June 7, 2014
March 19, 2014
January 6, 2014
November 12, 2013
It is a Sunday and I wake from a mid-afternoon nap on the couch. I've just had a vivid lesbian dream. Nate catches me stirring and looks over at me, droopy-eyed. I feel guilty, like the dream is written on my face. He softly plants the words "Lou Reed died" into the room. I am still groggy and like a baby I immediately begin to cry. I cry for the lesbian I don't know in my dream, and I cry for Lou Reed. I maintain my post on the couch for a while, laying belly-side up and watching whitecaps bloom out of waves from a window. I feel an impulse to text message every man I've ever loved but instead I think about the probable death of other people that I will weep for, like Mick Jagger or somebody. I think it is all ending, music is over, and I put on a slow version of "Waiting for the Man" and I weep a little bit more.
By now I have read all of the eulogies; big - the Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and small - the unexpected E-mail from an old friend who is thinking about me and Lou Reed too. From the distinguished like Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson come intimate and inimitable anecdotes, like a first time meeting Lou and stories of exchanging poetry in elevators, of singing opera in elevators, of butterfly hunting, and apparitional visions of a last time seeing Lou. In the two weeks since his ultimate passing, it has become evident that everyone, not just his confidants, lovers, and collaborators, has a Lou Reed story to share. For those of us who never met the man or didn't achieve rock and roll fame in time, our stories are grounded and patterned, characterized by the singular moment that we heard what we did, when the Velvet Underground changed our lives.
I think of my first teenage love when I think about the VU. The day I met Tony Daynes on a beach in northern Massachusetts was the same day that my behavior resulted in being grounded under my mother's roof for the first and only time. Tony was mouthy, cynical, at times even rude. He went to a private school but his hair was longer than the other boys I knew from my conservative suburb - "shaggy" - and his voice was deeper, rounder than theirs. I was thirteen, and so was he. I had braces, and so did he. I wore an electric green Ramones t-shirt, and so did he, although his his was black and belonged to his girlfriend Kate whom I was both infatuated with and endlessly jealous of. Tony coveted the shirt the same way a child does the blanket given to them when they first left the womb, and though it was a constant reminder that he was in love with another thirteen year old girl instead of me, I liked our matching T-shirts. One time I showed an old babysitter a picture of Tony that I had discovered on his MySpace page and she told me he was "very Flock of Seagulls." I didn't know what the reference meant and so I dismissed it. Nothing was relevant except for Tony and Tony's Myspace picture. 10 years later I know what it means when someone says someone else looks "very Flock of Seagulls" and Tony doesn't, and never did, look very Flock of Seagulls.
Tony lived with his parents an hour away from my home and the frequency of our playdates relied on the generosity of our parents. I preferred Tony's house to mine and so once a month on a Saturday morning my mother drove me to him with the understanding that one of his parents would deliver me later that night. I liked Tony's house because I liked his parents, and I liked his parents because they left us alone. I liked Tony's house for the two big and bashful golden retrievers that came with the visit. I liked Tony's house because sometimes we would hang out in his dad's office unsupervised where the vintage Telecaster lived. Tony would play for me, strumming mainly aggressive and sloppy bar chords. I knew I was better on the guitar than he was but I never played for Tony or for anyone besides my mother. I liked Tony's house because it was bigger than mine. It was aged and many of the rooms seemed forgotten, as if nobody went in them anymore and hadn't for a long time. I never went in those rooms either but I know they existed because we would pass them on our way to more popular rooms and I would try to peek and ask Tony what that room was for. I liked Tony's house because it was always winter and the wall of windows in the living room let in a white cloud light that swallowed us whole and made the whole place feel damp. The windows looked over a neglected pool, asleep for the season in the middle of an overgrown backyard. I liked Tony's house because of the rusty brown couch in the basement where we spent most of our days together, sitting innocently side by side. On this couch Tony showed me films. On this couch Tony willingly shared with me illuminating and revelatory music like Guided by Voices, like the Jesus and Mary Chain, like My Bloody Valentine. And on this couch we sat together and exchanged few words while I heard the Velvet Underground's Loaded for the first time. The reissue was being sold as a double CD and the pink hologram on the cover shape-shifted while Tony held the case in his hands and professed his love. The music dribbled into my brain and oozed out through my limbs and I reveled in the pleasure of hearing something new and knowing I would never hear anything like it again.
It was imperative that I got this CD for my own keeping as soon as possible. There would be no more early bus rides to school, no more falling in love with one more person, no additional self-discovery, and no shedding any tears until this sound was also playing in the background as my soundtrack simultaneously. That same week I rode the commuter rail into Cambridge after school and took myself to the record store on the third floor of the garage that smelled of sugar and shrink-wrap. The album was more expensive than most of the other CD's around because there were two discs and because it was new and probably because of the pink hologram, too. Using three weeks worth of allowance I bought it anyway and every other VU album I could swindle.
