Happy birthday America,You god damn child.Young and selfish,Dumb and carelessWith everything but your Shiniest toys. Happy birthday America,You wayward son.Full of hope and promiseAnd squandered dreams Of being a better versionOf your parents.Happy birthday America, You big-eyed fool,Whose lights and flashes Assuage the massesBut terrorize the very peopleWho built you.Happy birthday, America.I hope you grow And begin to learn,At the very least,That you haveBarely grown at all.
When the sun breaks in through the window
Please resist the urge to call the cops
The truth is we are the trespassers,
Camouflaged and under covers
Fooling no one but ourselves.
When the wind shakes the spit out of you
Please don’t shake your fist.
Don’t yell truck driver words for the neighbors to hear.
Don’t ‘fuck you’ your way through the day-
You’ve got real work to do.
When a tree root knocks you ass-up
On the sidewalk tomb it’s trying to escape
Just know that it’s just as mad,
And its voice comes out in silent, breathable waves
Saving us all in the end.
Eyebrows raised, she smiled
Eyebrows down, she stopped
The TV interrupted
But we could never turn it off
Her chest moved, I saw it
Her hand squeezed tighter still
The machines suggested otherwise
Their humming never failed
Time stopped dead for hours
Time stuck us in our tracks
Except the woman dying
Who raised her head and laughed
I recently was lucky enough to stay for a weekend in a beautiful house my friends rented in Long Beach. Periodically during our stay we would read through the guest book, which was adorable. There were entries by kids that included drawings of mermaids and unidentifiable creatures, one little boy was super pumped about how many fans there were in the house, and a surprising amount of German people left kind notes.
When our last morning in Long Beach arrived, somehow I got tasked with crafting our message to the owners. My first thought: write it as if you’re entering the last entry into the Captain’s Log of a submarine stuck at the bottom of the ocean. This is the result:
Dear Kim, Anne and Ava,
The clock is ticking down. Tick tock tick tock tick tock. We only have 100 minutes left here, in this beautiful, sunny world. The end has come too soon.
Another 60 seconds have passed and everything is becoming a little bit dimmer. I can’t imagine how we’ll survive outside of the warm, protective embrace of Casa Covina. I don’t want to even think about it, but tick tock tick tock tick tock.
We’ve been so lucky. Warm, comfortable beds, a beautiful living room (where we truly lived for the first time), all we could ever possibly need within our grasp.
It was too good to be true. Something so beautiful is not meant to last. And now, tick tock tick tock tick tock.”
We haven’t heard back from the owners yet, which makes me wonder if they ever read these things. But I take solace knowing that someday, some vacationing youngster just getting the hang of reading will sound out each and every word, and go on to destroy every clock that ever crosses his path.
I’m thankful for what I have and what I’ve had, and the luxuries I’ve been afforded along the way.
I wasn’t born rich, but I was born safe. I’ve never really had to fear for my life just walking down the street. I’m not sure how to be thankful for that without accepting that any other alternative is acceptable. It’s not.
Today I’ll be thinking of the people I love, the ones who are still here and the ones who are gone. I’ll be thinking of the carefree times and the difficult days and the friends and family who made both better. I’ll be thinking about how my grandma would have loved the pie I’m bringing for dessert. I’ll be thinking of the other families sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal with a newly empty chair, and how in some homes it’s incredibly unfair that those seats go unfilled.
I’ll be sending my love every which way this year and probably forever, and I am endlessly grateful for the option.
When the door closed, I closed with it
I slammed shut with authority
And shook the whole house, it seemed
My teeth clacked against each other
My bones rattled like dice in a cup
Two inches of solid wood between us
A dirty joke without a punchline
And me, standing in the dimming day
Wondering where to go from here
Wondering how to move at all
Three stairs and twenty steps to the street
Two bags and an armful of clothes
Shaking hands and steady streams
Of snot and tears and that special blend
That stains the ends of sleeves
The Mister Webster Dictionary of Modern English defines a mixed CD as a shiny disc containing all sorts of music. That’s about all I knew going into this article, and boy was I in for a surprise.
I found the CD near the back wheel of a PT Cruiser in the Arby’s parking lot. The PT had some sweet bumper stickers (check page 21 for a full review), and narrowly avoided running right over this treasure. The gods were smiling upon me, and I smiled back and winked a few times.
The first thing that struck me about this little gem – the disc art. Never have I seen such great handwriting – it looked like the almighty creator of the Stussy S had done it himself. “To CINDY: TAKE ME BACK PLZ” Simple, direct, heartwarming in that cold, demanding way that drives Cindys crazy. This effective message, coupled with the charmingly uneven heart drawings all over the left side and what I could only guess was a snake standing upright between two rocks (a tone of wackiness standing in contrast to the emotional text), made this disc art among the best I’ve ever found, and I don’t just mean in parking lots (behind dumpsters, in desk drawers and empty fields also).
Now, on to the music! As I placed the CD into my boombox and waited for the laser to finally find the track, a chill came over me. I felt immediately transported to the mix maker’s dark bedroom, black light illuminating weird mushroom artwork and giving Gillian Anderson a sickly, purplish glow in the old X Files movie poster hanging above the bed. I can picture our artist, crying at his computer, drinking warm beer he kept hidden under his bed as he checked each track for the appropriate amount of romance and desperation. I feel like I could reach out and touch him, tap him on the back and ask “Why do you have a poster for the X Files movie and not the show?” I imagine his tortured, red-rimmed eyes would meet mine and he would whisper, in all sincerity, “It was on sale, and look at Scully’s boobs.”
My daydream evaporates as the music finally starts. I recognize the first track (“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette) within three drum beats, and I am overcome with emotion. I did not see this coming, and the fact that it starts skipping within 45 seconds gives me a minor heart attack. Is this what heartache feels like? Something perfect and hypnotizing presenting itself, only to be chopped into incomprehensible and unrelatable bits? Yes.
I skip to the next track and hear an off kilter voice talk-singing “I … want … you to know … that I’m … happy for you.” I appreciate the sentiment and respect the maturity this lady has in the face of heartbreak, but I’m confused why the mix-maker would wish nothing but the best for Cindy and her new love. This guy is seriously giving mixed messages! After the first line the disc immediately begins skipping again, so it’s on to the next track.
It begins with a little bit of tinkling piano, which invokes something in me. Is this what love feels like? A strange, deep, warm sensation in my belly? No. I realize that just thinking of the word “tinkling” has aggravated my overactive bladder. I press pause and hope for the best.
Starting the track over, the lilting piano is soon joined by a somewhat scratchy, perhaps even ruggedly unpleasant voice telling me to look into its eyes. A voice with eyes is intriguing, but I’m getting distracted. Before I know it I’m a full minute into the song, imagining a disembodied voice claiming that everything it does, it does for me. I think I’m in love.
And just as suddenly as this warm, gooshy feeling swept over me, an abject terror takes hold: the disc is skipping in a way I have never experienced. It’s as if love, anger, betrayal and bits of asphalt were trying to crawl out of the speakers, squawking and panting and dying.
While this mix only contained three songs that were partially enjoyable, it still ranks as the greatest thing I’ve found on the ground since I got a baby brother. It has inspired me to follow my heart, to be bold with my feelings and hold nothing back – you never know how close a PT Cruiser will come to destroying you. It has inspired me to express my emotions on paper, on disc, and on the internet. And most importantly, it has inspired me to change my name to Cindy.