Thursday, January 28, 2010

I used to let you wear all my clothes

When You Were Mine (live, Mtv Video Awards) :: Cyndi Lauper

I remember when we used to go to the Mtv video awards together, back when they were something, back when they still played videos on Mtv.

I think I've always had a thing for girl's singing Prince songs. This is probably my favorite, though...both Cyndi's versions, and Tegan and Sara's.

Could write on the dangers of trying to make your best friend into a lover, and how much it hurts when it goes bad, but I think I will leave it to the lyrics...

"When u were mine,
you were kinda sorta my best friend,
so I was blind,
I let you fool around.
I never cared,
I never was the kind to make a fuss,
when he was there
sleepin' in between the two of us."

When You Were Mine :: Tegan & Sara

Some loving is what I need

Lucky Number Nine :: The Moldy Peaches

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. That my mood is finally turning around. I felt like a big black cloud of melancholy had crash landed on me this week, and it seemed like I could not pull myself out from under it. My emotions have been tangled up and turned inside out, tears coming without note or notice, and impatience and temper flaring without cause. But, I'm feeling better today, and I think I am sorting out what had me a jangled up mess. So yes, "I'm starting to feel okay."

2. Halloween. It is far away and not anywhere near the that time of year, but I'm recalling how much I love the holiday, the costumes, and the celebrating. Next year I'm throwing a party, like I used to, its going to happen.

3. Adam Green and the night I saw him play at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Running into him as he came in, how unassuming he was; he completely blended into the crowd of indie boys and girls with their look-a-like haircuts. We made each other laugh - that's something that always sticks with me, and endears a person to my heart - laughing together.

4. I've never had had a lucky number. I've never had any kind of lucky object, or color, or anything. I have tendencies that veer somewhere in-between order and chaos, and I do believe in fate (to an extent...I love the possibilities...), but I've never been one for superstition. Do you have a lucky number?

5. I think I need to make a playlist of happy for week's like this. I'm pretty sure this would be one of them. Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yeah for us these are the days

keep art alive; art by Joshua Petker

"They may say, those were the days,
but in a way,
you know for us these are the days.
Yes, for us these are the days,

and you know you're my girl,
such a classic girl,
such a classic girl.

Yeah for us these are the days."

Classic Girl :: Jane's Addiction
Classic Girl (live) :: Jane's Addiction

There once was a boy who sang this song to a girl sitting atop a train tunnel, as the sun was just starting to come up. The girl knew he was never really hers, that he was fleeting, temporarily hers to hold. Yet even in the few stolen moments they had the girl learned from this boy. She learned passion, she learned want and need, and she learned how it felt to be seen as beautiful. Not beautiful in the constructs of society, and not even beautiful in the poet's way of defining beauty, but beautiful in the way one becomes when they are truly seen, and loved. Sometimes the girl thinks about this boy, and she remembers what it was like to kiss him, to feel him next to her, and to watch the day wake up with a song being softly sung to her. Today is one of those days.

I'm still in love with you

Willing To Wait :: Sebadoh

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. That one unrequited never quite got there what if relationship that never really goes away. It was a case of bad timing, of two maps worth of distance, and not figuring it all out soon enough that we both still felt the same. Makes for good writing, they say - that kind of unfinished love - but I think I would have preferred to have had a start, a middle, and an end.

2. That week in Las Vegas, in the Summer of '96. Time meant nothing after awhile, we stayed out far past the return of the sun, and slept in short spurts, if at all. The heat, the gaudy lights, the shared smokes and toasts over beers and shots of whiskey, playing hide-and-seek at 4am in the hotel hallways - I remember all of it. But mostly I remember that night by the pool, the endless conversation, and this song playing on the cassette player we'd hauled out with us (a mixed tape I'd made, this, a favorite song and band of both of ours).

3. How much I love Lou Barlow.

4. The line "and no one's sure if we should be together", and what that used to mean to me. Star-crossed love, almost as heartbreaking and hard to resist as unrequited love, isn't it?

5. Waiting for someone and waiting for love - does anyone ever really wait long enough? Or do we all just give up and settle for something less?

Monday, January 25, 2010

One hand's just reaching out, and one's just hanging on

Head Over Heels :: The Go-Go's

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. That every so often I wish I'd gone ahead and joined a girl band.

