Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dear everyone,

Hello to the hundreds and hundreds of you that came to read about Lenin! If I had known there would be so many of you, I'd have spiced up the encounter a little bit. Added some space aliens or something. Maybe a song-and-dance number. (Thanks to Michael for the mention.)
I should be marveling over the fact that it's almost July already, but I'm still looking for April. Did we have an April? Or a May? I'm not sure that I'm getting my full year's worth of year.
I spent most of the morning stomping around the office demanding that summer show itself, already. I didn't want to be wearing a swingy summer skirt for nothing. I had on my three-inch tan Unlisteds, which are consummate stomping shoes, and sure enough the sun was out by the time I left work. If there was a better way to have spent the evening than by reading Proust on my porch in the sun while eating plums, I don't know it. And now the apartment smells like popcorn from the brown rice I'm cooking and I'm listening to Math & Physics Club and things are Just. Perfect.
Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.
I received a slightly grumpy email yesterday about my use of the word "you." Someone thinks I don't explain myself enough--and that's sort of the point. I am often talking to you and about you. Honestly, often enough I don't even know who I'm talking to. So there's that.
I feel as though I'm saying all the right things at all the wrong times, like I'm not handing you the puzzle pieces that you need, and that soon you'll be forced to get out your scissors and make these wrong pieces fit. I'm sick-to-death of myself. And while I've gotten ahold of the feeling that I'm disappearing, that I'm no longer filling out my own skin, I cannot stop the notion that my toes and my head are operating on different bad ideas.
Here's a mild confession for you: I'm thinking of giving myself a birthday party this year, but I'm afraid no one would come. It has happened before.
I hope that you are all going to come and see our photo show next Thursday. This is, somewhat pathetically, a huge act of bravery for me. While I may still not find any merit in the things that I make--making stuff, from words or paint or whatever, has always been a tortuous thing for me--I am for the first time admitting to folks that I might make them. I am very afraid of you.
I am afraid of everything, but I'm doing my best to stop.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

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We all had to know that I was going to go home and talk about this.

Cat, Erin and I were waiting by Lenin tonight for Caroline to join us for gelato. A man was standing nearby mumbling about the statue and so Cat, who talks to strangers even more than I do, mentioned Lenin to him. He informed us that he and his family had driven all the way from Denver to visit Lenin, and so when Cat noticed the camera in his hand she asked if they had taken pictures of it. He shortly informed us that no, he hadn't, because of all the decorations on it.
Then he walked away to cheer on his sons as they tore the decorations off.
We were appalled, and followed to take pictures. The man and his family were very angry about Lenin's solstice costume, and when Erin sensibly mentioned to him that he was in the artist neighborhood of Seattle and that it was public art, he growled, "I think it's pretty artistic just the way it is."
It was at this point that we started to get angry. He had come all the way here, to our town, to tear down our public art because it wasn't what he was expecting? Because he didn't bother to find out anything at all about the statue or its environs? We made furious hand gestures and stomped our feet but stopped, mouths open, when he congratulated his son on his destruction with a, "You've done your social justice for the day. Tear off his hat and let's go."
I'd ask how it's an act of social justice to go to someone else's home and put your hands on their culture...but thinking about our current political environment, I've got a pretty good idea why he thinks such behavior is ok. And they never did managed to remove Lenin's hat.

Update: Ok, ok, it was his Pride decorations that the kid ripped off. And you can read all about the Lenin statue here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

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I stopped in the middle of my walk home from my French lesson tonight, remembering that I am out of milk. This is patently untrue, of course--I have milk, it's just gone sour from all of the days and weeks of not-being-home. I wasn't sure if it was worth it to walk back to the corner store; I had planned on making cookies but I was tired and tired and tired. It has been an awfully long couple of weeks.

You've got me all unsettled, you know? I never know what's coming next and what I want most is to stand on your toes and slow dance in the kitchen. I keep ignoring phone calls from people I don't want to talk to. I am being impolite and occasionally shrill.

