Thursday, April 30, 2009

Serve the Servants

Because I just came to this one in my listening and it's my absolute all-time favorite Nirvana song. Sigh.

Teenage angst has paid off well
Now I'm bored and old
Self-appointed judges judge
More than they have sold

If she floats than she is not
A Witch what we have thought
A downpayment on another
One at Salem's lot

Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants
That legendary divorce is such a bore

As my bones grew they did hurt
They hurt really bad
I tried hard to have a father
But instead I had a dad

I just want you to know that I
Don't hate you anymore
There is nothing I could say
That I haven't thought before

Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants - oh no
Serve the Servants
That legendary divorce is such a bore

This blog really needs a "Nirvana" and/or "Kurt Cobain" tag at this point, don't you think?
I have recently been informed that I overuse parentheses and hyphens in my writing, not that this is news to me, particularly. I wonder if it's because I like to imagine myself giving an elaborate speech with a mildly ironic tone as I write.

Dear God.

It's cooled down outside, for which I am supremely grateful. By the time it gets really hot again I'll be home, and I have central air at home. Another thing for which I am supremely grateful.

I have one more class left of my sophomore year of college - Modern American Writing, which I have tomorrow morning. And then I'll be left - with my two papers, my take-home final, and my three regular finals. Which is flipping ridiculous, especially seeing as I'm only taking four classes. Why, why, why do so many professors find it totally acceptable to assign a long-ass paper due and then think it totally acceptable to expect you to take a final the following day? It ought to be a final paper OR a final exam (or some combination thereof, in the case of the take-home final.) Not both. No. Not at all.

At which point, I'll be halfway done with college. (Assuming, of course, that I pass all my classes - not that I'm really concerned with that.)

I had my final History of Rock class today (snff) and it just brought me back around to Nirvana again. Things I thought I had grown out of. Angers and passions that I thought I had moved on from. But we were watching the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video and all of a sudden I was fourteen again, watching those cheerleaders with the anarchy signs emblazoned on their uniforms, my blood boiling and heart pounding, and Kurt Cobain was this blond, scrawny, bratty, utterly ingenious form of Second Coming. An annoyed, smirking, reluctant superstar, tragic in his hilarity.

I thought I'd grown out of all that, but there are still these moments - and apparently today was one of them - where I'm back there again, back again in a place where I was discovering grunge and where Soundgarden and Hole and Pearl Jam and Nirvana - especially, especially Nirvana - were my new saviors. Only I was discovering it a good thirteen years or so after everybody else, and so it was already over - and I was clinging to something that was long gone. I knew how the story would end.

When I was about twelve or so, I asked my mother what grunge was. She cocked her head and thought about it, and after a moment she responded, "It's something like...listless punk." I nodded, further intrigued about this phenomenon.

She has absolutely no memory of this exchange, and is still rather in awe that she produced such an evocative and fairly accurate (not 100%, but still pretty spot-on) definition. It's worth noting that my mother is a few months younger than Kurt Cobain.

So I'm listening to my whole collection of Nirvana - which is not nearly as comprehensive as I would like, or as lengthy as my obsession with the band and the lore of the period would suggest - just the three studio albums and a couple of B-sides and live tracks. But I'm listening to it all, in chronological order, and, well, it's still great. And it turns out the Kurt's ghost is still kind of around for me.

Go figure.

Monday, April 27, 2009

When I see pictures like this I think I must be living in an alternate reality.

I bet Hell, if it exists, is a lot like our world. Only more dull, soul-sucking, and absurd. I've often thought of hell having frustrating, but essentially mundane, things - like having to sneeze for all eternity and never being able to. Or an annoying, shrill ring tone that never, ever, ever stops. Ever.

I really don't know why I think about these things. I haven't had class since Thursday - I normally only have one class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and that professor is currently in Europe - and I think it's starting to make me a little bit weird. Although to be fair, I've been thinking about these kinds of things for years, so maybe that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I think it's the hot weather, too. I'm not overheated right now, but it seeps into my bones and makes me sick and crazy. It's supposed to be 93 degrees tomorrow. I'm concerned. Hopefully I can hole up in air-conditioned rooms all day, but I know the room where I have History of Rock isn't air-conditioned and that could get bad. Very bad. Heatstroke/seizure/dehydration bad.

