Monday, August 27, 2007

Does This Even Need a Title With This as the Lead Image? (See Below)

I don't listen to the Scorpions all that often, and yet today, this album is hitting the spot, I have to admit. OK, there, I said it. And yes, I actually own "Blackout." I'm not just pretending.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was split along many lines--but most notably music. You had two choices for music, most often: rock or rap. Most of the older kids in my neighborhood were total metal heads. Name your late '70s or early '80s band of choice, and I am sure I heard their albums--several times each.

But among the noise of Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Dio, even Molly Hatchet, I had a soft spot in my little gay heart for the Scorpions. Don't ask me why. I am not sure I'll ever understand why myself. It's not exactly heavy metal.... it's more melodic, anthemic rock. But I was drawn to it, inexplicably, yes, but all the same.

In particular, I loved "Blackout." I was only 9 years old when this album came out, but everyone around me was 13-17 and so it was their perfect summer soundtrack. How can you not remember "No One Like You"? It was a radio and MTV staple, and I ate it up.

What simultaneously scares me and makes me laugh is that I still know most of the words to this album--and I still love it. Granted, I am listening to it in the privacy of my room at the moment, but it still gives me a rush. It reminds me of being young, days and nights free in the hot summer to hang out in neighbors' houses, watch people drink, get high, take off in their first cars, feeling like adults, blaring their music as loud as it will go.

What's even funnier is that a few of the songs on "Blackout" are actually political. The 7-minute "China White," for example, always sounded like a riff on Led Zeppelin to me, but re-reading the lyrics, it says, among other things: "How long will it take/To make the world a flaming star?/How long will it take/Till they stop their senseless wars?"


Who knew I was responding to a screaming German man named Klaus who was singing about "filling our hearts with love again"? I didn't at the time.

It's always amazing what a sensory experience music can be. I marvel at remembering songs like "No One Like You" that are nearly 30 years old--that were such integral parts to a very specific moment in my life.

I suspect the Scorpions started my love of a master guitar player. Granted, I respond more to kick-ass women playing it these days, but listening now, I can't help but marvel at how good the playing on "Blackout" actually is.

Plus, I was feeling kind of aggro today and needed a soundtrack. Now I know what to play when I feel like this.

Now, excuse me while I go back to paying bills and singing along to "Dynamite."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life Made Easier?

I made the mistake of turning on the TV last night.

Unless it's 6 or 7:30 p.m. and I know The Simpsons has already begun, I rarely do this. If I had The Weather Channel, all bets would be off, because I could watch Doppler radar images for 36 hours straight and make everyone crazy.

But the unfortunate eyeball-searing spectacle was Miss Teen USA, which I knew Lesley had attended because her step-niece was crowned last summer in Palm Springs and there she was taking her "final walk" and then Mario Lopez was squawking about something stupid, and then the 5 finalists were whittled down and voila...Ms. Colorado was crowned! She was innocuous, and so was everything else. And then I saw the set, which looked like a Lichtenstein painting--which just seemed like some gross postmodern irony. If you had no idea who he was and were, oh, 15, and then saw a painting, you'd think he had cribbed it from Miss Teen USA. I clearly have little optimism about the intellectual prowess of Generation Z or whatever we're calling them now.

Turning off that fresh horror, I wandered aimlessly about my apt., fidgety because I am not smoking, and it was day 4 and I felt like I could strangle someone and then I'd feel great, and then I'd want to punch the wall. It's testament to how horrible this addiction is, I suppose. And I remembered how awful it was to quit in 1999. But also how much better I felt. And best of all, how much money I saved.

I thought about trying to write, but I feel so ADD right now. I can usually sit down and pound out a diatribe, essay, story about any number of subjects. I think it may be the fear of finishing something that keeps me scattered. I had this odd epiphany in the midst of taking the GRE for the second time last weekend. It was the analytical writing section and I hadn't prepared for it at all, really, but the two types of essay I was being forced to write just seemed so simple to me. The words could only be ordered in one way. I wondered about the "bigger" pieces of writing that I have been trying to gain forward momentum on and thought just in that moment that I may never finish, because if I did, I'd have to come up with another idea. And it just seemed so exhausting. (By the way, I got the SAME lackluster scores both times I took the GRE and gave up; I can't take it again, and, at 34, feel like I just don't care that much about this stupid test. I'll find a way to do what I want somehow. I doubt algebra and analogies will determine my fate.)

Granted, a lot of that has to do with spending every minute of free time in the last several weeks either traveling for work or studying for the GRE. This is the first weekend in 2 or 3 months where this isn't hanging over me and I feel adrift--like I have too many options.

I had been tackling this essay about my father's death and it was stinging me and I had to let it go for a minute. I'd not had that sensation from writing something in a long time. I think I'd been able to steel myself against the pain of his death for a long time, and 21 years later, something else has to be worked out. I don't know how Joan Didion did it exactly, writing about her husband's death so acutely. In interviewing people in my family again, it opens up sores that some of them have never let heal. And, by turn, it brings back to me the feeling of having just turned 13 and spending an entire summer in the hospital wondering what was happening to my dad and to my own childhood.

Needless to say, I am approaching this essay with more trepidation right now, circling it, in a sense, before I feel ready to dive back in.

I've been wanting life to slow down a little bit, and so far it's bending to my will. I think the last big hurdle is this apartment hunt. You know it's bad when you have dreams about exacting some kind of revenge on your neighbor and wake up feeling RELAXED. Geesh.

My chores today? To drop off stuff at a thrift store, go to Amoeba, and drive around parts of the city to apartment hunt. Oh, and to buy file boxes so I can start packing books in my house--a way to force myself to really go out there and find an apartment How exciting is that? To most, not very, I imagine, but it feels like bliss right now. And the best part is that it's August 25 and only 78 degrees. Damn, I just realized that in 3 days I will have been here 9 years. Maybe that means by next August I have to move.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

They Say If You Put It Out Into the Universe....

....well, then, someone/something will hear you.

So I am putting it out there: I need a new apartment! :)

Oct. 1 or Nov. 1 move-in is ideal. If you know me: I need 4 things:

1) Built before 1950 preferably (i.e., hardwood floors, tiled bathroom)

2) Quiet

3) Parking

4) Upstairs --unless we're talking some detached/weirdly layed out patio unit or treehouse or something.

I reiterate that the housing market in LA SUCKS. Not that y'all didn't know that but I just had to say it again.

End communication.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blogging Black Hole

I've been swept up into "life stuff," and the moment it stops, I go to the beach and throw myself in the ocean and watch the dolphins. Really. Two weekends ago, I was in the water and there were dolphins jumping and playing about 50 feet away. That's one of those "Oh, yeah, this is why I live here" moments.

Taking the GRE again on Saturday. I can't seem to learn more math. I keep getting the SAME score on every practice test. I think my brain is in revolt. Even though I "get" how it all works, I can't properly execute it. Honestly, deep down inside I just don't care enough about proportions, slopes, percentages, and factoring. Just one of my shortcomings, I guess.

Apartment hunting is a horrible thing in LA these days, too. How does anyone afford living alone, anyway? I make OK money and still the prices are outrageous, and make no sense: a 1-bedroom in Eagle Rock for $1210 on Craigslist; a 1-bedroom for $1180 in Santa Monica right below it. Huh? Not that I want to live in either neighborhood, but you catch my drift.

Back to the grind. I will hopefully get some pics of New Mexico and details on that trip soon!