While I stood on the sidewalk, dithering, a truck drove past and honked. I doubt that they were honking at me but I was startled by the noise and stumbled backwards and landed awkwardly against the hill behind me. I slid down the incline to rest on the sidewalk and recover my composure, and right next to my hand--centimeters from being squished--was a perfect bright white flower.

The thing is, you know, that I still believe in magic.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

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John came to pick me up at 5 am on Wednesday to go to the airport, chipper and humming along with the radio. I am profoundly not a morning person, and I grumbled as much from the passenger seat. He ignored me.

Our hotel was nicer than my apartment, and on our second flight, from Memphis to Indiana, Julie and I sat next to a women who regaled us with her whole medical history and tidbits about her recent trip to Alaska. We found both fascinating, like watching the rainbow colors in an oil spill.

On the second night, after some time in the pool, three margaritas, one shot of whiskey, and dinner, we discovered that Dana had never seen fireflies before. In trying to catch one for her, we may have accidentally squished a couple.

I didn't bring a bathing suit with me, which led to three of us at the Walmart next to the hotel in the middle of the night. This involved a lot of me opening the door of the dressing room slightly and hissing, "Dana! My breasts aren't big enough for this one, either! What kind of corn-fed Indiana girls do they have around here?"

I still do not know who sent me the naked plastic parachute man. Anyone? Wanna fess up?

Going through security on the way home, the man looked at me and said, "Samantha? The airline has chosen you for further screening." The girl who was to screen me informed me that she should do a more thorough inspection, but she liked my shoes and didn't think I was up to anything. They were my argyle flats, and I agree with her--anyone with shoes that fabulous would not be looking to muck them up in any way. She ran her wand around me and patted my back like she was burping me.

The two girls sitting next to me on the last flight were twins from Nebraska on their way to visit their father. They had a perfectly timed window rotation so that each got a turn. As we approached Seattle the one next to me pulled out something that was slightly smaller than my laptop. I was anticipating a portable DVD player, so you can imagine my surprise when she opened it to reveal more makeup than I have in my entire house.

By the time we got to the car, we were making up 'happy to be home' songs and dances. And I wasn't kidding about drag shows, dancing, or drinking. Drag shows are Friday and Saturday nights. Drinking and dancing are always. I am practically made of free time for the next couple of weeks. And hey, this is my first Fourth of July in Seattle that I'm not having a party--anyone got any good ideas?
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Saturday, June 25, 2005

I wormed my way onto a set of earlier flights this afternoon and now I'm home, four hours earlier than expected. It's so nice to be home.
The conference went amazingly, less because of the conference itself--which was a lot of sitting in cold rooms watching PowerPoint presentations--and more because my coworkers are amazing. We spent the last few days drinking (way) too much tequila and staying up until 2 am and generally behaving unprofessionally. Indiana is likely still confused.
It's been interesting being back around my coworkers after having spent so much time with my family, because no matter how much I may doubt myself as an individual I am a career rockstar.
(As a totally unrelated aside, I have to go see The Fantastic Four sometime soon because my ex boyfriend worked on it and his name is in the credits. If anyone would like to join me let me know, and if you see it without me I encourage you to stay through the credits so that you can ponder the fact that I seriously considered moving to LA and marrying one of those names, right up until I came to my senses.)
I made lots of new friends and I'll tell you all about what I saw later, but right now I am craving sushi (something I've never said in my life before) and weighing the relative merits of hanging around on my couch in my underwear and calling my friends to see what sort of things might be going on tonight.
Man. If I could have sushi while hanging around on my couch in my underwear, I'd be the happiest girl on the planet. Where is a houseboy when I need one?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

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I'm still pretty wrecked from spending the last five days hearing all about how I suck, about how myself and all of the things that I'm interested in are stupid or boring or pretentious. My father has always been brilliant at destructing my self esteem and then retreating to his personal high ground claiming that he's not responsible for how people feel. He didn't have a single nice thing to say about anything the whole time he was here.

A voicemail from my mother this afternoon informed me that my Auntie Grace is in the hospital with congestive heart failure. She's my grandmother's sister, the woman who looks so much like the wicked witch of the west that she scares children. She's evidently not likely to come back out of the hospital, and this is going to devastate my grandma.

