last night and today, I've been reading every little thing on the Chicago website about the dorms, traditions, classes. In my mind, I'm answering questions and making my case with a conviction that can't be denied. In my mind I'm already at the university where fun comes to die.

This morning I had a dream in which I received two envelopes, I think from Northwestern, the first I opened told me of a large scholarship that would be granted to me. Which lead me to believe that the other was an acceptance letter. And it was. In the dream, it was magical. Or maybe it was Cornell. In my dream I told everyone that I'd been accepted to Cornell, despite that I felt not as overjoyed, it seemed an important thing to say. I remember smiling and saying it didn't really matter what the others schools said now, I'd just have to wait and hear. Because at least I'll be going to Northwestern/Cornell for sure.

I'm not sure what that meant (probably that I've been reading College Confidential and college websites a bit too much lately), but it was a strangely realistic dream, and I wish that it would be true. Not as much, however, as my dream of going to the University of Chicago.

In my mind, I'm repeating the same determined sentences that will change their hearts. In my mind, I'm staring them in the eye and telling them that the U of C is my only future.

I doubt reality will translate the same way. This somehow resembles my dreaded Columbia interview. They called, instead of emailed. We scheduled the interview for the next day. Both of my interviewers are Asian.

And, I suppose, that's the extent of the similarities. But they seem vaguely foreboding, disturbing. Nevermind that the first was a fancy coffee shop I hate, and this one to be at the alumni's office. Nevermind the many other differences that I'm sure will pop up when I actually depart.

What am I trying to say, trying to do? Perhaps relieve myself of this nervousness. It should be nothing. A conversation. But as it seems to have the weight of my deferral hanging over it, I want to be as prepared as possible. Self reassurance in the form of long winded posts, as usual.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Smoke detector

Rilo Kiley-"Smoke Detector"

In honor of the last post, here is, perhaps, a song to celebrate some of these very sentiments. Of parading and strutting (and then promising yourself that you will never, ever, ever wear those shoes to work again because by its end you are essentially too worried about showing your grimace to be feeling confident and beautiful), and knowing that a little effort goes a long way when you have the proper attitude to back it up.

I listened to this while walking to work in those new shoes, before the pain had sunk its terrible claws deep in my skin. Loving the way heels made me stand up straighter, taller, and smile a little brighter. Loving the feeling that in the style-deprived San Diego, I am finally confident enough to be wearing a relatively dressy outfit on a casual day for no other reason than the fact that I like it, and it makes me happy. Loving that the bounce in my step matched with the bounce in the song. Loving that I could pretend to be the same girl Jenny Lewis sung about, the one who was a danger to the smoke detector.

It's not the best song from Under the Blacklight, and not my favorite. It lacks the groovy pop sensibilities of "Breakin' Up" or country tinged yet oh so good "Fifteen," it certainly doesn't resemble Rilo Kiley's old work. I never even really liked Rilo Kiley, up until I saw them live and begin to realize, little by little, how easy to love and replay some of their songs were. And as far as songs to pretend I'm on the runway to, or songs I want to be dancing to on the street, it doesn't have the hip jerk and sway of Spoon's "Don't You Evah" or the sexy glamor of a Goldfrapp song. But for some reason, the subtle yet sweet, suggestive but innocent lyrics and the catchy pop melody seemed far more fitting than anything else.

Part of it probably is just Jenny Lewis, and her pretty indie rock-girl-next-door appeal, and part of it may just be my inexplicable sudden obsession with certain random songs, but as I met every stranger's eye with a smile (something I try to do at all times) and realized that my fashion sense was something to celebrate, not to be afraid of, it was perfect. And sometimes, that's all that you can ask of a song.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fashionista.

I think, despite all that I try to tell myself, that this will be a personal blog, that there will be no limits, there are still certain things I feel like I should do, and certain things I should write about, and certain things I want to write about but feel guilty about doing so.

For instance, I've been rather on a clothing/shoes/outfits obsession for the past few days, constantly scouting websites for cute items that I want to purchase and clinging to certain fashion blogs. And although I've kind of grown into my role as the resident cute/weird/fashionista dresser at my school and work, I still can't really justify the fact that I am so interested in it. I mean, while I really do love dressing well and differently, taking chances and dressing for myself, saying that I like fashion is like...one of those things. As if I really shouldn't talk about it or consciously admit it.

After all, what sort of people are interested in fashion? Certainly not intellectual twee quirky writer types who's way too short (none of that "petite" "boyish" nonsense) and although not quite fat, not exactly the model double zero all bones structure that can pull off anything...

