Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Comprehensive List of Songs Played On the Satellite Radio Station at Work; Or, Why My Head Is About To Explode

1)"Wind Beneath My Wings." Not even the Bette Midler version. At 7:30 in the morning. I really gotta bring in my coffeemaker.

2) "Love Story" by Taylor Swift.

3)"Small Town" by John "Cougar" Mellancamp. Having grown up in one of the most economically stunted and cloudy small towns in the whole US of A, I can't tell you how much it depresses me to hear the lyric "Gonna die in a small town/and that's probly where they'll bury me." That just feels like saying "I went nowhere and did nothing with my life and no one will remember me, ever....Isn't that awesome?!"

4) "I Don't Want to Wait" by that chick who did "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" Whatever happened to that song? Why do they only play the second hit she had that wasn't as good as the first one?

5) Something inaudible by Michael Bolton. Srsly, station. Sync your playback volumes.

6)"Take the Long Way Home" by Supertramp

7)"Picture" by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow

8)"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion. Really? Really, station?

9)"Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac. Like a beacon of light on the far shore. When my boat is in the middle of a thunderstorm. And it's raining crap instead of water. God, I love Fleetwood Mac.

10) "Land Down Under" by Men At Work. Aaaand the shitstorm is back in full force.

11) "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood

12) "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles. (I had to look up who did this song and now I'm confused. I thought I liked the Bangles. Maybe not.)

13) "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

14) Something inaudible again that resembles "Redneck Girl" by the Bellamy Brothers, but there's no way this station has that much class.

15) "You Are the Woman" by Firefall. I take it back, station: you are all class, all the time. Good God.

16) "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne.

17) "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. Close, station. A near miss. Unfortunately, Don Henley is not The Eagles.

18) "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. Man, I already hated Foreigner, but up til now I've been blaming this atrocity on solo Kenny Loggins. But nope. It's Foreigner.

19) "Hold My Hand" by Hootie and the Blowfish. I don't think I can say anything about Hootie and the Blowfish that we didn't say back in seventh grade the first time we realized they sucked.

20) "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. Congratulations, station, you have been demoted from 10% awesome to 5%. Also, there aren't words gross enough to express the depth of my disdain for Phil Collins.

21) "Love Story" by Taylor Swift.

22) "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's. Can we talk about how he wrote this song for a girl he didn't even know, and how creeped out she was by it?

Question: if a terrible song plays in a cubicle, and no one is there to hear it, would it still depress me?

23) "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison. How is this possible? I don't understand. Shouldn't the universe have imploded by now or something? How can they just throw this in amidst all that crap, like, "Oh, yeah, we really do know good music, we just won't play it. Except randomly. When you're not expecting it." I can't handle this kind of discrepancy! This is the kind of thing that turns normal worker slaves into slobbering, padded-wall, alien-anal-probed loonies.

24) "Smooth" by Rob Thomas, feat. Carlos Santana. WHAT?!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Martyrdom and Ethiopian Food