I hate this hot weather, but like I said, I also like it. It connects me to things I can't usually tap into. Not for years now, not since I started sleeping again and stopped writing so veraciously and things evened out for me. Not that I'm sorry that happened - I'm a hell of a lot more stable than I was then - but there are things about that time that I miss.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm hotsick and so this is what I'm putting here.

My friend assures me, "It's all or nothing."
I am not worried
I am not overly concerned
My friend implores me, "For one time only,
make an exception." I am not worried
Wrap her up in a package of lies
Send her off to a coconut island
I am not worried I am not overly concerned
with the status of my emotions
"Oh," she says, "you're changing."
But we're always changing

It does not bother me to say this isn't love
Because if you don't want to talk about it then it isn't love
And I guess I'm going to have to live with that
But I'm sure there's something in a shade of grey,
Something in between,
And I can always change my name
If that's what you mean

My friend assures me, "It's all or nothing."
But I am not really worried I am not overly concerned
You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself
To make yourself forget I am not worried
"If it's love," she said, "then we're going to have to think about the consequences."
She can't stop shaking
I can't stop touching her and...

This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes her away and Anna begins to change her mind
"These seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days," she says
And I'm not ready for this sort of thing

But I'm not going to break and I'm not going to worry about it anymore
I'm not going to bend, and I'm not going to break and I'm not going to worry about it anymore
It seems like I should say, "As long as this is love..."
But it's not all that easy so maybe I should
Snap her up in a butterfly net Pin her down on a photograph album
I am not worried I've done this sort of thing before
But then I start to think about the consequences
Because I don't get no sleep in a quiet room and...

The time when k indness falls like rain
It washes me away and Anna begin s to change my mind
And eve rytime she sneezes I believe it's love and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

She's talking in her sleep
It's keeping me awake and Anna begins to toss and turn
And every word is nonsense but I understand and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

Her kindness bangs a gong
It's moving me along and Anna begins to fade away
It's chasing me away
She disappears and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

(That's "Anna Begins" by the Counting Crows. I didn't write it. I wish I had.)

Aubrey Beardsley drew this for the cover of Oscar Wilde's play Salome. I'm putting it here because I like it.

I also like this. The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli:

Not much of a blog post, really, but hey, it's things that give me pleasure and inspiration and those things are important. And noteworthy, especially for this particular blog. Whatever that might be.

It's really hot and although I hate hot weather, it makes me sick in a way that gives me so much closer access to thoughts and memories that would otherwise be inaccessible. It tends to put me in a more not-asleep, not-awake state than usual and it makes the world seem more mystical and it makes my memories collapse in a strange way that makes time and place seem immaterial and difficult to differentiate. Reality feels far away, but everything else feels close, and it's a moment of transcendence that I can hold onto for a little while longer than usual.

It's also putting me in a place where I miss him so much that it's making me feel sicker. But maybe I want that too, just a little. To be able to tap into it. Torture myself in order to make my existence a little more interesting. Not healthy, but it's something I do.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I've been so verklempt and generally out-of-commission mentally and emotionally lately that I totally spaced on the 15-year anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death this week. I seriously can't believe that I forgot this year.

Two years ago I had a radio show scheduled on the day of his death, so I got my rotations all out of the way early on in the show and then played nothing but Nirvana, no breaks, no commentary, for the next 30 or 40 minutes, or however long it ended up being. I think my follow-up hosts were a little late that day, for which I was grateful, since I got to play even more.

I think the ten-year anniversary was the day I wore all black to school. I got some strange looks, since it's not something I usually did. When I explained, a lot of my classmates didn't even know who Kurt Cobain was, which kind of made me want to tear my hair out, to be honest.

I guess it just goes to show how far removed from him I've gotten that I didn't even remember his death this year - it wasn't till I was on the phone with my mom earlier and she told me about hearing it on the radio (and talking about the "27 club" in conjunction with that), that I remembered. Back in my really, really dark days, he was this weird symbol to me that held stronger significance than I've ever been able to explain or even understand. It was more than the music, more than the icon - something about him struck something in my young, depressed, anxiety-ridden, severely sleep-deprived self that felt a personal connection and held on tight.

