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light and shadow

I don’t have anything extraordinarily witty to say tonight, nor do I really have any particular direction in which to write.  But my goal is to try to write a thousand words per day, and though I have been on facebook and the like, I don’t really think that counts.  So here I am.

Today hasn’t been the best day.  At best, I feel directionless…much like this blog.  Or rather, I know where I want to go, but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get there.  At worst, I feel jangled and emotional, and I want to cry.  A lot.  I feel guilty for being home for the past three and a half weeks with my injury.  I’ve missed a lot of work, and I’m catching some flak for it.  I understand why; I mean, three weeks is a lot.  I also am feeling super weak and lame.  In the traditional sense of the word.  Lame as in debilitated.  I can barely stand for an hour without severe pain.  Driving is just as bad.  I’ve been pretty much alone in my room for the past three weeks, which has made me lonely and helpless, and although I don’t really want to throw a pity party, I just want to feel like a human being again.

I don’t want to be a negative person.  I know that negativity is far from attractive.  So I think perhaps I will use this entry as a chance to force myself to try an exercise my mom has pointed me at several times in the past.  So here it is — a list of the things I like about myself.

I’m compassionate.  I’m able to put myself in other people’s shoes pretty easily and try to get inside their heads to try and understand where they are coming from.  I’m also fairly empathic, and I tend to be very sensitive to others’ pain.

I am loyal.  If I care about someone, I will stick with them.  I’m also very tenacious and rarely give up on anything I’ve set my mind to.  I’m patient.  I’m creative — I like to make art.  My kind of art just happens to be with words, and I try to do it as best as I can.

I’m a daydreamer and I have a good imagination.  While it can get me into trouble on occasion, I like seeing the world through my own lens.  I think if I were less shy, I would have been a good actress.  I can read expressively and with emotion.

I’m good with languages, both my own and otherwise.  I’ve always been able to pick up new languages easily, which is cool because I really enjoy them.  On a purely superficial note, I like my eyes.

I’m only about halfway to a thousand words, and I have to apologize for the quality of this blog.  I have a bad headache that came on sort of suddenly, and I am a bit out of it.

I really want to travel more.  I am going to try and go back to Scotland this summer if I can find a cheapish fare.  I’m hoping to fly out of Toronto so I can see Julia.  I haven’t seen her for almost a year and a half, and I miss her terribly.  It’s funny how you can meet someone so briefly and form such a lasting relationship — that’s been oddly true about the most important relationships in my life.  I met Julia when we both lived at the Inverness Tourist Hostel, and we became best friends after only a few short weeks.  That was in 2005, and nothing has changed.  She is still one of the only non-blood related people I count among family.

I miss Scotland, as well.  A strange peace comes over me when I’m there, ever since the first time my feet touched the rather unromantic tarmac at the Prestwick Airport an hour south of Glasgow.  It’s a place I’ve returned to so many times (Scotland, not Prestwick) and just felt like I was home.  I don’t think I have ever seen a parallel to the beauty that exists in Scotland.  I remember driving through Stirling on Megabus and looking out the window as the sun slanted through the clouds and lit up the earth as though it had flipped a switch within.  I remember the golden sheen of the mist on the hills, the Wallace Monument rising like…well, to be honest, rising like a giant, spiky phallus.  Perhaps that just ruined the romance of the shot.  Ha.

I remember Dollar Glen and Loch Ness and the way the ocean at John O’Groats is such a deep navy blue and contrasts with the shining white sand.  The earthy scent of soil, dust, and rock that makes up the interior of the Maes Howe, the rough-hewn slats of standing stones.  The smell of peat and the warm amber brown it turns the Ness River.  The Sisters of Kintail and Glen Coe.  The lone tree on Rannoch Moor near the cone-shaped Buachaille.  I have a hundred thousand memories of Scotland, each one stored away like delicate treasures within my mind.  I know I will return someday — it’s only a matter of time.  I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.  And I long to share it with my boyfriend.

If I can get there this summer, I know it will be a short visit, probably no more than a week or two at the most, but it will be a time of renewal as well.  A time to refresh my memories, see some dear friends, and rest my weary soul.

In the film What Dreams May Come, they espouse the philosophy that we choose our own heaven, or at least that we create it from our minds.  If that turns out to be at all true, I know where mine would be.  It would be a land of drums, of silver-smooth lochs, of smoky scotch and the scents of the earth.  There would be stone circles and sapphire seas laced with white sand beaches and forests with floors of soft moss where the rowans turn the circle of the seasons as their branches burst into bloom, the blooms turn to snowy berries that ripen into deep red before the leaves fall once more.  An eternity there would be an eternity of bliss.

I don’t plan on dying any time soon, so for now, I’ll look forward to the time when I can jet my earthly body there.

Well, what do you know?  Over 1,000 words.

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we are beggars all.

Today I have been listening to and thinking about this song, the lyrics of which will be interspersed through this post.  The song is called “The Weight,” and it’s by the band Thrice.  My boyfriend brought it up the night he gave me my magic wand, and though I couldn’t think of how it went right then, I had heard it before and was taken in by it.  I honestly think I have never heard a truer expression of what true love is, and I am deeply touched thinking about it.

There’s many who’ll tell you they’ll give you their love,
But when they say “give” they mean “take”.
They hang ‘round just like vultures ’til push comes to shove
And take flight when the earth starts to shake.

Someone may say that they’ll always be true
Then slip out the door ‘fore the dawn,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

Another may stay ’til they find someone new
Then before you know they’ll be gone,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

No, I won’t won’t be that someone.

This will likely be a very candid blog — not that I am ever anything else, but you know.  Just a disclaimer.  I have often felt like a beggar.  In many ways, my life has been that of a vagabond or a drifter.  I’ve moved 33 times in 25 years.  I have gotten where I am today because of intensely hard work and because of the help and charity of others.  I use the word charity not to imply a sense of pity, but in the almost spiritual sense of giving out of the need to pass on the blessings one has been given.  More about the act of giving than the perception of need implicit in the receiving end of such a gift.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

Some talk of destiny, others of fate,
But soon they’ll be saying goodbye,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

‘Cause a ring don’t mean nothing if you can’t haul the weight
And some of them won’t even try,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

I won’t leave you wondering why.

In love as well I have often felt the beggar.  I have often felt myself unworthy of real love — I have been tossed aside often enough that I am supremely unused to having anyone stand by me.  I have always been at the whim of others’ convenience — there when it suited them and cast off when it stopped being convenient for them.  I think because of this, I don’t understand why anyone would want me when I am the mess that I am.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

And storms will surely come,
But true love is a choice you must make and you are the one.
That I have set my heart to choose
As long as I live, I swear I’ll see this through.

I spent quite a long time waiting for my current boyfriend.  We knew each other for a year and a half before we started our official relationship, and I won’t pretend that some of that time wasn’t incredibly difficult for me.  I still wrestle with the idea that I’m either not enough or too much or both at the same time.  I think everyone feels that way sometimes, but I have it honed to a fine art.  Which is why I think that this Thrice song is such a resonant depiction for me.  I’m not used to a love like this.  As one of my favorite gods said in one of my favorite books (by David Eddings), “Thou wilt warily give love, but you must also learn to accept it.”  I’ve never known a love like this, but come what may, I will see it through.  In the words of another, newer favorite song, I’ve got nothing left to lose.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and I see no end.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

In other news, my beloved city of Nashville, Tennessee is under water.  If you haven’t heard about it, the Cumberland and Harpeth rivers that both run through and around Nashville gained about 26+ feet over the weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and billions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.  I-24 became a raging river, and the water was forceful and deep enough to detach homes from foundations and even sent a modular school building floating down the interstate.

One of my closest friends had to be emergency evacuated from her apartment — she’s very lucky, and it turns out the water only got ankle deep and her car even still works, but thousands of others were not so lucky.  My old boss had to sit and watch from his home as a man was stranded up a tree in his Forest Hills neighborhood — Tom couldn’t get to him as there was fast moving water that was far too dangerous to move through, and I’m told the man was stranded there for at least 20 hours in the pouring rain.  There are thousands of other stories like these.  I’m dismayed and disappointed that the national media is paying only cursory attention to this disaster.  Almost 30 people have died so far, and countless others are without power, clean water, and homes.  If you are at all able, please text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts.

I only lived in Nashville for a year, but it is a truly lovely city full of warm and inviting people.  To see loved ones and colleagues entrapped in this disaster and also being nationally ignored is heartbreaking, and I wish I could do more to help.  I don’t get a ton of views on this blog, but hopefully enough people will read this and be moved enough to spare $10.  If enough people do it, it really does make a difference.

Please help.  We are beggars all.

❤  Emmie

dating musicians: forget the bad press

if you couldn’t gather it from that, i am dating — rather, in a relationship with — a musician.  as such, i have a few thoughts, quibbles, feelings, and meanderings about the topic.  a quick google search on dating musicians reveals a helter skelter of articles ranging from op ed postings to eHow  and wikiHow articles (really?).  the common thread?  almost all of them say this:  ZOMG don’t do it u will regret it!!!*!&#(!

ahem.

i’ll be honest.  upon seeing the unbridled negativity in the articles out there, my first thoughts were rather akin to “well, shit.”  then i thought a little more about my own relationship, as well as the relationships of my friends who are also dating musicians and my mom, who did in fact date and marry my dad, who is a musician.

basically, i think musicians in general have a bad reputation and some bad press, and that is not fair.  i’m very positive on musicians — i know a ton of them and i don’t know any who fit the negative stereotypes the way they’re portrayed.

i’ve been with my boyfriend for about seven months now.  when i met him two years ago, he wasn’t involved in a band, though he of course was still a musician.  i suspect that a lot of the anti-musician rigmarole out there on the internet may be mostly in regards to the following formula (a generalization): girl see boy on stage with guitar, girl swoon, flirting, dating, then it implodes.  i could be wrong, but looking at that formula, if that is how most of these articles got started, it doesn’t really surprise me that the relationships don’t work out.  infatuation with someone based on a stage performance is not the same as getting to know someone.  it’d be like falling in love with say, hugh grant in notting hill.  the character is awesome, sweet, etc.; the actor himself is a completely different person.  i’ve met many musicians who are gung-ho crazy on stage, but stand-offish and quiet when you actually talk to them.  on stage, they’re performing…the whole point is to put on a show.

now onto the nitty gritty.  the articles i read accuse musicians of being many things — not the least of these adjectives were the following:  backstabbing, overjealous, cheating, poor, dirty, and flaky.  none of that is particularly flattering.  what got me thinking was how these adjectives were applied to the entire group, as if just by knowing someone was in a band automatically made it okay to assume that they fit these stereotypes.  that’s not particularly fair — it’s not considered okay to stereotype or profile people based on ethnicity, so why is it okay to do it by profession?

one of the articles went as far as to say that if you date a musician, you’ll end up lonely, cheated on, and broke.   they talk about “perks” as if that’s the reason you should date someone — based on what you can get from their job.  all that confuses me.

don’t get me wrong — there are definitely obstacles and challenges that come with dating someone in the music business.  i’ll be candid.  i’m a night owl, and i think that helps.  my boyfriend works evenings, and he is pretty much on a nocturnal schedule.  that’s pretty normal for a lot of the musicians i know — i don’t know many early birds in the business.  in the articles i read, they talked about that, specifically that shows aren’t always on weekends, and that they will often go till 1 or later including packing up gear and everything.  and if you’re in a relationship with someone in a band, you’ll probably go to the shows.  which isn’t always easy if you work a day job (like i do).  the articles also complained that weekend shows take up date nights.

another big complaint was that musicians don’t have money.  money has never been super important to me, but i guess it really matters to others.  here’s what i think about the whole money thing.  musicians do what they do because it’s their passion.  it’s what they love.  it also happens to be an incredibly expensive past time.  and that’s where most of their money goes — into guitars, basses (suddenly that plural looks weird as shit), drums, amps, cabs, wiring, lights, effects, pedals, merchandise — all of that costs a lot of money.  we’re talking thousands of dollars of equipment in one band.  and the upkeep can be pricey too–something goes wonky on your amp, and you might be out a couple hundo just to fix it.  if you do not have wealthy parents willing to drop a couple grand on you, you’re goin it alone.  i’m guessing that’s where this stereotype came from (and it IS a stereotype).  all the money stuff is a combination of factors.  first, equipment is expensive.  second, touring is expensive.  think gas, food, van rental (or purchase), fliers, all that stuff.  third, making a record is hella expensive.  studio time is often $500-$1500 per day.  not to mention mixing, sequencing, mastering, packaging, pressing, album artwork, etc.  and as i’ve learned secondhand (my boyo’s the first) this week, just when you think you’ve paid for it, you have to pay more.  fourth, if you want to pursue a music career, you will have to tour.  a lot.  think weeks, if not months, per year.  and if you will have to tour, you have to have a job that will allow you to do so.  which is why many musicians either teach music (independently or with a company) and/or work jobs with flexible hours, and lemme tell you, those jobs don’t pay that much. fifth, if you are serious about music, you have to practice.  preferably somewhere that will allow you to do so without adding the cost of noise violations to your spreadsheet of expenses.  for a lot of bands, this means renting a space where they can go practice.

the articles i read made it seem like a crime — accused musicians of being perpetual moochers.  but i think of it this way — doctors and lawyers spend years and thousands of dollars to start making any money.  even when doctors begin interning they are still pretty broke most of the time, and they don’t get shit for that.  so why do musicians?  personally, i don’t care about fancy dinners or getting showered with presents or anything, so i don’t really understand why people make such a big deal about saying musicians are poor.

i’m going to stop going into the points of the articles for now and talk about the more personal side of things.  being a musician is a full time job — to understand that, i had to really think about what my number one passion in life is.  what it is that if i don’t do, i will regret forever.  for me, that’s writing.  to achieve any of those kinds of dreams, it takes an immense amount of work.  i think for a lot of people who date musicians, sometimes it feels like they have to compete with all of the music hours.  one of the big complaints i read was that these people writing in or responding said that they “were never first priority” in the lives of the musicians they dated — that they felt like they always lost out to everything in regards to music, whether it was practice or shows or what.  and for me reading that, it was pretty scary.  it’s a topic to think about, to discuss.  no one wants to feel like they don’t matter, and no one likes to feel like they’ll be cast aside the second something “comes up.”  so i can understand that feeling.

i spent a lot of yesterday thinking about that.  i know a lot of women who date musicians — and we have a lot in common.  yeah, the guys do keep late hours.  they often practice late, shows are late, studio time runs late.  bands have to tour, and that means the significant others are gone for days or weeks at a time.  and i started to think and ask myself if that meant that we are less of a priority, if all the shows and practices mean that we are not as important.  the answer i came up with took a lot of thought.  and it’s not entirely satisfying.

the answer really is…it depends on who you’re dating.  i think all the people who wrote in to those articles, commented for them, etc. had been burned bad.  and that sucks.  if your relationship began because of that formula i mentioned above, and if it’s not a serious relationship, then i can see how the hours and the touring would be a big dealbreaker.  but in many (if not most) of the relationships around me, including my own, i feel like it’s not as simple as that.  i don’t think that the guys i know would classify everything in their lives into one category and force it all to compete against one another.  when one of those guys is in a serious relationship with someone, i don’t think that girlfriend and music occupy the same weight class.  and i came up with a distinction of why.  music is what they choose to do with their lives; we are who they choose to spend their lives with.

i’m still sort of flabbergasted that all of those articles out there exist.  how-to’s, etc.  the bottom line for me is that you can’t simply group all musicians into the stereotypes out there.  and it is beyond me why people would just hunt a certain profession to date someone in it, though i know people do.  in my opinion, if you’re serious about dating and not just looking for a fling, you ought to get to know whoever it is you want to date.  as a person.  not as a performer.  and at the end of the day, i know that i’m not a competitor against music for my boyfriend’s affection any more than his family would be.   good relationships are based on trust and communication — and if you’re basing it simply on how hot mr. dude looks with a guitar, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

so yeah.  there are tough things.  but it’s not fair to classify all people in one profession as lazy, drugged out, cheating bums.  and all the problems i read about in those articles could be prevented with some common sense and the simple act of looking beyond the guitar at the person wearing it.

there are plenty of good musicians out there.  and no, you can’t have mine.

holidays

holidays.  high holy days.  whatever that happens to mean to you.

sorry i’ve been absent.  i’ve been busy being in love.

yes, i meant to write that.  it happens, i suppose.  love is an easy thing to be caught up in.  especially when you never expected to find it for real or be allowed to touch it.  it all started a year and a half ago.  to make a long story a wee bit shorter, i (and he) knew from the beginning where we should go when we met.  but we couldn’t then, and we couldn’t for a very long time.  i couldn’t help waiting though.  i had to know what would happen.

so for the past six months, we’ve been finding out the “what next” after we got our chance.  and for the past two months, we’ve been together, in the official sense of things.

i never thought i’d have this chance again…and i certainly didn’t expect to ever find love that wasn’t the unrequited variety.  and yet.  here i am.  how lovely and odd.

