Monday, February 25, 2008
tonight was a quasi night
The lock on my letterbox is an imprecise machine. I go to the basement, tipsy on two glasses of shiraz and two cigarettes on an empty stomach, searching for my mail. I'm confronted with a combination lock - an object that is my nemesis if there ever was one. The first time I swore out loud was at age twelve, wrestling after hours with the combination on my first school locker. (The word was "Shit!" and it unleashed a lifetime of foul-mouthed fury that oddly reaches its apex anytime I am around a child younger than I was then.) Most recently, as I was packing to return to the States, I locked my suitcase only to realize I had utterly forgotten the combination. Even if I had had this insight before the fateful click of the lock, I doubt I would have steered my hand away - such is the siren song of the combination lock. (I spent my last two days in Basel wending my way systematically through the possible permutations, and when I found it, 559, and realized the obscure mnemonic device behind the choice, it felt like the most productive thing I had done all fall.) Now I have a mailbox that, when I concentrate on unlocking it, resists my touch. But when I am inebriated and have no interest in the day's contents, it is as pliant as a person asking you for a favor.
Tonight was a Quasi night. I have recently procured the means with which to listen to music on the go. As all my belongings are still lodged in a warehouse somewhere in Wooster, I have the same three CDs I took with me to Germany, Quasi's Field Studies among them. I was down in the basement, futzing with the combination lock, listening and wishing that I'd be met with a bigger struggle just so I could finish out the album before having to head upstairs. Quasi is pretty dangerous for those of us keeping depression at bay; it's so easy to indulge in the unhappiness they articulate, so comfortable to wrap their self-pity around you and think Exactly. That's exactly how heartless the world is to me. At least that's how they sounded to me ten years ago, when A. introduced me to them somewhere in the San Jacinto Mountains, an hour out of Twentynine Palms. Now when I listen to Quasi, I direct their words to others: I listened to them at people who were a pain in the ass to me today. It saves me the trouble of having to tell them off myself. The combination lock included.