December 28th, 2004

pod

When I was your age.

The end of a year is typically a time of reflection in our society. We look back over the past 12 months and forward to the future. We examine the world, ourselves, and how well the two are getting alone with one another. We bemoan the fact that we're getting older either not fast enough or far too swiftly. We consume big chunks of sugar and fat and tell ourselves that we'll never touch another morsel of that crap after the magical date of January 1, because we want to look good by the time bathing suit season comes along. We think back to what idiots we were to believe the things we believed 365 days ago, and how wise we thought we were back then, and thank god we're so much wiser NOW and know how the world REALLY works. We get in massive fights with family members, fights that leave wounds so deep and painful that they won't heal for 11 and a half months, at which point we trick ourselves into thinking that this time things will be different. We search the Internet for pictures of Halle Berry in a bathing suit. That's not technically specific to this time of year, but we do it anyway.

For me the Christmas/New Years time has always held special meaning because it's also the time of my birthday. I was born December 22nd 1981. I've come to be fond of that date. I really like 1981 as a year to have been born. The 1 makes it feel like it was the start of something. I always imagine people born in the later half of a decade to feel as if they missed out on what made the decade of their birth special and important. They might be a 70's kid but they don't have any of the memories associated with that. I remember the '80's. That's the other part I like about my birthdate. I think the 1980's were a really good decade to grow up in. They represented a time of relative peace and prosperity in America. The cold war was winding down, it was obvious to anyone paying attention who would be the winner. Sexual and racial liberation were already accepted facts of life and even homosexuality was starting to gain acceptance, but we had not reached the stage of full sexual saturation, or at least that's how it seemed. Network TV hadn't seen its first NYPD Nude butt and there were no porn stars with giant billboards in Times Square.

Speaking of Times Square, New York was still a dirty dangerous place to live. I can remember back when I was a kid there would be a notice of a new rape or robbery just a few blocks from us almost every month. There is a manned guard booth right across the street from the building I grew up in so nothing ever happened here but it was all around us. One of my first incidents of true gender awareness was figuring out that it was only female joggers who got robbed and rape in Riverside Park. That made my friends and I perhaps a little too foolhardy about going there after dark, but true to advertising we never experienced any trouble. These days I walk through the park at midnight with hundreds of dollars of electronics equipment pretty fearlessly, but the difference is that women can pretty much do the same (Not that I'd recommend it.) That's part of what Giulianni did for the city and something that outsiders and commuters will probably never understand.

Fortunately for me my parents had enough money to keep a house outside the city that we could go to on the weekends. That's where I played little league baseball and learned how to shoot a bow. It was a magical place for a young boy and if I ever had children I wouldn't want them to grow up without the opportunity to experience that on a regular basis. The things that really stick in my memory from my childhood are not the trips to Broadway shows or the museums in the city but rather the things we got to do up there. I remember ski trips in the winter. I remember my friend William's family had a big farm (He was also a city child who had a country house in the same area as I did) and we spent countless hours roaming through fields and woods in his property. I remember getting lost when it was dark and snowing and we would imagine there were wolves and bears all around us as we crashed through the snow hoping to stumble upon a path or a puff of smoke or anything to lead us back to "civilization." Forty five minutes later we were sitting in front of a roaring fire eating home-fries and drinking hot cider.

I remember Nacho eating contests (the local place sprinkled them liberally with jalapenos and the rule was the first person to take a drink lost. I rarely did.) I remember lobbying parents to go to a particular restaurant purely on the basis of whether or not there were arcade machines there, and passing news among friends of which PG-13 movies stretched that limit enough to be worth seeing. I remember snowball fights and "Canoe Surfing" and bike rides between our houses where we got lost in the rain.

