almost there

My countdown clock now reads 1 day, 7 hours, 4 minutes. Wow. Apparently there was some confusion as to when my actual last day is – so I got my going-away presents today – lots of fun officey stuff, brightly colored school supplies in a fun bag. It’s so – me – and so fun. I’m excited. I will miss my coworkers and my job.
I can’t believe it’s almost here. I can’t believe tomorrow’s my last day. I can’t believe I will be moving in two days. It’s so bittersweet, leaving all this behind. I talked to Missy about this last night – her parents are in the process of moving away from their family home and she’s having a hard time with it. She talked about doing a “casting off” – Tashlikh – typically done at the beginning of the new year to symbolize the casting away of sins. She did one this weekend both for the holiday and as a way of forming closure on her life in the old house. I think I need to do the same – a casting off of this old life before I begin the new.
Why do we move? Why do we stay in the same place? I want to make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons – but it seems like any reason to go or stay is completely arbitrary. A job. A lover. A school. How are those reasons any more/less valid than moving cos you’re happy in the other place? Maybe I’m trying to justify – I don’t know. I’m not moving for a job or a lover – school is a possible benefit, but the main thing is being happy, starting over, being close to friends who have become my lifeline. I won’t be in Champaign forever – I’m not afraid of permanence – just change. Always change. And if I’m not happy there, if there aren’t reasons to stay, I won’t stay.
I started Against Love: A Polemic last night. It’s – different. I thought it would affirm my thoughts about marriage and fidelity – but maybe they’ve changed again since I read the review in August. I don’t want adultery to be glorified. I don’t know if not-monogamy is ideal. I find myself in a strange place between commitment and “freedom,” between monogamy and not. I don’t want either of those dualities to be mocked – not the beginning or the end – and I think that’s why I’m struggling. But then I’m only about 40 pages in.
Back to work, I guess. We’re slow and I’ll probably end up reading in a few minutes, but I should keep up the facade. I only have hours left.

rock

What a great week. I’m tired but hap-hap-happy. With the random things that happen to me – why don’t I go to more shows? Last night was Ludo at the Liquid Lyrics Lounge in Madison. Noelle and Brandi met me there – nice to see them – I’m so glad I made it out despite the previous night’s exhaustion. The Ludo boys were super cute and excited that I was there (if you’re reading this, hi!) – the show was a lot of fun and I’ve been listening to the album since I left.
Thinking about shows and Almost Famous the last two days. From an interview with Damien:

“When I go onstage, and I get this from when I went busking, I love the gigs most of all when I get so lost inside, that the audience doesn’t matter. But actually I’m doing it for them. When I go see someone play what I want to see is someone who is not trying to impress or entertain me – they do what they do so truly that I am lost in them, because they are lost in themselves.”

That is why I love music. The scene in Almost Famous that always, always gets me is towards the end – Fairuza Balk’s character is talking to Billy Crudup about “the new girls” – how they don’t take birth control and eat all the steak – but more importantly that “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” And at that point, I’m reduced to tears. I know – I know. I know what it is to love a silly little piece of music so much that it hurts. How else to explain the visceral memories of Amsterdam, the fact that I’m still writing and rewriting those days and adventures – the way the right chord sequence or soaring voice will just rip my heart out – the way I get totally lost in the moment, in a concert, in a cd – the way that “Sister Awake” transfixes me every single fucking time? Sometimes I find it incredible that I didn’t/haven’t ended up in a career that involves music because it is in so many ways the currency of my memory.
So, in honor of all this, my top ten shows:
1. The Tea Party – Melkveg, Amsterdam – 9 February 2000
Hands down the best musically – on the list – front and center – my whole body shaking
2. The Tea Party – Nighttown, Rotterdam – 10 February 2000
After Amsterdam, before the jam, having spent the entire night out with Trevor – my last Tea Party show for so so long
3. Damien Rice – Park West, Chicago – 23 September 2003
Amazing – the album means so much to me that the intimacy of the show only heightened the emotional effect
4. VAST – The Metro, Chicago – October 2000
My first VAST show – Jon is commandingly intense and insanely beautiful – feels like he’s only looking at you.
5. Tool – Alliant Energy Center, Madison – 8 September 2001
A driving, pounding intensity – several thousand people held in their sway – just dancing and moving near the front, letting the music move me
6. The Tea Party – Brixton Academy, London – 6 February 2000
A night of such joy – the first night on the list – so so many people there for Queensryche that leave raving about Tea Party.
7. VAST – House of Blues, Chicago – November 2000
VAST is headlining a sold out show – up front in vinyl – the music is fun, the audience is better, a guitar pick from Jon and a bag of pretzels from Justin – they remember me next time.
8. Pigface – The Rave, Milwaukee – December 2001
What a great time – always unpredictable, always super cool – Seibold and Curse and Godhead – and oh fuck, they’re playing “Suck” and the entire venue is bouncing and screaming.
9. Arlo Guthrie – Milwaukee – April 1999
He plays “Amazing Grace” and Kevin and I just cry.
10. The Tea Party – Barrymore Theatre, Madison – 17 November 1997
The first introduction to The Tea Party and the bass is so heavy I have to go outside or get sick. Moved physically before emotionally – the beginning of great things.
So my conclusion is that there needs to be a better term for “female fan that follows a band around but doesn’t necessarily sleep with them” than “groupie.” I’m not a groupie, not even with some of my sketchier band-related adventures. I like “band aid” better – but there has to be something better still. I’m a fan. That’s all.