2. Senior year of high school and Rachel. All those sleepovers at each other's houses - hair dyes, record albums, girl groups. I remember dancing on her two twin beds to this song, with hairbrush microphones and air guitars.

3. This, and Lust to Love, were - and probably will always be - my favorite songs by The Go-Go's.

4. My hair was exactly like Belinda's in high school, except dark brown.

5. Somewhere in a box of photographs I have a picture of Jane Wiedlin and I outside of an Mtv Video Awards show. My friend Mike took it. Right before he clicked the shot she told a joke and the pair of us busted out laughing. I don't remember the joke, but I definitely remember the night - she was a sweetheart, and and so tiny - a wee pop-punk fairy.

You can't remember

keep art alive; art by Joshua Petker

"You spent half of your life trying to fall behind.
You're using your headphones to drown out your mind.
It was so easy, and the words so sweet;
You can't remember,
you try to move your feet."

Eet :: Regina Spektor

The alarm goes off, jarring you awake, the cold air permeating the room and making it near impossible for you to want to arise. The sun is still asleep, and everyone else in the house, as well. For a moment you cannot remember where you are, who you are, what you are. The haze of a dream is still hovering, and the worries that played in your head for half the night start in, a louder cacophony of sound then that annoying alarm. You stretch your arms above your head, reaching, first for the phone, and then for the music. Headphones in place, volume turned up, you sink further into bed, underneath everything, hiding away. It is like when you were a child, disappearing into a tent of blankets, and becoming invisible to the world.

Finally awake and out in the day, the cars speed by, the street signs a reminder of where you are, and where you are going - but everything is still a blur. You blink, slowly, each time keeping your eyes closed just a little bit longer. The music is still playing, this time from the speakers in the car, one side blown out from that night the two of you sped down the highway in the middle of the night, laughing, singing along. This morning, though, you keep turning it up to drown out your thoughts, and memories. Wasn't that what she told you just last night, to try and forget this, to try to forget him? Would be easier to forget yourself, you thought, and decided.

The ocean is just three streets away, the freeway exit to leave this town for good just two in the other direction, and home - whatever that means anymore - is far behind you now. The choices should feel endless, of which way to go, aren't you supposed to feel free now? You stop now, pull over to the side of the road, too close, the back passenger tire half-on the curb. Your hit rewind, again and again, trying to remember the song - this was our song, this was his song, this was the last time. But all you hear are sounds and chords, the rise and fall of a familiar voice, and the fog of disappearing clouding your mind.

Sometimes forgetting everything is the only way to escape.Sometimes erasing everything is the only way to be free. But can you forget without losing yourself completely?

"It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song,
you can't believe it,
you were always singing along

Eet (live) :: Regina Spektor

Friday, January 22, 2010

There was something in everything about you

Baby Come Back :: Player

Brown corduroy overalls with a hand-me-down striped shirt, i think it was Kristin's, the girl who first told me what it was like to french kiss a boy. She had that this kind of magic about her; a teen at the end of her age, the aura of being older, of really knowing things.

Her parents would come over on Saturday nights, back when they were still married, and they would drink wine and play records. I knew all the songs by heart, and sang them quietly to myself when no one noticed.

Kristin would talk me into sneaking outside so she could spy over the fence at the twin boys who lived across the street. I thought they were awful; the same boys who refused me entry into the"no girls allowed" treehouse, and threw baseballs at me when I was six.

I thought to myself that I would never want to french kiss either of them, but Kristin thought different, and whisper-sang Baby Come Back to them as they got into one of their cars and drove off.

(the 70's)

I thought I tasted of too many cigarettes

keep art alive; art by Joao Ruas

"You're not supposed to be here at all,
it's all been a gorgeous mistake;
sick one or clean one,
the best one,
that god ever made."

Jump In The River :: Sinead O'Connor

A coin-operated photobooth look on your face, and that Cheshire Cat grin that you'd perfected so well, even at such a young age; well, darling, I should have known better.

You came to my door at way too late an hour to be mistaken as just a friend, a stack of photographs and a mixed tape in hand saying you were "just in the neighborhood", and I chose to pretend, to believe, to oblige you.

You smelled like freshly washed laundry and that kind of "I still live at home" clean that boys your age had long lost, and damn, you had such gorgeous eyes.