As you may have noticed, either by my virtual absence or by evidence of the piles and piles of crap that have accumulated in my car (seriously...there is no room for passengers--anybody want a television?) my life has been on hold for the past few weeks.  I moved to a new apartment, fell for a guy who was in the process of moving to the other side of the country, watched my best friend and roommate move to a different part of the other side of the country, did a housesitting gig, and turned 23 in the space of about 20 days or so.  And smoked a shit-ton of shisha.  Cough.
The last day this guy (who, for lack of a better defining numerical term, shall henceforth be referred to as Ex-whosit number bazillion) was in town, we went out for Ethiopian food.  I'd never had Ethiopian food before, and man, what a waste of my first twenty-three years.  Shit's ridiculously good.  Anyway, we didn't finish it all, and the to-go containers were kind of leaky, so when Ex-whosit number bazillion tried to keep it on his lap when we got into the car, I took it from him and threw it into the backseat on top of my old broken computer, some dish towels, and all the other random crap that is left after you move all stuff you actually need out of your apartment.  He said, "I can just hold it," and I was like, "Don't worry about it," because he's a street musician and I figured he probably shouldn't go around ruining perfectly good clothing in the name of saving my extraneous crap from the perils of Ethiopian leftovers.  And he gives me this look and goes, "You are just absolutely selfless, aren't you?  You don't even want to burden me with your leftovers."
I said, "Well, yeah, but it's not as awesome a thing as you'd think it is."  Which is true.  My family isn't particularly religious, but my father teaches the Philosophy of Nonviolence at a small university, and basically since day one I've been trained to think about other people's feelings and desires even to the detriment of my own.  "My mother has told me she's actually worried that if it came down to my life or someone else's, I literally wouldn't be able to defend myself."
"Wow," he said, "that's great."
I laughed. "Oh yeah?"
"Some people work really hard for that."
I sat in silence for a while and thought about that.  It was interesting to hear him say that, because it's something I have struggled with my whole life.  It's hard for me even to separate out my own desires from other people's, and often I end up getting taken advantage of without realizing it until much later.  "It doesn't come from a place of strength," I said.  "I have no control over it at all.  I just do it."
He laughed at me, then, and said, "What, you think it's worth less because you didn't have to work for it?"
"Well, it doesn't mean anything."
"Why does it have to mean something?" he asked me, and I was stumped.  
But I've had a few days to think about it now, and I still think I am right.  The right action is worthless without right intent behind it; and if you're not capable of killing someone, how "right" is it to refuse to do it?  There's no intention there, no choice; you just can't help it.  You're a machine, programmed to do the right thing, rather than a human acting rightly in full knowledge of what he is doing.    These are the philosophical arguments behind what I believe.
But the real reason I think that my inability to act to benefit myself is a detriment rather than a gift is because it hurts me.  I don't want to do it; I just do it, and it is exhausting.  I am not less than anyone else, and I deserve as much respect from myself as other people do.  Any sacrifices I make for others should be made out of the fullness of my heart and not out of an inability to act otherwise.  I would like to be able to act kindly towards other people out of strength, and not out of weakness; I would like to be able to do it willingly, with love for them and for myself at once.  And if that means that first I must learn how to act selfishly, and in my own interests, in order to build up my own reservoir of love and strength and kindness from which I can give as I choose, then so be it.  I think that would be better than blundering through the rest of my life giving to other people to the point where it hurts me, and always wishing for someone to give in return.  I can't count on anyone else to give me what I need, to make me feel fulfilled. I think it's a greater kindness to the world to make myself into the kind of person who can fend for herself, emotionally as well as physically, than to push myself to breaking.  If everyone cleaned his own backyard, the whole world would be beautiful.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

And, in a desperate attempt to rescue this blog from the depths of the mire of maudlin:

I present the funniest thing I've seen all day!

An Open Letter to a Man Who Is Somewhere Else

I cried for half an hour on the drive home from that apartment in Phoenix. I know that if you had seen me crying the way I did you would have launched into some speech or other on what Rumi has to say on the subject of attachment, and you would ask me what it was I thought I had lost, and tell me that it was all an illusion of the mind.
What you would not have done was to hold my hand and tell me it would be okay.
I do not know how you can read the things you read and see the things you see and yet be so callous to the depth and magnitude of other people’s pain. God, yes, it’s a construct of our minds—but it’s real to us; if you knew anything at all you would know that—you would know that hell is a place you can live an entire life. And your lectures and your attempts at detachment do nothing to make the world a better place for anybody but yourself, and I think perhaps make you cold to half the beauty around you—but I know I do not know your heart, so that last may be unfair to say.
It’s just as beautiful that I cried for half an hour in the dark to a cold, unplugged television set that lay pathetically in the passenger seat as it is that I watched an egret fly overhead and land on a red tile roof while the sun was setting, and it’s just as beautiful that you stood like stone with your hands in your pockets and watched me walk away from you as it is that I loved you for a long moment, standing beneath the cast iron fan that was rusted and immobile with ivy out under a desert nighttime full of meteorites. If you think I do not know this then you saw nothing of me at all.
I know you for what you are. I know you do not ask questions of anybody and that what you really want is for someone to listen to you; I know you are more comfortable with somebody who takes from you than somebody who gives; I know the reason you do not ask for what you want is because you are afraid of being refused. You think that because I choose to participate in this life that I have nothing more substantial than the shadows on the wall, and you think that because I do not carve out forty minutes a day to listen to God that I do not hear Him speaking at all. You think that because I know the strength of my own mind that I rely on that alone. In a year or two you will not remember my name.
You have been given everything, and then some, but you do not give back; instead you hesitate, and secure yourself against loss. You have such a heart, and such a mind, and such a voice—! But where are these and what are they doing to serve? Yesterday I put my hand down for a moment and accidentally produced exactly the thing you were looking for; but I put my heart down at your feet and you saw nothing in that at all. Yes, if you love nothing, you can lose nothing; but the loss is nothing, and the love everything. The heart renews itself, and there is nothing else that ever belonged to you to begin with.
And so I cried for half an hour last night, but this morning I watched the sun rise over a cup of coffee and an open patch of desert. Tonight I will go down to the lake where I saw the egret and sit with an Australian Shepherd named Hannah and my thoughts of a man who brought so much beauty into my life—but what will you be doing, love, and where is it you expect to find what you’re looking for?