Crown of Trinkets

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Tonight I've been wrangling with my ever-fickle but ever-beautiful Philips 212 turntable. I can't think of many things I owned back in high school that I still own--guitars? No (with one exception being my first guitar, which is mainly for show at this point being as it only has three strings, which are two inches off the fretboard and which emit a crackling, zzzkkktthh sound when they are strummed through an amplifier). Clothes? No, except for my Sonic Youth shirt, which has a hole in it, and is two sizes too large, and my math competition t-shirt, which is just right at this point in my life. But not much else (aside from a few Feelies and Meat Puppets records) has made the jump from my young and hyperactive days to my days of relative maturity and sloth. So it is kind of crucial that I keep this wonky marvel of Dutch engineering alive. Besides, it has touch-sensitive pads to start it up and mark 33/45 speed! Right now it is playing out of both channels and not skipping. We will see how long this detente lasts between it and me, but right now it is total love, tons of fresh Ozone Records going-out-of-business 7"s to feed it, oh my sweet darling, I will never leave you alone again. Oh my lord, I am talking to my turntable as if it were an emotionally unstable lover.

From work, 9:02 am today:
One of the messages on the benefits hotline was from Bret B.,
this guy I knew from youth group at Living Savior Lutheran of all places,
young Def Leppard fan back in the day if I recall correctly. Now he's
working as some sort of financial advisor or something, asking about rolling
funds over, still a reedy nerd voice but now wrapped up in financial jargon,
shrimp wrapped in bacon, some weird attempt at gourmet verbiage. God, do I
sound like that when I call people? I can only imagine how dweeby I sound,
going off about something I barely know about (e.g. mental health coverage,
retirement plans, etc.) It is one thing to hear one's voice on tape, and
that's harrowing enough in my case, but it's doubly weird to have the real world intrude
on my job like that. I'm not sure I like that...

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Monday, January 14, 2002
Beautiful Monday afternoon not working and getting things done alone! Faint kiss of sun!

I got my aging Philips turntable to start working again (it had had some problems with its right channel) and it is greatly enhancing my life. I had been playing records on my slightly-sub-Fisher-Price-sounding all-in-one Goodwill As-Is $1 special upstairs, which gave my records that "yesteryear" Edison-cylinder sound and which interpreted "45 rpm" as being anywhere between 35 and 55 rpm, usually oscillating between the two pretty rapidly, but now I can sit downstairs soaked in much-needed sunbeam action and listen to my purchases from:

The Ozone going-out-of-business sale! Ozone is one of those fixtures on the Portland scene, a record store whose selection was pretty damn intense and desirable in its heyday. I hadn't been buying many records recently, so I hadn't been frequenting this nice establishment much, but I went in yesterday for the first day of the half-off sale. The aisles were packed with the pierced-and-dyed crowd, the thrift-shopping crowd, the rare hipsters who are actually employed and consequently have spending money. The aisles smelled like incense (unescapable smell at Ozone) and thrift must. I recognized tons of people but didn't know their names, and they were all intently flipping clack-clack through stacks of CD's (or flap-flap through bins of vinyl) anyway. I envisioned all of these people as balding 50-year-olds bending over boxes of swap-meet vinyl, showing off butt-crack and bald-spot, smelling of sour underarm sweat; it was greatly amusing.

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I know that no-one wants to hear about anyone else's dreams, but here's one that has some decent dirt in it, at least, plus a first in my dreaming life:

I was on a radio talk-show with my ex-girlfriend. In our real lives, this relationship was primarily about me being screamed at, at least in my eyes; however, on this talk show, we were merrily and civilizedly going about talking about the other person's foibles. We traded jabs; oh, I like my music to be played in alphabetical order; excuse me, ma'am, I prefer my music to follow the shape and curvature of the album (images of rounded, colorful Fiestaware on the Salvation Army's bric-a-brac shelves), while you'd be content to be spoonfed whatever on the radio. It wasn't a pleasant exchange by any means but at least I didn't feel threatened. And in a pioneering moment of dreaming, this dream referred to a dream I'd had earlier in the evening, in which I stowed away in an airplane. I didn't get the details of the previous dream correct--for some reason I thought that I had transformed into a wasp in the previous dream, when the truth is I stowed away in the luggage compartment--but still.

For those of you who still remember your "Life In Hell" books, you may refer to Love Is Hell: We transformed from "Woman and Jumpy" to "Jolly Jugular-Jabbers". We wrestle with our demons in any way that we can; this dream seemed more like giving my demons a wedgie than it seemed like hitting them with a folding chair, but it will do.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Here are some recent messages to myself from Work, so you, the reader, can get an idea as to what I think about all day to keep from thinking about Work. Warning: long. Skip past if all you want is gossip and good dirt; there isn't really any here.

