30 July 2015

Songbook reading (7/29/15)

 I am not going to do the obvious. I’m not going to stand up here going on about the Grateful Dead and synchronicity and LSD and bare feat and the sky, and how the sky looks moment by second when you’re dancing barefoot in the grass with a head full of acid.
            I already beat that horse dead enough.
            This is totally different. Not about the Dead. At all.
            This, this is about Phish.
            And synchronicity.
            And LSD.
            And bare feet,
            And the sky.
            And how the sky looks when you are dancing barefoot in the grass.
            And Ok, maybe a wee tiny little bit of Grateful Dead. But Phish, the Dead, the acid. They’re even not what this story is really about. This about live music.
            This is a story of how you find your way home if you are me and home is the bones inside you skin.
            It’s still about synchronicity, though. And the sky.
 Because everything, every fucking thing, is about synchronicity and the sky.  

Sky’s grey when I leave Portland, just enough mist to finally burn the heat off.  It’s a Tuesday morning, two Phish shows waiting over the mountains in Bend. The drive’s a only few hours, not far, but God damn it’s been a long road getting back to here, this place where I can take two nights in the middle of the week to dance out in the desert.
And my soul needs live music the way my lungs need air.
I’m riding shotgun, my housemate in the back seat and the woman behind the wheel is one of my oldest, dearest, bestest friends on this earth.  We’ve seen a lot of life together her and me, marriages and divorces, and kids and Cancer, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs. Burying our dads. She watched both my daughters come into the world.
All that life hasn’t left me much room for music.  I was forever too busy and too broke for a show. There were stretches I didn’t have three bucks for toilet paper let alone three hundred to go play like this. I got too far down to even remember how it feels when you’re wrapped up inside a song, how good good can be.
 I was so far from me.
When Phish announced Bend, I wrote it off.  I was already booked all week with a teaching gig. Didn’t even try for tickets.
I’d only seen Phish five times, four of them back in the early 90s. Before all that life came at me. My one current show, Eugene last fall, it was fun but it didn’t take me out of myself, into myself, the way music can, the way Dead did, the way Phish used to way back when.
So I was bummed about skipping Bend, but it wasn’t killing me.  I told myself the time for going to another show would be right when the time was right.
Like say, low enrollment blows out my teaching gig, and two tickets for these sold out shows line up like nothing and there is still an open bed my friends’ rental with not a vacancy town.  Something like that. It would just fall together.
A little synchronicity showing up right there where it always is.
And us, we’re in the car, rolling down the backside of Mt. Hood, blue desert sky breaking open to the East. I’m quiet with nerves.
Nowhere else I want to spend this midweek weekend, but 10 people are staying in our house. Ten. Three of my close friends, five acquaintances and one guy a total unknown who jumped in even later than me, The Dude of Life. But that’s another story.
I am awkward with humans I don’t know well. Actually, I’m pretty awkward with humans I do know. Mostly people terrify me a little. Not the people themselves, just talking to them.
And I’m careful to not expect too much from these shows. I go in cautious. I know what I want. I want catharsis, note by note.
It’s heavy order and expectation is the quickest way to kill it.
            I promise myself to walk in expecting nothing.

