Secret Pop

Jan 25, 2014

Pas de Deux

I do a lot of thinking when I run. It's a product of listening to playlists that get played again and again. Maybe I wouldn't take notice of a song, but when I listen to it again and again, run after run, it comes to be the push-button activation of a memory. Every time I run, I'm a girl who is both happy to be running and sad to be thinking of so many previous runs when timely hopes and misspent dreams consumed my attentions and wasted my time.

It's hard not to take note of how the actors change. A song I listened to at one point, where it would have been my voice uttering those lyrics, I can listen to years later and wryly recognize that the sentiments belong to someone else this time. What he did to me, I did to you. What I did to you, you do to the next one. I'm both guiltless and guilty, disappointed and disappointing, true and false.

It's not as smooth a reverie anymore. These days, I run with my dog (Maggie), and that means I'm getting jerked to a sudden halt from time to time when she discovers a leaf on which she must wee or a family of deer at which she must peer. And I run these days in a neighborhood where one must be more vigilant about avoiding being run over. You can't just lose yourself the way I did when most of my run was just on one side or the other of Olympic Boulevard.

If I let the time pass without thinking, I flagellate myself over the lazy waste of brain minutes (a measure of both time and power that only exists in my universe). But if I indulge myself in the traditional deep, thoughtful dive into how everything is now compared to yesterday or the day before that or the thousands of days before that, I have to shake my head a bit at how samey it all is. We waste so much time trying to get back things that slipped through our undergrasping fingers while simultaneously wasting so much time trying to never relive the scenes we've already lived over and over again. On some mountaintop, someone can see the ineffective calculations we're employing and can shake his or her head over our inability to pick up on a world of embarrassingly obvious signals. It's hard not to be resentful of this self-important lookie loo, acting as if it's all so plain and easy. As if making your way through a maze is exactly as easy as guiding someone through one when you can see the whole thing from an aerial view.

I keep thinking at some point I'll actually write a book. It would make my mom happy. But my wisdom is too personal. Too specific. Unless everything really is as generic as all the love songs would have us believe. The idea that everything is universal and experienced by everyone is humbling. When you're in it, the idea that anything you're feeling is common is beyond you. But when you look back on it, you can't help but see how ordinary every feeling you've ever had was. And that is more likely to feel like crap than to be of comfort. Depending on how strongly you feel about your own unique value to the weaving of history's great tapestry.

Jan 19, 2014


I'm pleased to report that I'm not beginning this post by referencing a Radiolab episode or a TED Radio Hour segment. It seems like a lot of my recent inspiration has happened while driving back to my parents' house from Beulah's, and it's usually a weekend, and I'm usually listening to NPR. It's not a big mystery. But I've managed to not go anywhere this weekend, so my inspirations have by necessity had to be a bit more internal. And by internal, I guess I mean I have to find inspiration in the routine of keeping my dog appeased and usually putting together some kind of furniture.

I've been on a sprawling home reset jag in recent months. And little by little, I'm beginning to feel like I can be proud of my home. There's something still to be done in nearly every room. And there are ideas I'd like to undertake when time and finances and energy allow. But I turned the workshop in the garage into a workout room, with a very fancy treadmill and a TV and floor mats and everything. And, for the first time since I moved in, I completely emptied out the little Harry Potter closet (that's what realtors now call these impractical spaces beneath a staircase to make you feel like your awkward closet is fanciful and great) downstairs and completely cleaned it and reorganized everything. The guest bedroom downstairs really looks like a proper guest bedroom. There's even a headboard. And I have a proper art room now, with a bunch of excruciating-to-assemble Martha Stewart craft furniture, and it gets wonderful light and has a lovely view of the fountain and the front yard and the family of deer that often galivants in the creek across the street. So once I unpack all those boxes of art supplies and implements and the crates of paper ephemera that I love to sift through and cut up and incorporate into rather slapdash little art projects, maybe I can recapture something of the feeling I had when I would make art every day in my dining room on Alcott Street.

It's stupid that I would want to recapture any of that, except for its past-ness, since I began my art journaling in what turned out to be a very sad and defeating and painful summer in the middle of a sad and defeating and painful year. But our resplendent human nature enables us to just filter all the shit out and zero in on a feeling, and occasionally I opt for the feeling that isn't a persona-dismembering crapfest. Not everything is a choice. I don't believe, for instance, that being gay is a choice. Or being organized. But I often suspect that being miserable is. Of course, for me being miserable can also be incredibly productive-making, so I'm reluctant to shut it down altogether. Feeling a little lost is how I have almost always gotten from place to place.

You probably know that the term "remodeling," while commonly used to refer to renovations people make in a living or working space, also refers to the natural process that happens when a broken bone heals. Broken bones heal, but the remodeling is visible. It tells the forensic scientist trying to identify your murdered remains that you once broke your arm, and that helps them figure out whether you mattered to anyone. I just didn't want you to think that my thoughts today were without layers.

Anyway, I'm sorry if you wish that had been about something I heard on NPR.