Damien

Damien. Rice. was. fucking. incredible.
Seriously, one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Incredible. If you have the chance to go see him, GO. He is only going to get bigger. The venue was perfect – intimate – the music overwhelming – Damien fucking amazing – he covered the Buckley version of “Hallelujah” and “Glory Box.” I cried during Hallelujah and literally about lost it when he ended with “Glory Box.” What more can I say? Actually I probably will say more, but that’s enough for now.

After the show Shawn and I walked down Clark for a while – got some food at a pasta place – I had gnocchi in a rosemary gorgonzola sauce. Yum. We went to Neo – there were literally six of us there – two people dancing, two people at the bar, two people hanging out in the corner (us). I haven’t been there in so so long – I miss it. I love Neo because you can be anyone or anything there and no one cares. Tuesday night, around 11:30, and there was a guy in a skirt dancing in the middle of the empty dance floor – his girl sitting by the wall reading. After some wanderings around (and finding some horses!!), we located my car (I was parked on a not-through one-way) and headed home – I stopped for a Krispy Kreme donut. A wonderful, wonderful night. “I can’t take my eyes off of you…”

some thoughts – hang in there, this is going to be a long one…

The temperature needs to stop fluctuating in this house. It was freezing in the basement, cold on the main floor, and cool upstairs. So I turned on the heat. Now it is cozy in the basement, cool on the main floor, and warmish upstairs with the windows open. The heat is off. Damned strange thermostats.
Finished Life of Pi just now – more thoughts on that in a second, but first some musings on Amazon. I clicked through to look at some of the reviews on Life of Pi and was amused at a lot of things.

One: the other recommended books – specifically Middlesex and The Lovely Bones. Middlesex? I suppose these associations are fairly arbitrarily chosen based on purchase history – but seeing these three (somewhat) recent reads lumped together was odd. Also odd to see my old friend Chuck linked as a similar and recommended author. Never would’ve seen that one coming.
Two: the review by Alex Constantin. He comments that while he immediately understood why, say, The God of Small Things won the Booker, he didn’t have that same experience with Life of Pi. I’m still puzzling through that myself – a lot to process – but I can definitely understand the comment because I had that experience with Middlesex and the Pulitzer. Haha, a connection! I finished Middlesex and said – what? I suppose it’s one that bears a rereading because the inherent value of the work didn’t occur to me until much later – but I don’t think I can bring myself to do it. I’m still puzzling over Life of Pi but as there isn’t as much, well, bizarreness, I think it will merit a second read. Again, still processing.
And I suppose my thoughts on Pi can be divided into two parts – the religious and the fictional aspects. I think maybe that’s why I’m confused about the award-winning – because (at least in my mind) the book starts off as one thing and ends as something entirely different. Pi’s conversions were wonderful and thought-provoking, especially having just finished And It Was Good. In And It Was Good, Madeleine L’Engle embraces her agnosticism:

“I reply, joyfully, that I am still an agnostic, but then I was an unhappy one, seeking finite answers, and now I am a happy one, rejoicing in paradox. Agnostic means only that we do not know, and we finite creatures cannot know, in any intellectual or ultimate way, the infinite Lord, the undivided Trinity. Now I am able to accept my not-knowing – and rey, in a completely different way, in the old biblical way, I also know what I do not understand, and that is what my agnosticism means to me now. It does not mean that I do not believe; it is an acceptance that I am created, that I am asked to bear the light, knowing that this is the most wonderful of all vocations.”