I smelled like cigarettes and borrowed department store perfume.

We shared a bottle of wine and sat uncomfortably close on the couch, our hands fidgeting and our eyes shying away, as we tried not to mention her name. You finally did, claiming newly-found freedom, and a sudden undying love for me.

I knew you were lying, but right then, that night, I needed to believe it.

Your kisses were the only ones I would ever look back on and honestly regret. But right then, that night, I would have done anything with you.

"And if you said jump in the river I would,
because it would probably be a good idea."

They have never been poor

I Will Buy You A New Life :: Everclear

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. How growing up always struggling, and being an adult who is still struggling, changes who you are. How it makes you stronger in some ways, and how it makes you more uncertain and insecure, in others. The following line:

"I hate those people who love to tell you
Money is the root of all that kills
They have never been poor
They have never had the joy of a wellfare Christmas"

is very relatable to me. I think that unless you have lived like that - learning how to make food stretch, how to pay some bills and wait on others, how to have a creative Christmas or birthday, and how to actually live in a city like Los Angeles living paycheck-to-paycheck - then you can't really know what its like to not have money, or to want it. And the whole notion that "money is the root of evil", or "money can't buy you love" (no, I agree that it can't, but this isn't the point I'm trying for here) is an easier thing to embrace if you have never had to go without any money, or have financial struggles in your life.

2. Promises from exes. I know I have heard them before, I think we all have - and we may have even doled out those pleas before ourselves. They rarely stick. Things, and people, well they nearly never change all that much. But, I've believed them. I've naively taken an ex back hoping that our second-chance "new life" would be all they promised. And yeah, it never was.

3. I have a huge soft spot for Everclear. Perhaps it stems from understanding Art Alexakis' background (growing up poor in Los Angeles with a single mom, having an absent father, struggling with self-destructive behaviors/addictions in one's adolescence and early adulthood - yes, been there with all of that) - and relating to so many of their lyrics. Songs like this one, as well as Everything to Everyone, Father of Mine and Wonderful feel like snapshots from my own life.

4. 1997, edging into the end of the 90's, and the end of my 20's. My life was going through some major transformations. I was transitioning from working in record stores to working in an office, I was hiding away in a very platonic relationship because my heart was still healing from my first major break-up/heartbreak/failed relationship, I was writing all the time (in journals, online, in letters), and I was discovering the appeal of internet communities (still so many dear friends met in the years of '96 and '97 who I cannot fathom not knowing now). I remember really struggling with who I was, and who I wanted to be.

5. If you could have a new life - bought or found - what would it look like? I don't know, I sort of love the life I have. Less struggle would be nice, less insecurity and self-doubt, and yeah more money would be nice (it is hard to raise 3 kids alone, and live paycheck-to-paycheck - or less when one loses their job) - but all in all, I really love my life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Danger in the shape of something wild

"So young to be loose and on her own.
Young boys, they all want to take her home.
She goes downtown, the boys all stop and stare.
When she goes downtown, she walks like she just don't care."

Hot Child In The City (live) :: Nick Gilder

History Lesson:
Hot Child In The City is a pop rock ode to runaways. It was recorded by Nick Gilder and it went to number one both in Canada (October 14, 1978) and in the United States (October 28,1978). He won two Juno Awards in Canada and a People's Choice Award in the United States.

After seeing young girls on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard, it inspired Gilder to write this song. He explained, "There are young people around (Downtown Los Angeles) finding out about themselves. And so it was a reflection, I think, of youthful angst and the passion that you feel when you are young, to find out what its all about in this world."

- Seems a little naive if this song is really about runaways, to say they are finding out about themselves and full of youthful angst and passion. The runaways I knew, both from the streets of Hollywood and the ones who hung out around Sears at the South Coast Mall, they always seemed better described as full of desperation, wanting, and disillusionment. That said, I never took this song as being anything about "runaways". I always took it to be about being young, going out, being a little wild, and experimenting with sexuality, and attraction.

