Brakeman

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.

Sunflower Fields

Okay, so I now that I’m home and Chipotle-fied, I will attempt to give some summary of the events of this past weekend, or at least what I think will be of interest to you dear readers of this blog:

  • The absolutely marvelous, charming and good friend’s car did break down while trying to take my grateful self from Nashville to Bristol and her equally great brother and sister-in-law were so kind as to get us all to the show.  I’m not fussed to sit quietly in a car for long stretches, so it was nothing to me. I’m just sorry she had to be distracted by that all weekend.
  • I also got to meet the other wonderful people who let me stay in their hotel room out of the kindness of their very kind hearts.  It basically made this trip possible and I am so appreciative! I also met another friend who was a fantastic guide and hilarious.  Names retracted because I think I should.
  • Bristol.  I work in a small downtown that has benefited from revitalization efforts and what Mumford and Sons have given them…it’s priceless.  The exposure, the focus on local business, the embodiment of “loving one’s ground” and saying this place is awesome to 15,000 people who may have bypassed the town before but will consider hanging out there in the future.  The sales tax revenue generated for those business owners…I mean, it’s no small thing. I’m very proud of them for propagating their ethos in such a real way.
  • The Stopover.  Mainly, hot damn.  Hot and damn! My OTHER friend came up and hung out with me and we went for it and did our best to hold our territory about 10 rows from the front before we slowly were invaded.  So we saw Apache Relay (who hit this sweet spot right away where I just marveled at their groove, and I can’t wait to listen to some more of their songs where I can catch more of the lyrics), Justin Townes Earle who I was fascinated by, when he started crooning this blues song and his voice just creaked and crawled into the stratosphere, I thought he was great! (Please forgive my errant and terrible punctuation failures here.) Dawes – aside from the obvious highlight of Marcus coming out and singing When My Time Comes with them, they were just great.  I loved the song that had the line “I need you to make the days move easy…” and I know I’ll be better acquainted with their music before Red Rocks.
  • Mumford & Sons.  This was the second time I’ve seen them, little over a year in between, and as much as the sun had been beating down on us all day, roasting us alive, every now and then there was this cool breeze and the whole crowd would collectively sigh in relief.  Mumford & Sons was like a 90 minute sigh in the breeze.  My feet were numb, I couldn’t move, couldn’t always see (joys of being 5’1”), I kinda had to pee (ahem – there was no getting out if you had any interest in ever getting back in) but none of that mattered at all.  Everything kind of melted away in the giddy, boundless thrum of their energy.  I just sang and stared and clapped and did my best to jump around in my one square foot patch of concrete. What I love about them – among many, many things – is how they don’t look past the show they’re at.  They were just 100% present in their performance, and they wanted to just put every drop of energy and passion and love they had into it.  You’d have to be some kind of robot not to get high off of the experience.
  • I was so happy that my friend enjoyed it, too.
  • Finger-staches.
  • And other things.  Lots of other things.

The Adventure

So here’s a new one.  I am attempting this on a really negligible amount of sleep and the spelling errors are coming fast and furious.   I will try and correct them before you receive this, but wow, there’s some squiggly red lines on my end.

This is a state in which I could make a lot of really bad decisions.

But this is my devotion to you.  It’s 3am.  or 3:17am.  I am getting myself on a five am shuttle to go to the airport to get on a 7:30am flight to Nashville to meet a friend who is driving me to Bristol and my plan at this point is also new, I am going to try very hard to sleep on the plane so that I am not a terrible disgrace and passing out at other, less socially acceptable junctures.

But all of this today is about Mumford and Sons.   I don’t think I’ve ever given them the blog space they deserve for what they’ve given me over this past year.  Really, they’ve been an indelible part of the experience I’ve had from this past April up until now when I discovered them and fell down an interminable series of rabbit holes of love for them.

Their music, for me, brings me a peace and an energy and a sense of not being such a terrible, worthless, no good person, but instead a soul striving for something bigger and better.   This year, there’s been some dips toward a certain depression and they have been a big part of me not giving into to those painful ghosts and shadows and being able to deal with my problems and choices a bit more level-headedly (not a word, just 2-ish hours of sleep talking here) and the joy I have over being able to see them three times this month is pretty much bowling me over.

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with them – when I knew that I needed to hear everything this band ever did or would be.  Such a random chance encounter, since I hardly listen to the radio at all.  But we decided on some April day last year to drive down to the lake and take a walk with the dog alone the shore, and we mucked about and went through lumpy, prairie dog-ridden fields and when we got back to the car, Little Lion Man was playing.  And usually, I ignore those brief sparks of musical inspiration and go back and play the same old stuff off of ITunes, but this time I looked it up.  And the meat and potatoes passion and sincerity of their music blew me away.   There wasn’t anything throwaway about any of it.

That pounding, stomping, that unveiling your soul to the heavens, that baring of everything you are without fear.  They are magic in a bottle and so worth sleep deprivation and self-humiliation and all sorts of minor pains to enjoy their live presence once again.

 

Quility

And here I arrive, with a flourish.

Let’s set the scene.  It’s hot, but not infernal.  I have a fan blowing across my legs and a rather non-plussed ceiling fan twirling to little effect over head.  Dusk has fallen and the sky through my, ironically, dusky rose sheers is a faded, muted blue.   I’m mostly dressed, just enough to mitigate the heat.

Listening to Sting at Red Rocks on YouTube in honor of our morning expedition to Red Rocks where I actually got into the ampitheatre itself this time. Once you mind the ramp and the stairs and are inside, it’s alright.   It’s just that heady, tipsy, overheated climb lunging up the stairs in the raised altitude – I had to take several breaks.  But it had the added effect, beyond making me feel a bit disappointed about how middling my seats are in terms of not being front row, of course, greedy wench that I am, of making me feel like the diet and working out that I’m doing now will make it all the easier to do again.

And we did work.  I still have to do the bike and the situps, but I’m not too concerned.  It’s doable, I know that now.   Just gotta tell you a bit more and I will hurry off to do that and then enjoy the tv for the rest of the night.

It is a small, pearlized thing.  Remarkable in its weightlessness.  But I love coming home to a clean front room (clean thanks to my sister’s effort, but I am speaking more generally now) and the cool breeze of the fan and knowing I have a few tasks that will keep me happy and on track, food in the fridge, cold water to drink, and then, my time is mine.  No having to glance around constantly in anguish about the energy I don’t have to clean.   It is nothing, but it’s everything.  And it’s coming at a very strange time right now because now that I’m eating a bit better, even if the scale doesn’t recognize my efforts, and making sure that I’m moving every day as much as I can above and beyond the rote cycling and situps and that is giving me energy.  It’s making me thirstier, sleepier, and more energetic.  The bodily machine is up and running and it needs more maintenance.   Even if only a week has passed.  I know a low carb whoosh is in my future.  Today we got up and I had a shake and went to the market, went to Red Rocks where I didn’t panic on the ramp much as I wanted to, though I’m very curious about the upper lot which we didn’t go to, had a riceless, beanless naked burrito, drove around to nine stores and walked in the 97 degree heat to each of them, went to my parents for a walk with the obnoxious but good-natured dog and to collect a windfall of 600 dollars (a whole other post is warranted about that miracle), ate dinner or as much as I had stomach for since I just wasn’t hungry.

I don’t know if I can keep this up forever, but I’m tranquil about keeping it up for tonight.

Evidence of a Rich Inner Life

And you know it’s been far too long doing this for me if I’m considering and grousing that I’m wasting all those words on the damn title.  But, as I hear frequently, it is what it is and sometimes the title for a piece becomes immediately obvious even before the ideas start churning.  Not that these are pieces, Jesus, no, but you get what I mean.  Maybe.  I hope.

Speaking of titles, up until this instance, I had decided via the swirling jets of my brainpan that today’s post would be called Manichean Monday for puns and lols, but the day is never all that black and white.  It was the usual frustrating sort of day, though, where I told myself one thing and then life conspired to disallow all my plans and instead run me through a maze of its own devising where struggled through the switchbacks and turns until the whole proceedings were eventually called for time because the maze staff was tired and wanted to go home.   Saw the Farmers Market totals which were good, though less explosively amazing as everyone typically always expects.  Tried to get the books done.  Couldn’t quite amidst everything else, so I have to go in early tomorrow and buckle down (knuckle down?) and get that done.  There was much talk of my boss’ vacation which will mostly be to see family, not all of whom are well, and I feel more than a little guilty about how nice it will be to have those days to try and organize and get things done instead of chasing my tail, chasing my clerical dragons.   He hasn’t been gone for that long, possibly ever, at least for good year or two and I could just use it.

Sigh.  Well, I am, as always, a shadow of the graceful creature I will ever fail to be.

Exhibit A of that is that when I arrived home, it was shocking to discover that both my sister and I were in a decent enough mood to clean up a bit and I offered to drive us the very short distance to the recycling site.  I said I feel resistant about it, so surely, that means I need to do it.  And I did and no one died!  And as a reward for this great victory against the marauding bastards in my mind, we walked to the park and futzed around on the playground equipment until we felt dizzy and silly and the cool breeze and dark clouds ordered us home.

Run-on sentence!

I am hoping to get on the bike for ten minutes here, another nothing thing that has to be done if only to prove that it’s nothing.    Hoping to snag a little time on the ukulele since I think the guitar is too noisy right now.  Hoping to answer that email I keep putting off because I can’t figure out how to do it perfectly.    Can’t hope.  Gotta do it.    Can’t wait for Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Body to scoop you and awkwardly force you to do it.

Today: 162.8

And some music:

There Was a Title Here

I am one of those terrible people.  I started writing this line and I couldn’t remember at 10:53pm what made me so terrible.

Gor-tar?  Yes, ma’ams and sirs.  I did, in fact, practice on my Blue Dreadnought for as long as I could physically bear.   Guitars really do need names, but I’m thinking more and more that I’ll be able to play better and handle it more with new strings.  I’m learning, looking things up as I go.  The pain is certainly a deterrent, if I was one to be deterred, but it’s true that sort of getting it…getting a transition from C to G7 to G and back and now, ever so slowly trying to get my fingers right to play a clear D and A7 and add all of that into the mix…getting that to work?  It is a amazing.  Obviously, I suck like a Hoover, and I may not ever get out of vacuum territory, but it’s fun to imagine and when you can shift your fingers without thought and get an approximately appropriate sound, it’s awesome.

In things not so awesome, we found a way, somehow, to get three cats in two carriers (I held one) and drove them 20+ minutes to the vet.  Where we found out that they all have bits and bobs wrong with them, which, wasn’t fun…but I know it could have been so much worse.  And at least at this point, I know I’m blessed to have the money to be able to take care of the issues. My dear Lily has to have some teeth removed which sucks.  I don’t want to think about her suffering or in pain when she’s eating, but we’ll get her straightened out.   One of the other cats has to have a lump biopsied which may basically remove it, and I don’t want him to have to go through that, but here we are, sort of choosing as we go and for now, that’s as it has to be.    They seem none the worse for wear for all their rabies shots and being carried about, stolen from their beds.  They’re much loved and whether they know that or not, there’s not really that much to think about when it comes to taking care of them.  They belong to us so they’ll be taken care of.

So, I need to get on the bike.  I need to plug in my phone.  I need to take a bath.  I need to stop listening to this.  I am running out of time.  But my boss is on vacation tomorrow and I am starting to feel like the holidays are gonna be alright.  They’re going to be cozy and without fuss and my expectations are low and what I’m looking forward to is not some moment of perfect, holiday bliss, it’s just getting off the treadmill for a bit.  Getting a chance to take some stock.  Getting a chance to feel my feet on the ground, the air in my lungs, the hair on my head!

Tortoise Shell

Mild, short-term case of illumination.  Wee little flicker of hope.

I have a half-day tomorrow.  I am quite full, over-full really, with home-cooked food.  Vegetable beef soup and some garlic toast.  Well, neither of those things was really home-made.  More Sandra-Lee’d, much to my chagrin, but I must point out that I actually went to the grocery store and bought food I intended to eat and then eaten it.   I want to be sane in that regard.   That’s a goal.  To not treat fast food as a salving experience.  As a compulsion that cannot be curbed.  To remember that I like cooking and I like being domestic.  That I do not need to eat the same thing every night and as much of it as there is to feel calm.   There’s a thousand domino goals that come after that, in eating real, fresh vegetables and fruit with every meal, drinking boatloads of water, cooking more complex and better things and putting things away properly once I do, finding time for healthy food.  But this is a big step, a big habit to start making part of my life: eating at home.  So for now, as I mentioned yesterday,  I just bought food I knew I would eat and I am making it and eating it.   I’m going on two months without soda which has been incredibly un-traumatic in light of what I would have told you two months ago…that I would probably be drinking a soda on my dying day.  That I’d have my lips on a Diet Dr. Pepper within two days of going without it.  That I was less water than I was Diet Pepsi.  But nah.  Not so much.  It’s gone.  It’s not missed.  My teeth feel better.  I mostly feel better.  Small change over time becomes huge change.  Albert Einstein said something about compound interest being the most powerful force in the universe and I believe it.

So I practiced my guitar.  I am considering a few things that I need to buy soon and naturally, now that I know where a few chords are, I think I need a new guitar.  Well, I don’t.  I need new strings and lessons and fingers that can press harder than I currently can, but I don’t need to spend four hundred dollars on a new guitar.  That’s way too 1st world problems for me right now and I know that if I buy a new guitar, I’ll immediately lose interest.  So, yes.  I am going to get these new chords incorporated sooner or later.

I also got on the exercise bike for ten minutes.  One more thing I tell myself I can’t do until I start doing it and it’s nothing.   It’s literally nothing.  But you add these things up.  You go forward and not backwards and it’s not nothing.  It’s a new course for yourself.

These myths we are so bound by, these stories we tell to ourselves or were told to ourselves and which have informed our choices since we were old enough to choose,  they are powerful bindings and we stay inside them out of fear.    But they’re not more than knotted strings.  We outgrow them and we either cut them loose or lose the extremities they encircle.  I want a whole life.  An A-Z life.  Everyone told me I wasn’t musical.  I can’t sing.  I have no sense of timing.  I can memorize, but I can never understand the theory.  And maybe all of this is true.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t try and find such joy in the struggle.

See you tomorrow.