463: Sweet summer sweat

Small joys — really small. 

When I was 13, Napster was It. There was nothing like it, and we used it for everything from chatting to downloading (I’m sorry, you meant, “sharing”?) to flirting online with your first love, tiptoeing around social niceties and the wonders and horrors of the Internet, strange and new as it all was (and all together at one go!). The rest, they say, is history. 

History has a way of repeating itself. So, when I was 14, I scrambled to get every video I could find. DVD? No such thing yet (I think). VCD? Concert footage? Pink Floyd? Led Zeppelin? Dire Straits? The Eagles? All in the days of their being wild, being young, in the days before I was even young. Still I watched. I collected. I remembered. I sometimes think, it must have been from there, watching close-ups of all these great players picking away expertly at their guitars, tugging at my heartstrings as surely as they were right here in front of me, that I began to think that I could only love those whose fingers were in the right places, whose tastes in music were in the right eras. Namely, that great period of rock, in which I (and them) was conveniently not born: the 1970s and 1980s. It is funny how we always think we love more those things we cannot see.

So, there was this one video. Memorable mainly because at that time (and those times after), it reminded me of a boy who could play just like that. But the boy came and left, and the crackly moving video remained, and from time to time I would re-watch it and let the music, those fingers, the smiles and the way they sounded the damn bloody same — take me away. It was 1977, in Houston, the Capital Theatre. Rehearsing Seven Bridges Road, rushing into the concert hall. Don Henley, sounding the same as he did 35 years ago as he does today. The drums. Glenn Frey. But those two guitars. Those two guitars

My computer crashed when I was 16. I found it again, which was easy in the days when these things were easy to find. I watched it during those cold days in Tilburg when the snow was outside my window and my mind still felt frozen. When I came back in 2009 my computer crashed again. But six years later, reality has set in and these things are no longer as easy to find as they used to be. 

Once in a while, when the urge takes me, I continue the search. There are many videos of them in 1977, some even taken by a member of the audience of that very same live show. But I’ve watched it so many times, too many times, to know that it was not That Video. 

Until today, when the urge took me again. I don’t know why it took me so long. But I found it. I Found It. It’s one of those things, you know? It’s like the times where you think in your head about what is going to happen when Love #1 pops up in front of you and asks you about what’s going to happen from here. What is it that you really want? What do you want to do?

I don’t know. I don’t know. Don’t know where I’m going, not going where I’ve gone. You can’t travel old roads, but you sure as hell can keep them in sight. 

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462: Remember 2012

I feel like every year is a struggle to recap every memory that I’ve accumulated over the past year, but part of me feels like it will all go away if I don’t write it down somewhere. This is especially since the work week leaves little time for rumination; or if it does, it leaves even less time for writing it down. Things go by in a blur, mainly (and probably) because things which happen are generally the same things, week in and week out, and none of it is particularly worth remembering. 

Case in point: I don’t remember how I spent the new year, crossing into 2011 — or at least I didn’t, until I read the previous year’s post. Then I spent it working (and working and working), going out every Friday night, till it came to a point where I was too tired to do anything other than sit somewhere and chill the hell out, purely because there was so little time to do any of that. But none of this is really worth noting because these descriptions will be the same each year, and I consciously refrain from naively thinking that any of this will change in the years to come. And maybe it finally is time to admit to myself that I have to grow up, whether I like to or not. 

What else is there? There have been too many extremes this year. So many people are getting married (maybe it is the season? The age? I guess), but there have been far too many losses. Days spent in the hospital, rushing there after work (and I am beginning to realise that maybe they deliberately kept me free so that I could run off on time, or maybe it was some kind of divine intervention, but in any case work was slow and there was still time to spend, together, by a bedside, filled with endless tubes and medicines). Flower parades. Prayers, family gatherings (funny how families only knit better together after a major loss), coffins, processions, hearses, funerals, a bit of mindless levity. To recover for a while, and then to have it all happen again. It would be incredible if it were not true. But why would anyone lie about this sort of thing?