Personal Reflection:
In the late Eighties it was the Seventies that captured us. It started as an underground Sunday night club, the first spot in a corporate cafeteria where you were tasked with knowing a special code for the door. Next it was an old mexican restaurant whose name meant "The Cockroach". There were mirrors on the wall, and red leather booths; it looked like the set for a Blondie video, all smoke-hazed and glowing. The next was an old skating rink, snack bar and smooth wood floors, you could almost hear them call for a "Couple's Skate" in the echos of yesterdays. This song stood out to me, one of the few I'd never heard before as a child of the Seventies; I think that made it more mine, or ours. These particular lyrics, Kate and I found ourselves inside of them, and we sang aloud, with half knowing smiles.

(The 70's)

If I kiss you where its sore will you feel better?

Better (live) :: Regina Spektor

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. Best friends and histories that only people you grow up with can understand.

2. That even at the end of a bad day, like yesterday, there are people in my life who make me feel so much better, and it does make it better.

3. Pianos. Though I've had a long-standing love affair with guitars, I think my eternal musical love belongs to the piano.

4. That pain is hard to articulate, as is fear, and that sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that if we stay silent we will heal, we will be stronger, and we won't fall apart - but I think that we all need to say things aloud, at least to a single someone, to actually start to feel better.

5. Kissing is one of my favorite things.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I didn't hear you leave

Here With Me :: Dido

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. Long nights writing letters I would never send and flipping through the few pictures I had of you. There was music always playing, a collection of about 12 songs, that I kept repeating, over and over, like that echo of regret that pulsed just under my skin - the one that got away.

2. The ocean, and long drives with Julia in tow, music always playing. We'd usually end up at the Ferry, getting out first to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel, or duck into the old photo booth. I have so many of those small pictures of the two of us.

3. Watching episodes of Roswell in bed together, take-out food and us being okay for a little while together - before we got married.

4. The desert in the middle of the night, driving alone, with that ever present mix of uncertainty and hope flowing through me.

5. How much I still really love the No Angel album.

I got a story to tell

Lola Rennt (screen shot)
keep art alive; film by Tom Tykwer

"And the times before that well,
I was crazy.
I saw the dark side of the moon,
and the stars in the sky they never caught my eye.
‘cause I ain’t never had nobody like you."

When you decide to let yourself truly fall, and to embrace something that is good for you, and that you truly want, the world looks completely different. You are still you, you are still in your life, the world is still spinning around in the same way it was the day prior, but it all just seems a bit changed. Maybe it is the way your heart is now open, or the nature of sense that have been awaken - or perhaps it is the new sensation of being cared for back, and connected in a way you were not sure was possible.

Whatever it is, it is worth hanging on to, and fighting for. These moments, and these connections, they are rare, and precious, and beautiful. And the laughter and music, it just makes it all the more everything to me.

"What if I were in a coma, and the doc says, 'One more day?'" ~ Manni
"I'd throw you into the ocean...shock therapy." ~ Lola

~ Lola Rennt

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nobody said it was easy

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (screenshot)
keep art alive ~ film by Michel Gondry

"Tell me you love me,
come back and haunt me;
oh, what a rush to the start.
At the start of something between two people, the kind of start that may, or may not, turn into something more, there is a bit of undefined magic around. It is all chemistry and emotions, the air thick with possibility, curiosity, and desire. There are all these unanswered questions, this clean slate between, and the buzz of tension dancing across the surfaces of skin, the flutter of each blink, and the flow of words shared. All you want is to know more.

It always seems so much easier at the start.

Later there will be arguments over everything, and nothing in particular. There will be un-returned phone conversations, misunderstandings, and the near inevitable realization that no two people are ever really perfect for each other - that that was just a dream created to end movies with, and to delight (or warn) little girls in the form of bedtime stories, and costumed princess marketing ploys.
The end, when it comes, it may seem so much easier than anything that came before.

And we will find ourselves in living rooms, crowded bars, and in the passenger seat of our friends' cars wondering how we got here. Our friends will tell us all that rehearsed script of comfort, we all do it. And, we know it is meant to heal each other and repair the shards of a battered self-esteem, don't we? We will take this assurance, even if we don't quite believe it, and decide we deserved better. We will order another drink, light another cigarette, dye our hair some adolescent shade, and we will go on.

They say to never look back, to never regret, to never wish for a second chance.

So, we do our best to erase, to fast-forward, to look to the next chapter - and towards the next start. We tell each other that we are fine. We smile pretty and try to work ourselves into another introduction, and beginning, with somebody new.

Are we all just some kind of science experiment? Is it all just a treadmill of sorts that we run on? A non-scientific rat maze that we find ourselves traversing, time and time again? Do we just close our eyes and jump in, not noticing the same pitfalls, the repeated turns, and the eventual exit sign?

What would happen if we took the backdoor first, and started from the end? What if we walked in reverse sometimes? What if we kicked a few walls down on our way, navigating a few new paths, together? What if we took the time to look again at something, or someone, we thought we already knew? Or, what if we did not follow the story at all, and just wrote our own?

What would that start look like? And that end?

"This is it, Joel. it's going to be gone soon." ~ Clementine
"I know." ~ Joel
"What do we do?" ~ Clementine
"Enjoy it." ~ Joel

Friday, January 15, 2010

Just bring back some nice reminders

Astronaut :: Amanda Palmer

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. Years of my life spent in not quite right, or often really fucking wrong, relationships.

2. That feeling of wanting to define oneself in love, or as a part of someone else, and never feeling enough - for them, for you, or within all of it.

3. Coachella 2009, and finally getting to see Amanda live. She was so incredible.

4. More than a few songs remind me of this - but once again reminded of how I wish I'd not given up piano. Honestly, though, I wish I'd been given the freedom to write and create music that was more fitting to me then the limited music I was confined to in all those years of lessons.

5. A random thought - or maybe not so random for me - of how I might want to make a playlist of space/space travel songs. Hmmmm.

It speaks of dreams and heartaches

"On the Road" (found photograph)
keep art alive ~ artist unknown

"They say that I am crazy,
my life wasting on this road,
that time will find my dreams,
scared or dead and cold.

But I heard there is a light,
drawing me to reach an end,
and when I reach there,
I'll turn back
and you and I can begin again."

2oo More Miles (live) ~ Ryan Adams, Cowboy Junkies, Natalie Merchant & Vic Chestnutt

I was born with the soul of a gypsy, passed on by my Grandfather before me, and who knows who else that wandered soulfully, and restlessly, before him. My dreams are filled with movement, fluid and changeable, with winding roads and endless bodies of water and spacious skies surrounding me.

If it were just me I would get lost more often, run, disappear, meander through the streets of new cities, leaving my shadow marks in the form of stamped wish you were here postcards, collected matchbooks, and the clang of a tip left behind for the counter top cup of coffee.

But I stay, I persist, and part of me likes the comforts of familiarity, even if I've yet to find anywhere that truly feels like home. My heart, it clings too, trying to hang on for dear life to something, someone, some shred of hope and trust and belief in the existance of love.

But love is like a map, folded and unfolded again and again, you can rely on it, you can ignore it, you can believe in its every twist and turn - or you can let it fly right out the window. Sooner or later, though, you might find your way back to it, and wonder if you can begin again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We can be heroes just for one day

Heroes (live) :: David Bowie

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1. The first time I ever heard this song I fell in love with it. The song stuck with me from that first listen, and when I first started driving I had it on this one mix-tape I remember vividly. I used to play this song while I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway and I would craft a mini-movie in my head. A story grew out of it, one I wish I'd actually gotten around to writing down.

2. My oldest daughter Julia who has been in love with David Bowie since round about 4th grade, the year she wrote a report on him. She will be 18 tomorrow and she is still mad for him.

3. Every unrequited or impossible love I've ever had in my life.

4. My often naive way of seeing love and believing in it, no matter how much I've been hurt by it, and no matter if I'm the one loving more. I still believe that love can change everything for the better...and more than that, I still believe in love.

5. How much music has changed me, influenced me, inspired me, comforted me, challenged me and been such a part of the person I am.

Open your eyes

"untitled" (found photograph)
keep art alive ~ artist unknown

"Every minute from this minute now,
we can do what we like anywhere.
I want so much to open your eyes,
'cause I need you to look into mine."

Open Your Eyes :: Snow Patrol
Open Your Eyes (live) :: Snow Patrol

I was thinking this morning how most of the time in our everyday lives, especially in terms of one-on-one relationships, we are terrible listeners. But, more than that, we are neglectful viewers, too. We either look away at the wrong time, open our eyes when we should shield them, and more often then not, shut them tightly when we should have paid attention. How many times have you asked yourself, or said to a close friend, "How did I not notice?" "How did I not know?" "How did I not see this coming?"