While reflecting on my discovery of the Velvet Underground (& Nico too), I realized that I don't have memories of that definitive moment of exposure for other musical artists. I am more familiar with and even more devoted to other notable big guys like Neil Young and Dylan, the latter who pierced my heart some time during puberty and stayed there. But I don't remember the who, the how, or when with them. Was I in a car the first time Neil Young played to me through the radio and whose car was it and did I ask them to turn it up? What was the first Dylan song I ever heard and did I even like it? I can estimate that they happened to me sometime during early adolescence when I was a budding sentient and informed record collector, but it is ordinary and organic, as if one day they weren't there with me, and then the next day they had always been there.
Why do my opening moments with Lou Reed stand out exclusively? Why did the other guys blend together in a generic memory from sometime when I was crossing into cool? It has been suggested by a close source that it is because "Lou Reed was a weirdo." After chewing on this theory, it occurred to me that my exposure to an artist like Bob Dylan likely took place much earlier than I previously speculated. Because both Dylan and Young were one with the mainstream before I was even born, it is possible that I spent my childhood being involuntarily desensitized to their remarkable and otherwise noteworthy music via shameless car commercials and a steady flow of movie soundtracks. But Lou Reed never traversed airwaves to my ears unbeknownst to me. Lou Reed happened to me when I was ready for him to happen to me. Lou Reed never stopped being an irregular weirdo and he molded within me a very exquisite and a very irregular memory. And so on a rusty brown couch, Lou Reed will forever be with me.
November 3, 2013
September 21, 2013
Things happen in three's, everything comes full circle, life is suffering. I think when Buddha said "life is suffering" he should have included "but first you are going to be riddled with doubt in your twenties."
Our wanderings in the van are interspersed these days. Truth be told, I think I like this approach more than a seemingly never-ending nomadic style of being on the road - everything wears with time. I like the going away and I like the return. I like to move back and forth between the supposed normal (and sedentary) stasis and the perpetual motion of time spent on wheels.
Last week during a stint in the suburban day to day, I was left with a stiff neck from too much On Demand yoga and forced to watch less taxing cable TV instead. That movie (note: only female readers between the ages of 20-25 and their mothers need read) with Josh Hartnett and Leelee Sobieski was on. She has terminal cancer and falls in love with an alcoholic jock trust-funder after she hears him recite a Robert Frost poem (thus breaking Josh Hartnetts trucker hat loving heart). Having never seen it when it was even slightly relevant to my puny brain (age 10), I watched (some of) it and was reminded of said Frost poem. I am about to relate my feelings to a Robert Frost poem. This is a cry for help save me now. But really though - everything full circle - I totally want to be the swinger of birches, moving and grooving, leave and go away for a while, but then definitely come back later after I'm done flying around in the trees - again and again. Take that Am-Lit 1. But this romantic swinger's party (he he) makes for a constant feeling of being in limbo, my sins being lack of direction and indecisiveness (note: I wouldn't have it any other way, right?).
We took the van up to Vermont, where Nate and I met - everything full circle, babies - and where I hadn't been since I left. Typically I take all Dylan prose to heart: I'm an artist, I have everything I need, and I don't look back...unless it's California I'm leaving, in which case I am always fucking looking back. But I think I have the right idea because truthfully, I was blue to be back in Vermont. Unfortunate emotional shift aside, let the record show that Vermont is one of the good states. It's beauty different from a place like the Grand Canyon - though certainly less "spectacular," one can look up a picture of the Grand Canyon, and in my opinion there it is, there you have it. I hardly took any pictures this time because I've left the blogosphere mindset and because so much of what makes Vermont Vermont is seen and understood only in being there (note: the word 'blogosphere' is actually passing as a real word). Was I blue because I revisited a place after some time and realized that 5 years later I'm in the exact same situation? Or was I blue because because the luster of the liberated "home is where you park" mindset has dimmed 5 months later and now I'm good and ready to have a hardwood floor of my own to lay down the rugs that I bought back in New Mexico? I can't be sure, but it's probable that when I do get that hardwood floor that demands a paycheck, a schedule, and obligations, I'll meet with doubt again.
August 11, 2013
I am glad that I have had the moxie to make and maintain DAMA & DIG thus far.
I feel a good self-love when occasionally reflecting on the photographs and musings I pieced together for Marfa, White Sands, Bolinas, much like the way it feels to come across an old journal. Frankly, this blog is the reason I made sure to document so much of a wonderful time. I would be defeated after the fact if I decided one day to delete everything in haste, and how futile the act of delete is! But I think about it.
Quitting a job, abandoning love, flying the coop, breaking down in southern swamps, feeling an empty bank account - all of these things have been catalysts for natural growth. I've made the room for aha!-moments since April, I have evolved. And today the side of myself uncomfortable with having a blog is crooning. What part of curating a controlled and idealized version of myself isn't weird? This is not my sum. Instead each post is a piece of a constructed self-image. I pursue sincerity but this journal is public, too aware of itself, and so my relationship with it different than the handwritten ones from my adolescence. I worry that my intentions are a complete waste of time, more sustenance for the narcissistic behemoth that lives inside of social media, and ultimately the people that sign up.
