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2006-08-02 - 11:04 a.m.

I've got a little iPod that the girl bought for me but it seems to run out of power sooner than I'd like and so lately I've been listening to mix tapes left in the truck by the previous owner. His wife's brother is the lead singer for the band Clutch, but I can't get down with that much aggression, and so I've moved on to the mix tapes. They're all red, the cassettes. And all eighties, all the time. One of them has "My Sharona" and right after that, "Jessie's Girl," which is a solid seven minutes of driving, but the rest feels like the kind of eighties mix tape you'd expect to get from Time-Life Books. And the other one is even more like that, but it's got my favorite all-time Stereotypical Eighties Mix-Tape Eighties Hit. The Cars' "Just What I Needed." Some of my favorite ten seconds in rock music:

It's not the perfume that you wear
It's not the ribbons in your hair

I like that he's ticking off the things that it's not, but that he likes all the same.

Anyway, I like poppy rock music and saw The Oranges Band at the Ottobar two nights ago. Standing there at the show, I was nodding my head and singing along to choruses and generally feeling like you want to feel watching a familiar band that you like. And I was thinking of the time I saw the Mooney Suzuki there in 2001, when they opened for David Cross. I believe, fully, that the Mooney Suzuki, on that night a few weeks after September 11th, brought the rock like it's supposed to be brought. They were relentless and fast and good. But I also just listened to a Sufjan Stevens song about his friend who died of bone cancer and, you know, loud staccato guitars aren't everything.

The girlfriend's been on a complaining kick for a few days and I'm trying very hard. I pissed her off last night, on the phone. She was complaining about one of her friends for the twentieth time in a week and I was trying to listen, but I was six-point parking my truck in a very small first-floor garage with giant pillars all around and all I really heard was the tone of voice and so I said, "OK, OK, calm down, calm down," and she wasn't really agitated--just complaining--but of course I was and she understood right away that I was tired of hearing the complaining and she said, "I wish you wouldn't do that." And she's right, but it's also true that I'm tired of hearing the complaining.

I get easily frustrated by negativity and always will, I think. I think it's because I spend so much time trying to root it out of me that it so easily stirs me up when I see it, especially in someone I care so much about. I don't know. Seems to me you've got two choices: looking up or looking down. You can also look straight ahead, too, and I don't know if that metaphor works, but I'm not saying I need all positive thinking all the time. I just have a hard time handling the constant vitriol toward the world. It happens.

She's not nearly that bad, not even close. But her mom is. And I think my girlfriend just needs to blow off steam at the end of the day. She's a manager of spoiled college graduates in their early twenties who aren't making nearly as much money as they think they're entitled. She's got a lot of responsibility and she doesn't get as much respect there as she deserves.

I drew her a picture the other day, on a Post-It. It was a slightly racist picture and it said, "You're better than tacos," and it depicted a short Mexican, holding a tray of tacos, and my girlfriend walking her dog. Just so the drawing was clear, I wrote the word, "Mexico" on the guy's shirt. But it's all OK because about seven Hondurans (not Mexicans) live in the tiny apartment above hers and all day Saturday and Sunday they play this pretty awful, like, folk music that we can only describe as Mexican polka, even though we are fully aware that they're not Mexican at all.

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