12/26, 2 pm Today I am alone in The Pod, no tinkly Christmas sleighbell music
drifting over from next door, no conversation except that from afar. Music

Wandering Stars "A Star Is Shining"/"I'm Poison"
DQE "S For Psychotic"
Joe Jackson "One to One"

We will see how observing this delicate beast called melody affects its
behavior, modifies its habitat. You can only shine a light in a cave so
long before the bear that lives there wakes up.

Simon Joyner "Address"
Steve Egan (the first song off _Famous & Friendly_, the one that goes "a
month spent working for the governor/under the cracked dome of the capitol")

My left forearm is achy, probably from playing too much Dreamcast (NFL 2K1;
will it supplant Tecmo Super Bowl as the guilty violent football-related
pleasure around the household?) and currently being in a contracted
position. I've been doing pushups and situps the last few days and I am
"feeling the burn". Athletics!

The Benefits Hotline has been open for 12 minutes and no calls yet; it is
like a snow day, except I am at work. Such peace is unknown here. Back to
the Change Checkmark Query.

Tarnation's "Game of Broken Hearts" intrudes (thanks to a worksheet for Sue
Fraser, c.f. Paula Frazer, singer for said band), but then recedes. Back to
the Steve Egan.

I remember the day I had to go in to work in the dishroom at Meridian Park
Hospital (senior year, high school). I had hoped to go to this dance at
church, which would have been interesting, since a girl that I had a crush
on was there, and the dance would have featured the mentally challenged
folks from the "group homes", interesting all around. I had started to make
a "mix tape" for the dance. I had put all sorts of unpopular music on there
that I thought was cool at the time--the Icicle Works stands out as one of
the glaring inclusions--but I didn't have time to finish it before I went to
work. My brother completed it, including such classics as the Red Hot Chili
Peppers' "Nobody Weird Like Me" and I guess at that point they decided to
get rid of the tape and go for Beach Boys CD's. My hands were soaking in
dishwater the whole while this was going on...

I was premature in saying that the Hotline was dormant. It is not dormant.

Ass Ponys "No Dope No Cigarettes". I borrowed good old _Grim_ from Dan
Cohoon (now vacationing in scenic West Chester, PA, home of several
semi-memorable Meringue shows) and it is as bleakly funny as ever. Some of
the dumb songs are still dumb, but they fall in the underpopulated
bleak/black novelty-song genre, so I will forgive them. The song just
mentioned is pretty catchy even if it sounds awfully mid-period-R.E.M.-ish,
which of course I don't mind.

12/27 Last night I made cauliflower-and-potato-and-garbanzo-bean curry, rapidly
becoming a favorite in my home. In a very _Tassajara Cooking_-style
mistake, I threw in two teaspoons of whole fennel (maybe anise?) seeds
instead of one teaspoon of whole cumin and one teaspoon of ground cumin.
And do you know what? It is delicious, that great fennely aftertaste
lingering in my mouth along with the turmeric stains.

Last night I got wrapped up in a consuming evening of sports simulations on
the Sega Dreamcast videogame console. While this may seem absolutely
pathetic to you, the reader, and I know my "target demographics" do not
exactly include the jock set, you must put down your espressi for a second
and realize: I am an Iowan, dammit! And what do Iowans like? Pork, and
football. Okay, I don't eat or care for pork, but there are some things
that are harder to extract from the psyche. Now I am thinking about that
game again. Damn, that NFL2K1 is addictive. Its aftertaste lingers like
weirdly overly fennely curry, the weird wobbling walk of inflated polygonal
athlete physiques lingers, the taste of victory. Anyway, Jordan's ex made
an unexpected (but thankfully not too acrimonious) visit last night so I got
to take a little break from the athletic mayhem and go upstairs and work on
my calendar. Two months remain! And then I will be done done done!

(3 pm) The image of a bowling alley in West Seneca, NY, just after dusk. It is
dark, I have no idea where I am, we are looking for a motel and end up with
the Bluebird, strange wheelchair-squeaky smoky Polish woman stalking the
corners of her motel-domain.

The Terminals' wonderful "Do The Void" colliding with some smarmy Doobie
Brothers song, title unknowable, heard while on-hold with the Wound Center.
The latter clings to you like mildew, like barnacles on a beautiful golden
boat. Why is one melody superior to the other? Why would I prefer to have
one stuck in my head?

