Monday, June 20, 2005


"Veronica sits in her favorite chair and she sits very quiet and still/And they call her a name that they never get right and if they don't then nobody else will/But she used to have a carefree mind of her own, with devilish look in her eye/Saying 'You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica'"
-Elvis Costello

Just like Veronica Mars, I was on the fringe of popularity in high school. I'm sure most people in my class knew who I was, and my respect level was at a respectable level, but I wasn't about to be chosen homecoming king or "most likely to succeed" any time soon.

And it's not like I like to look back at those days but the other day I ran into a former classmate during a softball game and it was then I realized I don't like to be reminded of past days and I'm not entirely sure I like to reveal where I'm at these days, but still as sad as I often feel now, I'm at a much better place then I was back then.

There are very few things that connect me from the person I was then to the person I am now. Among these is my love of the comic strips that run in the daily newspapers. Ever since my Mom got me reading "Buzz Sawyer" my day doesn't quite seem complete unless I check out my favorite comic strips. My current favorite is "Get Fuzzy" about a frazzled pet owner and his relationship with his ever naive dog Satchel and his wannabe evil cat Bucky. I gotta say that nothing has moved me more than when I had a brunch a few months back with my friend Jennifer and she told me she started reading the strip because of my affection for it.

As Jennifer knows one of the first things I do when I get coherent in the morning is read "Get Fuzzy" to see what trouble Bucky is getting into next. A lot of things irritate me to no end these days and a little levity to start the day can't be a bad thing. Yes, now that I have been diagnosed with a legitimate pain in the neck, I have begun physical therapy to alleviate the numbness in my hand caused by a pinched nerve in my neck.

I went to my first therapy session (of the physical kind) this past week. Essentially the therapist spent the time having me lie down on a table and pulling my head away from my body. The first thought I had about this was I didn't like having my head touched. The next thing I thought was maybe I would leave the building a little bit taller. The final thing I thought about was one of my favorite "Peanuts" strips of all time where Linus has written a short story and gives it to Snoopy for a critique.

Linus' story is about a girl with terrible headaches that the doctors can't cure. Finally the girl's brother suggests loosening her ears and when they do, her headaches disappear. Manually manipulating my neck out seemed somewhat a similar process but I like Chad my therapist so I figure he knows what he is doing. I've endured this tingling in my shoulder and left side for years so it's not like I'm expecting any miracles any time soon.

One of the other things tying the old me to the current me is my need for music. I'm always looking for a song that will inspire me and the latest is Ryan Adams' "Let it Ride."

I've never quite been an Adams fan. I know all the critics rave about him and he is prolific as hell, but none of his songs have been the kind that gets stuck inside my heart and soul and won't let go. His spat with Paul Westerberg left me with no doubt who I should side with (kind of like the Tom Cruise/Brooke Shields exchange where Tom questioned Brooke's post maternity depression and Brook came back with harsh words about Tom's devotion to Scientology and a bash about the age difference between him and Katie Holmes).

"Let it Ride" however is such a relentlessly great song. It's got a mesmerizing guitar riff and absorbing lyrics. "Moving like the fog on the Cumberland River/I was leaving on the Delta Queen/And I wasn't ready to go/I'm never ready to go/27 years of nothing but failures and promises that I couldn't keep/Oh lord, I wasn't ready to go..." It's the type of song that just makes you want to get on your scooter and go someplace far far away. The way Adams sardonically yet energetically spits out his vocals makes "Let it Ride" my all-time favorite traveling aphrodisiac.

Close to second on my personal playlist is Shelby Lynne's "Where Am I Now." Lynne is another artist who is a critical darling even though her work has been highly uneven. Yet the gal deserves a break, as she witnessed the murder/suicide of her parents so that gives her a renewable artistic license. "Where Am I Now" is Lynne at her best. It's weary and it's wise and it's quite wonderful. When she sings, "Oh anytime you break and turn the cycles change/Water starts pouring down your face again/You find yourself falling in the safety net you used to call home.." not only do I believe her but I'm thankful that somebody somewhere has gotten it down on paper. I used to think I could get all the news I need on the weather report, but this song makes me think otherwise. You just got to keep on listening.

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