that season


It’s that time of year again – autumn… and people’s kids are returning to school, so outlets like Facebook are covered in back-to-school/first-day-of-school photos. None of these bothered me until I saw someone’s “first day of kindergarten” pictures, and I was suddenly struck by the overwhelming sense of anxiety and daily dread I felt when I was in kindergarten. I really wanted to go to school, but I hated having to socialize, having to get myself up alone in the morning and get to the bus stop on time. Seeing these children in their kindergarten classrooms, I was overcome – yes, at my advanced age – by a wave of nausea, remembering that helpless, horrible feeling of being five. Being forced to play and take naps and things I hated. OH MY GOD I LOVE BEING AN ADULT.

I also love saying, “I am an adult.”

Even if being an adult has often brought little to no certainty to life or to me. Funny how certain we are of things when we are young and have absolutely no reason or experience informing our baffling certainty. We just know. Like I just knew when I was 12 that I would always be obsessed with U2 and Ireland. Hahahahahahaha. Um, no.

Oddly, many people go on living in those (naive?) certainties and are often no less happy or fulfilled for it. But I guess my mind was meant to work the other way… becoming less and less certain, more and more questioning over time.

As an adult it is also fun sometimes to buy stuff. Not too long ago I became obsessed with buying undergarments/lingerie… nothing particularly crazy. Just, you know, stuff one needs to wear anyway (most of the time). I stumbled on Lonely of New Zealand and LOVED their stuff, and even more loved the realism and diversity of their models. Just the website made me happy, so when I placed an order, I was glad to patronize the company. But I was even more elated when the parcel arrived, beautifully packaged in individual small boxes that serve as miniature drawers. Inside the garments are packed with care into individual ‘garment bags’ of sorts. It had such a careful, personal touch to it that I felt, as I unfolded everything, like ordering every item on their website. When I opened up the second box, I noticed that it even contained a handwritten note thanking me for my business. Yeah, so it might be a bit more expensive than the average store (but not by much, especially taking into account the exchange rate), but the attention and care paid to both the packaging and the products make it so worth it.

Yay. The one certainty: So fun to be an adult. Not a kid in kindergarten. With no kids in kindergarten. No anxiety, leaves falling and lovely matching undergarment sets. Haha.

stunted growth


Damaged by upbringing, forms of emotional abuse, observing dysfunctional relationships, we realized these things are nothing we wanted for ourselves. We have never been inclined to get too deeply involved or be too committed to others, so we are not the kinds of people who will ever marry or pair off, for example, even if we were in love. People like us, we just don’t trust other people’s emotions or intentions and feel we have had to be completely independent. And even if we have acknowledged and can see this, why would we take a big chance or invest much trust in another person’s feelings? Why would we tether ourselves to people whose feelings and decisions clearly cannot be trusted or relied on – a(n) (unconscious) way to continue being non-committal?

Toddler fears – closeted mannequins – an exit


Since I was a baby, I have been afraid of mannequins. I am not literally afraid of them now, but I do find them creepy. I suppose it dates back to my having seen mannequins in a museum (Eisenhower Museum probably – the boyhood Kansas home of good old Ike) my parents took me to when I was three or younger. I had nightmares afterwards about the mannequins crashing out from behind the glass – maybe it was not even nightmares and was just me imagining that they would crash out and try to get me?

My office is full of mannequins (not to be confused with the film, Mannequin, about which I have improbably written before), which are unnerving enough just standing there in unnatural poses modeling clothes. But in my office they are wearing surgical gowns, caps and face masks. The face masks especially add an extra creep factor – only the hauntingly vacant eyes of the mannequin are visible.

The cold, dead eyes of the mannequin

The cold, dead eyes of the mannequin

When I went into the small printer room off the main office area today, I was surprised to find one of the mannequins hidden in a dark closet. Its awkward arm/hand gesture looks a bit like a twisted “Heil Hitler” salute. What is she pointing at? An exit?

closeted freaky office mannequin

closeted freaky office mannequin

Me at Three


The other day a colleague told me that she gave her daughter a pair of roller skates for her seventh birthday.

It made me think of a tale I have been told about when I was three. My neighbors had a skateboard, and I was determined that I would have one too. My parents told me I could have a skateboard when I was “a big girl”. Sometime later – not sure if it was days or weeks – they told me I could do something myself because I was “a big girl”. I replied, “No, because if I was a big girl, I would have a skateboard.”

Or when my grandma came to visit my family, she took me to my bedroom for a nap – but not long after that, I reappeared from my room and told my mom, “I put grandma down for her nap.”

Let’s not even touch the fact that by the time I was three, I already had my second boyfriend.