I miss her, we still do. Strange how these things manage to make families closer together (some of the time), and we find ourselves doing more and more things together, or perhaps it is because the shadow of impending loss is now removed and for better or worse (and even if we might be afraid to admit it), we all feel marginally less burdened by it. So there were family lunches (that have not occurred all too often), increased communications, games, drinks, boat rides, after work dinners. Good is good, but if I never stand in the viewing chamber of a crematorium ever again it will not be a moment too soon. 

I have a feeling that the coming years will be spent trying to recapture lost youth. Trying to recreate feelings that seemed so new and momentous and stupendous, that made me want to hold on to it forever. And do it again and again and again. As a result I feel like my thoughts are no longer new, and even the sense of euphoria which we constantly aspire to through concerts and endless jumpings, the pulsing beat and the aching legs and the alcohol and the boys who pick you up — well, that’s just it. Trying to be back to something. Back to Bali, where we were young and stupid; back to London, where we spent endless nights just being Singaporean; back to Bangkok (I still don’t know how I feel about Bangkok, but that’s too complex and deserves a separate post by itself). I felt best when I was drifting through the night in the haze of music on the beachfront, not thinking and not worrying and just enjoying. I had no other purpose to be there. I would go just to feel it again. It makes me sad that it cannot always be like this. But maybe I would enjoy it less if it were always like this, though it cannot be the case that any of this is worth all that other pain. At least I think, it cannot be.

People talk about being depressed when they see the blue sky turn to grey to black in the confines of their small office, but in our firm success appears to be measured by the size of windows, and right now ours is a small pane of glass that looks out not into the messy sprawl of the CBD but the endless scroll of shopping options that pop up incessantly on my secretary’s computer screen. Sunlight appears to require rationing. It is as if we do not require any, and that unnecessarily depresses a person. It will be a long time before we graduate to the kind of level that entitles us to a window where daylight is allowed to stream in unmolested. But well, some people are more equal than others.

I liked Melbourne, and with good reason, since it has all the reasons why I should like it. Bookstores, cafes, bars, not much shopping (but no matter), good food, and I was not a stranger in a strange land. But what I liked more (and this is true of every holiday) was not having to think. Or do anything. It unsettles me when my desired state of mind is vegetative. Case in point: K gave me a Kindle for Christmas. This is one of the high points of the year, even though it came at the end of it. But all I’ve read on it are science fiction novels, fantasy novels, and romance novels. Things that I otherwise would never spend money on (but also partly because I tear through them) but also things that otherwise would not require much brain power. Case in point: my writing, if it even exists these days at all, is less reflective, less lyrical. Even my angst appears to sound less beautiful (haha). A dried up well of lost plots. 

This sounds like a whinefest. It probably is, because the general sense of drudgery appears to overshadow most of the good things, which are often numerous but have little impact. When I was younger I felt like anything could happen. When I was younger I was taught that anything could happen; I could be anything I wanted to be. This is probably true still now, but maybe the problem is that I don’t know what I want to be, or whether I want it enough. I feel like these days we keep setting ourselves up to fall. 

Where was I? This was meant to be an actual post in which I try to drum up all the honesty I have within me and give myself an account of the year to remember. But the truth is I remember less than I ever do, and everything bleeds into everything else. I’m stuck in a rut and I don’t know what to do. I think the aim for the year will be to find some direction, though chances are that I may lose myself searching for it. Maybe take some time off, go travelling (properly). Find a new job? Find a real job? Find something that allows me to do things that I didn’t previously know that I wanted to (because I didn’t have time to want them)? It appears to be a race, before the time runs out on me.

Like they say — “you play, you win, you play, you lose. You play. It’s the playing that’s irresistible. Dicing from one year to the next with the things you love, what you risk reveals what you value.”

May the losses be fewer this year.