It is depressing to feel like you've accomplished less in life than someone named Roxy. Roxy is not a moniker that screams of greatness. Roxy>"/>
It is depressing to feel like you've accomplished less in life than someone named Roxy. Roxy is not a moniker that screams of greatness. Roxy is a girl with big tits, bigger hair, and slim chances at scoring a Rhodes scholarship. Parents do not christen their daughter Roxy unless they want her to grow up to be a stripper, a gum-cracking waitress, or a dilapidated movie house. Nevertheless, at least one Roxy has my sorry ass whipped . . . at least, according to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.
For Christmas, my parents gave me the new edition of this weighty rock reference manual (because Lord knows, if I'm not writing about, DJing, or listening to pop music, I should be reading about it). The other day, I tried to look up what it had to say about Holly Beth Vincent, author of the new wave gem "Tell That Girl to Shut Up." Alas, the entries skipped from Gene Vincent to Violent Femmes. But what really burned me was that on that same page there appeared two paragraphs about Vixen.
"What the fuck did Vixen ever do?" I railed. Apparently enough to secure a place in the annals of history. Formed by drummer Roxy Petrucci, the all-female L.A. metal quartet scored two Top-40 hits ("Edge of a Broken Heart" and "Cryin'") in the late '80s, and their self-titled debut album sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Basically, Vixen did a hell of a lot more than I ever have.
If my life to date were ever condensed into a few sentences for Who's Who of Second Rate Writers, it would read something like this: "Author of three internationally ignored books; slept with one major-label recording artist; best known for his macaroni and cheese." On paper, Roxy Petrucci has me beat.
As inevitably happens, the arrival of the New Year brought on a bout of introspection. Taking inventory of my accomplishments, I was appalled by all the projects I've never seen to fruition. Despite having detailed outlines for both a novel and a screenplay, I've written neither. The biography I was born to pen remains unsold because I'm too lazy to write a sample chapter, and it's been 12 years since I completed an original song. I come up with great ideas and then never see them through, because actually doing something about any of my pipe dreams would entail the risk of failure.
Sometimes I look at my next-door neighbors, a young couple who recently purchased what I'm assuming is their first house, and I seethe with jealousy. Not because they can afford to appoint their digs with ugly blond-wood furniture and I can't, but just because they're so clearly in love with being homeowners. They set a goal, worked toward it, and achieved their aim. End of story. Meanwhile, I've spent virtually my whole life feeling unfulfilled, because despite the gnawing in my bosom that constantly compels me to create, my goals are shapeless. If and when I do accomplish anything as a writer or musician, that drive doesn't subside, so I never savor my successes. I obsess over the fleeting but tangible rewards of a finished creative product and fail to relish the creative process—which any artist of note will tell you is where the joy lies—along the way.
In the midst of welcoming 2002 with this tizzy of self-analysis, I slapped on Giant, the 1986 full-length by U.K. indie rockers the Woodentops, for the first time in years. Listening to the last track on side one, the chugging "Love Affair With Everyday Living," I realized that in my haste to tally up all my years of unfinished projects, I'd overlooked just how much joy a life well lived can afford an individual.
The Woodentops made a handful of great singles ("Good Thing," "Well Well Well") and were critical darlings during their short career. But they never grazed even the lowest rung of the charts, which is the mettle by which most of the players in the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll are tested. So there is no entry for the Woodentops, either. Regardless, Giant still sounds fantastic; the songwriting and performances are enthusiastic and inspiring.
Consequently, I've made a belated New Year's resolution to resume daily work on my screenplay. I'm not going to worry about whether or not I ever finish it, or see it made into a movie, or if it's one day appraised in some egghead critic's book. I'm just going to write the damn thing and enjoy the act of writing. Because ultimately, I'd prefer to remember my life as a series of fleeting moments of pleasure—ࠬa the Woodentops' heyday—rather than endless, and potentially unfulfilled, bids for measures of success like airplay, column inches, and chart positions. Two Top-40 singles is commendable, but being remembered for your macaroni and cheese entails a lot less heartache.