needless to say, i’m really very happy.  i wrote something a couple posts back about how it’s one thing to be tolerated and something else entirely to be enjoyed.  appreciated.  i’ve never had a relationship where my quirks and idiosyncrasies were valued rather than merely put up with.  and it’s not as if we’re in the realm of rose colored glasses — this is also new territory for me because we’ve known each other for a year and a half.  and i’m finding that i simply enjoy him.

i’m finding that after a year and a half of wondering, hoping, waiting, nail-biting, pacing, laughing, soaring, head-scratching — i’m finding that after all that, his cogs and my cogs fit together still and simply turn.  clockwork.

when i’m with him, i’m more me than i’ve ever been able to be with anyone.  no pretentiousness or hiding.  and he’s who he is.  and that’s what i love about us.  that we’re two whole people building something more.

i was talking to a friend today who is also very happily ensconced in love.  we decided that there are few better feelings than falling for a good, good man.  especially when there have been so many bad ones before.

so this holiday season i am celebrating life.  i’m celebrating the changes that have brought me to dc and teaching my children to the best of my ability.  celebrating love and good friends and the changing of the seasons.  being grateful for what i have and the ability to share.  wishing i could do more for this world.

2009 is winding to a close.  when it began, i looked it in the face and said, “you’re going to be a fantastic year to put 2008 to shame.”  i wasn’t wrong.  i’ve found so many things this year.  a place in this country i can call home, which i never thought would happen.  a job i can do well that makes a difference.  one of my students called me on thanksgiving to say hello — made my night.  said job also gives me approximately 3 months per year of time i can write and pursue those things close to my heart.  by the end of this i will be financially stable for the first time ever.  i’ve found love, in more ways than one.  i may be busy and stressed, but i’m building a good life for myself here.  and i cannot wait to see where it goes.

happy holidays, whatever you celebrate.

may your days this winter be full of warmth, joy, and peace.

love.
emmie

words

hello, stranger.  fancy meeting you here.  yes, i know.  it’s been quite a long while since i’ve paid you a visit.  sorry about that.  rest assured it’s been for a variety of reasons, some more worthy than others.

right-o.  diving right in then, shall we?

i’ve always been fond of words.  as a child, i used to collect them.  keep them in shiny, crisp sleeves, polished and pure.  i’d occasionally show them off proudly.  words like “antidisestablishmentarianism” (which, by the way, spellcheck apparently does not like) and “onomatopoeia” (which i happened to spell correctly on the first try.  bully for me).

it wasn’t too long ago that i realized i didn’t just collect words — i breathed them.  they filled my pockets.  i found them tucked behind my ears and peeking out from beneath my pillows.  a few hover just inside my left nostril.  it’s been the time since this epic realization that i discovered why words have always flitted about my world, leaving dusky trails of fascination in their wake.

it’s about power.

we all know that, on some sort of subconscious level.  it doesn’t take long for a young child to feel the piercing pangs of carelessly slung words for the first time.  they know they’re not bleeding, and daddy and mommy can’t kiss it better, but they know it hurts real bad.

words wield a tremendous amount of power.  they can build you up when you’ve been laid low — they can tear you down from the highest mountaintop and plunge you mercilessly into oblivion.  sometimes they taunt you, tease you, torment you by hovering just slightly out of your grasp.  they can twist the truth and bend reality.  cause dissension and misunderstanding.

words can spark your strength into being and find your achille’s heel.  they can drift through your mind and flip a switch at a second’s notice.  they’ve driven people to greatness, madness, badness, and more.  they’ve swayed millions for good and for ill.  and they can disarm you, strip you bare, and leave you vulnerable.

i’ve experienced the gamut of the power of words in recent weeks.  between big scary life stuff and school and everything else, i’ve seen a great deal of this power.  i suppose i’ve even wielded it — though unfortunately, i seem to have done so in a way that has boomeranged right back at me.  lately i feel the vulnerable, on a lot of different levels and in many situations.

at the end of the day, though, i have to feel that my desire for words and my reverence for language and expression is worthwhile.  as scary as it is.  i guess i can hold onto that.

to close out, never underestimate the power of some well-aimed words.  sometimes they sustain us when we least expect it.  and sometimes they simply lead us to the moments when they can do nothing more than fall silent.

On the run, we aim for the summits and pinnacles
But when your wobbly legs tire, but your mind still roams
Here comes the wheelbarrow, I’m taking you home
Please believe in my sense of direction
We’re not lost, we’re not home

(the above italicized words are not my own; they belong to aloha, and a quietwarm song full of all sorts of lovely things.)

you can fly

Think of the happiest things
It’s the same as having wings
Take the path that moonbeams make
If the moon is still awake
You’ll see him wink his eye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

any merry little thought….

so today, that’s what i will do.  these short snippets are what i want right now, what i yearn for.  with the click of my mental camera and the quiet shuffle of memories long past it all converges into:  shimmering sunlight daydreams, little lemon drop desires, and the images of dreams that come under the glow of soft moonlight, that’s where i’ll go.

second star to the right, and straight on till morning.

bare feet in sand as the ocean foams at the shore.  wait.  pause.  inhale.  salt tang on the wind, exhale with the breeze.  tiny crystals make up the glimmering beach.

a thrill, a tingle.  pop rocks up and down my spine.  thrum of bass, muted booming drum.  slinking chords in a minor key.  heart pulses, muscles ache just to move….

it’s evening, and the crickets sing a lullaby to the day.  lightning bugs flash in the dimming light, as the sky turns to cerulean with the exit of the sun.

blurred landscape of green and brown flows past windows.  wind rushes in through the gap between glass and rubber.  naked foot against the sun-warmed dash.  here goes nothing.

lie under starry skies.  pinpricks of brilliant light spread across inky black.  fuzzy blanket.  shift, rearrange, settle and sigh.

