Your balsamical lips


If there is a loop, there is only to be inside or outside of it.  Unless, of course, you just find yourself on it, orbiting.

And if there is a loop, perhaps there is more than one.  And some I am inside and some I am outside, and some are carrying me around and around again.

The first week of chemo has left my mother with a headache I find concerning, but otherwise, she’s soldiering on.  It’s like, oh, this is happening.  You have to remind yourself and remind yourself that things are precarious, delicate, on a knife’s edge.  And who wants to make it a priority to recognize the constant danger?  So we did a puzzle for a while and my mother had ice cream and I made bbq chicken sliders from a recipe we’ve all seen on Buzzfeed.

For me, I need to get this house in order and my main opponent is the heat.  It is just impossible to function at 98 degrees.  My sense of distraction, listless boredom is constant.  I know that I need to do 10 kinds of clean-up in here, we’ve got carpet guys coming and I’ve got piles of clothes everywhere mainly because this is the moment I’ve chosen to inventory every single item of clothing I have, and the heat is making this process…molasses at the fastest.

And now, for my little sister’s comfort, I am going over to my parents from Wednesday after writer’s group and staying on there for another week.  To just sit there,  after I work and, I suppose, and ride the loop.  I don’t mind at all, though she just kept saying it was a favor to her. A  favor to her peace of mind as though I wouldn’t be visiting and sitting with my mother, as if I am not good enough to pick up on this on my own.  Not how she meant it, but it is how it arrives at my ears.  Trying to keep those two lines of fact separate in my mind.

Other news, other truths.   Delighted at the news of MST3K getting picked up by Netflix which seems to be the ideal situation for this new iteration to come to life.  I am looking forward to it with the sensation that it can’t be as it was.  It can’t be what it was in my life to me much less what it was to so many others who watched it at such differing stages.  It can only be this brave new thing lifted up by those who know some of the ways for it to fly.

I also just watched a video on the viola which made me nostalgic for odd days gone by.  I’d written a symphony only this morning in Fallen London, so the idea was amusing.  Once, I played the imperfect instrument ever so imperfectly but with a depth of feeling that only such time away could reveal to me.  I wish I could have it in my arms again.

Ditto for you, ditto and ditto and then again, ditto.

We Are the Normal


Another day that I would like to put up my words as fiction, but instead, the creative non variety will have to do.  It is cold and my hands feel stiff and slow and I am ready to be fast and fleet as fire.

I am reading prompts, perusing memories, and all of a sudden, I think of you.

What makes me special, what makes me real, what makes me me and not some other girl.  And some of that is your strange little friendship with me.  I was young, fourteen or fifteen.  I was in love at the time with Johnny Rzeznik and the Goo Goo Dolls.  I had nearly all their albums.  I must have picked up Hold Me Up along the way.  I remember it started with Iris and that music video which came on VH1 or whatever it was and I found it to be completely compelling.  This emotional, desperate man in something of period-style/distressed/punky looking red leather suit (oxblood is my favorite color) trapped in a tower where he views the world through a telescope had all sorts of fodder for my feverish teenage heart.  Then, because you do this as a fangirl,  I was into their older stuff, when they were this rollicking, searing, self-deprecating punk band that had songs like James Dean which was this melodic moan about “I want to be James Dean / I want to be oversexed and underworked / and look at me I’m such a jerk.”   When you’re a teenager, a song like We Are the Normal feels anthemic.  They had a really weird name.  They were boys, but they weren’t a boy band.

It was a soundtrack to a couple years.  They became something important to me.  I went and saw them a couple times before they eventually lost their luster somehow.  The first GGD show was the first time I’d really stayed out late and been exposed to weed, to live music, to the transcendent experience that it can offer.  I bought stickers and put them on my notebooks.  I bought magazines for Johnny’s face on the cover, I bought a guitar I attempted to learn how to play, I went online and found fellow fan people.

This was how I found you.   You were much older.  You were in your thirties, but you never patronized me.   I was never in love with you, but I was in love with our friendship.  You lived on the East Coast.  I sent you emails and talked about my life, openly, playfully, melodramatically, earnestly.  You were completely supportive about my writing desires.  You talked about being a teacher.  You sent me cassette tapes of rare Goo Goo Dolls interviews, the B-sides I didn’t have yet which I played over and over again, I would put in my walkman and go to school with.  All of it made me feel better in a time when, I was a teenager…I was an outsider…I was this thing.  All of it made me feel connected and alive.

I was young, though.  Too young for the sorts of conversations that we were having, really.  Not that you were ever inappropriate with me.  I’m sure I must have thought something about your attention in that way, but I knew you were married and I knew we were penpals.  That was how I saw it.  I talked casually about our correspondence to my family.  It did make me feel, I suppose, rather cool.

