Elizabeth Wurtzel, 1967-2020

8 01 2020

Elizabeth Wurtzel is dead. Cancer.

I read Prozac Nation, of course—what fucked-up self-involved late-twenties white woman didn’t read it?—scarfing it down with enthusiastic horror, but begged off her after that.

She was too too too too too much. I couldn’t bear it; what if that was me?

That was the horror, of course: that I was too much.

(The enthusiasm? Oh, “fucked-up” and “self-involved” cover that.)

I was too much, at least when younger: too enthusiastic, too emotional, too attention-seeking, too serious, too much of whatever adjective can be wrapped around a bright and yearning girl who only wanted everything.

That was okay (for me; it must have been exhausting for others) when I was very young, but as self-awareness sidled in I began to question what I could want, what I should want, whether it was okay to want anything at all.

And, eventually, I concluded it was not. If I was not to want, then I was not to be so much, too much.

In retrospect, this was not the best decision, but fitting, nonetheless: from too much to too little.

Wurtzel apparently found a way to keep going amidst her own storms by celebrating them: “I hate anodyne. I hate that word. … I am baroque. I am rococo. I am an onomatopoeia of explaining away.”

Sitting in my small life I can finally appreciate her largeness, admire her willingness to embrace the messiness of her life, and wonder at her refusal to renounce herself.

If she was too much, then so be it.





Echoing their brief delight

25 12 2019

Christmas songs are the bane of retail workers everywhere. It’s not that they’re bad—some are quite good!—but they are relentless.

And, to be honest, the worse rather than the better ones do tend to be played on repeat over a store’s speakers: the more gimmicky, cheesy, and bouncy, it seems, the more likely is some corporate manager to favor it. The better ones don’t go so well with sales, and the best songs?

The best Christmas songs are religious.

There are bad religious songs, of course, but the truly good approach the sublime: this is the music which twines the joyous and the somber together in recognition of a momentous event.

I am no longer awe-struck by that event, as such awe requires a faith I no longer have. But I can see—hear—that faith and awe in notes pouring out of and surrounding us before waving away nto the yonder blue.

My voice is still wobbly, but I remember what it felt like to sail it over that long O. It was a good feeling.

May you sail wherever you are, and wherever you may go.





I owe my soul to each fork in the road

28 11 2019

So I was talking to my folks earlier today and my dad said Hey, do you remember Thanksgiving from years ago?

And I’m thinking of how we all used to get together at my grandma’s, my brother, two cousins, and I happily at the kids’ table, the walk after dinner in the cold  Sheboygan night to the bridge we all spit off of, . . .

No, not that memory. Wasn’t that when your apartment was broken into?

Yeah, my first year in Montréal! Thanks for the memories, Pop!

Eighteen years later and I STILL double-check my windows and locks.

Anyway, may you all have had as boisterous or as peaceful a day as you desire.





Hear the grass, it sings

18 11 2019

Oy, this semester.

I think I bitched earlier in the term about the hassle of creating new notes for a new textbook, but holy mother of pete, whattafuckin hassle.

And I’m teaching a writing-intensive course for the first time, which, while I enjoy, is also more work than a non-writing-intensive course.

(Not too much more work: given that the regular version already required two 10-page research papers, the add-ons are just that, add-ons. Still, more work.)

Then there’s the second job, which is fine, I like who I work for, the work is even sometimes interesting, I get along well with my boss, but, y’know, it’s hours on that that I don’t have for. . . anything else. As I told my parents: it’s good that I have so much work, but it also sucks that I have so much work.

