Feed It All Your Woes

Through the fountain, Columbus Circle

I don’t know about anyone else, but my short stories always start with a sense. A glimpse, a scent, a phrase overheard, a taste. I used to imagine an eventual book of short stories, grouped by each of the senses. Usually while I’m walking, something will trigger the writing portion of my brain and burrow in. Often I try to ignore it, and over the coming days, weeks, months, I’ll know it’s growing, creating tunnels that connect into a story by the time I sit down to write.  This is not my “process” (could I sound any more pretentious?) for full length manuscripts. I am not a careful plotter who creates extensive notes, charts, and detailed outlines, but a full novel needs more than a whiff.

One of these bristle-worms-of-the-brain began creating a space for itself the other day as I walked down the wet subway stairs to wait for the dreaded 6 train. I’m letting it lie, don’t have an actual story for this story yet, but for whatever reason it’s brought up all kinds of old memories.

For me, old memories are pretty much synonymous with old music, the songs and albums I associate with different people and experiences, from jazz to blues to classic rock, from punk to show tunes to folk rock.   Anyway, I thought of an old friend I haven’t thought of in years. I can’t remember his full name, but I remember hours of poring over used albums in Academy Records and Bleecker Bobs.  He taught me about reggae beyond Bob Marley, and after work I would drag him to the (now mostly gone) hole in the wall folk rock bars of the west Village. We worked with autistic children and teens when autism was still considered a rare disorder, before the definition and diagnosis expanded to a spectrum, and drowning myself in music was the best way to not leave my heart smashed in a million pieces behind the head of a child trying to use his skull like a hammer.

Naturally this led me to youtube, listening to music I haven’t listened to in a long time, including the album below, which I’ve been listening to for the past three days.  I know I wore through at least two copies on vinyl and one on cassette, and while I can’t tell you how many years since I last listened, I still remember every word of every lyric. The entire album is beautiful, and some of it is quite dark, but when I was younger it left me hopeful and looking forward.  Now it’s got me looking back, time and opportunities lost. This was Joni Mitchell’s debut album (ancient as I am, it was already long released by the time I “discovered” it).  For all of her albums that I have owned and enjoyed, and despite the fact that when my birthday comes I associate it with her collaboration with Charles Mingus–their rap/scat of Happy Birthday, this is still my favorite.  Song to a Seagull.


New floors

New floors

That’s what it feels like, this preparing to move and trying to find workers we can afford.  I needed one thing to go smoothly, and this was it.  We walked into the floor store, and I asked the guy to show me the least expensive hardwoods he had in stock.  Excellent.  Next day delivery, whee!  The delivery guys even called when they said they would, and showed up on time.  And that’s where the smoothness ended.  Turns out the wood was in the wrong type of boxes, not packed correctly, or something.  Because as they unloaded their truck onto the elevator, boxes were splitting and planks were spilling out.  Off the elevator, more planks hitting the floor.  Hi, new neighbors!  No really, we’re quiet people, try not to hate us yet.  Needless to say, lots of boards were damaged.  This did make it easy for me to take some of the planks that didn’t have a box anymore and play puzzle on the floor.

And Art Child saw the piece.  The perfect piece.  She took it and placed it on the floor in what will be her room.  Sure, the linoleum tiles currently in there are an excellent example of late ’60’s decor, but I don’t think we’ll miss them too much.

IMG_1934In the interest of budget and productivity, Husband took the wallpaper off of the bedroom walls.  You never know what you’ll find behind wallpaper.  You could find a hidden fortune, or maybe

just this.

just this.

I would pissercize my anxiety away, but I re-injured my back pulling old nails and hooks out of the walls.  Ohhmmmm.  I’ll just meditate on my future new tank.  I’ve got the perfect spot all picked out.

Reef wall

Reef wall

Husband and I went to get little sample cans of paint colors this morning, and as I was hyperventilating, thinking of the work and cost ahead, this song came on the radio.  I don’t think I’ve even heard it in twenty-five or thirty years.  Not a soothing song, but I was soothed.  Maybe it just threw me back all those years, to the many moves I’ve made, and how it’s always worked out. Besides, it’s Friday, and that’s always good.



It wasn't falling, I shot it for a strange angle.

It wasn’t falling, I shot it for a strange angle.

The other night Husband and I went to a concert.  This is the first concert I’ve been to since we went to see Robert Cray in 2002 (smaller venue).  Sure I’ve seen Fatigue sing and school performances, but these aren’t quite the same as a big, all out ARE YOU READY performance.  In all honesty I didn’t feel like going, my thoughts were with Big Senile Dog.  But Husband had already purchased the tickets several weeks ago.  And frankly, I’m fairly certain that if I had died and Husband had tickets to see Pat Metheny, he’d have been in seat 118 that night. We’ve both seen him quite a few times.  Long, long, long ago.

If you’ve never seen him live, I recommend doing so.  He’s an amazing guitarist and composer, and I can’t think of anyone else who could get onstage and play a 42 stringed guitar and not have it be a “look at me playing a 42 string guitar!”  Nope, just beautiful and passionate music, as always.  Bruce Hornsby (w/Sonny Emory) opened for him, which was incredible.  I say opened, but not really, it was more like they joined together to add another 53 dimensions to the show.

Did I mention it’s been a long time since we we went to a big concert?  Ok, not Madison Square Garden big, but big enough.  Seems like some things have changed since back in the day.  No cloud of grass, puddles of beer, and squeals of excitement to guide you from the parking lot to your seat.  Orderly lines of well dressed men-and-women-of-a-certain-age smiling and strolling to their seats clutching plastic (covered) cups of wine with straws stuck in them.

Bruce Hornsby has aged well, he sounds better than ever and looks fantastic.  Pat Metheny seems to have found the fountain of youth, he hasn’t aged at all.  Seriously, he looks exactly the same and his god-like fingers haven’t slowed at all.

There was one shocking difference in the then and now of this show.  No, I’m not referring to the way my salt and pepper hair and Husband’s bald pate blended right in with the other heads in the audience.  People were continually getting up and walking in and out of the theater.  To go to the bathroom, I assume.  Come on, people.  I know we’re all older, bladders and prostates aren’t what they used to be, but for fuck’s sake, cross your legs and hold the wine!  It was like being in a musty bar with a mediocre house band playing.  Sure, Bruce Hornsby puts everyone in mind of the Grateful Dead shows of yesteryear, but this wasn’t a nine hour show where two thirds of the audience is tripping on acid and don’t know whether they’re inside the arena or out.

I had taken the bus to get to NJ and meet Husband, cutting it close in terms of time.  It was hot in the station, and I wanted an iced tea.  Guess what? I didn’t get one, because I knew if I did, I would surely need to pee halfway through the concert. Don’t tell me all these people couldn’t hold it.  If this had been a Broadway show, it would’ve been a very similar crowd.  I didn’t see dozens of people drifting in and out of Les Mis, holding the theater doors open while they chatted with the ushers.

PS: To the woman sitting in front of me, your boyfriend/companion/husband didn’t forget where his seat was (you don’t forget when you’re in the second to last row).  He ditched you for a better seat.