Most of our lives we are taught to pretend; well, "pretend" is a nice way of putting it. It is the way my Grandmother would have packaged it to make it sound a lot less stinging then to say we are taught to lie. We are told to put on a smile, a happy face, to say we are okay, to play games that trick and deceive, to fake it until we believe (or someone else believes), and to sell ourselves no matter how we have to embellish the facts.

But, the truth in all those deceits is we are all terrible liars. We say things that reveal who we are everyday, and we show our hand of cards, even if for just a split second, at the very start of the game itself. We want to be seen. We want to be caught. We want someone to say "Hey, it's okay, you can cut the bullshit and just be you." We just have no idea how to ask for that. It would make us weak, right? Vulnerable, exposed, and shown for the complete and utter catastrophe that we really and truly are?

Despite our resistance, our well-worn masks, and our years of training to not show ourselves, we do show ourselves in a million different ways. Maybe it is in those infamous tics that we show when we lie, or in the way we posture ourselves, or hold our hands out, or away. Or perhaps it is in those words between the words, the symbolic unspoken truths that literary scholars are always after. We are no different than the great novels, its just very few people will ever look at us with that much interest nor intent to discover.

Sometimes, though, I want to scream at everyone I know to open their eyes (scream at myself most of all, admittedly) and see what is right there in front of each of us. Take off the sunglasses, the rose-tint lenses, and the "I'm going to see what I want to see, see you as I want you to be" goggles and just look. We are not the stuff of daydreams, and we are all so flawed and broken, but beautiful still.

Look around, really look at people, and see what everyone is trying to show. listen closely, with care, and open your eyes.

"Jump with your eyes open." ~ Harry Stevenson, Feast of Love

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I remember you well

"Chelsea Hotel" (found photograph)
keep art alive ~ artist unknown

"And clenching your fist for the ones like us,
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said,
'Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music.'"

Chelsea Hotel #2 :: Leonard Cohen

There is something about hotel rooms, and what goes on within them, that inspires memory-laden reflections, lyrical refrains, and well-imagined (or remembered) stories. Perhaps it is part of the freedom that an anonymous room gifts to its temporary tenants. We wander through the lobby for reasons varied and wide, meandering hallways and entering doorways, leaving behind who we were a mere day before. No one knows us just now, and perhaps, no one will remember us after we leave. We will wrinkle the bed sheets, let the warm water trickle down our skin in the shower, leave our fingerprints on light switches, television boxes, and window panes - but soon enough, quicker than it takes to hail a city taxi, they will send housekeeping and we will be erased, the room being turned for the next occupant; a clean slate for someone else's story.

Perhaps we are meeting a lover for the first time, or the last. An illicit affair that no one knows about, a shared secret rendezvous which the non-descript walls encourage. Or maybe this is a reunion of friends, lives left behind for a night or a weekend, bringing along travel size shampoo bottles, and just as small glimpses into who we've become. Or is this an overnight stay of loneliness? Business, or some other soon forgotten reason, bringing you into an unfamiliar city. You try to position the pillows just right, turn the television on to create some kind of sound, and prop up a picture of him, or her, and the "family" you two have created. Though it could be, just as easily, a well-planned escape: a place to hide, or redefine yourself (no one knows we are here, do they?).

When we find yourself unable to sleep, in the middle of the night, do we stand on the balcony and watch the city below? Do we wonder if anyone can see us leaned up against the railing? Is there someone, also sleepless, glimpsing us now and wondering if we see them, too? Do we look towards the room nearest to ours and imagine who is behind the wall? If we knocked, if they let us in, what would we say to each other? Would we remember each other the next day? A week from now? A year? A lifetime later? Would we pocket the key on our way out the door, tucking it away in some hidden spot, as a souvenir? Would we take it out later, as the stories play like a film on the back of each half-closed eyelid, when we choose to remember it, again?

"That's all,
I don't think of you that often."

~ Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It could happen to you, so think for yourself

Catch My Fall (Original Demo) :: Billy Idol

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1) The movie Modern Girls, even though I'm quite sure the song wasn't part of the soundtrack (I think it was in Some Kind Of Wonderful, actually). This movie, though, was a favorite of my friend Kate and I, one of those ones we would watch repeatedly until we could recite all the lines ourselves, when we were in our late teens.