In fact, even writing those above paragraphs make me feel a little unnerved. I feel like by actually openly writing about this outside the confines of my mind, I'm making it, and myself, into something I don't quite want to be.

It's really, really difficult to even express what I want to say. And this is making it worse. It should be no big deal at all, right? It should be nothing. I should be able to post pictures of my new patent leather mary jane pumps and obsess over them. I should post off the runway dresses and styles I love and share them with invisible readers I'd like to imagine exist...

But somehow, no. Everything I type, when it comes to the dreaded fashion sounds childish and unprofessional. Like a superficial wannabe that I really don't want to be. It makes little sense, I know, especially since I spend so much of my time thinking about it. But being interested in it...it just seems, like one of those things gay hipsters/scenesters care about. And me? I try to be true to myself. Usually that entails not so much being "hip" as just weird clash of morbid bizarrity and cutesy idealism. Which probably sounds better in writing than in actuality.

Where am I even getting with this?

I no longer have an idea.

And this is probably a very very bad post.

But if I don't get this across, don't perhaps attempt to find the root of my embarrassment (for yes, that's exactly what's keeping me from really talking about these shallow things that I tell my friends are important because aesthetics is an art, yet I don't quite believe, or just don't want to show I believe and taint into writing), then what? Perhaps nothing. Or perhaps I'll be more limited in everything I write. Attempt to narrow it down to the deep, philisophical. Attempt to only write flowery language that sings like poetry and avoid the real touch of my life with this internet existence.

No, I don't want to limit myself, and I certainly don't want to create an idealized version of myself just because it is potentially projected onto the world via internet. So maybe I've accomplished nothing with this inner debate, and maybe it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I'll still have these:

patent leather mary janes

And even if my intellectual half refuse to acknowledge that I am overjoyed at the fact and can't stop parading around the house in them, I will let my other, shallow, worthless half rejoice all it wants.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tonight on Dateline: someone will die.

Please just go read this Esquire feature on To Catch a Predator. It is one of the most disturbing and brilliant pieces of journalism I've read in a long time. To the point where you don't want to stop reading but can barely read on because it is so, so, sickening.

(via Kottke)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Secretary

So there's this woman whom unfortunately I keep running into at work who looks like one of those S&M erotica librarian secretary models with rhinestone embedded cateye glasses and black curly hair styled up to maker her appear even more intimidating and suggesting that she may be wearing this whatever business outfit now but at home she appears in black leather with lace and a black whip. She hates me, and I have to say, I rather share some of the same sentiments towards her. Although there's perhaps a bit more fear than hate. After all, she looks like she could slap me with her leather gear and sprinkle blood all over the place--and I have no pain tolerance.

Anyway, any time she appears I feel a shiver scramble up inside, and it is difficult, I have to make such a conscious and fake effort to smile and pretend friendliness and politeness (which, I mean, I do generally as a rule), and in my state of nervousness generally fuck up whatever service she requires. However, her little habit of now intentionally waiting until someone else can help her is even more insulting. In my head, I'm playing over fantasy scenarios where I tell her to fuck off, and that she's far from the high and mighty queen bitch she thinks she is. I'm slowly, deliberately scanning her books repeatedly with a false smile, telling her that this might take a while. I'm slowly counting and double counting her change...all in pennies. I'm examining every little digit on her check with her driver's license, and scrutinizing the check itself for minutes that seem like hours to her impatient royalty. I'm dog earring her precious books and slamming them in thing backs and ripping them in the center before giving her a glowing "have a wonderful day in hell!"

Of course, none of this would ever happen. I think. At least not until I know it'll be one of the last times I'll see her and I'm about to quit. There would be such a perverse satisfaction when it does, however, that any anger from my managers would be brushed off with laugh. Or perhaps, more truth that shouldn't dare be revealed.

Sometimes I wonder about this burning hatred I hold for the human race. How almost every individual seems a sadistic, pyschopath at heart, or so entirely dumb and stubborn that I feel like playing even dumber. The twisted scenarios and exchanges in my head are fleeting but vivid, and great fun and helps in productivity. There's nothing like flaming insults bubbling from your throat to drive you to throw horrid books written by hackers without talent into their respective stuffed filled shelves and sections.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Oh, how I love the rain.

Something about the air, the fresh tenderness, the tinted, painted delicacy of the dark red leaves and lime tinted grass, the tiny droplets sliding from window panes, the comfort of staying in doors with a hot drink, a pretty song and a good book..

