Quote of the Day

“If I live on longer,
shall I again, I wonder,
yearn for these days?
The world that I once saw as
bitter, now, is dear to me!”

– 12th-century waka poem by Lord Fujiwara no Kiyosuke in the Shin Kokinshū, translated by Joshua S. Mostow.

Unselective Memories, Ineffective Sentences

Waiting under the twinkling Christmas lights, fingers touching the frayed, cotton souvenir scarf dangling on my neck, I am reminded of the library in my old school. My safe haven, my special space of solitude for those many times when I arrived too late for classes.

I am reminded of that small group of close friends, all of whom were strange and patient enough to stand by the mute who never spoke a word during the course of their friendship. I am reminded of a series of illustrated books on famous figures of the world, one of which taught me how Isadora Duncan was choked by her own scarf which got entangled around a car wheel.

I was reminded of her when my perhaps overly long scarf got inexplicably stuck on some lady’s backpack zipper as she exited the elevator this morning. I was reminded of her when I took off my scarf as I was about to cross a crowded street. I am reminded of her now as I cautiously hold the ends of my scarf, amused that a trivial thing I read about more than a decade ago, long before I came to fear mortality, would come to haunt me on this day.

Don’t Let Me Get What I Want This Time (Or Not Yet)

The thing about fantasies is that you can set the limit of what happens, even if only in your head. No flaws, no fights, no hang ups.

No consummation either. No satisfaction.

Look at the bright side, though. No disappointment.

That Lovin’ Feelin’

It’s amusing to think about how detached and skeptical I’ve grown in the last 7 years or so. Especially considering how relatively brief my stint in love and romance has been so far. I wonder how many years it will take until I’m left with a tiny, cold, black heart.

Perhaps it is time to be a born-again romantic.
Is there a twelve-step program or at least a WikiHow article for that?

Quote of the Day

“I wanted to sound like an entire record when I played.
You got a sort of vocabulary in your guitar, you know. How to play how you feel. You can sort of express that, kind of voice it without all the hassle of turning it into words or concepts.
Do you know what I mean?

Music’s less, kind of, for me, you don’t have to translate to make a point. Or just, you don’t have to be making a point. You just kind of, like, it’s like turning your daydreams into sound.”

– Johnny Marr, talking about Rickenbacker and his guitar work in The Smiths. Apparently, repeated viewings of him layering the guitar of This Charming Man with a 4-track recorder are good for the soul. Oh, Johnny.

On being /ˈnɔːm(ə)l/

Several weeks ago I met a man (who happened to be gay) who said his life was as simple as normal people’s lives. Two days ago, a note was added next to those words. “Define normal people. What is normal like?”

My brows furrowed. I was confused. I knew what it meant, in that context, but I wondered… Why emphasize normality? Why does it matter if someone is normal or not? I understood why he used that term, I think, yet I was a bit puzzled, and more so a few days later.

I was told I should learn to act a certain way, “like a normal person”.

I scoffed, half-offended, half-amused. I was upset. I was angry. I wondered why I had to hear that. Sure, it was not the first time the word was spitefully said to me. Still, I thought, what an awful thing to hear.

Then I realized, just now. It wasn’t really an awful thing to say, was it? What made it so awful? Why was being told I was (and probably still am) not normal so upsetting? What does it mean to be normal?

When I think of the word ‘normal’, I’m reminded of ‘norms’. Normal is being or acting according to norms. Oxford Dictionary defines normal as ‘conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected’.

To be honest, by that definition, I am unconcerned whether I am normal or not. Being unusual, atypical, or unexpected, not conforming to a standard, neither bothers nor excites me. Yet, although indifferent to both being normal and abnormal, I still took offense. Why?

Let’s think about what it usually means to be normal. Straight, able-bodied, healthy, having no mental or personality disorders. Now let’s think of the sentiments attached to the words ‘abnormal’ or ‘not normal’. Frightening, unnatural, wrong, unacceptable.

Despite my personal distaste in binary oppositions, I am, after all, a product of socialization and social conditioning. I don’t exactly strive to be unacceptable or frightening. Being offended was an understandable reaction, although I can’t say I approve of or agree on the meanings and merits of being normal.

It is too loosely defined, in my opinion, to have such a great effect. If being normal is defined by norms, wouldn’t it vary based on when and where the act or interaction takes place?

Of course, I believe that to a certain extent, social norms are useful and necessary, having much to do with roles that keep a society functioning.  What is too vague is ‘normal’ in its colloquial, everyday use, as insults, as praises, as assertions, as accusations.

Don’t people regard and react differently to conceptions of normality? Being non-heterosexual might be considered not normal, thus unacceptable and offensive by many. Yet, I personally consider queerness, in essence, as acceptable and inoffensive as heterosexuality.

Faced with another hypothetical statement of my abnormality, perhaps I should ask, “Normal in what way? By whose standards? In the statistical sense or the normative sense? Why is it a cause for concern? How does not being normal in this case affect our well-beings? How does it affect your attitude and behaviour towards me? Why does it affect you? How does it affect my attempts in reaching my own personal goals? How does it affect how I function in my life? Can you wait a minute? I’ll get a piece of paper so we can make a list to evaluate the pros and cons.”

On second thought, perhaps such questions would only take too much time, too much paperwork, too many brain cells, to reach uncertain results. Why bother? It would perhaps be more efficient, more time and energy saving, to just accept the statement of normality in all its vagueness, accept that it might be true or untrue, and say, quite truthfully, that, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“Three hundred sixty five degrees, burning down the house!”

Talking Heads – Burning Down the House

Drummer Chris Frantz had just been to a Parliament-Funkadelic where the crowd chanted “Burn down the house.” The band thought it would be a great chorus and worked it into a song they were jamming on before. I especially love this live version with P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell.

Watch out, you might get what you’re after
Cool babies, strange but not a stranger
I’m an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

Hold tight, wait till the party’s over
Hold tight, We’re in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house

Here’s your ticket pack your bag
It’s time for jumping overboard
The transportation is here
Close enough but not too far
Maybe you know where you are
Fight fire with fire

All wet, hey you might need a raincoat
Shakedown, dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hundred sixty five degrees
Burning down the house

It was once upon a place, sometimes I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work, said baby what did you expect
Gonna burst into flames

Burning down the house
My house, s’ out of the ordinary
That’s right, don’t want to hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house

No visible means of support and you have not seen nothing yet
Everything’s stuck together
I don’t know what you expect starring into the TV set
Fight fire with fire

Burning down the house
Burning down the house
Burning down the house

Want

When we want something we can’t have, what do we really want?

That burning desire for the unattainable? An excuse to leave the things we have behind? The prospect of something better, something more satisfying? The assurance that there’s something beyond what we have right now? An option? A fantasy?

Expiration Date

Do all relationships have breaking points? If every relationship ends after the all too familiar last straw, what’s the point of finding new partners?

Maybe there is no point (shock horror), maybe the shelf lives are varied and among the milk and pastry you might find something that lasts long enough until you die or decide to only live with cats.

Maybe you should just step back, not think about it, and enjoy your meal. At least before the molds grow.

Bim-bom, bim-bim-bom

Around 1956, João Gilberto composed Bim-Bom, one of the first bossa nova songs. His eccentric way of singing and refusal to have a ‘proper’ job upset his family. Deemed mentally unstable, João was sent to Salvador where he went through several psychiatric interviews.

“Look at the wind depilating the trees,” he told one psychiatrist, motioning out the window. “But trees have no hair, João,” she responded, to which João replied, “And there are people who have no poetry.”

He was released a week later.

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