On the up side, I officially have tickets to China for the 11th-22nd of August (and to Beck at the Paramount next month), and someone sent me a naked anatomically correct plastic man with a parachute in the mail today. I'll just repeat that: a naked anatomically correct plastic man with a parachute. In the mail. Actually, I guess he's wearing boots and a helmet, so he's not entirely naked. Nevertheless, it's pretty darn entertaining. I don't know who sent it or why, but thanks!

I'm leaving town first thing in the morning for a conference, which will be good for me. I'll be back Sunday, and then I demand fun for the next month. Drinking, drag shows, and dancing will all be had.

Monday, June 20, 2005

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The gorilla looked up at us and, it seemed, frowned. He held a stick tucked into the side of his neck, and while he might have been grumpy he might also really just look like that. And so I stood there looking at him, smiling dumbly while he reached up and launched his stick right at us.
A bunch of people came running over from where they had been standing at the other side of the observation deck. "Did anyone catch that stick?" they asked us, as though it had been a fly ball.
I'm just glad it was only a piece of wood in his hand.

My family gets on their airplane to go home tomorrow, and I am wrung out. I find myself getting defensive in response to everything my father says, justifying everything because I'm not ever sure what's a snarky comment and what isn't. I'm afraid of becoming that, afraid of losing every other tone to my voice that isn't sarcasm.
I have developed (this is too much information) a light rash that tells me I have pushed myself too far. Our bodies tend to express themselves at our weakest point, and I have spent the last few days trying desperately to share with these people the things that I love. The trouble is that families, as a rule, aren't interested in us as people. They want to see us as reflections of themselves, as expressions of their own genetic material, and since they don't care independently about the things that form my life they haven't much cared to refrain from trying to tear them down either. Unhappy people try their best to make everyone around them unhappy too. As a result I feel hollow and small and about twelve years old.
It's my own fault, I guess, for inviting them into this perfect space that I've made for myself. I don't know why I continue to believe that even though we share DNA we should have anything at all in common.
My new rule is as follows: friends are encouraged to visit. Please, visit early and often! But family, they have to wait for me to come to them.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I have spent too much time with my father the last few days to be able to muster a nice Father's Day tribute to him. I'm still just too rubbed raw by the fact that he doesn't ever have anything nice to say, by his unrelenting and tiresome sarcasm.
Happy Father's Day to him, nonetheless, but even more so to some of my favorite dads. You guys are all amazing.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

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The thing that my brothers are best for is reminding me that even the cutest of children will eventually turn into a teenager.
Having my family here is rough, and I find myself having to forcibly unclench every evening. It's nice to see them but I'm more than ready for them to go home.

Anyway, I was tagged by Chas to tell you all five things that I miss about childhood. It's possible that I'll go back and add the linking game that goes with it later, but for now I'm tired and just going to talk. So:

I miss the idea that my family was where I belonged. I grew up with a big bunch of aunts and uncles who were all really close, and since my father was the oldest child I was the oldest niece. My family was always around and I felt included and important. They've since grown up and gotten distant and crazy, and I feel like a turtle without a shell. None of us know each other any more.

I miss truly believing that M&M's were better than money because you could eat them.

I miss believing that life can at any moment turn into a rock video. Perhaps it's because everyone I grew up around was so young, but every day always felt like an adventure. They were always doing things and making things and being so fabulous, and every minute felt charged with something special.

I miss feeling like I inhabit my whole body. Most days I feel a little too small for my skin, a little like bits and pieces are missing. When I was a kid, I felt so full of who I was that I thought I could burst.

I miss not being self conscious. Kids, man, they'll do anything and not worry about who might be watching. And that's funny because people are always watching what kids are doing. Now I find myself holding back on so many of my impulses because of who might be looking, even though no one ever is.