At some point, you let me know that you were cheating on your wife.  You wanted advice from me about it.  This sage, young person who could ply big thoughts into pretty words.  I remember this freaking me out.  I remember being hugely disappointed in you.  I wish that I hadn’t been as moralistic as I was as a kid.  I never saw it that way.    The absolutes were just that absolute.  It hurt me, but mostly, it weirded me out that you wanted me to keep this secret with you.  I know I stopped writing after that.  I also know if you and I had been friends now, I would have reacted differently.  I don’t know if I should have done something else…I was so naive and just young, but I see now how much I’ve tried to replicate the energy we had together over the years.  How much of what I think I need to seek in love, we shared.




I’d misplaced my phone.  I was just on the edge of worrying about it though it had been gone probably days longer than most modern people would let such an absence go un-rectified.  I knew unless I dropped it on the pavement and wandered off unaware, it had to be in one of three spots.  And, today, it is found and charging and I feel as though this, illogically, is a sign.

Time to get one’s shit together.  As our possibly next president has said, it’s a season to “get started.”  I want to get this room rearranged.  There’s something fucked up and irritating about its feng shui.  I want a quirky little corner desk and keep this laptop on it rather than sitting on the bed, cross-legged.  I feel this will help.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Freedom to be creative and weird rather than swallowed by material items that make me feel nothing.

In one way or another, at least.  It’s about an hour until I need to gag down some yogurt/applesauce.  Those earaches have been kept at bay by this morning’s dose and I can feel them beginning again.

Medicine: check, I need to get more yogurt.  That was bearable.  Passable.  Endurable.

I’m looking for a desk.  It could replace this nightstand and that awful pine laminate thing over there.  Distractions.


Got to shove off early.  If I don’t take more time for my dreams, they start to push at the edges, make my eyeballs bulge.  I keep double-checking to make sure I’m not feeling.  And when I start to, start to, start to, I run the track and hit the spots and sigh long and deep until all there is is unheard breath – the one faith we keep.

I would say if you turned up.  Maybe you know this and would prefer my silence, and this is the cause of your distance.  And in a vacuum where I don’t believe that something has gone wrong, mistranslated, been bent by an amused whim of the universe like the kid who grabbed hold of my radio antennae and subtracted 90 degrees of upright, attentive purpose just because he could – in that place of all things being equal, I’ve got this mustard seed of rage about it.  It’s in glass, of course, a little stomach of glass protects us from each other, lets me bear it out in the daylight like a charm.

It is just your life playing out for you as mine is playing out around me.  You are the center of your own Beckett play and I have Durang scripting mine and the highs and the lows, and the clever jibes, and the laughing for a reason we understand we don’t understand completely, but the circumstances imply we should.  Everything tells me I can’t blame you, but jesus fucking christ, who do I blame?  The ever-loving universe don’t let me in her bed these days.  And I would just like to lay this heart down somewhere.   This bird was given wings and took off before she realized they forgot the legs and we’ve been circling and circling and sinking, but in the end, the only way to stop is just to stop.

I’ve been listening to Daughter and Angel Olsen all night long.  This may have altered my brain patterns a bit.


Boiled in Lead: Day One Hundred Fifteen

531061_25882508I cannot begin.



No interest in talking about my teeth, nor my jaw that won’t relax.  No interest in talking about work, new boss rhetorically asking why she took this job as I, without guile or hesitation, watch and encourage her to slash a budget that might mean the livelihood of someone I’ve worked with for eight years.  No interest in talking about my two awkward classes I taught today where human people stared at me with no comprehension of what a computer was.  No interest in talking about my diet.  No interest in talking about my body issues.  No interest in talking about love or romance or lack thereof.  No interest in talking about politics.  No interest in talking about Burn Notice which is what I’m currently watching an inadvertent marathon of.  No interest in talking about food or hunger or things that pass my lips.  No interest in talking about things that will never come to pass.  No interest in talking about grand plans, gestures, or intent.

No interest in talking about the rain tapdancing on the skylight.   No interest in talking about the drive, the car, the uneventful nature of building a habit that eclipses old habits.   No interest in talking about Lark Rise to Candleford.  No interest in talking about house work, hot baths, or personal mythologies.  No interest in talking about personal distractions and obvious failures.  No interest in talking about the frame, the shape, the medium which is the message.  No interest in talking about walking or dancing about architecture.  No interest in talking about aging, time, loss, the infinite and the infernal.  No interest in talking about Italy or what must be done to not have  devastatingly bad time with panic attacks, no teeth, and possibly being robbed and left in a Roman ditch.   No interest in talking about writing group.  No interest in continuing it, save for this powerful sense of inertia and ego.  No interest in talking about vacations at all, stress and bother and planning that no one wants to help me with until there is no alternative.

