A sort of life

My own way

RICHMOND, Va. — Apparently the state of this union is strong. That, according to the guy that’s running the place. And I suppose he’s right, that Mr. Bush is right: This place, the state of this place must be strong to withstand the piles upon weighty piles of shit that load our bags at this particular moment in the history of all things. Reminds me of a song of the early nineties conceived by the power-pop Rembrandts:

I’ve got these feelings I’m trying to deal with,
I’m not so sure you understand.
If I seem to be to preoccupied to fit into your plans.
It’s just that it’s one thing a top another,
Now it’s one too many high.
Wonder how many piles of things it takes,
To bury me alive.

Now the Rembrandts might just deserve a spot on the list of the under appreciated. They’re responsible for the Friends theme. In fact that song–and that show–got so famous so fast that the song is actually labeled “Theme From Friends” in the liner notes. As if Friends conceived it somehow. Of course the Rembrandts were so much more than this. But of course.

Here’s a secret, a scene: I turned 13-years-old in the emotionally empty year of 1996. Recently torn from seventh grade, my home in Vienna, and into an unwelcome adolescence, my mom was on what we all thought would be her death bed. Centreville was the new home: a rental house on Kamputa Drive. And my only friend was a tiny immigrant kid from Uruguay whose ever present boredom was shelved by the perusal of military surplus magazines and dreaming, one day, of obtaining the friend making M16 and a gas mask. These were the days before Columbine changed everything.

He was a friend I never saw outside of school. We didn’t hang out. There was no hanging out then. In fact, this period of life is probably why I don’t do much of the traditional “hanging out” now. But this is for another time.

For my birthday that year I asked for (and received) a Sony Walkman and the Rembrandts L.P. As an extra party favor I got Queen’s double sided Greatest Hits that later vanished, both sides, with a dozen or so other albums on a flight between Schwechat and Schiphol. I have my sister to thank for that.

Anyway: I had Walkman, L.P. and a guitar my cousin Jeremy loaned me to help pull me out of the loneness of everything. I never really played that guitar, but I remember listening to that record over and over and after dark and lip syncing and pretending to be on stage and the whole rock star thing. It’s a good thing the six-string wasn’t donated with a strap or I surely would have abused the hell out of it. No, a tennis racquet took its place.

But those lonely nights, that album, and the lonely loaned guitar can probably be considered the catalyst to my future exploration with music and love affairs with many guitars (and girls). Recently I’ve been having some heavy nostalgia, some heavy longing for the stage. If I had known at age 13 that preforming live — as opposed to air guitar-ing in your bedroom in your boxers — was the greatest high one could ever have, I probably wouldn’t have allowed Jeremy’s guitar to get dusty. But I was young. I didn’t know what high was. I hadn’t known drugs. I hadn’t known alcohol. I barely knew girls. I had only just learned of the spirited masturbation.

A lot has changed since then. Perspectives mainly. One thing hasn’t: I still am in bad need of a haircut (queue Tom Wait’s voice: “I’m in baaad need of a shave”). It’s funny how my retrospectives, my trips down memory lane start out one way and wind down to something else. Which brings me to this: I’m late delivering my updated “Life List.” I promised it at the turn of the year. We’re almost done with January and it still has not made a public appearance.

Nothing like thinking about when you were 13-years-old and having the memories of thoughts and feelings wrenched out to get you thinking about what happens the next time around. I’m a busy guy. I have a lot to do. But The next stop is to sit down and hash some things out. That’s when I’ll publish them for you.

“My own way” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Murder in silhouette

Murder in silhouette

This writer models during a photography class at the American International School in Wien, Österreich circa November 1995.

My mom was on what we all thought would be her death bed.