I wish it rained more often. Even the messy parts aren't so bad for this sense of peace and beauty. There's an underlying melancholy, of course. At times the catalyst to delve into full on angst-depression, but for now, it's just a lingering unfulfilled wish, a scent of wistfulness that is ever so soothing in its sadness.

This morning, getting up at 6:30 for work felt like a mission in the depths of the night. Which, for me, it may as well have been. For some reason, I felt rather awake. A bit disoriented from whatever mixed dream/nightmare/fantasy/daydream I had been in, but not mentally tired. And after work, I was semi-cleaning my room, and picked up the iLife brochure from the University of Chicago. I'd read it before, of course, but this time, as I glanced at the gorgeous campus and read the students' classroom discussion, flipped through the majors and activities, I felt a need and love and something like...belonging.

Cliche, perhaps. Ridiculous, perhaps. I've never even been to the U of C, not even set foot in Chicago outside of its high tech, gorgeous airport. And if I wanted to be realistic, a EA deferral probably isn't the most encouraging sign that Chicago is my future. But when have I really ever believed in realism?

I think I'll start sleeping with it under my pillow. A pointless and theatrical gesture, but one that comforts.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It goes on and on and on and on...

You know those days when you wake up a bit earlier than usual, and it's cold and cloudy out but light and it feels like winter, and you get up for a little bit and then decide it's too cold and snuggle back under the covers, listen to "Us Ones in Between" and cuddle with the lavender scented, ultra soft lambie you got from the Christmas exchange yesterday even though it's way past Christmas, and you contemplate all the things you're going to do and decide that today is the day, without work, without obligations, you'll get things done and go out and dance and exercise and relax, and you feel like wearing a dress even though the weather's not really fitting and mostly you'll just be home all day, and you put on the little short figure-skater-y black dress you've yet to wear and the white sweater that just screams twee and your grey long scarf with the hearts on the ends and your black tights and the plum over-the-knee ones over that and you feel great and cute and ready to tackle the day, and then proceed to drop your camera all the way down the flight of wooden stairs, and then once again from the really tall dining table to the wood floor and find that you've broken the lens, and on the way back upstairs with your cup of orange juice trying not to think about what you just did, spill it all over your new lovely white sweater, and then google if it's possible to fix the lens and find discouraging answers informing you that you're better off buying a new camera, and all you can think of doing is listen to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" which you listened to at midnight on New Year's Eve to start off 2008, which you thought, knew had to be better than the hell that occurred in 2007 and here you are, the new year, festering away and breaking cameras, but it doesn't matter because Journey is just so epic and really, what else could you possibly do?

It's one of those days, and it's only one in the afternoon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Us ones in between

Last night/this morning, I was emerged in one of the more exciting and addicting dreams I've ever had.

There were amusement park like twists and turns (this seems to be a common thread in these late morning/noon adventures), dinosaurs, a water goddess-monster with electrical pink sparks and flowers on her elbows, the sea, a half taped doorway that led to all of this...

It was one of those dreams I didn't want to wake up from. Not entirely pleasant, but vivid and new, a complete different dimension. It seemed so much more fun than anything reality could offer.

Reality--this repetitive, hopeless thing. Of getting up at noon every day, scrambling lunch/breakfast, self hatred for this hopeless pigging out. Wasting time until 2:40 or 3:40 or whenever it is that I have to walk to work, and rotting away with the never ending offer/question of whether the customer has a membership? Coming home, waiting to hang out with friends and movies and coming home at twelve to be tired and listen to music and try to fall asleep and not be able to...

It's not horrible. Of course not. I'm comfortable and content, most of the time. But is it not something else when I'd rather sleep and live in this fantasy dream world than appreciate the little things real life has to offer?

Ah, well.

For the past few days I've had Sunset Rubdown's "Us Ones in Between" stuck in my head, and it seems fitting. The underlying melancholy and beauty in the song, the disorienting lyrics. It feels like a soundtrack, it feels like a part of that other world with fatal beasts and ethereal water creatures that kill. I never thought I'd like Sunset Rubdown...or at least wanted to refuse to. Spencer Krug's voice doesn't do it for me, and he is forever associated with that brand of cliche Wolf Parade every indie rock band ever sound. But this is something else. This is something tragic and fragile, and grand and terrible all at once.


And I’ve heard of pious men
And I’ve heard of dirty fiends
But you don’t often hear
Of us ones in between...