Tag! You're all it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I ducked out early from the weblog meetup last night to head down to the airport to meet my family. While I waited at baggage claim, nursing the worst cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever had—hot chocolate wasn’t what I had ordered, which was the least of what was wrong with it—I watched a man select pieces out of a pile of luggage off to the side of the carousel. He hefted each suitcase up onto the stationary conveyor belt and turned it on. I watched, later, while the suitcases from the flight came out of the wall. No one picked up the luggage he had planted.
The older of my brothers wanted to stroll past me and see if I recognized him, but the younger ruined his plan by running up and sinking his teeth into my right arm. Ryan is taller than me now, and we have the exact same haircut. This annoys him to no end.
"Sissy, why do you have to have the same haircut as me?"
"Because it’s a girl haircut."
"No it isn’t."
"You’re right. Lots of the boy hipsters in town have a very similar haircut. It’s in."
"No it’s not. I’m a loser."
"Darling, you’re in Seattle now. Being a loser is cool."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

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We had to take the Myers-Briggs personality test today to prepare for an all-day meeting we have coming up in my office. I'm an INFJ, in case you were wondering, but the main result was a lot of wandering around this afternoon going, "Hey, I hear you never finish anything." "Yeah, that's kinda true. Are you really psychic?" We amuse ourselves more than we really should.

Oh, you guys. You guys, you guys, you guys. One of these days I'm going to tell you all of the things I'm not telling you right now. But not today.

Monday, June 13, 2005

There isn't anything I have to say today that sounds any different from what I've said before.

However, my family will be in town on Wednesday, so here is what you ought to know about my petit demi-freres:

13 1/2 years old. The 1/2 is very, very important.
Is afraid of dolls and "being jacked."
Only eats hamburgers, pizza, chicken fingers, and spicy teriyaki.
Can't wait to wear his Jimi Hendrix t-shirt in Seattle.
Once hit himself in the face with a golf club. Accidentally. I'm still not sure which laws of physics he broke for that one.
Always has a plastic snake or six somewhere on his person.
Used to run around the house naked yelling, "Heeeeeere comes nakee man!"
Also answers to Mustafa, Scooter, and Hey-you-the-tall-one.

10 11 1/2/12. Seriously. He'll be 11 on the 29th.
Is afraid of cannibals.
Will eat anything not nailed to the floor except eggs, especially loves cheese (but only the kind individually wrapped in plastic).
Forgets the punchline to jokes, leaves the room, and comes back to tell them hours later when everyone has forgotten the beginning.
Once hit himself in the face with a golf club.
Also once bit a chunk out of the living room wall.
Would dance naked in front of the living room window after bathtime.
Also answers to: Elvis, Sugar, and Short Stack.

My headache has been going since Friday, and I'm pretty sure that at this point I'm so over-medicated that my teeth are buzzing. Or anyway, my teeth are buzzing, and I'm blaming it on the eight-to-ten headache stoppers I've been taking every day. The latest applicant for my houseboy position (snicker, snicker) is only available for a few days in July, and so tonight I think I'll try to dull the pain with a series of gin-and-tonics. If that doesn't work, I'm afraid I'll be out in the night snatching pain-free brains from unsuspecting passers-by.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

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It was raining while I waited for the bus tonight, and the breeze occasionally blew a spray of drops into the shelter I huddled under. It was cold, and I had my headphones in and everything in the world on my mind, so I didn't notice the two guys that walked up until they stood in front of me and waved. They asked the time and I gave it to them, then went back to listening to tonight's soundtrack. I watched while one of them, for some reason, lifted the other onto his shoulders and paraded up and down the sidewalk. The bus pulled up and stopped, and just then two girls ran across the street in front of it, in formal dresses and fancy hair, shrieking. I realized just then that I wanted out of this Twin Peaks episode.