Someone at the office mentioned puppies and this horrific image from last
night's dreams surfaced: I had a dog (bitch) and she was pregnant: she
split open on a dusky, dusty road and out tumbled countless identicalish
puppies, oh, they wouldn't stop, horror of overabundant cute life.

The horrible images and horrible collision have ceased 10 minutes later and
I am in post-rainstorm mode: Damon & Naomi's song, the first one from _With
Ghost_, "because I'm in love with something I can't hold", the lyrics go.

Why on earth did that caller Diane close the conversation (after "have a
good new year's") with "bye, party boy"? I love baffling statements like

Squalling babies over the receiver, discussions on what sort of birth
records are appropriate. Is the one with the footprints okay? Yes, the one
with footprints is okay.

1/3/02, 8:55 am Why must unpleasant memories from the past gurgle up? Okay, this one is not
as unpleasant as some not-to-be-named memories, but let's look back at 8th
grade, me as a young square-eyeglassed Lutheran, riding in a dark van on the
way to the coast, leather sneakers as yet not filled with sand, sitting next
to people I'd rather not sit next to. Def Leppard's _Hysteria_ playing in
the tape deck, and this is where my goat is got: people still find this
acceptable music, a high point of something, even. To me, it is the sound of some
bloated, flaccid manhood reverberating in an endless, featureless aluminum
tunnel. Yuk.

I really wish I could be listening to the Velvet Underground's "I Heard Her
Call My Name" quite loudly right now. I remember giving Anthony (aka
"Rufus" of tag-team "Doofus & Rufus") a copy of the second side of _White
Light/White Heat_ as an example of what "real heavy metal" was. Oh, youth.

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Saturday, January 05, 2002
Happy end to sad day (see the previous post for details): I went to TBO's wedding reception and it turned my pissy mood right around. Jordan, Brian, Jen, Matty B, the bride and groom, all there and in rare form (the fact that it was at McMenamin's Edgefield, home of alcohol, probably added to the mirth factor). Matty B was in rare form, like a foghorn, throwing out lines from "Big L" and other fabulous rap stars who I had not heard of, and everyone else was their own selves, only amplified and lubricated, and it beat the hell out of the crypt/human-resources-sweatshop atmosphere of the day. Amen, amen, amen.
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Oh Work, you cruel master! Oh I was livid at the thought of coming in to work today (a Saturday) but I thought: oh, it will only be a half-day, and then I will go back to whatever merry and idle things I do on Saturdays. But no: work came at me frantically like a swarm of wasps, a swarm that seeped out of god knows where (okay, two missing people in the department) and I got madder and madder, in both senses of the word "mad". Drudgery repeated, drudgery repeated, drudgery repeated. Process, reenter, reprocess, reprocess, keep track of. I ended up leaving at 3:30 and then on top of that the bus was fantastically late as well. When I envisioned this job, I envisioned something that was a) 28 hours a week, after which I could go home; b) not psychically draining; c) something at least marginally rewarding of creativity, independent solutions, funny statements made in the workplace. I can now ashamedly say that none of the above are true. God help us. If I'm still there in two months, please email me and remind me to wake up.

Off to Jordan's pal Todd's wedding reception (he got married in Florida but is back for a relatives-and-friends get-together) and while I think T.B.O. is a fine young man, I dread the thought of actually having to interact with other people. Yeck.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2002
I haven't posted in ages; this is due a) to this "holiday" thing, b) to this "end-of-year" thing, which basically means lots of work at Work, and c) temporary lapse in Internet connection. (C) was actually kind of interesting; I found myself doing things other than endlessly browsing the Web, which is nice! There are a lot of things out there, like nice books and trees densely filled with birds, and calisthenics (I am trying!) and this novel I'm going to write. One page done so far, no progress tonight. Sad but I am resolved, and noveleering pal Holly called today: her plans are big and sweeping and I have a lot to live up to.

Weiner Dog Update! I have not yet commented on the passing of Good Dog Pippen in this space, but it needs to be said: He was the best dog I've ever had the pleasure of associating with, just pure lithe, low sweetness. The boy's kidneys gave out, making his last days kind of sad and making his bladder lose control (embarrassing for him, it seemed), but we will remember his pure heart forever. My dad is working on a C D B-style eulogy for the little guy (you should have seen the elaborate paeans to dachsundhood written when he was still among us!). And in new news, the folks have a new wriggling weiner among them: his name at the breeder's (apparently a cesspit) was "Digimon"; I am lobbying for "Didgeridog". We will see if that sticks...

Off to sleep, and curse the addictive and playable NFL 2K1 for Sega Dreamcast...

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