Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

“Dreams are overrated/ but they’re often underestimated.”

Update: Last Friday, a man with a thick Hispanic accent called up asking for “Christina.”

Today’s subject line is a source of slight disappointment to me–it comes from a misheard lyric in Jack Johnson’s current radio single, “Bubble Toes.” I was so taken with the above statement that I considered attaching it to the end of my emails for the next month or so. Unfortunately, upon hearing the song again, I discovered that the lyric is in fact “Dreams are so related but they’re often underestimated.”

I was crestfallen. Something about the “over/under” juxtaposition tickled me immensely, and now I feel that Jack Johnson has committed some kind of artistic wrong by not using the lyrics that I thought he had [1].

I know that many intellectuals will lament the film adaptations of their favorite books because they’re no longer able to imagine the way the characters are without perceiving, for example, Robbie Coltrane’s face and voice attached to Rubeus Hagrid [2]. This may be the first time that I’ve misheard lyrics and wished that they’d used mine instead [3]. Oh well.

Last Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to sit in a desolate O’Hare International Airport, waiting as I was to pick up my uncle and his family, arriving from San Diego for the festivities that accompany the end of Ramadan. It was eerie. You find yourself staring at the empty shells of things you have otherwise seen as active and bustling. The sound of somebody buffing the floor is ambient. As their flight was delayed, I found myself actually deigning to play the games on my cellular phone and becoming way too attentive to details in the environment.

I walked up to the security entrance and closely read the “You May Not Carry On” sign. Was impressed, in a way, by the thoroughness of the list–they were very specific at times, as if expecting wiseacres to try and flout policy by using semantic arguments. Instead of simply saying “knives,” the list included several varieties of knife and blade [4] and even though it mentioned “martial arts items,” it also mentioned “throwing stars.” It wasn’t so silly as to include all possible makes and models of firearms, but it did also mention something I hadn’t even considered: transforming toys. Specifically, anything like the classic Megatron Transformer, which could be reconfigured into a space-age pistol. Optimus Prime, mind you, could fly first class if his handler so desired.

The other interesting thing about this sign was that above the list, there were several small cartoons of prohibited carry-on items, each crossed out with a magnificent red X. What caught my eye was that while the knife and handgun were appropriate for our times, and drawn well, the icon for “bomb” remains the mid-nineteenth century model–the cannonball with a wick made famous by Warner Brothers cartoons and Spy vs. Spy. While I find it highly unlikely that anybody attempting to bring a bomb aboard would be bringing one of these classics, I find it strangely comforting that this particular design of incendiary device is the one that’s considered the most universal, the one least likely to be misinterpreted as something else.

Speaking of bombshells. This weekend, Donna met two parts of my extended family. Two of my uncles and their wives were introduced to Donna in a two-hour conversational get-together, the prospect of which had been looming for some time and which was meant to happen this weekend–until Friday night, when my mother decided that it probably wouldn’t happen at all. The stress of the entire month’s worry culminated in what is likely the darkest period of our romantic relationship, in which we considered breaking up because of the nightmare that has been trying to sow acceptance in my family. Many, many conversations [5] and many, many tears.

But as it turns out, it’s just my mother. My uncles and aunts have wanted to meet Donna for some time, and they don’t have the cultural shame complex in place that my mother has tried to convince me they shared with her. And my dad really stepped up to help the meeting happen, which was so great–I have no power with my parents on my own, I needed somebody on the inside, and my dad proved that his loyalty was more to my happiness than my mother’s traditions. As almost never before, at least since college, I love my father.

The meeting itself was pleasant, and my uncles and aunts were given a sample of why it is that I love her. But more pleasant than that was knowing, once and for all, that somebody else was on my side in this. The relief hit me like flood water Saturday morning, and I don’t know how I managed to avoid driving off the road.

Of course, the difficulty’s not over by a long shot, and just because my uncles and aunts were wonderful, open, and understanding people doesn’t mean that the suburban Chicago Islamic community is any less conservative and tradition-bound. I still don’t know how to bring her to large gatherings, and I certainly can’t bring her as my girlfriend. Donna wants this inch to be the precursor to a mile. I can only promise her the next inch. This continues to be upsetting.

But for now, I’m glad for the ray of light.

[1] The really funny part is that I have no idea what “Dreams are overrated/but they’re often underestimated” is supposed to mean.

[2] For the record, while several characters in the movie were not enough to dent my own ideas of the Harry Potterverse, Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid may now and forever be definitive.

[3] For years, I thought that the 10,000 Maniacs gem “These Are Days” included the lyric “You’ll know it’s true/that you are less than nothing.” While I wondered what such a mean-spirited lyric was doing in this spry, lively song–the first, in fact, that I’d ever heard from Natalie Merchant and the other 9,999 Maniacs–I let it go, because maybe that was part of some sort of artistic statement. It relieved me years later to discover that the phrase “less than nothing” was actually “blessed and lucky.

[4] Notably missing from this list, though–box cutters.

[5] Including Donna talking things through with her parents, who now hate me [6].

[6] Okay, that’s not entirely true. They don’t hate me. But they hate what I put their daughter through in order to date me. And I can’t help but sympathize, because I also hate what I put her through. Still, while I have not fallen to the status of persona non grata, [7] I’m certainly not high on the list of their favorite people at the moment.

[7] I love being able to use italics. Thanks, Don!

Current music: MP3 list, U2, “Lemon”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on December 9, 2002 by in Life, Love, Movies, Music, Travel.
%d bloggers like this: