Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Futures I Thought I Might Have, Part II

I had originally not planned to write on this topic again for a while. Definitely not the day after writing the first post. However, yesterday I was tooling around on Facebook after work, trying to put off washing the dishes that just absolutely refuse to wash themselves, and a friend posted this great status message about albums that had influenced his life. He said that of all of them, Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins was the most influential. And I couldn't help but to agree.

I actually came at Siamese Dream from the backdoor, as some might say (some who are not as filthy minded as I am, because I am guffawing right now after having typed that). I actually remember the day that I first saw the Bullet with Butterfly Wings video on MTV (and yes, I am dating myself by saying that I remember whole summers spent watching music videos on TV!). It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I pretty much listened to anything at that point in my existence. I was 12, and had a nice selection of albums my parents liked--a lot of U2, Beatles, and a bit of Zeppelin--along with a few R&B/hip-hop albums that were popular with my friends. A boy in my class's brother had turned us both on to Nirvana, and I listened to that a bit, but I wasn't enamored with it, at least not until a year later when I became unable to fall asleep without listening to the Unplugged in NY album. However, I didn't really have a musical grounding of my own. But I knew I was changing. I had started to become more theatrical, a bit more artsy, forsaking the hard fought world of athletics and tomboyishness where I had never been very good or that convincing for the comfort of books and Moleskines. That summer day when I saw the Bullet video I realized that I was definitely on my way to something different. I called a friend at the time, Ashley, and told her that I liked it a lot. She replied that she hated that video--it was gross, and the guy was whiny. I made an excuse to get off the phone with her.

Within a week or so, I had purchased Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the great big old double album that cost all the allowance money I had ($30!) and forced me into summer Hell of having to put checks in order and do journal entries for my mom's accounting business to make more scratch (which sounds pretty benign reading it here, but you would not believe the paper cuts one gets putting checks in order old school style! OW!). By the time I had regained my finances, I had fallen deeply in love with Mellon Collie, and was back at the mall, ponying up for Siamese Dream.

I can still remember the first time I listened to it. I was sitting in my room, door closed. I had this great sound system, really I did, a Christmas gift from my mom who is a classical pianist and has always encouraged a lot of music in me, even after I woefully gave up the piano. I slid the cd in the changer and sat on this godawful white wicker chest that my mom had bought and nearly cut a finger off on when she tried to shorten its legs. I remember sitting there for a long time, the wicker making imprints on the backs of my legs, almost to the end of the record. I think I got up once, to repeat the song Soma, which was my favorite song ever for a very long time. I just sat and listened, and for someone who has been a total well of nervous, multi-tasking energy her whole life, this was remarkable. Remarkable enough that I still remember it 16 years later.

I'm not going to go into a whole lot of musical mumbo-jumbo about what the album was about or any of that. You can listen to it you want. You probably have already. And all that stuff is relative anyway--my FB friend said a lot of it yesterday and some of it resonated with me and some of it didn't. It is just a good album. And I wore that shit out. Being a 12 year old girl, and a slightly freakish one at that, made everything just make sense in one of those kooky, life altering ways. Siamese Dream became my mantra almost, a toehold in a world that I was starting to understand less and less.

And somewhere, in the middle of it all, I started to imagine my life and what I wanted it to be like, in this new, SPesque world. At this point, I had given up on overstuffed white couches and the color peach, and saw my future in black. Lots and lots of black. I remember imagining myself, railthin with dark eye make up and bleach blonde hair. I would live in New York, in an apartment with lots of brick and exposed pipes. I imagined myself wearing a lot of tank tops with black bra straps hanging out, since my mother absolutely hated seeing anyone's bra straps, even on the gross Jockey brand training bras that I had to wear. I would wear matte dark red Hard Candy lipstick and Hard Candy Sky nail polish (does anyone remember this stuff? I wore it so much my nails literally turned yellow from lack of oxygen.).

And most importantly, I would have an artistic boyfriend, a guitar player, with dark, curly hair (YES, I HAVE A TYPE, YA'LL.) and soulful eyes. We would not go to Cubs games, nor would we look at each other in an adoring way. No, we would look at each other in an "Imma gonna eat your soul" kinda way. We would both be in bands, but his would be vastly more popular. We would eat a lot of pasta (because at about 12 is when I first went to an Olive Garden) and we would read a lot of Poe. He would read Annabel Lee to me and make me cry. He would be wise, yet tortured, and we would talk a lot and really feel it all, you know?

Thinking back on this now is a bit disturbing, not the least because I'm pretty sure that the guy I imagined being so lovely as a 12 year old is someone who I would now think is a complete douche. In fact, I think I knew that guy in college--he took my Terrorism Lit class and used the word "existential" so much that I called him "Camus" in late night rant sessions with Matt. It is also disturbing because now, I have a 12 year old daughter. Gabby, probably a byproduct of the time that she is growing up, does not have the flair for the dark and dramatic that I had as a kid. She listens to a lot of Justin Bieber, and much to my chagrin, Ke$ha. She has a bubbliness, an unstoppable giggle and an "I'm so random!!!" worldview that speaks to having grown up watching Disney channel in the odd plastic world of 2000's era America (just for comparison's sake, one of my favorite shows as a kid was "Twin Peaks." God bless the maker of children's programming.).

I feel saddened, though, that at age 12, I was already more concerned with finding a guy in a famous band rather than imagining finding the great band myself. I don't know why I had that in me--I was the child of a single mother, a woman who seemingly effortlessly was an accomplished business owner as well as a great mom. I saw other women around me achieving. Yet, there I was, carving out an imaginary future attached to some douche with a guitar. Part of me says that this is just a product of being 12, an age where your heart rules a lot more than your head. But all of me wants so much more for Gabby, and is so frightened that she may think the same. I have to say though, that I am encouraged. I hear her say a lot of "I'm going to do that!" kind of things; she dreams of opening a cake bakery (like the guy on Cake Boss), of being a journalist, of writing magazine articles about food and travel. She may also have dreams of meeting some amazing cake guy, but really, I don't think so.

Looking back at this future that I imagined, I am inspired not to go sit in some squalid loft somewhere and write a woebegone play and wait for my artist boyfriend to come home. I am inspired to remind my daughters that they can do whatever they want, and they can do it on their own. And, well, I'm inspired to download Siamese Dream. And rock the fuck out.


  1. I was going to be in the band. I was going to play drums even though I didn't know how to play by that time. But it would work out.

    Siamese Dream still kicks ass.

    Do you watch Raising Hope? This week's episode, Jimmy reminded me too much of me in high school. It's a rite of passage, that dark angry self that still doesn't really know who s/he is.

    Where are you going to move?

  2. Allie--We haven't decided yet. Still in planning process. Matt is currently applying for jobs in other places, so we are feeling that out. He may move somewhere part time for a bit next year, while I stay here and work and keep the kids in school so that the move is not jarring on them. OR, he might go to Russia and make bank working there for a while, and we'll sock that away and buy a house somewhere with a Phd program. OR he may stay here and work and then we'll all move to another place next summer where he will finish his Ph.d. We are still waiting to hear back from some things and trying to make decisions. Most likely, though, I will at least be here for another year. While I would love to move now, we want this to be as easy on the kids as possible, which means we really have to do our homework and get everything settled before they move (something we did not do when we moved from CA!).

    I will say that College Park is on the list, as is the area around Penn State, Madison, Wisconsin, Bloomington, IN, and Charlottesville. Although it varies a bit from week to week.

    I don't watch Raising Hope, but I have heard good things. How long has it been around? When it comes to Netflix, I'll have to watch it!