I consider who this is for. Is it enough to say this chronological collection is just for me to look back on, or for my beloved who live far away to feel close at heart? I sometimes rationalize it this way and keep going. But eventually I come back to my bottom line which is that social media outlets of this nature (general lifestyle envy blogs, Instagram) are one colossal popularity contest. I consider my participation and the boost I allow myself to feel when I receive heavy blog traffic or "likes" as if I'm actually doing something with civic purpose or importance. In using this artificial interface I become a subject in a most superficial pavlovian cycle. Yes, keep going! You are successful in establishing an exquisite looking existence with photoshopped pictures of yourself in the desert!
Additionally, my observations of other people's relationships with digital life (women in particular) are perplexing and discouraging. For instance, a person might feel negatively about the lawless egomania associated with Instagram but still continue to survey the images secretly or even throw their convictions to the wind and use the application entirely. In keeping up with this blog, I currently I fall into the latter category. Some people scoff at blogs of this nature and deny looking at them, but they're looking at them - I know because Blogger tells me so. The fact is, people like the photoshopped pictures of me in the desert whether or not they admit it, but is that reason for me to continue? What's going on within this self-worshipping technology if we sometimes feel the need to be dishonest about our involvement, or if we subscribe and sign up anyway despite our inner voice telling us beware? Candidly, my own aversion to the technology is unshakably justified when my inner voice meditates with a collective consciousness after using marijuana and/or psilocybin.
When I confront the fabricated digital zone, I wish nothing more than to commune with my 8th grade self. In 8th grade I had pink hair, I wore all black, I didn't have a cell phone, and I had one friend named Erin. We were happy outcasts. In hindsight I suspect we were ridiculed often by our classmates, but I was too busy playing guitar, lip-syncing to Blondie in front of my bedroom mirror, and drawing in the art room after school to notice. I tell myself that it was better to be an outcast than to be one of the popular mean girls because they peaked in high school (and are already overweight single mothers living back at home). But knowing that my 8th grade self would thumb her nose at my efforts to engineer a synthetic online identity instead of a creative life, I have to rethink my smug attitude towards the Heathers in suburbia: Did I peak in 8th grade?? I sure hope not.
I want to reconnect with the attitudes of a former self. Until I feel better about why and what I share on a blog (if ever), I want to eject the tape and unplug... and dance in front of my mirror and make lots of drawings and disconnect my cell phone and wear all black.
August 1, 2013
July 31, 2013
July 30, 2013
Someone I like very much died. He was good and the people he was closest to are suffering without him. That's love, that's death. It is late now, the sun sinking into the other coast. A bird caws in the tree outside my window. He is alone, no other birds will sing back to him until the sun comes around again. It's as if he didn't get the memo on giving it a rest for the night.
I sat on the porch this afternoon, lost in thought while practicing my cursive. Nate appeared from inside the house to tell me about our friend's untimely fate. I asked how and as he told me, a deer emerged from the woods with two spotted fawns behind her. Two. Their kind appear and disappear so quickly, but their movements in the meantime are slow and thoughtful. I see the deer often in the places I go, but that doesn't stop me from a silent gasp, "oh," when she decides to show herself.
I float around the house, I think about death. Alone in the kitchen I watch the cat tickle her supper with her tongue. Standing with the fridge door open, I twirl a fork into the leftover thai noodles that came home with me after visiting the museums at Yale. I hear the chorus of birds before their bedtime and the faint echoes of Nate's singing from the barn. The glow from the fridge illuminates my legs while I chew, and chew, and inspect the sticky layer of food on the shelves. I think to myself, maybe if I had seen the Yale campus as a young girl I would have been motivated to do better in school. Probably not, and then I think about death. I move to another room and lower myself onto the couch that faces the television. Nothing has changed since I was a kid - television is still awful on Saturday nights, my ego still complains about it: Okay, but what about the rest of us that aren't out in the open on this imposed day of social engagements, and are instead sitting around, eating old food and thinking about the awkward permanence of death?
SNL is on and it's like watching someone you already feel sorry for wave their dirty underwear around in public while crying. Justin Beiber is the host and I watch the performance and I think about death. First I picture his face. After that I think about the last time I saw him and whether or not he was acting weird. Then I think about how he isn't walking around anymore. Then I think about how sad his brother must be right now in this very moment and how there is no solace in his day, not even in sleep.
I find relief in being sad about something. I feel no existential pressure to figure out what's causing my despair. I don't have to force myself to pull it together. I think about death and I know what's making me feel this way. Relaxed now, there is room to feel what it means and doesn't mean to lose someone.
SNL comes to a close and I text message my brother about how much I hate Justin Beiber, about how insincere he is. This is what siblings are for. My brother agrees with me and separately we share a moment of self satisfaction that we aren't Justin Beiber.