I wish I had been more hospitable.

Mid-July 2011—having a yard sale. Our asses are starting to hurt from sitting on the concrete stoop most of the morning and being forced into large-scale interaction with a wide array of folks Joe and I are simply not built for. We are always kind and open, but those who frequent yard sales are often times exhausting, chatty, eccentric, or, at times, rude. It can be a lot for a couple of introverts (apologies for using that word, I find it quite overused; regardless, it is apt). There are times, however, when you meet someone and it feels like you are talking to an old friend. That old friend’s name was Faith.

She was an older woman, perhaps in her late 50s. It’s hard to tell sometimes given not knowing someone’s history or life experience, so she could’ve been any age. My point being, with the utmost respect, she looked to have lived a tough life and was clearly a lot older and more experienced than me or my husband at the time. I often find myself making connections with women older than me. I am a seeker and I like to learn. Older women always have something to teach…whether or not they realize that is irrelevant, I think. It’s just a fact.

She purchased some old CDs. I remember one of them being a Taylor Dayne album we had acquired from a random (obviously) wholesale CD order experiment years before Joe got obsessed with vinyl. I almost kept that one, truth be told, because Taylor Dayne reminded me of my sister, but it didn’t have that one good song on it (“Tell It To My Heart”…it’s in your head now, huh?), so I put it out for sale. Next to the CDs, we had a small stack of vinyl for sale and that got her talking: “I’ve got some really good shit at my house. You guys buy?” And, well, that’s the magic question for my husband, so naturally a conversation sparked and numbers were exchanged.

A week later, Joe and I are traveling on a country road past our house—a beautiful area not too far from us that we had shamefully never been out to explore—on our way to her place to pick up this old record collection she was ready to unload. We pulled up to her property and saw two rather run-down, small homes and a hitch trailer with a makeshift white picket fence out front. She crawled down from the trailer, her hair in a long braid, and greeted us, motioning toward one of the dilapidated homes.

The house had fallen into disrepair and she was getting rid of most her possessions to live even more modestly in the hitch trailer. She didn’t have a record player any longer and had collected most of her vinyl through her travels all over the states and overseas. Everything had a story and I’d be lying if I said I remember them all. She wanted CDs now so she could still “get lost in the music” and preferred mostly pop and classical. She had an intense and rather intimidating knowledge of classical composers. The records we obtained had obviously been exposed to the elements, but there were some absolute classics like Sabbath in the lot. And of course all the stories. The stories were the best takeaway. We gave her money and she didn’t want to accept it. I think she was just happy to talk to somebody that gave a fuck.

Months later, I got a knock on the door. It was her. She was on her way home from a housekeeping gig at one the new hotels that opened up nearby because of the influx of oil and gas workers into the area. I talked to her briefly on the front porch about how I missed cleaning hotel rooms before I became a proofreader. She insisted I wasn’t missing anything and to “keep using my brain.” Before leaving, she insisted I come back over to pick up some corn stocks from her garden for Halloween decorations.

I told her I would try to make it down, but I never did. I also never let her in for coffee. Never offered her something to eat. I feel like a completely daft asshole for that. I haven’t spoken to her since. I no longer have her phone number, and I feel strange driving to her trailer not knowing if she is still there. Years later, I realize she taught me some important lessons about myself despite only having three interactions with her. She also taught me the importance of connection. Connecting to people…all kinds of people. Staying connected to the moment. And, for fuck’s sake, invite someone in for coffee.

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Uncaged

Queens of the Stone Age, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA, September 13, 2017.

Things have been hectic. Things. Whatever the hell I mean by that generic statement. I’ve been busy. Work, picking up a freelance writing job, kid back in school, regular early morning gym sessions (despite my strange inability to sleep properly anymore), trying desperately to catch up on art projects and sewing obligations…this and more + more than that + emotions + more than that. Needless to say, a night to let go and just say “fuck it” hasn’t been an option. A lot was riding on this midweek concert. It had to be good. If my “fuck it” time was ruined, I might very well pack it in and accept life as pure drudgery.

I suppose I could post a setlist, but I don’t really intend to write a traditional review. I want to say how this show made me feel—vibes were in the air. Good vibes? Maybe. Intense vibes? Kinda. Communal/good/intense/irreverent/totally not irreverent at all…just vibes. I felt a whole-ness by the end of the night that I didn’t realize I’ve desperately needed.

The way the city is alit around the venue is truly magical. A light rain added to the ambiance. Josh Homme said was ready to leave himself on that stage and he did not disappoint. He claimed to have a “weird day” and I could relate to that. We had spent the afternoon rushing through Eliot’s hefty homework assignment before leaving him with the grandparents and my anxiety was on full tilt for most of the drive in to the city. I was resolved my mind would wreck the entire night. He continued, “Sometimes I just feel like a caged animal. I need this tonight.” Me too, dude.

I found a spot where I could move freely and danced and danced and danced some more. A fellow in front of me, also dancing and dancing and dancing some more, turned to me during the end of “3’s and 7’s” and passed me a joint “…making us all forget, making us all forget.” At this point, the three glasses of Sangria I sucked down from dinner had worn off, so I happily obliged. Bye, bye, needless worry. Kindly fuck off tonight.

The encore was dreamy. “I Appear Missing,” “Villains of Circumstance” (which translates amazingly live, by the way), and “Song for the Dead.” The energy did not dissipate not once. It laid heavy on the band, on the crowd — a true congregation of weirdos willing to let all our baggage linger like a fog dancing in the lights of the city and the cool evening air.

Jeez, Louise! Joy in existing.

  1. Who am I?
  2. If I had just 4 months to live, how would I spend that time?
  3. What would I like to have contributed when life my life is complete?

Three questions posed by the Rich Roll podcast. Three pretty obvious “la la woo woo new agey self development” questions. Maybe not? To me, at least. I’m no stranger to that woo woo shit. But, are you surprised that these three questions absolutely fucking paralyze me? Especially that “who am I?”—who is anyone? FUCK.

I try consciously to notice love and joy in every moment of the day (I’m looking at you sweet ‘lil chirping birds in the trees outside the Children’s Museum this morning), but I also get easily caught up in negativity and expectation (both societal and self imposed). My emotions fluctuate a lot in day, hell, in a hour sometimes. Digressssss. During this podcast, there was mention of the things that stirred happiness in your six-year-old self. I suppose that’s a good jumping point from my gravy brain, so I am going to attempt to suss some of this out.

As a six-year-old, I was talking to trees. I was standing on stumps and singing to grass. I was outside a lot. I was riding a bike (I want a new bike—this is something recently on my mind). I drew pictures of super tall women and portraits of my family. I watched movies and kept to myself a lot. I wrote in my diary. I recorded songs from the radio onto cassette tape. I begged my mom to buy me poster boards from the grocery store and I would spend an entire afternoon making a GIANT collage from old Metropolitan Home magazines (We lived in a trailer; I resented the shit out of this magazine and I know my mom never willingly subscribed to it. There was this weird time bubble in the 80s and 90s when magazines just appeared at your fucking house—it’s a fact).

The past couple of nights Eliot and I have spent an hour or so working on collages made from old National Geographic magazines Joe picked up at a yard sale (from the 80s, no less—I’m just putting that “coincidence” together at this moment). I found myself in that sweet spot where you lose time. Even cooler to get to experience it with your eight-year-old kid. (Will he sit down and write something like this one day?) I have a lot of ideas and feel cool about making simply for the sake of it.

I’ve been caught up the past couple of years in having a “plan” financially to get out of my day job. I’m not entirely divorced from that mindset, but it has almost always included a way to make money from art—not that I’m downing that—but it really helps you to lose the whole purpose of making art in the first place. I think most creative minds can attest to that. The making, the doing, has to be the first priority or the rest of it is just an inauthentic wank off fest.

To quote David Lynch: “Enjoy the doing. So many people do stuff but they don’t enjoy the doing of it. And I always say, that’s your life going by. It’s important to enjoy the doing of something. Jeez, Louise!”

So, I suppose I do find joy in making. Joy in existing. Joy in creating. Joy in expressing myself and convening with nature. Joy in consuming the art of others. I am pretty sure that answers all my questions in one. I’m not shocked they are all interconnected…I’m sure that’s the point of the entire exercise. I need to do all or part of these things every day with that intention alone—joy.

How do these questions make you feel?

On being well

Before I even launch into it, I’m listening to this Spotify mix called “Lush Vibes” and really blissing out. Check that shit out.

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Onward with the word vomit — I’ve been super swamped with sewing projects lately. A lot of commissions. Not complaining, believe me…it feels good to be pursued for my talents. But, damn, I have no time. Working 40 hours a week (and we’ve been BUSY), juggling household duties, my son back in school, etc. etc. has made it fairly challenging to squeeze in time in a day for the thing I actually enjoy doing. On top of that, I have gotten back into exercising regularly. Not that I hadn’t before, but I’m serious with it in that I am back to challenging myself, topping goals, getting higher reps, running faster and longer. I signed up for a Savage Race (I mean, shit, it’s not until next summer, but whatever) and I have this intense and renewed desire to just kick all the ass. Be the healthiest me. Feel super comfortable with how I look, yes, but also super confident with how well my body performs. And, of course, the ever present (but true) cliche of setting a good example for my kid.

With this renewed vigor for healthy living, I’ve been perusing instagram accounts and reading other people’s stories…because it’s just what you do. You look for someone that’s on a similar journey and you get inspired. It keeps you focused and motivated. I’ve noticed a lot of people into this beachbody thing. While I’m not solely in the business of weight loss, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a part of the equation. I do see a lot of different types of girls, not just your typical “fitness model Barbie” basic chicks into this stuff. I see a lot of them do coaching and I’ve been researching it. Of course I’ve been intrigued. I’ve considered jumping on the bandwagon, but adding more to my plate right now seems fool hardy. Also, do I really want to push stuff on people? Not particularly. I am everyone’s counselor in my life though it seems and for that it intrigues me further. Basically, I haven’t ruled it out, but I still think it’s wise to focus my time mostly on keeping my head above water and getting this sewing thing on course.