            An hour pre-show I lick a small drop of liquid off my shaking right thumbnail. When I say shaking I mean trembling so hard the woman with the vile has to hold my hand steady to get it on there. Last time I dosed Clinton was in the White House and my age began with the number 2.
I don’t know if I’m more nervous about where this acid is about to take me or the possibility whatever it is I keep telling myself I’m not searching for in the music actually will not be there.
            And what I’m searching for is me.
            At first it’s Eugene all over again when I want the Cincinnati Zoo, circa 1993. The music is good. The music is great. The band is tight. And, their energy is way up.  But I’m restless. I can’t settle. Every time I start to I climb all the way inside a song, start feeling the notes tendril around me, something bumps me back and I’m just high in a field in the desert on Tuesday in July.
            Some of these tunes I know pretty well, others not at all. When they launch into a brand new one, I have no clue it’s a debut. All I know is the opening riff sounds vaguely like the Dead and up along the bottom edge of one fluffy white cloud in a blue, blue perfect sky there’s an impossible rainbow. A full spectrum turned up bright by my polarized lenses.  And it doesn’t have a thing to do with acid.
            Just like that, I’m in. I wish I had words. I can say it had a Little Feat feel. The rhythm and melody and keyboards rolling off like New Orleans. None of that much matters though. All that matters is this: I am deeply, madly, instantly in love with this new one. Blaze On. And note by note, I am gone. Total ego annihilation. Space dust.
            My bare feet in the grass and my head in the sky. The harder I shake my bones the better my skin starts to fit. I got nothing but love for everything and everyone. I got nothing but love for this music. I got nothing but love for me.
            There’s no place like home.
And I remember all through my body what comfort feels like.
I wish I could live for a single moment inside a book the way I feel inside this song. Where music’s not a sound I hear, it’s the perfect place I go. All my awkward melts away.
And it stays gone through the second set and the second night and back at the house and all the way to Portland. There’s pieces of me in these songs I haven’t seen for years, decades.  All of them just waiting for me to come around.
Sometimes the only path forward is back, gather up what you’ve spilled along the way.
            All week I’ve been dancing down the street. Pumping those Bend shows thru my earbuds, singing  thank the Gods for Phish and the Grateful Dead before them.
For all the music makers everywhere and the tunes that build my bones back solid.
Note by note.

Thank the gods for synchronicity and psychedelics and blue, blue desert skies.

03 July 2015

c'est la vie Chicago

All these stops and starts, the pieces crystalizing in my spoungebrain then slipping out the holes before they hit my fingers. Me I'm sitting here, sweating here, earbuds shoved into my head trying to trade out cafe noise for a crappy audience recoding from Santa Clara last weekend, second night, the Grateful Dead.

Bobby sounds so far away I can here every mile between me and Chicago this afternoon. Feel it too. Inch by inch of I'm not there. 2121.1 miles. Oh, Chicago, how I jones.

I tell you a little secret. I held the tickets to all five shows in my hands last week, laid my prints all over those thick paper strips of magic. They weren't any of them mine to hold. 

And no one to blame but myself.

Excruciating as it is to watch this reunion scroll up and down my facebook feed, I didn't even try to get there. Didn't stamp my mail order envelope, didn't dial the ticketBastards, didn't choose a single one of these precious final five.

Fare The Well, boys.

My arm is sore from the reach around.  Not so easy to pat your own back. Congratulations, Goodman. You had the good sense to not dump every penny of your life's worth into one more irreplaceable, unforgettable, last station stop on this ride. (Even if you could have written off every penny. Even if you surely could have found someone to let you write about. Even if you for once in you turned your back on desire to give intuition and responsibility a big fat bear hug.)  But these three days, you'll never get them back.  

You are the grownest kind of grown up now. Middle-aged champ. 

Ce Lest Vie Chicago. See you on the screen. 

20 January 2015

Here's where I come when there's nowhere else to go. Home? Maybe that's what home is. Blank page, blank head, blank fingers.  Just for a week. Every day for a week. Here's how it starts. I'll come back home.

It starts abstract like this. Saying nothing just to stop saying nothing at all. Obtuse until I can relearn language. I  mean, what I mean is, until I can learn to tell stories again. I mean, until I'm not afraid. I'm mean, until I can, no matter that I'm fucking quaking with every key stroke. I mean, until I remember courage. I mean until I don't give a fuck.

For now just me on the couch, leaned back in pillows, breaking down the last two minutes, two hours, two weeks, two years, two days, two decades. Two girls asleep in two rooms down my one short hall, and Amelia with her brand new spine. Low fever sleep. Twelve days post surgery. I'm out on the couch trying to turn thoughts into sense. Trying to keep myself from tabbing over to facebook every time my mind stalls, trying to find a new place to live. Trying to find my same old home.

It's half-way through January, the winter of spring. Out on my walk today Camillas blooming, cherry blossoms. Fucking cherry blossoms in January. Mama earth she's just as confused as me.

I don't know what I come to say. I'm just breaking down a week of hospital sunrises, Keeping watch while my babies sleep.

27 November 2013

It's raining in the desert when we hit the runway. Whole trip bumpy from start to finish, or at least that's what the pilot says. He says expect turbulence the whole way and he cuts off drink service and no one gets up to use the bathroom, but really it doesn't feel much different than any flight I've ever taken. It's late when start. Past bedtime before we taxi. The girls read.  Lila nestles into my shoulders, buries her head in my lap for sleep.

It's a different kind of trip to Phoenix this time. Out on my parents back patio, the cool night air and the lights from the pool, traffic lulling off in the distance and the chlorine still stinking out my skin. My body holding all the heat from a long soak in the spa. Used to call these things hot tubs, but now they're spas I guess.

 Plane sounding over head but I can't see it. Can't see much out past these lights. Lone palm silhouette, but not even. Just a faint stripe of trunk lit up white from below and then nothing. No top, no bottom. And even that white stripe I can only see if I look hard enough. Find the right spot. Hot tub heat draining out of me. Chill night air taking over inside.

It's a different kind trip this time. Everything the same, but not the same at all. We are one less. There's no mistaking all the ways my dad's not here, but still forever seems like an impossible time to be gone. In the house everything as it always was. Except his chair is empty and the TVs not blasting me out of bed in the middle of the night and there's no snoring.

19 November 2013

Night Walking Part Two: Houses

(Note to self: no more two part posts. The is a blog for fuck sake, not an essay. Get it all out in one go or get what you can get and get out. Move on. New days.)

When my head gets quiet enough its just my feet hitting the pavement, soft wind, traffic in the distance and a far off train whistle blowing out my favorite sound. The lonesome possibility of motion.

It's the pull to keep going and the pull to turn home and every now and then a the little nudge of Daisy's nose against my leg. The blissful absence of direction against the realization I know exactly where my legs are leading me. Past the neighborhood houses and the big church and down the hill across Sandy and the downtown buildings all lit up against the sky, back through the brickers and manicured gardens of my old apartment complex. Circles of yellow light on the lawn. The place I landed the first time I left.

I've been doing this lately. Revisiting old places I've lived. Or driving near but not driving by. A few days ago I got half way down the block that dead ends into the first place Scott and I lived together  in Portland, a little wood heated two bedroom down in the trees beneath the Halsey bridge. Turned the car around though. I didn't need to see it again. But tonight I keep going, past the fountain with it's lion heads spiting a constant steady stream into the bowl below. Same fountain I circled, toddler at my knees, hot August day of a different lifetime. Tonight is Daisy at me knees, nose to the ground.

Sometimes when I'm walking it's totally confounding how all these people can have houses to put their lives in. It's such a simple thing. Houses and houses and houses. Still, in this moment its all so far from me, how they get them. But that's not the truth either. If your counting, I've lived 22 places since the day I left my parents house for college 25 years ago. That's only tracking places I stayed more than a month or paid rent or held a job. I know exactly how you get a place. I'm a fucking expert on rentals and house hunting and camping on beaches. Getting a place is not the issue. It's how you keep a home that blows me to pieces.

All the lights are on in my apartment tonight, shades down so I can't see in and I'm glad for that. In my head it still looks like mine inside. No time has passed. All the air tight in my chest. Every breath I feel it. The the big, old grandma oaks lined up along the side walk. This was my view. All the nights I smoked cigarettes out my bathroom window while the girls slept in the bedroom. I want to know what I knew when I lived here.

I don't want to leave amd I can't stay. I want to walk further into the night, but I have to turn home. It's getting colder and I have to pee and sometimes that's all life is. Meet the simple needs of our bodies and keep going.

17 November 2013

Night Walking (Part 1)

Really this should count as yesterday's writing. It was all in my HEAD last night but my day started at 4 a.m. and the walk was so sweet and the bath was so hot and the steam was so soothing my fingers couldn't overcome the call of my down comforter and my dog and my bed full of pillows - a trifecta screaming sleep, sleep (poppies will make them sleep - and NO, there were no actual poppies - I just like that line. And I like how my mind is free associating right now. Wake up brain it's time to get going.)

This morning, still in my bed, coming into the same grey blue half-light I walked out into last night, not enough light yet to define the clouds, just the promise of what will be.

Last night though, I guess it went the other way. Started under late clouds, smoky cloud laced patches of blue. Sunset time but no sun to see. Just me and my dog, leaves rain-pasted to the cement, one last fan-shaped leaf hanging off the a low branch of a naked little Ginko.