I was a take-charge, personality-filled leader then.

I don’t know what happened after that – it is like I became a different person, something in me snapped before I turned four.

But when I was three, I was very alive and a force to be reckoned with.

The Mind-Boggling Stuff We Do to “Fit In”


Thinking about youth and the stuff we do because everyone else is doing it so we better do it too to try to fit in. In so many ways I went against the grain – particularly at a time when people were most desperate to fit in (adolescence/early teen years). By then I did not care anymore.I escaped all the dangerous teen peer pressures one hears about (the parties, drugs, drinking, teenager pregnancy or whatever) because I had a firm grasp on the fact that that was not who I was and that was not what I wanted.

But when I was a child, I was so cripplingly shy that I felt I had to engage socially somehow, and the worst nightmare for a person like me was something I frequently tried and hated. This was the obligatory childhood sleepover. So many times I was invited to someone’s house to spend the night – and I went. In fact I would beg to do it, even when my parents did not want me to. Either inviting someone to my house or going to theirs – hell, sheer hell. I spent the entire time miserable, counting the minutes until it was over – no matter how close the friend was. But usually I did not have really close friends for very long… because I was too shy and insular and could not hang on to them, they would move away, we would be placed in a different class each year and thus be separated (and that was enough to cleave a friendship in two for little kids), because because because. No good reasons. Just that I was as much a drifter then as I am now. My brother has friends who date almost to pre-verbal times in his life. I would have been lucky in my early years to keep a friend through one school year.

This is not true now in adulthood at all – no matter where I move in the world, I have held on to close friendships, although some of course drift. But I attribute this to the fact that I have always been trying to have adult-style friendships even when my peers were not capable of having those kinds of friendships. (Not that I never engaged in any of the sniping and backstabbing of teen times, but when I reflect, I think the times I did that were almost always in an effort to cheer someone else up – yeah, I know, tearing down someone else to make another person laugh is not that mature – but it’s what I had at the time.) I have been trying all along to be the good, solid, trustworthy friend a person could turn to in any kind of crisis. For the people I loved and cared about most, of course. I have also been a careless friend to those who just were not as important – or in times when I really needed to focus more on myself.

My point – the dreaded sleepover. I am not sure at what point I fully embraced my hatred for the sleepover… the forced sleepover I was trying to incorporate into my life. I spent all of elementary school engaging in this wholly awful, awkward experience just to seem “normal”. I remember even reaching a certain level of desperation, inviting people who were mostly just people I sort of knew at school and thought were “cool” (until I spent a few hours with them outside of school and realized I had no desire ever to talk to them again). THE-WORST-EXPERIENCES-EVER. Yes, so bad, it requires all caps. So bad that some of the residue lingers in my brain quite vividly, despite these things happening almost 30 years ago.

I never wanted to be that kind of social – I don’t like sharing my space or time generally – and now I am very selective about who shares my space. But such selectivity never came into play, and I shudder to think of the time I spent with so many people who were like a specially designed form of irritant – sandpaper just for me.

Once I finally got over this shyness (when I was 12 or so), which happened suddenly when I woke up one day realizing that I had no idea how I could feel inferior to or intimidated by people who were basically idiots, I guess I felt that I was living in a freer way – living in my own, albeit developing, identity. There were plenty of ups and downs, but I think I was living and choosing friends in a more authentic way, not just driven by what I felt I should do. While this is still sometimes a tricky road to navigate (balancing being humane toward people and reserving my time and friendship for those I feel are deserving), especially on a personal level, the concept of living without bring guided by feelings of “should do”/obligation is a powerful directive that I have taken to heart.

Good Good of Random Gum – Year-End Soundtrack 2013


The Good Goo of Year-End – Queen Bee in the Hornet’s Nest
Random Gum / Year-End 2013

Complete playlist on Spotify.

1. SONIC CONTROL – “Broken Television on a Neukölln Street”
“I’m a broken television on a Neukölln street/that dog over there just pissed on me/my screen is cracked, my transformers are gone/I was state of the art until it all went wrong…” The dogs of corporate life. Thanks, ML and MS

2. Ladytron – “Mirage” …You don’t listen,/You do not exist…
“Happy not to notice/The room retracts the focus/Where you cannot see/Reflections from within”

3. Elton John – “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” …live for each second, without hesitation…
Song is a sad reminder of childhood & early years of music videos. “I simply love you more than I love life itself”

4. John Grant – “Leopard and Lamb” …Like learning how to crawl across a floor that’s covered with glass/Like learning how to look away and never to look back…
“Watch The Simpsons to remember how you’d laugh…”. For Ph. Friendship ending always hurts more than love

5. Ulali – “Mahk Jchi”
This is like being back in college again. Upon reflection, the most awkward, misguided time of my whole life

6. Royal Headache – “Distant and Vague”
One for wandering central Göteborg. And the title/theme… what/who isn’t “distant and vague”?