morning eyes opened slowly, drift across crinkled sheets.  hands meet empty air as the blink of lashes wipes away dreamscapes.  dreams dissolve, illusion shatters.

warmth blossoms in my core.  the rich lull of golden peat, velvet liquid on my tongue.  amber swirls, turns to honey in the light as the scent of oak and heather rises from the glass.

any merry little thought…

shoes drop into the sand with a whisper.  granules part beneath my feet, and the spongy damp gives as earth meets water.  splashes of salt fly in the air as the cold shock of the sea coats toes, ankles, calves.  laughter.

blades of emerald — shock of summer green.  cool brush of grassy scent through humid air.  white stone gleams in the distance across a shining pool.  buzz of voices, giggles, flash of smiles and floppy hats.

cuddles on a hard pew.  a circus of people surrounds us, bright colors, hum of activity in the air.  no one stands at the pulpit.  all of that in the background of the soft kiss of skin and a gentle embrace.

the pillow gives against my back as i turn with a sigh.  sunlight filters through the blinds.  late morning, lazy morning.

the dusky scent of books weaves tales of centuries past.  mingling smells of cracking leather covers and pages brittle and worn with time.  deep maroon and navy blue, faded in the dim light.  whispers from the pages within, stories, adventures, history, knowledge.  thousands of voices murmur, bound  forever in stasis between covers and thread.

laughter, always laughter.  knowing smiles and shared glances.  sparkling eyes and easy cameraderie.  laughter.

any merry little thought…

think of all the joy you’ll find
when you leave the world behind
and bid your cares good-bye

….i’ll let you all finish the rest.  of course, we all know neverland has its pirates, cruel mermaids, glorified juvenile vagrancy, ticking crocodiles,  and very un-pc racial stereotypes, but….

…second star to the right and straight on till morning.

fumbling toward ecstasy

i stretch, feeling the tug of my muscles, a pleasurable ache remaining.  it’s a reminder of how much has changed this year.  2009, it seems, is setting out to prove that spring of 2008 was a crucible — the smoldering coals i had to walk over to feel the cool wet grass under my feet.

the first crickets sing outside my window, their tunes riding on the fresh breeze of the evening.  my breath is measured, even.  my fingers and hands are warm as i type, the muted light from the paper-covered lamp filling the room with a soft glow.  and here i am.

something leaps in my chest when that thought enters my mind.  the breath in my lungs hitches for a moment, and my heart quickens.  here i am.

the air is cool, and the sun has begun its downward path, setting the budding trees and leafy bushes to dusty gold.  i am alone on the greenway path.  for once, no passers-by break the silence with their footsteps and words.  no joggers with ipods, no walkers with dogs and leashes.  just me.  i pause at the first curve, looking out over the field.  a smile tugs at my lips — something that is happening more and more lately.  a few puffy dandelions grow in the grass.  on impulse, i step off the path and pluck one from its resting place.

there’s a difference in the air this year.  a softer note in the sound of the wind.  as i let my mind drift over the events of last spring, it touches on snapshots.  my heart stopping as i read a one-line email from my cousin matt.  “please give me a call the first chance you get.”  dark brown eyes under a shock of shaggy black hair, darting nervously as my boss informs me my hours have been cut by 40%.  coming home again to find my roommate doesn’t have the rent money or the bills at all.  mocking words.  maniacal howling from the other side of my apartment.  walking into my bedroom and feeling someone else’s uninvited presence.  things missing.  weariness.  driving.  driving.  mansions and mansions filled with people, hard faces.  suspicious glances.  smiling children and dilapidated buildings playing among cut gravel and broken glass.  a boy’s florid bow as he moves aside to let my car pass.  spanish filters through my open window from neighbors laughing on lawn chairs, easy banter on a summer evening as my car moves through their world.  the quiet of the office, eight hours of nothing.  from sprawling villas to shoebox dwellings — an invisible line is crossed, and i drive into another world.  the rocky mountains in the distance.  tired.  always tired.  six o’clock i drive to work in the morning sun.  eight hours of nothing.  the sun sets as i drive, the numbers on my meter move, move.  hours and hours.  at midnight, i drive home.  i fall into bed.  i sleep.  six o’clock comes too soon.  tears.  the harsh scent of vodka.  the sharp sting of lies.  snapshots — just snapshots — that world is no more.

mom always used to tell me not to spread the dandelion seeds.  i pause as i lift the fluffy ball to my lips, my fingertips sticking lightly to the thin, moist stem.  for a moment i feel a gleeful rebellion as i purse my lips and blow.  tiny tufted dancers spin into space.  freed from their resting place, they float through the air.  one lodges itself between my breasts, perhaps afraid to take that step onto the current of the breeze.  i pluck it out and it soars away, trailing behind the cloud of others that flicker in the light of the afternoon sun.

last year’s world is no more.  only this year is real.  only now.  here i am.  again my heart quickens as i glance forward in time.  the clock seems to speed in its place on the wall.  soon and very soon.  no more running away.  this time i’m moving forward, grasping at newness, at vibrance.  everything about now tickles my awareness of the immediacy of the present.  the pull of my muscles as i stretch, the comfortable space in my clothing.  the smile that tugs at my lips.  newness.

i’m alone on the path.  i glance around, but no one is there.  my heart leaps in pleasure.  the creek burbles over rocks as i cross the bridge, the soft pat-pat of my flip-flops still audible over the water.  the path seems smoother, more even than i remember, even though i was there not long ago.  i feel the urge to run.  what happens is more of a scamper, borderline bounce.  my legs tense, my pulse jumps.  something in me sparkles.  without a thought, my shoes are off, left behind on the pavement.  i pad a few steps forward, then i’m running.