Inside my apartment are walls and mounds of thoughts from the two nights this week that I spent whispering for hours into the telephone. I simply cannot deal with what's in those piles and so I'm tiptoeing around my house, trying not to stub my toe on anything that I should not be feeling.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

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Evidently, what I needed to make me rather less grumpy was an evening of the campest karaoke I've ever seen. (And that, man, that's saying something.) Caroline invited me along last night to watch a friend of hers perform in a karaoke contest, and I haven't laughed that hard since I hung out with Dave the weekend before last.
I am now firmly convinced that you have not lived until you've seen at least half of the things I saw last night. None of which I'm going to tell you about. Because I'm not back out of the grumpy forest entirely yet.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm starting to get over-excited about my trip to China, only a little prematurely because while I don't have airplane tickets yet, the travel agent at my office is working on it. And that's close enough. I've always wanted to go places but have only now found myself in a position where travel is a possibility--so now I'm impatient to go somewhere, already. And so I've been spending an awful lot of time the last few days fondling maps of China, mumbling things like, "Well, Beijing isn't that far from Mongolia, and I've always wanted to go to Mongolia..." (That, by the way, is true, and not just one of those things I tend to say when I get excited, which is just about everything.) I encourage you all to move to far-flung sections of the world so that I can visit you and never settle down anywhere. Ever.
Honestly, I'm just so tired of everything that my teeth hurt. A vacation will do me good, but in the meantime I plan to be insufferable for the next two months. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My family will be in town next weekend and then as soon as they leave I'm gone for a business trip, but until then I've found myself with an abundance of free time for once. Come over! We'll go down the street and drink three pitchers of beer and rejoice in the fact that for the time being we've managed to escape ourselves while the cigar store Indian scowls at us from the corner. I'll let you win at pool and we'll seriously discuss going to get matching tattoos, and then we'll go down to the water and pretend that there are lightning bugs for catching. We'll give each other nicknames.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I've been writing letters to you in my head for years, leaving notes on sugar packets and straw wrappers and paper placemats sown broadcast across the country. I've been dialing your number for so long that I'd probably forget who you were if you picked up the other end.

There were two times that I made a pact with myself to put you firmly out of my head. The first was a chilly night in late 2000, cleaning up blood that was pouring from the head of a boy I'd only met a few hours before. Once we'd packed him off to the hospital and cleaned up whatever there was left of Chase that could be soaked up with a towel I took a slow walk and informed an alligator that I couldn't think about you anymore because you pressed at the back of my eyeballs. The alligator didn't understand, pointing out that you'd never met Chase and had in fact neither been seen or heard from in months. I told it that was the point. I didn't want to ever be a party hat again.

I've been to the moon a million and fifteen times without you. A million and fifteen, precisely.

But you reappeared, didn't you, a few years later? Just when things were crumbling to dust? I left town and decided firmly at a diner in lower Indiana that I was moving cross-country to read books and not think of you. Again.

At this point, of course, I give up. You've made it perfectly clear that you won't be un-thought. But I'm not going to let you win, because thought of or not I'll still be making it to and from the moon a million more times without you.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Caroline introduced me to the wonder that is shrinky-dinks last night. How have you let me go all of this time without them, people? This means that I can make accessories out of illustrations in Shel Silverstein books! The world is bright once again.

Down at the waterfront today, a homeless man offers to thumb wrestle me for a dollar. I'm a sucker for a good thumb wrestle, so I agree. His palm is hard and his fingers are more than three times as thick as mine. He makes a good show of pretending to let me win, even though we both knew from the start that in a fair fight I'd lose, and lose quickly.
Just afterwards a couple all dressed up asks me to take a picture of them. They look like members of a wedding party, but I prefer to believe for the time being that they're just wandering the waterfront in formal clothes. As I hand them back their camera and start to walk away, the guy asks me if that homeless man always asks people to thumb wrestle. I don't honestly know, but since I hope that he does I tell the boy yes.

At one point last night, I was blushing down to my toenails. I'm blushing again just thinking about how red I must have been.

I was on the phone with Toby this afternoon. He's been trying for weeks to break up with his girlfriend but she keeps telling him no. I had no useful advice. He asked about my trip in the same way everyone has, tacking on a question at the end about Nick as though that situation was not the whole reason they were asking. I gave him a rundown of the last few weeks, and he chuckled. "Mouse," he said to me, "you are like a full contact sport. You ought to hand out helmets to the people you meet." He sounded proud, like he'd just cooked a particularly tasty dessert.
It might be an accurate statement.

At the bookstore this afternoon, I'm looking at books about China while the man standing above me is reading about Copenhagen. His wife comes to stand next to him, asking about the books that he's found. She dismisses most of them, calling them too expensive or without satisfactory maps. "This is no good," she tells him firmly, "I want to see where Hamlet lived."

