Welcome Back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that celebrates the lost art of mix-tape making. Today is Part II of our “Crush Mix” series, the Unrequited Crush!
Now, there are two types of Unrequited Crush Mix. The first is made up entirely of Smiths songs like “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and is made for moping around because boo-hoo, your crush doesn’t notice you.
This is not that mix.
Rather, this is one that celebrates the unrequited love as a love that cannot ever be, but is still fun to have. It’s the kind of crush that makes you happy and tingly because you know it can never be consummated, which is how it can remain so perfect. This is a mix solely for you to listen to when you are feeling dreamy and excitable and giddy in love, so go crazy.
This mix is called the Grey Chalk Playlist (2014) and it’s fairly brief.
Because I made this one for my TV-crush, I open it with a sound clip from one of his shows so I can hear his sexy, sexy voice. It, ah, sets the mood.
In times of sickness and trauma, my first instinct is always to watch cop/detective shows. I don’t know when this urge started, but there was this sense that no matter what evil or illness existed in the world, Jerry Orbach or Shane Vendrell or Elliot Stabler or Michael Westen would fix it. Especially if I was home sick — if someone was robbed in the first few minutes of Law and Order, I knew that, even if I fell asleep, when I woke up, Sam Waterston would make it all okay. After I broke up with Aaron, my boyfriend of six years, I watched SVU in my friend Jim & Ian’s room because Det. Benson was a comforting presence. And three nights before my wedding, I was up at 2 a.m. watching The Shield because I was nervous and Dutch Wagenbach always makes me feel safe when things were stressful and scary.
But today’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, and last week’s at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, not to mention the near-constant stream of fatal shootings by police, generally against black men, it’s hard to watch cop shows — especially The Shield (sorry Shane, Dutch, Lem and Ronnie*) — and root for the Men With The Guns.
After a couple weeks of crushing chest pains and stabbing feelings in random parts of my stomach, I managed to get a doctor’s appointment, where they did a bunch of tests (including an EKG) and determined that I have an ulcer brought on by the debilitating stress that is my everyday existence.
A little background on me. I am and always have been an anxious person. I fight it pretty much all the time, but it manifests in weird ways, like waking up in the middle of the night convinced that I reported Common Council voting “yes” when they really voted “no” and my headline will be wrong and everyone will hate me. Even after I have double and triple checked, it still keeps me up at night.
Couple that general anxiety with editing a book and planning a wedding, and, well, you wind up with an ulcer. I named mine “Lem.”
Don’t get me wrong — I love my job and my book is awesome and my wedding was magical, but these things are stressful and I internalize stress. My doctor wrote me a prescription, which included “relaxing activities — music, walking or scrapbooking.”
Well, I wasn’t going to take up scrapbooking, but I did dig out a whole bunch of craft stuff — including cross-stitch, sewing and knitting — to help sooth my nervous soul. When I can’t write, I turn to crafting as a way to keep myself creative.
In the month of bones I wear red galoshes for black-market Theraflu; we heard they took it off the market because junkies use it to break bad. On your side of town, you gather up single-serve soup cups and treat us both to the tissues with lotion in them. You wear your leather jacket over plaid pajama pants. There’s melted snow on your halo curls & fever flush in your pale cheeks.
I start the kettle. You work the microwave. We make room for two under one old blanket; your radiance wards off my chills. We sniffle between kisses, swill honey poison, take bets on who Jerry Orbach & Sam Watterson will convict. You win; I let you slide your damp hand up under my tee-shirt. I haven’t worn a bra in days.
When the cold meds and Law and Order stop working, we switch to red wine & The Shield. You are Vic Mackey & I am Shane Vendrell. I will love you, follow you, kill for you. You don’t even have to ask.
Is it season five already? Your cell phone rings. You answer to a giddy girl whose loud voice I have never heard before. You put on your jacket, but you’ll stop at home to change before she opens her legs to heal you. At the door, you become Lem. I am still Shane.
Except the Cops
I am not the first mystery you will ever solve. An old Chandler novel, an unsigned note, page numbers circled in a telephone sequence. These are the clues you use to track me down. We have never met before you call evening L.A. time; it’s midnight here when you start to read.
By day you are Marlowe in a hundred dollar suit, fistful of manila folders, mouth creased long from frowning at crime scenes with heavy hands on skinny hips. At night, you do not try to close me. You just read & hang up when the chapter is through. Outside your window stray cats sing. This you ignore.
For 52 nights there’s a different crime in your voice. Robbery and murder, rapes and lost dogs. You do not need to unload all your grief on a stranger. Chandler’s words are therapy enough for both of us.
On night 53, there is no goodbye. You hang up, go out to your car, put your head in your hands, & weep.