Secret Pop

Oct 30, 2003

Under the Broiler

It was cool today at long last. Lonely and cool. Grey and lonely. And cool. Legitimately sweater weather. Even when the sky was blue, it had a grey cast to it. I felt like I was wandering. Adrift in it. Even when I had appointments to keep and projects to complete. I felt like I was somewhere else.

There was no sleep to be had last night. Too many burdens on my mind and my mother too close by to forget them. Sometimes this sort of unrest just turns everything surreal. Unbearably surreal.

I put mimolette on bread and put it in the oven. The cheese bubbles and turns leathery and more golden. I remember learning about the difference between a physical change and a chemical change when I was taking science in elementary school. We were given an example of something burning. Once it has been burned, it is irreversibly different in substance. That's a chemical change. Not like ice into water into vapor into ice. I think about that sometimes. How I am changing. How we are changing. How exposure to certain forces makes us into something else. How the previous substance is sacrificed for the replacement. And there's no getting it back. Like innocence. Like fearlessness. Like hope. Like the moisture in the skin that advancing age seems so relentlessly thirsty for.

I couldn't think of what to eat. I had no idea what I wanted. Wasn't even sure if I was hungry. But I knew that I should be.

Today on the phone, Beulah and I talked about the gifts of the crazy. I once helped her with a paper about Vincent Van Gogh, and we had an enlightened discussion in the cramped space of the second bedroom of my apartment in San Diego. I used the room as an office. There was an armchair in there that I loved. It had been my father's when I was a little girl, and I had gnawed on the wood of the wide, flat arms, and I had wanted to sit in that chair forever. So when I moved, they gave it to me. It's back in my parents' house today. I don't remember why. But we were sitting in my office -- me in the chair, I think, and Beulah at the computer. And I was paging through her course texts. And we were talking about genius and madness and the beauty that comes from disturbance. It all seems so metaphorical now. How chaos creates beauty. How art comes from destruction. How the desperate flailing is a transference of energy. Today, Beulah recalled that day that we worked and that conversation. I remember it but in a benign sense. It was forgotten until it was mentioned. And then all of a sudden, it was right there. Accessible. It seems so long ago.

I wanted something to be excited about. Something to look forward to. Even though my bladder told me otherwise, I took a few detours on my way home in the hopes of finding a wig store on Melrose. I thought I might get the last things I needed for my Halloween costume. I was unsuccessful and discouraged. Just thinking about getting dressed up tomorrow saps my strength. And there seems to be precious little reason to do it. I guess I feel that way nearly every year. Costume apathy born of years upon years of poor planning and embarrassing last-minute slapdashery. I wanted something to get excited about today.

But I sat hunched at my dining room table, cutting collage pieces and sifting through art fodder. My neck and back are so sore. I was wearing tennis shoes yesterday at the R.E.M. concert, and still I was in excruciating pain after standing for three hours. If someone showed up at my door with a massage table and good intentions, I'm sure I would burst into grateful tears. Philosophically, I can tell myself that persistent pain is a reminder that I'm alive. And that it makes the experience of my life all the more solipsistic. I can be greedy and elitist about it. I can scoff at those who walk erect without wincing. I can delight in the shallowness of their feeling. I can delight in the depth of mine. I play games like this sometimes. It keeps my brain busy. And distraction is often my only brief salvation from the reality of all that I am failing at.

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