I'm not reflecting back on my youth to claim it was a better time or to talk about lost innocence (Although I can't imagine kids today have even the shred of innocence we did back then. Not with everything that's been going on these past couple of years and all the smut out there on the Internet, which didn't come into its own until we were teenagers and had already experienced the wonders of late night HBO and Playboy magazine.) I reflect upon it simply because I can. For a very long time I was incapable of thinking back on that time without thinking about my father and feeling profound hurt. Over the last year or so that has lifted somewhat and I can recall the good times for what they were, good and special times. I look towards my future and I can see it's a little brighter than it used to be, but you can't have a really good future if you don't acknowledge your past and that's something I have to do. Not just the tragedy but the wonderful things. Not just the pain and agony of loss but the moments of bliss. I need to remember my friend Jake and I riding our bikes through the cemetery way after nightfall and throwing rocks at a nest of wasps then biking away faster than they could fly. Or the time when I was like 10 and hit a home run on the baseball field where the high schoolers played. I need to remember blowing up army men with firecrackers and setting them on fire near the cinder block chair. Climbing trees and skipping snails across William's pond. I need to remember these things because they are a part of who I am AND because I'm going to need them if I want to be able to write as well as I'd like to write. I need to remember them without flinching and without fear of how they'll make me feel.

I'm not sure I'm capable of doing that yet, but I will be.
  • Current Music
    Weird Al Yankovich
Bert

I'm only happy when it snows

I went for a really beautiful walk today. It was twilight, cool but with some warmth still remaining from the sun's brief journey across the overcast sky. Then, as the last wisps of sunset faded behind the hills of the city across the river, it started to snow. It was exquisitely beautiful. I love the snow, I love the way it looks when it's coming down, little specks of white against an azure sky. I love the way it feels on your skin or in your hair, gentle and cold and soft and light. Tiny crystals that slowly become little droplets of water. I love the way it looks on the ground, white and gleaming with the promise of snowballs and children's little footsteps and springtime melting. I don't think I could live anywhere where it doesn't snow for an extended period of time. I'd miss it too much. Even now I miss skiing. One of my big goals is to lose enough weight so I can get back to skiing before I turn 25.

I've run into a potential problem with the script, in that there's no central conflict that can be distilled down into a logline. There's conflict and obstacles, but no one simple driving force. Movies, especially comedies, are supposed to have a central conflict rather than a bunch of smaller ones, but honestly life doesn't really work that way and I often find it obnoxious that EVERY movie has to have a major event, often supplemented by a bunch of other random minor conflicts. Okay so there's an asteroid about to hit Earth. Can he stop the asteroid? Can he get the girl? Wait, WHAT THE FUCK? Dude, keep it in your pants for TWENTY FOUR HOURS and worry about the god damned asteroid. Still while I don't think it hurts the integrity of the script it will make it much less attractive to others. That's okay, though, I'm writing. It's a beautiful thing.

My Mom's boyfriend gave me the gift of torture for my birthday. To be fair he probably didn't know it was torture, but he gave me $25 worth of iTunes money. This would seem like a good thing, but it brings up a dilemma. I like to buy full albums, rather than songs. The reasons for this are numerous but basically it breaks down to the fact that if you only buy the songs you like you'll never find new stuff or expand your tastes except through radio, the movies, and other media that are chosen for you in advance. I will occasionally pick up a greatest hits album, but those generally have a bunch of songs you've never heard or songs of lesser value on them along with the big famous songs you know, so you gain something that way. The thing is I feel dumb buying albums on iTunes when you can pick and choose individual songs. It's a choice between spending money on things you KNOW you like versus things that you don't know about or that you might come to like. Now there is the 30 second preview function, and that's great, but you don't know if that's the best part of the song or whether repeated listens will have it grow on you. It's a real humdinger.

Right now I'm thinking of grabbing The best of Sting and then 13 more individual songs I absolutely love and don't have yet. So far the list is:

Backstabbers - The O'jays
The Devil Went Down to Georgia -Charlie Daniels Band
Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
A couple things by Janis Joplin (Haven't fully decided yet)
Something by Joan Jett (the iTunes selection kinda sucks.)
Allman Brothers hits to spend the rest of it.

If anyone has suggestions of music I'd actually like, as opposed to stuff that only you like and you want to evangelize for, feel free to make them.
  • Current Music
    iPod