2) My first car, an old Honda hatchback which had a tendency of overheating all the time, and traveling with far too many people inside. If that car could tell stories, though, I'm sure it would have a book, or two, to churn out.

3) That I'm enjoying this more stripped down demo version. The original song came on the radio on my way into work and I thought it would make a good "5 things" song - but then I found this version.

4) Part of a story I was writing not too long ago which centers around a small group of friends in three different times in their lives - one being the early-to-mid-80's. This was one of the songs I have on the "writing soundtrack playlist" that I listen to when working on that time of the story (I need to pick it back up...soon...)

5) Hollywood, at night, driving around the intersection of Sunset and La Cienega.

All the stars

"The Stars Are Against Me Tonight"
keep art alive ~ art by dkim

"All the stars we saw have changed,
and I might break the law,
or go insane,
if I don't find some peace of mind,

All The Stars :: Golden Bear

A few nights ago I had a dream that I was in the middle of the desert, stark and wide-open, nothing but the sand and the dark night sky surrounded me. The night was arid and cold. My skin was at pin-prickled attention, and I felt that ripple of fear pass through me, the way it used to when I would walk home alone as a child, far past when the street lights went on, flushed with that overwhelming sensation that someone was following me.

But, in this dream I found myself to be very alone. It was just me, in the dark, with nothing for miles but desert sand; well, sand and stars. I looked up and saw them, more than I recall ever seeing in my entire life, that saying “blanket of stars” coming to life right before my very eyes. I started counting them in my sleep, and spinning around beneath them. When I awoke my head was dizzy, my stomach butterfly flutter winged sick, and when I closed my eyes again, all I could see was a circling array of stars.

I’ve never been one who held much belief in dream interpretation. It always seemed to me that the definitions and explanations were surface simple, and pliable enough to fit into anything you wanted the dreams to mean. I think about the decisions I’ve wrestled with over the past months, the questions of to trust or not, to proceed or not, to fall or not, to hang on or give up, and of course I could link that all up to my dance in the desert with the stars - but would any of that interpretation be accurate? When we face choices, when we know that our answers will be our own, and that if we hurt, if we fail, if we implode in our own footsteps, we will have no one else but ourselves to blame - well in a case like that wouldn’t it be nice if our dreams could message our subconscious, nudge us and say, “hey you, yeah you, go this way.”

But, there were no answers in those stars, nor in any single grain of sand. I was dancing in it, skin chilled and heart beating, fear pulsing through my veins - but the fear wasn’t stopping me. The choices I've faced recently, and still face, well they haven’t stopped me either. But, there is a copious amount of fear that still persists, tickling at my insides, percolating like a late night pot of coffee, reminding me that this is life, that this is real, that what I decide matters.

The dream was missing something key though. It was missing sound. There was no music. There were no voices. There were no wolves howling at the moon, tumbleweed rumbling as they blew by, not even the sound of a cricket’s chirp - and most of all - there was no sound of my own voice. I was silenced in all that night sky, sand and stars. Perhaps it was because I was alone, though I have been known to sing and talk incessantly, even to myself (really, you should hear the discussions I can have with the tile in the shower some mornings, or the sing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs car concerts I have during some rush hour commutes). Or maybe it was because the fear, and the awe of the night, were holding my voice hostage.

Or, did I just wake to forget the words I'd spoken out into the night?

I know the past year was rough, and that often along the way I forgot so many of the words. I’ve had moments where I let myself fall into the constraints of limited space, keeping myself locked up and only sharing what could fit in a micro-sized word count, painting tiny sketches of myself to let everyone know I was still alive. and we live that way so much of the time, don’t we? three sentence conversations through a phone we don’t even talk into anymore, 140 characters being our new form of poetry (will this replace the haiku?), and the short-attention spanned relationships that seem to end before they have ever gotten a chance to begin. We run, leaving bits of skin and torn fabric and bread crumbs in our wake, pieces of ourselves that people take as the “all of us”, and then, well, we run some more.

