Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2003, 5:00 PM

Return of the white chocolate space egg

Time is a funny thing. I know that I have ventured this statement before. And, you know, it's not so much that time itself is funny, but our perception of it and our memories sometimes are. Many people I know use world events to recall a specific time, like, "That was two years after the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, and I was 13 when that happened, so that means I was 15 then." Or more likely it is major personal life events like a graduation, wedding, divorce, birth or death. And for a few it is music.

My life has a soundtrack that is ever-increasing. It helps me to measure and track time. For instance - I just purchased the new self-titled Liz Phair album. The last time I purchased a Liz Phair album was five years ago, when her last release, "White Chocolate Space Egg" came out. I would have a hard time telling you what happened in my life five years ago if you simply asked me. But having this musical reference point I can tell you many specifics about my life five years ago. I had been dating a woman for a year and a half and she had decided to take a semester studying aboard a boat circumnavigating the globe. We had left things open when she left with no promises other than complete honesty upon her return and the attempt at continuing the relationship. I remember this because three weeks after she left I was lying in bed with a woman other than her, our limbs entwined, contemplating the fact the she was as far from me as any human could be and still remain Earthbound. Somewhere near Southeast Asia, where the people live upside down from me.

And now? Now I am involved with another woman and Liz Phair has a new album. The girl I am dating is from Chicago, just like Liz Phair. The girl I am dating is thin and tall with fair hair, just like Liz Phair. Liz Phair has been through a marriage and divorce since her last album, just like me. And, just like Liz Phair, if I were to put out an album now it too would be self-titled because I feel, for the first time, that I truly know who I am.