7. TV-Resistori – “Koputan puuta”
FUNland! ”But Ginsberg, my balls hurt!” Finnish music that sounds almost Japanese. Music for throwing away perfectly good shoes. For Naomi and ML.

8. Pepe Deluxé – “Lucky the Blind vs. Vacuum Cleaning Monster”
Thinking about Lóa, who loves vacuum cleaners.

9. Les Sans Culottes – “Tout va bien
All the French – Aurélien, Bruno, Tristan, Thierry, Valérie – and so on. All the cool people.

10. Cepia – “Ithaca”
Anything Ithaca, as much horror as it might give her, is for Jill.

11. John Grant – “I Hate This Town”
But then again you always made it clear/That you do not care either way/Which begs the question/How can I still claim to love you/You told me time and time again/That you don’t lose you always win/And that to make an effort would just be beneath you”. John Grant – hands down, one of my favorites

12. Throwing Muses – “Mexican Women” …love becomes a foreign substance…
For Martina and her reflections on Mexican women making piñatas that will just be destroyed – the fleeting nature of beauty. “Up yours, Bruno!” Also, I might as well be a man – I open doors for and bring flowers to women friends. What woman wouldn’t want to marry me? Hahaha. Pachanga! Free fika cake!

13. Yo La Tengo – “Nowhere Near” …everyone is here/but you’re nowhere near…
I have always loved this song, but love resurged when it appeared in the final episode of the US version of The Bridge this year.

14. Marianne Faithfull – “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” …at the age of 37, she realized she’d never ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair…
For a variety of reasons, I really dislike the name Lucy (cue up whiny, snotty British accent for starters). I am sure I had heard this song before (Lee Hazlewood version?) and even think I knew it was written by Shel Silverstein, but it appeared in the Dusan Makavejev film Montenegro, which I only saw recently despite its being made in 1980. I had no idea it was set in Stockholm (you’d never guess from the film’s title!), the dubious heroine a resident of posh island “suburb”, Lidingö. In the early 2000s I went to a film festival in Reykjavik at which Makavejev was the guest – they screened two of his weirder films (they’re all weird)… oh memories. For Leifur.

15. The National – “About Today” …you just walked away/and I just watched you…
What more can really be said about The National? “How close am I to losing you?”

16. The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil”
Horrifying memories of hordes of Australians on bus trip; a memory of coming home from kindergarten. My dad was playing this, and it is the only time I remember him choosing willingly to play a record on his own. I was a bit scared/very intrigued by this song because of the title and the drum beat.

17. Martha Wainwright – “Matapedia” …I could not slow down/I was not afraid…
Martha doing one of her mother, Kate McGarrigle’s (RIP) songs – really lovely.

18. Kishi Bashi – “I Am the Antichrist to You” …I was always quick to admit defeat…
“And my heart it shook with fear/I’m a coward behind a shield and spear”

19. The Bee-Gees – “Stayin Alive”
A few years ago when Robin Gibb died, I could not bring myself to include a Bee-Gees song on my mix and instead chose “It Was Disco but Now It’s Over…”. Thanks to TV’s Sherlock and its use of “Stayin Alive”, its worming its way into my brain and all the back and forth with people about disco, Tony Manero (the Saturday Night Fever character and title character of eponymous Chilean film) AND learning that the song provides the right tempo for performing CPR, I could hardly not include it. For Elisa S, Krista H, Adrian K

20. Animotion – “Obsession”
Oh, the 80s. Makes me feel old but brings to mind obsessive statements à la “Nobody has driven me crazy like this for such a long time. Never.” For JKL

21. Run DMC/Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”
Thanks to Jill for the reminder of this song, which I like much better now than in the old days. Late-night, loud rain dance praying with love for Annette.

22. Lia Ices – “Little Marriage”
This song was included on another mix but it’s too beautiful not to use again. It inspires such emotion, bringing an emptiness that longs to be filled to the surface. With love for Jane as always.

23. Jean-Louis Murat – “Colin-Maillard” …Tu traverses le miroir/Ton désir ne veut plus patienter…
Another previous inclusion… the sound and the voice fills me with a kind of melancholy.

24. My Bloody Valentine – “Feed Me with Your Kiss”
MBV released their first album in 20+ years but I select a song from an old album. Nostalgia?

25. The Smiths – “A Rush and a Push”
“Let’s talk about poetry.” The seductive power of knowing a poem or two… stealing things from others’ imaginations.