I still have that, to some degree. There aren't many people in my generation who have such a closeness with him, which gives me a kind of protectiveness and possessiveness about him, a kind of appropriation of him as my own. My mom and I were watching something on the greatest hard rock songs of all time (why, I'm not sure; it was probably a lazy Sunday night or something), and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was, of course, #2 or #3 or something. And all these 80s hair-metal guys were talking about how great Kurt was, and all I could think was, "You know what, fuck you. He couldn't stand you, and you couldn't stand him right back." And who could blame them? This bratty, scrawny little upstart who invalidated everything on which they had made their fortunes and had been playing all these years?

The truth is that there are so many facets to the image and icon that is Kurt Cobain, and the truth is that I don't just love the one of the tortured artist. I love the bratty snot-nosed punk that he was, too, with the childish lyrics he wrote early on and his obsession with bodily functions (seriously, it's kind of creepy.) The husband and father that he struggled to be in his past years, the scared and uncertain kid that he was early on. And the part of him that was conscious of all the fabrication and reveled in creating it; the part that wanted to be famous, god damn it, and the part that hated it. I connected with all of it, and I still do. Even though I don't need him anymore. Not the way I used to.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Well, this is kind of more health crap, but I had another seizure on Thursday (boo) again in History of Rock (sorry professor Steve and assorted classmates!) Basically I've had a persistent headache ever since, and have been extra more dizzy than usual (which is saying something, since I'm dizzy all the freaking time as it is.) I feel bad about asking for extensions and work and leniency and so forth, because I feel like I haven't been resting as much as I should have since it happened and am therefore exacerbating it (more on that in a minute), but the fact is that the headache and dizziness are very much real, as is the slightly blurry vision I've been having today and the slight coordination issues, and numbness in my fingers. I'm calling Health Services in the morning to see if they can check me out. Of course, being as it's Health Services, they'll probably write it off as "stress" like they have all my medical problems thus far and send me on my merry way, but it's worth a try.

My weekend, however, was pretty packed. Certainly for me, anyway. Friday night I went to see my History of Rock professor Steve's book reading, which was really awesome and just totally reinforced my love for Smith and Northampton in that places like these obviously foster such total awesomeness. Really, Northampton is amazing. Lisa and I had a bit of a revelation about it a little while back while, for a few minutes at least, I kind of gave up on the idea of going to New York and trying to get into the high-powered academic world where everything is so serious and rushed and exhausting, and just wanting to live in Northampton for a couple of years after graduation and work in a book store. I think that in a way that would be every bit as valuable. Probably not forever, but it might be a nice thing to try out.

Saturday Lisa and I hung around in town for awhile, which was not all that awesome since it was kind of cold and gross out, but we had a pretty good time nonetheless. She wanted to buy a $20 puppet, which I fortunately managed to talk her out of. Then we chilled at Hopkins and drank a lot of tea, which is always super nice and a really great environment to (pretend to) do work.

And LAST night we went to see David Sedaris. The reading was at 8:30, but student rush with the half-off tickets was at 7:30, so she and I were there at 6:30. We were the first people there, and we were the only people there for quite a long time, so it was obvious that we were ridiculously early, but I got a bit of homework done while we were waiting anyway. Besides, it all paid off when David Sedaris walked in and actually struck up a conversation with us. (HOLY SHIT AWESOME.) He was adorable and funny and sharply dressed and he called Lisa a pauper (which he then did again when she got her book signed. I had no book for him to sign, so I just stood there grinning awkwardly while she and Alicia struck up further conversations with him.) And the actual book reading was a complete hoot. He read hilarious short stories and he even read us excerpts from his diary, which I thought was super cool. It was a huge venue and we were way way way up in the balcony (which gave me terrible vertigo) but it was still completely awesome.

Seriously. David Sedaris = win. Can't believe I met him. Lisa asked him the secret to happiness and he replied, "Attention."

Amen, hilarious gay writer man. Amen.