Secret Pop

Sep 9, 2003

Blue Skies, Bleeding Gums

It was a beautiful day today, here in Los Angeles. Mild, breezy, only vaguely hazy in the skyward view. I was relieved to see it. And at the same time, I was strangely sad. Strangely ill-at-ease. I always look forward to the fall. I always look forward to the cooler weather. To sweaters and Duraflame logs and knee-high boots. And over the years, the nostalgia the autumn brings has become unique to that season. Even as the nostalgia itself evolves. I have been hopeful in this weather. I have been triumphant. I have been devastated. I have been alienated and destitute. I have been starkly alone. I have been comforted by companionship. I have been new. I have been old. I have been ageless. And maybe recalling all of this -- today, for some reason -- caused me to sink a bit. I felt sluggish somehow. Held up. I felt this strange lack of motivation. This unwillingness to GO. I went anyway. I got my gym membership. I got my nails done. I got tired. I got discouraged. I didn't get my money's worth at the nail salon. I made a sandwich with bread that got overly hard under the broiler, and I tasted blood with each bite. Just a little bit of blood, sure, but blood nonetheless. And the only up side was that the blood was mine and not the sandwich's.

I'm more aware of the roof of my mouth than most people. It's a linguistic thing. When you study other languages and need ways to articulate a sort of mechanized protocol for performing a sound, the phrases "alveolar ridge" and "soft palate" get tossed around a bit. So, when I hurt those parts, I experience an abnormal fear that I may never be able to order sushi properly again. I'm sure there's no serious harm done. And yet, I can't keep my tongue away from the tenderness right now. Ever notice that? How sometimes you're drawn back to the pain? You keep pressing on a cut to see if it's still sore. You stretch aching muscles to see what you can get away with. You do this, dont you? I've never researched this. So I realize it's possible I'm the only petty masochist who does this sort of thing. That's an interesting possibility. On a day that made me blue to begin with, it's a little disconcerting that I have to find reasons to further question whether to check the box next to "nutty as a fruitcake." Sometimes, I'm surprised by my own weirdness.

This isn't my favorite time of year. Anyone who knows me (or reads me) knows that I am most fond of that time in late October/early November when the fireplaces go into use and the trees begin undressing themselves and the sky takes on a stark greyness that makes every hour of daylight feel like that bit before dusk. This isn't my favorite time of year, but it reminded me that my favorite time of year is just around the corner. And it reminded me that there have been a number of years when -- at that fireplace-using time -- I have had difficulty remembering why I liked it so well. I have trudged through those autumn days without a glimmer of delight. I have cursed them. Maybe I'm feeling some sort of fear about how those days will be for me this time around.

This is the trouble with comparative memory. The trouble with sizing your experiences up against the ones that parallel them in your linear history. It's not useful. Or practical. It's just frustrating. And it only serves to remind you that everything changes. And change means more or less or better or worse. Change means different. If today is happier than it was last year, you feel a sort of sad nostalgia over the way it was. If today is less happy, well, that's no mystery. I don't know of a way to benefit from these reveries unless one finds oneself laughing about it all. If I can look back and find myself ridiculous, then any of the happiness or sadness is irrelevant. Those are merely the ravings of a crazy person. But when I am sane and sober and real, I know that I am feeling something that cannot be dismissed, and I therefore know that there is danger in it. Danger of any of it really coming true.

I don't have one of those blogs that lets you choose an emoticon for the way you feel today. I don't label my mood each time I write. I don't document things that way. Maybe it's for the best. Maybe I would only become discouraged to find that I'm not so complex as to be unable to find a facial expression to convey my state of mind. What did Kierkegaard's face look like anyway?

I'm not writing for any reason today. Perhaps the absence of a message will keep me from being silent for days on end. I have often written a great deal when I had nary a thing to say. Sometimes it's just nice to have some proof that you're here. I keep a journal (in pencil on white paper in a hardbound book with a drawing of a horse on the cover), but I'm not terribly disciplined about it. And when I thumb through the old pages and see that I didn't write for weeks at a time, I feel disappointed in myself. I surmise that I must have been unusually happy then. Or unusually sad. Or confused. Or preoccupied. Or perhaps just overwhelmed and tired. But I think to myself that it's no excuse. How will I ever know what those days were like? Those silent, blank days. They might as well have been left unlived.

So, I'm writing today. Maybe I will write again tomorrow. Maybe by then I will have something I want to say. There's no way to be sure.

It's cool tonight. I have goosebumps on my arms. The fall is lurking out there, waiting to descend on me with its cooling ashes and woolen sweaters and holiday demands and turning back of the clock. I wonder how I will fare. And I wonder what I will make it from the vantage point of the autumn after.

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