I can talk about the one thing I’m currently interested in.  Clannad, particularly,  Teir Abhaile Riu. I had the most terrible crush on Ciaran Brennan back in what is now a thousand years ago.   He reminds me of Mumford’s Winnie, more than a bit, actually.   And it’s really all I’m interested in right now, all I want to focus on, the world I want to live in.  The place I will never be able to access or retrieve, a life that will never intersect with mine, but nonetheless brings me peace and joy.  The tin whistle.    Putting it here is more for me than for you, but maybe I have that wrong.


Still, I have to write, despite not being interested in doing it.  So I suppose I will take the piece, the outline of the idea of the scene and try and fill that out a bit for tomorrow night’s writing group.  Make something up, I guess.


Home Is Wherever I’m With You


The rusty wheel begins to turn.

I don’t know how to begin, except to begin.  There’s so much to say, so many little tendrils to follow, facets to the diamond.   I could tell you about the heat.   The unforsaking, devastating, potentially weekend-ruining heat that made it impossible for us to maintain our spot waiting out in the 100 degree weather on blankets with no shade to speak of.   Made it hard to breathe and made my heart shiver.  I could tell you about Guthrie, the little town that did good to accommodate all these people, the red Oklahoma dirt in the field that got on everything, the small coffee shop with this lovely window recreation of the Sigh No More album cover.  The string of lights hung under the overpass.  I could tell you about my little sister who was actually a lot calmer than I thought she’d be about most things…who got her brain boiled trying to keep a spot for me so that I could stare intently at Winston Marshall’s banjyrations…and who was way more freaked out than necessary about a couple dead bugs in our less than savory motel on the outskirts of town and didn’t sleep or shower because she couldn’t bear the thought of using anything in the place.

But I suppose the best thing to do is to tell you about the music:

Willy Mason – Lovely voice, loved the violist, will be checking him out.  Reminded me a bit of Nathaniel Rateliff.

Justin Townes Earle – Well, I loved him at Bristol, and I loved him here.  Love his attitude.  He doesn’t seem to really involve himself in things,  Just as the day was starting to cool down, his set was good…wish people had been a bit more attentive.

Phosphorescent – Lots of beautiful moments, though it didn’t quite gel for me.  Maybe it was the crowd anticipation for ESMZ.  Interesting frontman, too.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Loved them, though their camera filter was this constantly shifting kaleidoscope effect that was a bit dizzying especially in that heat.  They definitely bring their own vibe, and Alex can sing…but Jade’s my favorite even if storytime gave voice to a crazy stalker-type who wanted to marry her.  I think her voice just leavens the whole thing.

Bear’s Den – LOVED, loved so much.  Reminded me a bit of Matthew and the Atlas. I’ll definitely be seeking out their music.   It was a nice start of the day.  That core indie/acoustic sound, but with some lovely lyrics such as I associate with Mumford.

Little Darlin’s – Middle of the day, unique, fun voice that probably would have worked better in another setting.  Sitting as far away as possible to find one single spot of shade, the singer’s raspy twang didn’t quite translate.

Half Moon Run – Fun! Bubbly! Bouncy! Fun!  I’ll be looking for their music for sure.

The Vaccines – Yeah, I still have their lyrics bubbling around around in my head.  They’re the boys’ boys, y’know.  And they put on a fun show.  I was all kinds of distracted with getting my sister some food and drink so she didn’t pass out during their set, but I danced my way there and back.

Haim – I love them! They played Let Me Go which has the drum part I think is marvelous and I really hated the heat at this moment, because I wanted to be up there and dancing to them, but it was just not happening.  But I did get to see them at the airport, walking around like real people, when no one else seemed to notice them and I’m kicking myself for not asking for their autograph, but if it weren’t for a plane delay I’d never have seen them anyway.   It was just sort of special, an odd happenstance.

Alabama Shakes – The woman can sing.  There’s just no arguing about that.  I love Hold On, don’t know any of their other music, liked what I heard, but it doesn’t grab me as the most memorable of the day.

Mumford – Well, my view of the big screen was perfect for everything up until their amazing cover of Come Together and enough of the crowd either decided to beat the rush out or was just stupid and forgot about encores and left that at my sister’s insistence, we could creep up a good ways and actually see, you know, the gentlemen we’d come to see.  And they sung Sister and the Cave and then, of course, I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends.

I’m forgetting more and I’ll backtrack tomorrow.  But yeah.  Yeah.  Home.  Feelings.  So much to say.


All Out of Cleverness

If I wasn’t full to bursting with dinner, I’d want some Powdermilk Biscuits.  You know the kind, comes in the big blue box, gives shy folks the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.