Friday, June 03, 2005

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That Fellow was supposed to be at my house at 8:30 last night, so when the doorbell rang a little after 9:00 I stomped through my apartment to open the door, prepared to be passive-aggressively pissed off. I am no good with people being late, especially when they don't call to inform me of their lateness. But he wasn't on the other side of the door. Instead, I found standing on my doormat Steph and Ryan, who grinned and said, "Hey! We heard you're grumpy. Want to go to Dragonfish for dinner?"
I invited them in and thought quickly. I did want to go to Dragonfish, and I did not want to be home and stood up by a boy I don't even like all that much. And so I surprised myself by putting on my shoes, taping a note to the door, and actually leaving.
I always say that I'm not the sort of girl who waits around, but that's never been true. I am exactly the sort of girl that waits around. So it was with an exhilarating new feeling of, I don't know, self respect I guess, that I informed him when he eventually called that of course I wasn't going to wait. And no, I didn't know that he wouldn't stand me up--that he wouldn't even be the first one this year to disappear to the island of lost boys. (This is true: it's been an interesting few months.) I have better things to do with my time than wait around. I have fantastic friends to spend my time with.

Because the thing is, I'm supposed to be avoiding letting myself be used up by people who are just out to use me up. I am fragile and in love with many things that don't even exist, and I simply cannot keep doing this to myself. And so with the help of my friends, I finally did right by myself for once.

(Further wedding pictures are here and here.)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

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My passport came back today with a Chinese Visa pasted inside--exactly a week after it arrived in San Francisco. This means that as long as nothing goes too wrong I'll be in China in August. China, says e e cummings, is where a poet is a painter.

I've been in that old samantha funk the last few days, spending evenings lying on the floor singing songs to the ceiling. It's as though I got out of bed two minutes too early or too late yesterday, and I haven't been able to get back on time since. I am grumpy, and not really relishing spending the evening with a fellow who, after all these weeks, has yet to even ask my last name. But I get myself into these situations and it's no one's fault but my own that I can't work up the energy to get out of them. I am listless and bored with thinking all of the things I've already thought.

The problem is that I miss all of the people I've just seen, and what's worse is that I miss the one I'm not supposed to be thinking about. I'm back to being infected by thoughts I thought I'd cured myself of years ago.

Tomorrow night will be full of nice girls and wine and crafts, and I promise that by the weekend I'll try to be back to jumping in puddles and renaming my toes.
Damn you, Steph.

Total Volume Of Music Files On My Computer: 2.5 GB. I've got hundreds of CD's but only an Ipod mini, and no speakers on my computer. (I still use that old fashioned thing called a stereo.) So I haven't been in any hurry to stuff music into Owen. Also, I'm lazy.

The Last CD I Bought Was: "Weekends Away" by Math and Physics Club. I (heart) local bands. Remember the Trash Can Sinatras? This is kinda like what would happen if you gave them tambourines.

Favorite song from the album (er, CD)? Sixteen and Pretty.

Song Playing Right Now: "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan.

Five Songs That I Listen To A Lot (Or That Mean A Lot To Me):

We do realize that this changes practically weekly, right? And that this week I'm a little depressed? Ok, glad we're on the same page.

1. "When Sunny Gets Blue" by Nat King Cole. This is my favorite song in the history of songs. Playing this for me is the easist way to get me to propose. Or cry, depending on what's going on.

2. "Scared" by The Tragically Hip. Something about this song makes my fingers all tingly.

3. "Unsingable Name" by Mike Doughty is tied with "Music When the Lights Go Out" by the Libertines. (See how I cheated there?) Maybe I'm a little grumpy. But Mike's opening line? "I want to be your absolute ultimate"? Pricks at the nape of my neck.

4. "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon and Garfunkel. I do get all the news I need from the weather report.

5. "Go It Alone" by Beck. Guarenteed to break me out of a funk.

Tagged: Chris (who has already been there), Brandon (who will kill it), and Dylan.