Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cleaning out my closet

Damn, I have a lot of T-shirts. Some cool ones too. A psychedelic Che, another celebrating the revolutionary women of Nicaragua. A stretched-out, cheap tee depicting John Paul II in his Pope-mobile, with the caption, "Welcome, Holy Father!" Souvenirs from political events. "The Congressional Black Caucus Speaks for Me!" from post-election 2000. A Shadow Convention shirt. A couple of Jerry Brown items. Ancient rock n' roll T-shirts: "The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads," from a live show at UCLA in 1978. Various "X" and "Clash" tour shirts.

And baseball. I have an entire drawer full of San Diego Padres T-shirts (plus one from the minor league Lansing Lug-nuts). Some Charger shirts as well, one of which I'm wearing right now, a reprint of a Union-Tribune photo of Natrone Means after the winning game which sent the Chargers to the Superbowl.

I do this closet thing every now and again when I buy new clothes. It's like, buy something new, toss something old.

But there are things in my closet I never wear that I still won't throw away. Weird, funky vintage clothing. A red Tiki patterned blazer. An "Arctic" Hawaiian style shirt, with igloos and polar bears. Stuff I used to wear, before I had a corporate job and a corporate title. Stuff I'd wear to gigs, back in the band days.

Not that I've exactly gone corporate. My version of corporate tends to be Patagonia, you know, clothes you can sleep in on airplanes. I work in a creative industry, and I could still wear Converse hi-tops if I wanted to. But still...

I miss the days when I could throw on a funky T-shirt and a weird jacket over it, put on some baggie shorts and Converse high-tops. Back when I was playing music and writing and everything I did to earn money was just a day job. Just a way to pay bills until...

Until, you know, the Fame Fairy came and tapped her magic wand on my shoulder.

Okay, I was never completely naive. I didn't want to live on somebody's couch and eat Ramen, right? And I hate being bored. Hate boring jobs. So out of a combination of practicality and necessity, I worked my way up. To the exhaulted mid-level management position in which I find myself today.

Sometimes I wonder if that was due to a failure of imagination as well...a series of compromises. Not really "going for it."

But who knows? I make room in my closet for my Patagonia shirts. And switch Converse for Crocs, not like that's much of a trade-off. I live from tax refund to fall bonus. Plot vacations that I can't exactly afford but crave to satisfy the latent adrenaline junky in my head. Look at my 401K every once in a while and wonder, how much pension will I get? Could I keep this job until I'm eligible for early retirement? Will that make my head explode, or will I get there before I know it?

Two weeks ago, I typed "The End" on my latest book. Today, I really finished it, at least for now, after going through the whole draft and cleaning up a lot of little things, tweaking a sentence here and there. The first three chapters are off with an editor I "met" when I submitted a book to her two years ago. Ultimately, they didn't buy that one, but she left the door open to future projects. We'll see how this one goes over. I'm not exactly optimistic. What I wrote is really on the edge of the genre handled by this particular editor. But we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm exercising as much as I can, trying to lose this stupid gut I've acquired in recent years (too many hours, sitting on my butt, staring at a computer). I'm thinking about what to write next. This latest book came out of an immense well of rage that's been filling up in me over the last six years. You can guess what that might be about. I still have plenty of rage left (is it 2009 yet?). But I don't know if I want to tap it again for my next project. I'm tired of drinking from that well.

Today, I'm going to take a walk to Costco. It's about two miles from here, and I don't feel like driving. The weather's too perfect. I'll drop off some photo negatives to get reproduced, and maybe buy a bottle of wine if I see anything interesting. Whatever I get has to fit into a small backpack, in any case.

And I think I'll put on one of those old T-shirts. One I don't wear to work.

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