"You're not in the world, Casper."
-Angel cruelly to Spike
Every year for a little more than a decade we've devoted the last issue of the newsletter to top ten lists- personal lists of the ten most important discoveries, memories, moments from the previous year. It's trendy, it's hip, and over the years the contributions have dried to a trickle the size of Rush Limbaugh's ability to say "no" to the nearest cheap shot or most available $340 painkiller.
This year for the first time I've sorta kept a running list (I'm getting up there in years you know). And on that list is an inordinate (and unprecedented) amount of activity shared with a friend who I know is frustrated with me more often than not but who has the rare ability to notice the things I notice and thus is as good a witness to history as any other in this version of my life (8.0?). This particular person has noticed that in my rare public appearances that we tend to stand in spots where people end up brushing against me even though there may be miles and miles of other air that could be occupied at that very moment. Yes it sometimes feels like I'm in a place just a little out of sync with others, and this time discrepancy not only manifests itself in unnecessary physical encounters but sometimes the type of mental anguish that can extinguish a good's night sleep here or there or everywhere.
So I went to the dentist the other day, not a favorite thing of mine to do, and I think I may have been diagnosed with a terminal gum disease. Dr. Hill cheerfully described what he thought was going on inside my mouth (ewwww) with x-ray pictures that sort of backed what he was saying- painting a mental picture of the most grim scenario possible -plaque or bacteria making a desperate run for things and ending up somewhere that would cause the most painful demise in written history- even though I've not only been a regular brusher but also a flosser (it's been the favorite part of my day for the past 26 years for God's sake!) but none of it can probably counteract the two or three years I went without visiting the dentist.
So I came home nearly in tears (believe me not so unusual these days) and a new dental regime that would not only take care of whatever it is happening in my mouth (ewww- super ewww) but also cure whatever related mental thing may be occurring. (And suffering from severe! Buffy withdrawal pangs what with the new fall TV season beginning- thumbs up on Alicia Silverstone's quirky charisma! Thumbs down on Kelly Ripa's prominently displayed cleavage!) I plopped in my tape of my favorite Buffy episodes and watched the one where the Slayer is stung by a demon that causes her to drift between a world that she has come to believe in- one where she is some type of bruised hero fightin' the good fight against vampires and all things evil- and another where her Mom is still alive but Buffy is a patient in a mental hospital.
She is forced to choose not only what she thinks is real, but the place where she ultimately wants to belong. And after I cry another time watching the words I've memorized by heart- at the sudden plot twists that made the show so special and that still continue to GET to me- I plop on my newest CD with two (at this point) paying a world's worth of attention relatively new roommates (of the feline variety- seven legs between them)- Thea Gilmore's moody yet most compelling Avalanche.
The British press has dubbed her as the next Dylan or the next Leonard Cohen and I must admit the twenty-something lass has a remarkable way with words (God if "Heads Will Roll" doesn't cut through the every day crap, the every day morose routine then yer deader than the zombies that haunt Buffy's world- or at least used to). Swirling beneath Gilmore's often provocative lyrics is an ambient bluesy backing reminiscent of Emmy Lou Harris' moody (but must have) Wrecking Ball.
In America young women grow up to be Britney Spears but in Great Britain they may not grow up to give a big wet kiss to Madonna on the lips but they grow up listening to Elvis Costello and turning out to be someone who can write a lyric like, "Age plays dirty tricks you're looking like a counterfeit..." And for some in a perpetual disintegrating piece of mind images can mean lots (or Goddamn it even lots more) and narrowing it down, as Thea sings, to dots on the screen. A feeling returns. Most definitely top ten worthy.