Thursday, May 28, 2009


This used to be one of my favorite songs ever. Still is. I heard it again today, for the first time in over a decade, in a drugstore while I was wandering about Union City.

I'd gotten out of bed this afternoon at something like 3pm, after going to sleep at 7am, waking up at 11, forcing myself to go back to sleep just 'cause I didn't want to face having to get up and do chore-ish, stressful things like: (1) finally register for unemployment.

Many unemployed folk can register online, but... I hadn't worked in Jersey for the required past 18 months, only the past 6 (before then I was working in NYC), and so I had to call in and speak with someone. (The whole 18-month-thing freaked me out; what if I turned out not to be eligible for any money?!)

After calling in, there were first a series of touch-tone questions you had to answer, which I did. And then I was supposed to be connected with a person, but instead got a message that the wait-time was too long and so: Goodbye. Click. So I had to call back and start all over again. I ended up sitting on hold for nearly an HOUR. To make matters worse, during the wait, my stupid phone batteries started beeping that they were low. The second I finally got someone on the line, I, fully expecting the worst, quickly gave the man my cell number and made him PROMISE he'd call me back if my land-phone died. It didn't. He and I went through the paces pleasantly. (He was pleasant and all, but still kept getting most of my numbers wrong -- my social, my zip code, my phone, my street address. Whatever he repeated back to me was off by a digit or more and I had to correct him almost every time, which was disconcerting.) Anyway, I got signed up. Whew. (Whatever I end up getting will just barely cover my rent, but it's something.)

After that lengthy ordeal, and at least 6 cigarettes in an hour-and-a-half, I was completely jittery, but made myself shower and get out of the house. Still to do: Buy new phone batteries. Buy and mail a birthday card for my mom. Get the cable bill in the mail so it would arrive before they cut me off for non-payment. Robot-like and grim, I set out to find the batteries and the card...

And then in the drugstore...

"Torn" first came out in the late '90s, and I immediately fell in love with it, putting it on just about every mix tape I made back then, while I was still bemoaning the loss of my first girlfriend, and clubbing-to-a-stupor almost every night of the week. I was miserable, but... energetically miserable, with hope springing eternal every time I heard this song. It's actually desolate lyrically, but the tune, and Imbruglia's face and voice, were just soooooooooooo pretty... They made my own emotional suffering seem pretty, made me want a pretty, suffering girlfriend like that...

Nowadays, I'm learning all about hard-core, real consequences. About suffering that isn't pretty. (And thinking about the woman I'm in love with, and whom I've lost, thinking of her lost man while she's listening to this song.)

Nothing's fine, I'm torn
I'm all out of faith
This is how I feel
I'm cold and I am shamed
lying naked on the floor
Illusion never changed
into something real
I'm wide awake and I can see
the perfect sky is torn

But back then, the first time I heard it, everything was still up in the air and "future," all the hurt still somehow un-real and to be worked out, this beautiful, sad song to be fucked to after getting back together...

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