My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Sort of Elegy

Where is G'Kar when you need him?
Tonight will mark the taking down of one Ditty Bops calendar and the putting up of another. That's the only noticeable change my room will undergo.
I've been trying to think of something eloquent to say to cap off the year. In a perfect world, I would have spent a few weeks or a month reflecting on the events of the past twelve months and distilling my thoughts into a stirring elegy. I would sit at my desk, trusty pen in hand, and bask in the shining Uniball ink as I wrote out the final words of the piece that at once encapsulated the energy and pathos of the past year and channeled it into a resolve to carry on with renewed vigor and determination for the one about to begin.
But it's an imperfect world.
So what, pray tell, made this year unique? Every year is filled with sadness and despair. With walks and memories and screams and laughter. With chocolate and cheese.
Is it the names of the players? Was her hair red this year, while in years past it was dirty brown? Is it the changing scenery? The songs coming from the stereo? What were you doing when the balloon dropped over the masses last time around? I can barely remember. It seems so unimportant. What's one moment out of a whole year? It's like a single drop in the 2006 pail, slowly filling from the crack in the roof. What else is in the water?
Check all that apply:
Fall in love?
Lots of heartbreak and tears?
Holiday sickness?
Moments of sheer joie de vivre?
The death of a family member or friend?
Overwhelming, absolute readiness for the end of this year paired with a delirious, screaming eagerness for the blank slate afforded by the new year?
Am I the only one who scored 100% on that little test?
Perhaps it is precisely the sheer commonality of our collective experience that we will be celebrating when we raise our glasses tonight. The dirt under our nails. The dead skin that fell wherever we walked, and became dust. We pay for our existence with sweat and blood, and this is what the year keeps. Somewhere inside us are bits and pieces, loose ends and minutiae, made up from the grime and residue of the beatings we've taken each day this year. Imagine that they're located in a specific place inside your body, and that come the morning you will be taking them out and putting them away. You might throw them, good riddance, hurtling into the night to be crushed underneath the wheels of trucks, gliding on the freeway. You might just tuck them into the furthest recesses of your closet, not gone, but well out of sight. You might place them on your bedside table. But whatever you do with these tangled memories and emotions, they are what truly made this past year distinct from every other. It's the details, the change which have defined the year. Not vague lists or photographs, but the visceral reality that we went through what we did. All 2006 asks now is that we remember it, and hopefully learn from it as well.
So I offer this as a toast. Raise your glasses of wine, your pints of beer or your shot glasses of Makers Mark; even a glass of ice water will do:
May the pieces of yourself that get put away never cease to teach you how to live better, starting tomorrow. May each day henceforth serve to give those pieces meaning.
Tomorrow is Monday.
You can have tonight off.

Do what you love, and fuck the rest.


Wolf Parade - I'll Believe in Anything
Inner - Slither
Modest Mouse - The World at Large
Merle Haggard - If We Make It Through December
Neutral Milk Hotel - Two Headed Boy, Pt. 2
The Decemberists - Grace Cathedral Hill

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Decemberween

'Twas the night before Decemberween
and all through the house
MacBook Pros and G4s purred
with no need for a mouse.
The stockings were hung
by the electric fire
enticing the house cat
to curl up and retire.
We ate a grand dinner
we all had our fill
Now I sit and write to
some old Built to Spill
Pitchfork rounds up its lists
from this year nigh extinct
and I download the best
of what they all think
Homestar and friends
all ornaments on a tree
one fully afro'ed
none other than Coach Z
Letters to tube socks
and to socks argyle
as Decemberween comes closer
I just have to smile
The presents are safe
inside my bag by the bed
sealed in wax
some black and some red
So off to bed with me
time to turn out the lights
Happy Decemberween to all,
and to all a wight, wight!

Death Cab for Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dreams to Remember

An extra blanket, that's what I need to get out of bed in the morning. As counterintuitive as this seems, the extra warmth will make the harsh morning air seem less awful and I'll have an easier time making it to my coffee pot for reinforcements. This theory was proven last night when I stayed at a friends' house - catsitting while she's out of town. She has a down comforter on her bed, something I've not slept with in a long time. It didn't hurt matters that I had a very friendly cat named Pixel curled up with me for a good part of the night, once he'd settled down enough to stop headbutting me in the nose repeatedly. He just got out of the hospital after an operation, and apparently was very glad indeed to be home. I attempted to do a bit of journaling in bed, only to have the page bonked every few seconds, smearing my handwriting all over the place.
Never have I met such a persistent cat. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.
When I awoke this morning I had little trouble getting myself out of bed. It must be the heat (or lack thereof, in the case of my own bedroom), that keeps me stuck in bed. So here I sit, an extra blanket draped over my knees as I type away.
This past week, excuse me, these past few weeks have been both pleasantly productive, and full of wasted time and counterproductive energy. It's been an albatross around my neck to sit down and make time to write in here, let alone anywhere else. But I have pulled off my first ever Christmas wherein I've made all my presents by hand. It's endlessly more satisfying than finding something out in the shops; even if it is something cool and perhaps even useful to the person you're getting it for, it doesn't compare to something made by hand. At least that's how I feel about presents. I can only hope that others will share this view come Monday.
As I write I'm wrapping up the last details of the presents, and trying to keep my head on straight with a bit of severe scheduling. I don't know about you, but I rarely find myself needing to pull out my calendar and plan out my activities and obligations for the next several days. But it's the only way I'll get it all done. I have endless details to attend to, packing, mailing, letters and bills to address before venturing home to the California warmth on Sunday. I can't even bring all of it to mind right now. And that doesn't include all the things I intend to get done once I'm there.
I've been stuck, lately, on the question of proper perspective. I've been through a few emotional rough spots lately (Honestly, who hasn't? Synchronicity is real), and there were moments when I lost my head completely. Despaired. You know the drill. One little thing, played back again and again through your mind, each time a little more distorted, a little further removed from what actually happened, until the real cause of your pain is buried under a mountain of props and perfumes. It's only when you step back and look at things with perspective that you realized it's not as bad as all that, and if anything you've orchestrated this whole nasty business yourself.
I have, with a little help from my friends, pulled myself from the wreckage by trying to keep proper perspective. My tendency toward self-destruction/sabotage (is this what Freud would call my Death Wish?) notwithstanding, I've been flashing on this more and more lately, always to calming effect. Look at it another way, one just as if not more valid than the way you're thinking now that keeps you so crazy and depressed. Take a step back from yourself and see things on a grander timeline. Or look at all the things that are going right, rather than wrong. The list goes on and on.
Yet we human-types seem to have the damnedest time keeping perspective. There's not much I know now that I didn't know at some time or another in the past, which, had I remembered it, could have saved me considerable pain and wasted effort. But isn't that just part of living and forgetting? And is anything ever wasted? Well, yes. Not learning from your mistakes (or learning from them, and promptly forgetting about it) seems to be the textbook definition of a wasted experience. But if I keep perspective I know that this is pretty normal, all things considered.
But what I'm coming out with from all this is that when people deviate from reason and coolheadedness, it's almost always on the side of things that are going to make them miserable and self-destructive. If you hold us up to the model of the 'ideal philosopher' (in whom reason is absolute), we err on the side of totally fucking crazy every time. I'm no different.
Alas. We're going to carry on anyway. It may be part of our nature to self-destruct at every opportunity, but so too is it our nature to fight tooth-and-nail against anything trying to put us back in the dirt.
The extra blanket is in place. The pieces are falling where they need to fall.