I am aware I say it all the time, but I know I can’t do this full time corporate grind forever. I’m motivated and I’ll find my niche elsewhere eventually, I’m sure. Until then, I’ll just continue to vibe and live as fully as possible.

Stomp and see

Things are finding me. Which is pleasant. I’ve always been a Romantic like that. I’m open.

Picked up this Walt Whitman bio from Caliban bookstore in Pittsburgh a couple months ago. I was drawn to it. Green is my favorite color. Thick books make me salivate. When I opened the cover I saw the lovely drawing and I was certain I wouldn’t regret the purchase. Was never deep into Whitman, though I am cognizant that he is a spirit that has followed me throughout my teenage and adult life. Figured I should start following him in return. A mutual soul-stalking if you will.

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First edition, 1926

Walt is encouraging my inner wanderer. She’s always been there, but I’m sure she could use a hell of a lot more breathing room. Less anxiety and worry. Less pressure. Kicking against the pricks.

I walk every day during my lunch break. Sometimes I have lovely company, sometimes I go it alone. An hour doesn’t seem like a very long time for introspection and observation. I suppose it depends on what you do with that hour. It can go really fast. It can slowly drag on. Time is relative like that (that’s right, I said it. Throw your watch on the fire…maybe, that’s a little hasty, but whatever).

What things can you see in an hour? Where can you go? Just wander aimlessly. It’s freeing. Crank some tunes and find out! Walked an old familiar way, but I managed to see new things.

(Music of choice this gloomy afternoon is Mitski’s new album “Puberty 2″…exquisite, by the way, holy hell).

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Today’s soundtrack.

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An eye in an alleyway. Big Brother is watching; maybe some less sinister like Mr. Walt Whitman from the Great Beyond.

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View through a fence through the trees of an old and mossy bridge.

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An old skateboard abandoned in the back of a discarded truck bed lining. And my feet.

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Beautiful GREEN moss on the tree near the skateboard scene. Everything’s coming up green.

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Geese on the move.

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Groundhog #1

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He thought this camouflage maneuver was sneaky.

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I didn’t know this notebook changed color in the heat.

I sat by the water for a bit and watched a playful Chihuahua wearing a bandana chase his tail in the grass. His owner, a thin, older man, gleamed just as much joy as I did from watching the little turd having the time of his life. I smiled as I walked back to work. Vibes in the air, y’all.

 

This is the first song on your mixtape.

You know how a photographer captures a beautiful moment in time and transforms it into something extraordinary?  It’s not necessarily their creation, if you want to be technical, but is certainly an artform.   This is how I feel about making mix tapes, well, nowadays cds.  But tapes are so much harder and in exchange more personal since you’re working under side A/side B time restraints and pressing record instead of dragging a mouse.  It has your sweat and fingerprints all over it.  And usually a tear or two if you are feeling especially emo.  I digress.  There is even a Web site that supports my assertion:  http://www.artofthemix.org/index

It’s no secret that music is basically behind every thing that I do despite the fact that I am not a musician or professional critic.  I have been nursed on music since I was a kid.  I remember running my fingers over my dad’s old vinyl that sat on the floor of his closet (Goat’s Head Soup scared the shit out of me with that damn goat stew and School’s Out was complete with pink disposable undies).  My dad used to sing me songs before I went to sleep and he even named my first stuffed animal for me, Rocky the Racoon (I still have him by the way…most prized possession). 

Specifically, I have been making mixes alone in my room since roughly seventh grade — though those early mixes were usually reserved just for me and my cat.   I have to say that making mixes for other people is much more fulfilling.  My cat never gave a shit.  I would like to say that I only make mixes for people I really really like.  It is the best way I can say what I want to say without having to deal with all the social mores of face to face interaction, which, admittedly, is usually quite exhausting for me. 

I made a mix recently for a friend and co-worker that I am especially proud of for a number of reasons.  1) It marries my musical tastes almost perfectly with hers (I am very perceptive of what others like); 2) I think it captures her very bittersweet winter so far pretty accurately; 3) and the theme is heavy and almost unintentional, playing with the idea of movies (which she loves) and sowing and planting new seeds (since she is trying to move on in her life).  I hope she agrees and doesn’t think I’m just being a blowhard.

“A Kick in the Balls”  A Winter 2010 Mix for Kara:

  1. Constants Are Changing — Boards of Canada
  2. Reprise — Grizzly Bear
  3. Morning Theft — Jeff Buckley
  4. Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe — Okkervil River
  5. On Directing — Tegan and Sara
  6. Soft Shock — Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. Changes Are No Good — The Stills
  8. This House Is Not For Sale — Ryan Adams
  9. In The Fall — Red Cortez
  10. You, You’re Awesome — Do Make Say Think
  11. Bbtone — Pinback
  12. That’s Entertainment — Morrissey
  13. Sowing Season — Brand New
  14. Side With The Seeds — Wilco

I love to make the perfect album.  Maybe one day I will start playing guitar again and make some of my own.  *sigh*