2009 is a new year.  i felt it with the ticking of the clock as december became january.  it’s new in every way.  the gentle ache in my muscles gives me a moment of triumph.  my body is newer, smoother, yes — slimmer.  i feel good.  i feel healthy, energetic.  when i look in the mirror, i grin.  i think of what i’ve done this year, in the months that have passed since the sorrow of last spring.  focus, determination.  effort.  i’ve fallen down, but there have been hands to help me up.  and here i sit.  i am ready.

i come to a halt where the path turns to grass.  i look out over the field beyond where it ends, see the rolling, tamed grass of the golf course and purposely turn the other way.  a small meadow is nestled in the crook of a curving slope.  a few insects flit across the path in the sun.  the breaths i take as i turn back toward home feel like a drug.  the smile wins, and i feel my face light up.  when i reach my shoes, i pick them up.  the plastic, warmed from the sun, dangles from my fingertips.  my arms swing at my sides, and i revel in the cool air that passes over my skin.  my earrings jingle as i walk silently on my bare feet.  right now, at this moment, i am utterly beautiful.

carbonation bubbles in my veins as a thrill passes through me.  my skin hums in anticipation.  soon.  an electric edge is on the air, seems to hover around me like an aura.  this time there is no trepidation, only certainty.  clear, crystalline certainty.

fumbling toward ecstasy

fumbling toward ecstasy

no running away this time.  no desperation, no stumbles and sobs.  only an abiding quietness and a tugging smile.  a sparkle, a glimmer.  raindrops patter on the ground outside, and a fresh-washed scent floats in on the evening breeze.  the crickets have been put on mute, gone for cover from the rain.  inside in the glow, the world is spread out before me.  i’m the tiny dandelion seed, and i’m finally ready to launch myself off that cliff, to take the plunge.  till then, i’ll smile to myself, i’ll keep these sweet secrets dancing at the corners of my lips.  till then, i’ll look out over the world spread before me.  till then, i’m her.  i am ready.

it’s gonna be a bright, bright…

sunshine-y day…

this week is off to a rollicking start.  i woke up this morning after a series of unpleasant dreams that left a bad taste in my mouth (no, not morning breath).  but then the good started.  the first bit was purely superficial–my weekly weigh-in put me at 150.  which means i have lost 12 pounds since i started my diet.  i’ve never been fat, but i was feeling a bit scuzzy and my pants were tight, so i decided to take some control of my body.  in a way, my triumphs in that arena are a good metaphor for how i feel about the rest of my life right now–trimming down, getting rid of the excess so i’m as streamlined and efficient as possible.  ha.

so, it’s a good feeling.  great, even.  i’m almost to my goal weight of 145, which is where i was when i left poland.  i feel good in my clothes, i grin at myself when i dance around in my underwear in front of the mirror, and my bathing suit looks quite attractive.  so this is of the good.  🙂

then i did my taxes.  i’m an odd duck–i like paying taxes.  i feel like it’s my duty to my country.  i feel patriotic when i pay taxes.  i know it makes it possible for me to drive on the roads, enjoy beautiful natural areas like glacier and yellowstone–near where i grew up in montana, and pays for our school systems.  i also like to pretend that the money i pay goes toward helping my mom on medicaid and disability.  she wouldn’t be okay without that.  so i feel good about paying my taxes.  even though i don’t pay a whole lot.

this year, i actually got a big old refund, so that put a smile on my face as well.  it’s all going to finance my move, to move me forward into a new life.  and i couldn’t be more excited about that if i tried.  i’m buoyant.  i think if anyone in dc were to look my direction, they could see me beaming from nashville.  🙂  i’m quite happy.

today i’m going to take a walk.  for now, i’m listening to denali–which also makes me excited for dc, because i get to see them in concert in two short months.  i’m wearing my leaf earrings today and i feel rather wondrous.  six short weeks.  i’m ready to get out there and make it happen.

musings on music

lately i’ve caught myself thinking, almost panicked, “what would i do without this?”  i’ve been listening to a lot of different music lately–a lot of different artists and genres, and i thought i’d take a minute to share the songs that have been stirring my soul and won’t leave me alone.  i’ve been realizing on a conscious level just how much music influences my days, my thoughts, and what i write about.  so here i am actually writing about music…

aloha, be near, “here comes everyone”
there aren’t many bands out there who can really manage to make holistically fantastic music.  aloha is one of those bands.  their songs are full of genuinely interesting rhythms, complex melodies, and lyrics that are actually inventive. even if you don’t like the style, if you love music, you have to appreciate how good they are.

//can we be near/
our hands across the table/
and everything in pairs/
on the run, we aim for the summits and pinnacles/
but when your wobbly legs tire, but your mind still roams/
here comes the wheel barrow, i’m taking you home/
please believe in my sense of direction/
we’re not lost, we’re not home//

this song is just plain beautiful.  and the rest of this album (“here comes everyone”) is just a solid masterpiece in general.  there isn’t a single song on it i dislike or even feel ambivalent about.  and that’s saying a lot.

aloha, body buzz, “light works”
yeah, another aloha song.  when i start listening to them, they sort of take over for a while…something which is accelerated by the fact that i own their entire discography, thanks to a particularly cool human being who doubled the amount of music on my ipod (i only wish my 3-year-old little laptop could accommodate it.)

//affection is illusive/
peace of mind is every day/
cut your losses and your illusions the same//

every time i listen to this album, i catch myself about to go into apoplexy when it starts (this is the first song on “light works.”)  it’s just…musical perfection.  this is a great album in its entirety, as well.  a few other tunes to check out from alohaboys in the bathtub, “here comes everyone”; ferocious love, “that’s your fire”; goodbye to the factory, “here comes everyone”

wintersleep, listen [listen, listen], “untitled”
this is another one of those supremely underrated bands that performs pure, unadulterated music.  since i know i’ve already waxed eloquent about the band in general on a couple other occasions, i’ll skip to the song.  this song is hushed, quiet, like a soft breeze on a cloudy day.  it goes right through me and moves me every time i hear it.