Next semester should be so much better (notes written!), but in meantime, I’ve used some of that money I’ve earned for one of my favorite Speyside whiskies—and may end up picking up an Islay whisky, to boot.

~~~

When I was young I sang all of the time. I wasn’t a great talent, but I was good enough.

Then I kinda stopped—apartment living will do that—so that when I sang one season for a local choir I was aghast at how bad my voice was. I got better in the singing, but still, aghast.

Then I pretty much stopped singing altogether, and SURPRISE, my voice now sucks.

Well, mah friends, I am here to turn that around. It is now winter, which means the windows are closed, and while I have little time I do have enough to shower every day so: shower singing!

I am presuming that my voice wobbles because I haven’t used it, and that if I sing every day in the shower it should get stronger. I’m thinkin’ it’ll be like my (long unused) guitar: you gotta work to keep it in tune.

I think I forgot this lesson because I used to sing so often that it didn’t occur to me that I was, in fact, keeping it tuned up. Then the choir thing left me so aghast that I couldn’t really admit that my voice wobbled. Then I finally got over myself and thought, Criminy, Terri, just sing, already.

Lynda Barry once wrote in her old comic that if you want to sing, you should sing, even if you can’t.

(Maybe it wasn’t her, but I think it was, because Lynda Barry is sensible like that.)

And if it wasn’t her? The wisdom holds: If you want to sing, you should sing, even if you can’t.





I wandered out in the world for years

4 11 2019

Apparently, a show I never watched and have no opinion about featured a Waterboys tune in their finale.

Which is as good a reason as any to showcase that Waterboys tune.

It is, like so many Waterboys songs, too too much.

The relative restraint of Fisherman’s Blues arguably made for a better record, but there is something so wonderfully everywhere-and-everything to This Is The Sea.





And kingdoms fall

21 10 2019

I’m not a hipster, although I do admit to sharing the annoying trait of establishing my bona fides that I listened to something before it became cool.

Not liking something once it gets popular? Not me at all: I’m thrilled that others can confirm my good taste.

Still, it is the case that with some long-running bands or authors, I just get sort of tired of following them. It’s not even that they get bad or boring—although they sometimes do—but that I’ve just had my fill.

With U2, it’s both that I’ve had my fill and that I just fuckin’ loved their early stuff. Boy, October, and War never fail to yank me by the short-hairs, even today, as does Wide Awake in America and “Under a Blood Red Sky”. I really liked Unforgettable Fire when it came it, thought Rattle & Hum was okay, and while I think Joshua Tree is amazing and, like the early work, still listen to it, it was also the end for me.

They changed their sound and focus, which, honestly, if you’re gonna stick around, is better than just revisiting the same old shit. But as they moved hither, I went yon, and the messy, raging, joyous U2 I adored then and now is the one they left behind.

Anyone, the song that gave the title to October:

Overwrought? Maybe, but sincerely so, which was part of the beauty of U2 back then.





Baby, baby, please let me hold him

16 10 2019

Yet another absurd (-adjacent) baby: James Mark!

Like his big brother (my habibi Henry) and cousin (the angry spud Lyana), Sweet Baby James decided to pop in on the world a bit early. This necessitated tubes and lines and monitors, and after a week he’s still in the NICU, but as he’s now merely a “lazy eater” (per his mum), he should be heading home sooner rather than later.

Henry is apparently anxious to meet SBJ, and told his pop he wanted to get a toy for him. (According to my sister, the last thing that household needs is another toy, but whatchagonnado?) Let’s see how long before he wants to send the baby back.

~~~

Two things:

One, I am deeply grateful that my nieces were able to avail themselves of the best that medicine has to offer. There’s more to these birth stories; suffice it to say that what was merely momentarily dramatic could have been tragic had they not been at the hospital.

I get why people are leery of medicalizing birth—goddess knows I’ve voiced my own critiques—but it’s not 1968, women aren’t being knocked out before delivery, and birthing rooms, midwives, and doulas are now an ordinary part of the hospital birthing experience. And good medicine saves the lives of mothers and babies alike.

Two, I’m thinking of going to the Twin Cities in January to meet these new babies and reacquaint myself with Henry (and see some old friends).

I know: the Twin Cities in January?! But the flights have gotta be dirt cheap—most folks aren’t scrambling to travel to the below-zero—and I’m not teaching then, so why not? Plus, I want to see if I can still handle the forsaken cold.

Y’all know I dig New York (most of the time), but winters here are often merely dreary. I look forward to the bracing.