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I Will Always Love You

I Will Always Love You

Will I always love you? I'm built that way but if you fight me hard enough, I might eventually surrender and stop caring.

What is my love? Is it merely my need for you? Do I need to need you in order to love? Do I purposefully place myself in positions of distress, aka tempt Fate, so that you can rescue me? When you realize what I've tricked you into, are you contemptuous or do you enjoy the role of protectress? do you try to get me to grow up, or do you indulge and infantilize me?

I'm a Romantic, I've been told. I'm not sure what that means or what they mean when they say it, other than they're not. I love Keats. Does that make me a Romantic? His "Ode to Melancholy" (1884) is the best heartbreak advice in the Western tradition: when you're unhappy, don't shut down, glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, or feed deep, deep upon your girlfriend's peerless eyes.

Keats isn't sappy, he's mystic. He knows, he feels, he suffers, he celebrates the closeness of pleasure to pain, communion to absence. For the latter, you must read "Ode to a Nightingale" (1884) again. I first read him in my high school library, age 15, and I tell you, these poems increase in value with age. They go right to the heart, exquisitely. They make language look good.

Am I in the same league with John Keats? Or is my so-called Romanticism merely a shield for an inability to take care of myself based in an even deeper layer of self-loathing that needs you to reassure me I'm less than one hundred percent despicable, at least part of the time? Keats yearns, he cherishes, he measures the distance from Beauty to hard reality. He's no dope.

Maybe being born in Southern California, taken at a tender age to Disneyland, raised by a bohemian mother under the spell of Hollywood, rendered me insensible to hard reality. Maybe my Romanticism's a distraction that prevents me from living my life; Keats my high-art drug of choice. Drenched in fantasy, I can't see you as you are, so no relationship is possible. You're fodder for my dreams.


Lindsay Lohan merges with Samathan Ronson, May 2008.

At least I'm not alone in my failure to love. Lindsay Lohan has been making a fool of herself over that little rodent Samantha Ronson. Every time I see a picture of the two of them together my mouth drops open in disbelief. Girls will fall in love with anything! I'm appalled for La Lohan, who's such a talented comedienne and may be on her way to becoming a dramatic actress if she keeps this up, but she needs to flush this weasel out of her system and get herself some acting work, preferably onstage. The stage could cure her via its strange mix of discipline and demons plus repertoire, because the tripe she gets cast in in Hollywood would drive anyone of any sensibility mad.

We could both take a lesson from Dolly Parton, who might sing about love but puts work first. The Tennessee nightingale's about to open her first Broadway musical, based on the 1980 film 9 to 5, about three women who hogtie their "sexist, egotistical, lyin', hypocritical bigot of a boss" in feminist-fueled fury. For the occasion, Dolly has been brilliantly profiled by Jesse Green in New York magazine.

Miss Dolly Parton sings the title of this blog, 1974.