//there’s something in the way our lips touch/
there’s something in the way we’re stuck together/
they don’t build love like that no more/
you said you’d like it when the thunderstorms came/
said you’d like it if the thunderstorm just/
pulled you piece by piece away//

i don’t even have words to describe what it does.  i suppose the song says everything it needs to in and of itself.  some more wintersleep to feed your musical fury:  orca, “wintersleep”; dead letter and the infinite yes, “welcome to the night sky”; laser beams, “welcome to the night sky”; jaws of life, “untitled” (this song has a freaking awesome drum bit in the intro).

frightened rabbit, floating in the forth, “the midnight organ flight”
maybe it’s the fact that every line in this song resonates within my actual memories, but the first time i heard it, i had chills through the whole song, rolling up and down my skin.  i know the sound of the cars on the forth road bridge, and the roar of the surf, and the view of the north sea.  i can conjure up that picture in my mind with no effort.  see the hills and arthur’s seat across the edinburgh skyline, and the arc of the bridge across the firth of forth, with fife on the other side.  scotland.

//am i ready to leap/
is there peace beneath/
the roar of the forth road bridge/
on the northern side, there’s a fife of mine/
and a boat in the port for me/
and fully clothed/
i’ll float away/
down the forth, into the sea//

this song is just a crystalline picture, a snapshot of emotion, that exists every time i hear it.

frightened rabbit, backward walk, “the midnight organ fight”
i think anyone, anywhere, who has felt themselves on a carousel that continues to dump them right back into a bad relationship after it’s technically over can relate to this song.

//i’m working on drawing a straight line/
and i’ll draw until i get one right/
it’s bold and dark, girl, can’t you see?/
i done drawn a line between you and me//

i could quote this entire song here, because every word is as powerful as the ones before it and after it.  more frightened rabbit to look out for:  it’s christmas, so we’ll stop, single; keep yourself warm, “the midnight organ flight”

jump little children, cathedrals, “magazine”
the first time i heard this song was during an encore performance by jay clifford (who has gone solo now post-jlc).  he did it unplugged, hopped off the stage with just his guitar, and stood in the crowd, who circled around him to leave a small pool of space in a radius around him.  he sang, and everyone sang along.  people harmonized with him, all in this hushed quiet that spread through the entire room.  it was one of those heady moments where individuals become a group, and it’s stuck with me since.  on his own, jay clifford is solid.  with jump little children, there is that same quality of depth and breadth of movement that pulls you in and won’t let you go.

//in the shadows of tall buildings/
the architecture is slowly peeling/
marble statues and glass dividers/
someone is watching all of the outsiders/
the line moves slowly through the numbered gate/
past the mosaic of the head of state/
in the cathedrals of new york and rome/
there is a feeling you should just go home/
and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is//

this song is beautiful in its simplicity and its serenity.  jay clifford’s voice is smooth, melodious, and full of a clarity that is somehow soothing.  for more jump little children, listen to:  mexico, “between the dim and the dark”; rains in asia, “between the dim and the dark”

fiona apple, slow like honey, “tidal”
i’ve always enjoyed fiona apple.  her rich contralto is multi-faceted and versatile.  velvety.  her range is pretty similar to mine, so when i feel like singing in my car, she’s usually my first choice.  slow like honey fits my mood lately.  there’s a perfect imagery and a sultry flirtation that is probably sexier than me, but i can pretend.

//you moved like honey in my dream last night/
yeah, some old fires were burning/
you came near to me, and you endeared to me/
but you couldn’t quite discern me
/
does that scare you? i’ll let you run away/
but your heart will not oblige you/
you’ll remember me like a melody/
yeah, i’ll haunt the world inside you//

her lyrics are woven with imagery and nuance that a lot of artists miss–many prefer to bludgeon, fiona seduces.  and it works perfectly.

fiona apple, the first taste, “tidal”
this song has a way of explaining exactly how i feel a good portion of the time.  sigh.  again with the lyrics and their poeticism, again with a deliciously exquisite rhythm.  damn, this song is sexy.

//i lie in an early bed thinking late thoughts/
waiting for the black to replace my blue/
i do not struggle in your web because it was my aim to get caught/
but daddy long legs i feel i’m finally growing weary/
of waiting to be consumed by you//

silken beauty wrapped in candlelight and wine.  fiona’s pretty popular; i assume you all know where to find her.

denali, hold your breath, “the instinct”
melancholy, ethereal ambience.  this band is extraordinary in so many ways.  this song has been repeated on many a journey of mine lately.  because maura davis is known for her minimalist lyrics, i’ll go ahead and post the whole song.

//what’s your reason to kill or not/
this has come a long way/
too fake for the season, is it real or not?/
totally in this i will stay/
too many sensations now for a good feeling/
i’ll take a step back/
let’s go under and hold our breaths/
who’s got the reason now/
in one little mouth it goes/
never will surface/
too many sensations now for a good feeling/
i’ll take a step back/
too many sensations now for it to be for real//

denali’s songs tend to soar from lower registers to higher, full of breathy insistence and minor keys.  there’s a fine line to walk when doing this, and maura davis pulls it off perfectly.

denali, the instinct, “the instinct”
finding a song that plucks these strings in me is like sorting through a haystack only to prick my finger on the needle.  it just happens.  this song was one of those.