Compare that to Pi: “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” Hmm. I understand both sides – and where they intersect. I’m wondering if I’m more attuned to this portion of Pi because of just finishing L’Engle. Either way – I found that interesting. Pi’s confrontation with the “three wise men” also reminded me of L’Engle – he and his parents meet with a priest, an imam, and a pandit – Pi has recently become a devotee of all three religions. Rather than discussing the ways this faith – this beautiful love of God and God alone, no matter the name – is admirable or unique or even just weird – they attack each other. Rather than admitting that this boy sees the ways that loving God intersects, no matter the name you’ve chosen for him – they resort to name-calling and finger-pointing – which only proves Pi’s faith as being the more authentic. L’Engle discusses faith and the nature of faith in terms of scientific knowledge, stating that the more we argue a point, the more we’re sure we’re right and are intractable in that belief – the more we are limiting God, God’s truth, God’s love and infinity. We do not need to prove God – or protect God – from or to anyone, any more than Pi would have benefited from arguing his “case” to the wise men. Faith just – is. Beautiful.
But the fiction? I don’t know. I read Pi quickly – in a few hours over the last two days – and perhaps I missed something. Back to Constantin’s review – I found the end unsatisfying, though surprising. What is real? What was real? The pedantic answer is, duh, none of it’s real – but characters this invested with life possess some reality, even if it ends when you close the book. The other story? It is much easier to believe – but it also divests the narrative as a whole of its weight while raising questions not easily answered (see above). If the other story is the true one, the psychological ramifications are more interesting but the survival aspect is lessened. It will be interesting to reread Pi with the knowledge of the other story – to see how it influences interpretation the second time around.
So – I liked it, but I’m dissatisfied. I enjoyed the religious discussions at the beginning and was disappointed that this particular element was not carried through to the end – though I suppose agnosticism is. You’re given a brilliant narrative – and then at the last moment, the rug is pulled out from under you – and you’re given a choice: faith or doubt. At least you know that bananas float. If you’ve read Pi, I’d be really interested to hear your comments on this and the novel as a whole.

lonelies

“Slowly I have realized that I do not have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do, that I just have to go ahead and do it, even if I can’t do it as well as I think it ought to be done. This is one of the most liberating lessons of my life.”
Madeleine L’Engle, And It Was Good
I ask simply – give me strength.

kythe

We might live like never before
When there’s nothing to give
Well how can we ask for more
We might make love in some sacred place
The look on your face is delicate

Damien Rice, “Delicate”
This article is sort of hit or miss – some parts are really wonderful, others more mundane – and it really speaks to the sort of communion I am seeking – by myself, with others, with life in general. I want that intense intimacy – that love for all things – that sense of knowing and truly being known.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been this tired in my entire life. My whole body feels drained – emotionally, physically, mentally. I just want to sleep for days on end. I’m wondering if some of this is Lexapro withdrawal. I don’t want to – but maybe I should start taking it again just until my life is a little more stable.
Going to Madison to see Dave Attell and Lewis Black in Madison tonight. I’m going to have to go home and sleep before we go – the show isn’t until 10:30 and there’s NO way I’ll make it otherwise.
On the bright side, I do officially have a lease – and a phone number and long distance. While signing up for long distance I found out exactly what all those calling card calls are going to cost me – HOLY FUCK – but I’ll deal with that bill when it comes. Now I’m doing fun things like making lists of Things To Do in preparation for the move. A little preemptive, I know, but I’ll feel better if things are (relatively) in order. At the top of the list for the week of 9/29/03: MOVE. And for those keeping track, a countdown clock, courtesy of my friend Clint.