26. OutKast – “Hey Ya!” …don’t try to fight the feeling/cause the thought alone is killing me right now…
To the joy of knowing Jill: “My baby don’t mess around”

27. Lay Low – “Last Time Around”
Something nice from Iceland, thinking of all my friends there (Alfa, Jane, Lóa, and so on…)

28. Iron & Wine – “Jesus the Mexican Boy”
One of the songs in a playlist I made chronicling dogs, dog and pony shows and Mexicans. For Martina.

29. Belle & Sebastian – “Legal Man” …L-O-V-E – it’s coming back, it’s coming back…
One to lose one’s mind dancing to. “Get out of the city/and into the sunshine/get out of the office/and into the springtime…”

30. Serge Gainsbourg – “Les Sucettes” …Elle est au paradis…
For Jean, who taught me so much, and for JKL, who makes plans he will never keep

31. New Order – “Love Vigilantes”
The confusion of mixing up conversations that started about rotten chuck roast and what I thought was “dal” (as in Indian food) but was actually “dal” as in “valley” (Norwegian). I was wondering, “Since when does dal have chuck roast in it?” But the conversation was really referring to Malala from that “dal” (Swat Valley). J Love my vigilante friend, Annette. And, for Naomi – “O blessed be – my favorite dal of all the dals!”

32. The Bee-Gees – “Night Fever”
Taken aback by the rampant popularity of Daft Punk’s latest offer – it’s good, but in light of the backlash against the Bee-Gees and their sound in the late 70s – it is interesting to hear these sounds make a resurgence.

33. Human League – “Don’t You Want Me?”
Neverending back & forth with ML, who never knows what he wants – just knows it’s whatever he doesn’t have

34. Don Dixon – “Praying Mantis”
For Naomi and the happiness of driving around in a different car.

35. Darker My Love – “Talking Words”
Sitting in the autumn-dark parking lot observing OCD-afflicted people check their doors five or six times

36. Lush – “For Love”
Another song that transports me to an exact time, feeling – making me want to run back to the present

37. Camera Obscura – “Anti-Western” …you’re too good looking, I’m always gonna put up a fight…
Anthem to those stunning but ultimately false moments when you believe (stupidly!) that interest is actually real. How eager even the cynic is to believe sometimes. Thanks to Jill as always.

38. Erasure – “Oh L’Amour”
This will always remind me of the late 80s, very late-night phone calls with JBB – alternate realities that allowed for the most complete and unfiltered feeling I can ever remember feeling

39. Cinerama – “Heels” …you crushed him with your heels/and I know exactly how he feels…
For Mathieu. “I don’t really care that you found another lover/cause I know he’ll be gone the moment that you get bored…”

40. Secret Machines – “Atomic Heels” …uncover your eyes/they’re bloodied in love/who’s staring back at yours, honey what have you missed?…

41. Ladytron – “Seventeen” …they only want you when you’re 17, when you’re 21, you’re no fun…
How to feel old…

42. Lana Del Ray – “Blue Jeans (RAC Mix)” …I will love you til the end of time…
Dislike Lana Del Ray but for some reason like this mix – here’s to new cars and departed Greek dentists.

43. Glen Campbell – “Wichita Lineman” …I need you more than want you
For Naomi – another sort of stalker song.

44. The Bee-Gees – “To Love Somebody”
I put the Roberta Flack version of this on the other part of this mix and knew it had sounded familiar but did not put two and two together until I reheard this version in the film 50/50. The Bee-Gees’ music (as done by other artists) is everywhere. It’s got a sad sort of feel – we’ve all been there, but the “you don’t know what it’s like” also sounds like the condescending sorts who rub your being alone in your face, “You just don’t know what it’s like to be in love…”

45. Blondie – “Faces”
I listened to this – and the whole Autoamerican album – over and over when I was five. No wonder I am so fucked. 🙂 “Rapture” does at least reference Subaru! Memories of Thanksgiving with Lóa (2013)

46. Lou Reed – “Satellite of Love”
Rest in peace and bon voyage.

**             **             **             **             **             **             **             **             **             **             **             **

What does it take to be fearless and loving? Loving people requires a certain risk-taking fearlessness that I have never really embraced. When I say never, I mean never. But kindness – that can substitute.

I take a lot of risks and make a lot of changes but am still fearful of a lot of things. Perhaps I need to focus on these things before running off on another adventure undertaken for the sake of “change”.

Sudden, unexpected loss everywhere this year – there is no time like the present to do what one needs to do to feel healthy and happy. Happiest new year wishes, as arbitrary as that really is.