four mp3s on repeat
dear nora,

i saw you play upstairs in kimo's once, and through all the smoke i was really impressed. i had heard a song of yours previously on indiepopradio and was really intrigued, so i had been fairly excited to check your band out.

what was funny about that night was that it was the one time in my life when i felt like a bonafide stud. read: i am extremely shy in many social situations, and generally miss out on a lot of opportunities because of it. so feeling like a downright mack daddy is something of a rare occasion for me.

i was at the show with a 26-year-old girl who i had only recently met. myself being only 23, i just sort of felt like, "what am i doing here?" when i look in the mirror i see who i really am, but i guess when i don't, i generally still have this mental picture of myself as a fifteen-year-old reject, not someone who can attract the eye of that elusive species known as the older woman. and that wasn't even the end of it..

about halfway through your set, a beautiful girl walked up to me and asked me to come downstairs, where she told me that she thought i was "extremely attractive."

i know you're scratching your head at this point. "what does this have to do with dear nora?" you're asking.

well, when the girl asked me to come downstairs, she remarked, "are you actually watching this band?"

i was a bit taken aback. "yeah," i replied. she scrunched up her eyes.

"oh." she seemed disappointed.

i went downstairs anyway, against my better judgement. looking back, i probably should have just stayed and watched the remainder of your set. sure, it was the one time in my life when a girl actually tried to pick me up, but heck, not only did she not amount to anything, she also didn't like your band, which should have been a dead giveaway.

i write this as i sit here listening to four mp3s on repeat. much time has passed and now i have a girlfriend and we're very much in love. thinking about being in that claustrophobic club watching the three of you seems like some kind of distant memory now.

kirstin and i went to visit my parents on the east coast back in february. during a stopover in atlanta (where i also lived for a time), i took her to the stickfigure record store. she didn't care much for most of the selection, which was mainly hardcore punk and obscure emo stuff.

but she did spot one item that struck her fancy -- the "happy happy birthday to me volume two" compact disc compilation -- which she then purchased for nine dollars and forty cents.

fast-forward to her bedroom, saratoga, california, where she places the cd in her stereo and we listen to it for the first time. i honestly can't remember any of it now, but that one song by that band called dear nora.. that one implanted itself in my subconscious and was stuck in my head for days.

then, a few short weeks later, that same song appeared on a mix tape from her. and my fate was sealed.

other big details occur in the story: i lost my job for the second time in a matter of months and quickly realized that hey, i can not afford to live in san francisco anymore. what to do? well, kirstin is going to reed college in portland next fall, and portland had already been one of my options anyway.. it certainly seemed appealing, so..

short version: i go to visit portland. i love it. i get my all-time high score at ms. pac-man at the downtown ground kontrol and i take it as a sign.

then i return to the bay area, with no home. all my stuff is in the guest room at kirstin's parents' house, and i carry two or three bags of stuff wherever i go.

the company i worked for was small enough that i'm allowed to hang out in my old, empty office even though i am no longer on the payroll. there have been plenty of late mornings spent contemplating whose floor i'd be sleeping on that night. (i've learned to carry my sleeping bag.) i'm the kind of transient that i always read about in zines, fantasizing about following such a path, not knowing that i just wasn't cut out for that life.

i perservere, though, and beyond this temporary layover in the occupation of couch-surfer, i know i'll be alright. i sit here listening to dear nora, thinking about portland, and knowing that if i can make it through the next few rough weeks, everything is going to be alright.

the hooks are so darn catchy but somehow appeal to this deep inner desire i have to hear an unexpected chord change.. it's something i cannot explain, but all i know is that every song i have heard by dear nora seems to capture it. it's the kind of music that inspires me to *make* music.

it causes goosebumps. it causes the sap to flow forth from my fingertips like i was a southern yellow pine tree. it is what caused me to write.

so, thank you. i'll see you in a few weeks.


Monday, April 02, 2001


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