Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"Magnificent skyline, out of my reach but always in my eye line."--from "Spiralling" by Keane

As I predicted yesterday, the new Keane song (along with Bell Biv DeVoe's immortal 1990 oldie "Do Me") dominated my running soundtrack today. For some reason, I really identify with it--not so much the lyrics but the spirit in which Tom Chaplin delivers them. There's a hint of rage--or is it frustration?--but even more euphoria (perhaps there's joy in discovering that one can feel anything at all in this age of overmedication?), which is a lot like my general emotional state. And before you ask: No, I'm not bipolar, just temperamental. While I pondered the rampant contradictions in my character, one train of thought lead to another, and I had an Epiphany (not The Best of Chaka Khan, Vol. 1--a real, live, capital-E Epiphany).

After nearly 40 years of wondering, I figured out why I've always been so obsessively neat. It's more than simply being anally retentive, which I'm not. Organizing my surroundings is a way of controlling my world. Inside I'm a bundle of emotions with a soul that's in total chaos. It's probably the reason why I've never slept well. When I was in New York, my best friend Dave told me that I vibrate, and one night, I actually woke up from a nightmare or a panic attack (I still haven't figured out which), screamed out loud and jumped on top of him!

I keep my space immaculate because I can do so without risking hazardous repercussions. I've read that people with eating disorders are often attempting to control the one thing in their world that they think they can control: their bodies. I suppose that I try to do that to a certain extent (I go to the gym, I run, I eat healthily--more or less), but I'm too afraid of damaging my body to, well, damage it. So instead I control my environment. It's probably why I've lived alone for most of my adult life and why I prefer stay in hotels than with friends or even family when I travel.

My life and future have become more uncertain--less like "clockwork," which is how my brother described my existence years ago--in my late 30s. With my move to a new continent, I've had to extricate myself from everything familiar, learn a new language, adjust to a new way of life. And that's the good stuff! These days, my inner fire sometimes blazes out of control, and managing my environment has become more compulsory. I doubt that I will ever be pretty on the inside, and I'm okay with that. I think that as human beings we try too hard to reverse the course of our natures (with too much therapy, too many drugs, too much alcohol) when it would be so much easier--and cheaper--to just accept ourselves as is and try to come up with healthy ways of living with ourselves. And if I can toot my own horn for a moment, I'm proud of myself for making it this far.

It's a long way here from "Spiralling," but it was worth the trip.

It's interesting that Madonna's Hard Candy is such a resounding disappointment. Particularly so because she's arguably the most talented of all the artists with whom both Timbaland and Pharrell have worked. So why is nothing on Hard Candy as chill-inducing as Nelly Furtado's Timbaland-produced "Say It Right" or as ridiculously infectious as the Gwen Stefani-Neptunes collaboration "Hollaback Girl"? Why are Britney Spears' Blackout, the bulk of Aaliyah's singles with Timbaland and the Brandy-Timbaland tracks on her criminally overlooked 2004 CD, Afrodisiac, musically superior. (I hear from a friend who received a sneak-peak listen that Brandy's upcoming comeback single on Epic Records is a knockout.) And as much as I liked "4 Minutes," Madonna's duet with Justin Timberlake, it was not the pop-powerhouse summit that it should have been. I blame the Conspiracy Theory Effect, named (by me) for the 1997 flop starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Sometimes when you cross two peacocks, you end up with a turkey.

Another interesting thought: Humans spend the first part of their lives trying to fit in, the second trying to set themselves apart, and the final trying to live forever. For those of you who were expecting a bit of psychological symmetry here, sorry. Maybe next time.
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