Yesterday’s post was good.  I had some faint idea about poor Lillie needing someone in her terrible life to be kind to her aside from Adrian.  In a short story, you can have two people cling to one another and gloss over the fact that they had days when they were to the grocery store or days when they were in class and not everybody was just hatefully glaring at them.  In a novel form, a bit more of a daily life does start to show through the gaps.  And so these characters are starting to emerge so that Lillie has some support in her life.  And since they’re so new new new, they haven’t really been sculpted or given a backstory, but it’ll be fun to let them play in the murky water of this miserable town.

I also finished, rather abruptly, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.   Of course, now I’m on tenterhooks to play the last one.   I’m sure if I gave it even twenty-four hours my level of investment would be much less, but in the afterglow, I’m hungry for more of the game’s mythology.  I know I also skipped a ton of sidequests, but, eh.  I’d rather learn more about the underpinnings and ship Shaun and Rebecca some more than go climb buildings.

I ate a big dinner, had way too much Starbucks, am quivering in fear over work tomorrow as a result, but what the fuck can I do about it?  Can’t not go. Can’t change the past.  I need to practice the tapping which I’ve been avoiding because I think it works.  And I’m a genius who is concerned about the way getting better looks rather than just…getting better.


I’m listening to Goo Goo Dolls’ Girl Right Next to Me, from Superstar Carwash – an important album of theirs to me back, way, way back in the day. Back so far that when Johnny Rzeznik sings about having dreams that are 23, I thought that was impossibly worldly and had the cache that now feels so ironic.   I loved that band.  Got high, more or less, for the first time after one of their concerts.  I got dropped off at home and collapsed in the hallway giggling at one in the morning.

What comes next but Miss World by Kate Walsh.  Pertinent lyrics:  “Can I learn to speak boldly when I need to?”

And now, Nelly Furtado’s I’m Like A Bird.  Another song I only would have heard about because we happened to get the Canadian MTV – MuchMusic on our satellite.   Her voice can grate, but I always found this song compelling and I liked this album and bits and pieces of her follow up.  I don’t really follow her.

“I’m like a bird, I only fly away.”

Trial by Fire – ThouShaltNot.  My sister’s band that I don’t follow, but think are SO underrated.  Clever, sharp wordplay, a bit darkwave, I guess, if I want to claim I know what that is, but bubbly and bouncy.

Music is good.  Vital, even.  And in it bears the story of my life.


Snow is falling, finally, and I am flipping through my ITunes and I am deleting any song I don’t feel passionate about (Nathaniel Rateliff is a definite keep). It’s just that kind of night.   My uterus is muttering and ratcheting and I can feel the friction and sparks all the way up my spine and down my legs.   The room is dark and I’m coming to quiet understandings.  It’s not a way I suggest you spend every Saturday night, but it’s certainly a way you should spend one every now and then.

Can’t connect to Prairie Home Companion and QI has distracted me to distraction.

Emiliana Torrini – Heartstopper.  For sure.

I think I dropped and broke a piece off my laptop.  It doesn’t bother me.  It’s old, and things break.  It doesn’t need replacing quite yet.


The sisters had made a cake.  It was carrot and not decorated like a birthday cake at all, save for a single, tapered candle stick gouging out of its center, but Lillie liked it almost better that way.   It was meant and that mattered more than a sugary rectangle thick with anonymous flowers that dyed your tongue blue.

She had hung her backpack up on her hook and hung her celery-colored sweater over it.

“Happy birthday, girl.” Amelia wrapped her arm around her warm and close and didn’t let her away with a half-hug.

“Thanks.  What are we doing today?  More books to organize?”

Amelia shook her head, a bit amused, a spark of concern at the corners of her lips.   Her white hair pulled back in a ponytail, a white, less stringy version of Lillie’s own hair.

“It’s your birthday.  Those books have been sitting there for years, there’s no hurry to move them today.  No, we’re not gonna do anything.  Except eat cake and teach you to shoot the moon.  Now where’s Ellen?”

Lillie shrugged while Amelia pointed to the pine chair pulled out to make room for her at the dining table.   Amelia strode off in the direction of the bedrooms, leaving Lillie to stare at her birthday cake and the red candle that leaned toward the window as though some phototrophic energy pulled it toward the late afternoon light.  There would be no cake at home.  There would be an envelope with twenty dollars in it.  And that would be all there would be to say of it.  Of the fact that she was sixteen and was becoming, by certain accounts, a woman.  A human being, even.

This was her actual birthday, she reckoned, as Ellen and Amelia emerged holding a deck of cards, a matchbook and both were chattering about the upcoming luncheon at Saint Brigid’s.

Her wishes were a lot to try and hang on one tilted candle.  Ellen lit it with a quick strike of the matchbook and Lillie gulped with the weight of the moment.   Her mind moved past the aches and pains and focused like her candle on the light.  She hadn’t seen Adrian at school today.  It would be wonderful if he would turn up tonight with an orange.  She could taste the sweetness as she blew out the candle and looked up into the warm and kindly faces of her erstwhile employers.