//no more distractions/
no more excuse/
it’s just you and me now/
it’s just you, only you/
there’s no mistake/
wait for my return and decide my fate/
i’ll be without you only for a while/
that’s all i can take//

more from denalifrench mistake, “denali”; gunner, “denali”; you file, “denali”; run through, “the instinct”

beethoven, piano sonata in c-sharp minor, “moonlight sonata”
this piece creates cerulean and ruby under a full moon in my mind.  three movements.  all art moves emotion into another medium–that’s why it’s art.  and this is art.  some people use paint and canvas.  beethoven used ivory keys.  what i wouldn’t give to hear him play this sonata himself…

katie melua, nine million bicycles, “piece by piece”
this is such a quirky little song.  katie melua has a very distinct style, and there’s an innocence about her songs that will probably evolve and deepen with time.

//we are twelve billion light years from the edge/
that’s a guess/
no one can ever say it’s true/
but i know that i will always be with you/
i’m warmed by the fire of your love every day/
so don’t call me a liar/
just believe everything that i say//

a bit more katie for you:  the closest thing to crazy, “call off the search”; just like heaven, “piece by piece”

aimee mann, pavlov’s bell, “lost in space”
she’s been described as “more indie than indie” in the past.  she’s come alongside fiona apple to popularize some of los angeles’s indie music arenas.  i first heard her on buffy the vampire slayer.  this is such an interesting song.

//because nobody knows/
that’s how i nearly fell/
trading clothes and ringing pavlov’s bell/
history shows there’s not a chance in hell//

which leads me to another buffy artist…

angie hart, blue
this song was written specifically for one of the best episodes of buffy the vampire slayer ever aired, “conversations with dead people.”  i love everything about this song.  it’s haunting and lonely and beautiful.

//night falls, i fall/
and where were you?/
and where were you?/
warm skin, wolf grin/
and where were you?/
i fell into the moon/
and it covered you in blue
/
i fell into the moon/
can i make it right?/
can i spend the night?/

angie hart is probably best known for her work with aussie band splendid.  good stuff all around.

and finally…

jeff buckley, hallelujah, “grace”
this song has been covered so many times that it pops up continually in pop culture, specifically movies.  after watchmen came out, i heard a lot of plaintive cries for a moratorium on this song in movies.  and yes, it’s been used a lot.  at least 7 or 8 well-known artists have covered this song.  it’s everywhere.  frankly, i’m not a fan of leonard cohen’s original much.  i usually prefer the covers.  but the reason it’s attracted so much attention is that really, it’s just an amazing song.  it’s not about what you would think it was about from the title.  it’s a darker, colder side of love, but that’s why it moves you.

//well, baby, i’ve been here before/
i’ve seen this room and i’ve walked these floors/
you know i used to live alone before i knew ya/
i’ve seen your flag on the marble arch/
and love is not a victory march/
it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah//

i was going to list a few more jeff buckley songs here, because he’s been on the playlist an awful lot lately, but frankly, i can’t choose.  “grace” is truly an awesome album in and of itself.

so there you have what’s been running my life lately–which probably gives you some insight into my head, as well.

hope

there are days i wonder how cynical i’ve become.  i find myself thinking something harsh and jaded, and it disturbs me.  so instead of indulging in this cynicism, i’m going to indulge in a journey through things that make me happy.

i like dewy mornings with cirrus clouds and the scent of spring greenery and humid earth.  i like showing  up to see that there are leaves where buds were yesterday.  and i like herbal tea.

i like getting caught in sudden downpours and thunderstorms in the night.  i like waking curled against someone, and knowing his scent when the sun returns.  i like the breeze of a fan as i sleep at night, and sounds of the ocean in my ears.  i like splashing through shallow shores where tiny shells wink through shifting sand like sleep-filled eyes.

i like long kisses and knowing smiles.  i like the quiet of the night and the stillness of seeing morning from the wrong side of the sun.  i like the deep, primal beat of drums and how my heart strives to match their rhythms.  i like to weave the threads of words upon a page, savoring each sound and syllable and meaning.

i like the fathomless hushing roar of the sea and the tremulous almost-fear it inspires.  i like jewel-bright valleys with green turned to gold in the glittering sun.  i like hot cereal on lazy mornings and kissing water droplets from warm skin.  i like the slide of soft sheets and pillow cocoons.

i like naps and drowsing into slumber when eyelids grow heavy and fall.  i like waking to warm hands and soft sighs and even a lover’s morning breath.  i like woolen blankets and smooth fabrics.

i like the first drink of a cold beer and the hazy glow of a pub.  i like the silken peat-flavor of single malt scotch.  i like complex melodies and interwoven harmonies and rhythms that surprise me.  i like minor keys and songs that stay with me.  i like concerts and dancing.  i like losing myself in a song and the sound of voices blending.  i like singing in stairwells.

i like foreign streets and stone walls.  i like ruins of castles and climbing crests of jutting rocks to watch the waves strike and splash.  i like puddles and climbing trees.  i like when cats blink at me, and when dogs wag their tails.  i like kittens ‘paws and happy puppy breath.  i like when birds sing what sounds like catcalls.

i like nuances of languages.  i like pleasant surprises.  i like to run my fingers through someone’s hair and feel its softness.  i like holding hands and laying with someone’s head on my stomach.

i like the smell of mint, vanilla, lemon.  the scent of rising and baking bread.  i like the way the earth smells after it rains, and the rich forest scent of moss and loam.  i like the smell of chamomile tea and summer in the southern states, of plants and dirt and humidity.

i like vampires and cemeteries at night.  scary movies in the flickering dark.  i like superheroes and graphic novels.  waking under warm covers and sleeping curled in a ball.  i like watching the stars and seeing them fall.  i like knowing their names.  i like seeing who lives in the heavens and watching orion move across the sky in vain pursuit of ursa major and pegasus as cassiopeia watches upside down on her throne.

i like the voices of history that come from worn pages and faded inks.  ghosts of people long dead who hover by shattered remnants of their once-bright vitality.

i like bare skin and soft breathing.  warm hugs…and….