Fall isn't usually my favorite season. Truth is, I see the leaves falling and something in me drops with them. I've never understood how some folks feel all their possibilities surge when we're coming into winter. The time for slowing. Hibernation. Sleep. Nah, that's not the whole truth. I sort of get it. Something beautiful and infinite about striping naked and slipping into a long, slow dark. It's the new burst of life you get on the other side. Again and again. Dark to light. Dark to light. Dark to light. Usually I'm more a Spring kind of girl, picking up energy as the days stretch longer. This year, though, it's like I've never noticed autumn before now. I'm in love with colors and the changes and contrasts. Spring in reverse. These early dark no time hours.

I crave the wide open. My little house, the ceilings are high and the colors are easy - blues and greens and the perfect orange-yellow blend on the living room/dining room/kitchen walls - the kitchen is modern, the closets are big and the fakewood Pergo floor always hides the dirt, but this space doesn't let the outside in. Out every window it's fence or hedge or wall, little bits of sky above the neighbor's roof.  All I want is out.

We walk the dog's pace and she leads, slow and scent bound, stopping for leaf piles and tree trunks and I don't yank at her leash to pick up the pace. A promise I made to her putting on my boots. "You lead tonight," I said. Because I never, hardly ever, let the walk just be hers. And my boots aren't really boots, just a pair of rainproof Columbia hikers. They're not even mine. The boots are Roxie's, the green tie-dye socks are Lila's, the fleece came from a clothing swap my neighbor went to last spring, the rain shell from the lost and found at my (almost) ex-MIL's school, and the orange t-shirt with darker orange stripes is the last thing my dad bought for me a couple days before he died. The hat I bought myself.

I want to walk and walk and watch the night until my legs can't carry me, no hurry to get home. Cold wood smoked air on my face, full moon backlighting the clouds and we don't take the usual route down around the golf course, through the park, past the big houses on the ridge because I'm tired of going the same old way. We follow neighborhood streets away from the traffic on Sandy and Fremont to blocks without much light. Turn and turn until I lose track of where I am, a walking dream, not lost, but never sure of my exact coordinates.

It's where I am. Inside and out. A walking dream. Not lost, exactly, but not quite sure.

The dog stops for a sniff. I'm leaning toward a left turn but she goes straight on and I follow. As we walk, I make up rules for our route. Simple: walk as far as you can, do not drop in on friends to say hello, leave the phone in your pocket, when you find yourself headed somewhere familiar turn away, recalculate, keep walking.

Houses and houses all lit up, each it's own complete universe, self-contained and strung out across the galaxy of my neighborhood. I love looking in. Moms and pops and kids around the table, laid back on the couch and for a few seconds I watch the shows they're watching as I pass. I want what they have. Or what I think they have. We do this, idealize other lives, not because we can't empathize with their realities, that they too suffer. We do it because we want to believe in their happiness. Isn't it better that way? We see what we want them to have. We want them to be happy. If their lives are simple and easy, made only of joy, then lives like theirs could be ours, too, right? Attainable.

When my head gets quiet enough it's just my feet hitting pavement, soft wind, traffic in the distance and a far off train whistle blowing out my favorite sound. The lonesome possibility of motion.

(to be continued or more later)

16 November 2013

Because I said I would

I swore to Tracy I'd give this a go. One post a day, every day, for one week. Maybe didn't swear but I said I'll do it if you'll do it and I said it sounds like a good idea and I said if I write every day I won't be not writing anymore.

I hearby promise to stop writing about not writing. It doesn't actually count as writing anyway. It's like, well I can't tell you what it's like. I don't have a simile to insert here.

Straight to the points. Let's get this out of the way early. Here's where I am:

Already I'm a day late. I This week of posting was supposed to start yesterday, but I figure better late than never.

Melting into the couch, goose down comforter, close to letting my eyelids win. But that's not what I mean. I mean I'll just go ahead and say right here these last seven years have been like this: six houses (actually four houses, two apartments), five moves - twice the landlord needed to move back into my place, twice to leave my marriage and once to go back. And I'm not feeling eloquent these day. I'm happy with simple coherence.