Though in those late hours of night, when we stand in the desert of ourselves, basking in the light of so many stars, awash in loneliness, we are all the same, aren’t we? Are we becoming mere blips on a screen, no more significant then our last reminder that we exist, and forgotten as quickly as someone clicks refresh? Or are we more than that?

I know I want more than that. I want meandering sentences that twist and turn, jump subjects sometimes, wander off and then connect back to some point we are trying to make. I want conversations that last through the night, and phone calls that last more than five minutes. I want to know people, really know them, and I want them to know me back. and I want to remember what our voices sounds like again, what the words spell out, and what the songs sound like as they fall from our collective lips.

I want more than 5 minutes of your time. I want the stars to chase after us and the chill in the air to huddle us close, while we dance under the stars and let our words co-mingle and intersect, as if we each have in our grasp giant permanent markers that we reach up and play night sky dot-to-dot with - connecting the stars, and ourselves.

I know we all have so much to more to say.

"Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly,
to be fearful of the night."

~ Sarah Williams

Hide and seek

"Hide & Seek" (found art)
keep art alive :: Artist unknown

"Spin me round again,
and rub my eyes,
this can't be happening."

Hide & Seek (live) :: Imogen Heap

As children, we play games that have us disappearing, and re-appearing when someone seeks us out, and finds us. We run and run, turning corners and ducking in doorways, searching out the very best place to vanish into. That feeling, butterflies rattling on our insides, richocheting off our ribs, fluttering around inside our hearts; I can still feel that kind of accelerated pulse - that sense of anticipation, mixed with a dose of fear - that would feel like a jolt of life in me.

I would hold my breath when I heard someone coming in close. My eyes would shut tight, my hands palm flat over them as if that action would create a barrier - a trick of invisibility. My heartbeat would seem so loud that I thought the neighbors round the corner could hear it, yet I was undiscovered. I listened intently, recognizing the footsteps growing fainter, and farther away, until they were gone. My heart would still beat though, harder still as I wrestled with the choice to reveal myself, or stay hidden away.

What if it was a trick? What if the seeker was just hiding themselves, seeing if I'd give myself away, so that they could catch me? Or what if I stayed hidden and no one noticed? Hours going by until I'd finally stand up, only to find that everyone had long gone home? Or, what if I shouted "Here I am, here I am", and the one who was looking came running, smiling, so happy to see me?

"One of life's primal situations; the game of Hide and Seek. Oh, the delicious thrill of hiding while the others come looking for you, the delicious terror of being discovered, but what panic when, after a long search, the others abandon you! You mustn't hide too well. You mustn't be too good at the game. The player must never be bigger than the game itself."

~ Jean Baudrillard

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm just a shot away from you

Take Me Out :: Franz Ferdinand

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1) The year of indie boy bands for me. Nearly every CD I bought that year, and just about every song I threw into a playlist, or mixed CD (with a few exceptions) were comprised of a male-fronted/male-centric indie band - most notably The Libertines, The Killers, Bright Eyes, The Strokes, Bright Eyes, Arcade Fire).

2) My son, Max. He was born this year and I listened to this album, and this song, quite a lot while I was expecting him - and after he arrived. Some of his first favorite songs in his first year of life was this song, and Babyshambles' 'Killamangiro'.

3) Chicago, both visiting there, and my short spell living there - and working back at Tower Records briefly (although not in the same year, this song still reminds me of that time).

4) Dancing.

5) My friend, Andi. Reminds me how much I miss her, too - especially how much I miss living close enough that we could meet for a beer and rounds at the jukebox whenever we wanted to.

Anything to make you smile

"All Cats Are Black"
keep art alive :: art by Joshua Petker

"But someone,
they could have warned you,
when things start splitting at the seams and now
the whole thing's tumbling down.

But no one's ever gonna love you more than I do."

Nobody's Gonna Love You :: Band Of Horses

The unexpected moments come, silently pouncing from around a dark corner into the middle of what seems so calm and clear - what is it they say, there is always a calm before the storm? I like to think it is just our insecurities taking a leap into center stage, pushing us over to the floor temporarily because no one is supposed to be this happy. I like to think it is all made up of doubts and worry, mixed thoroughly and frosted with a light touch of vulnerability - a cake served up when neither of us are hungry (but we sure are afraid, aren't we?)

So, what do we do? There are no rule books for this? No warning lights across the sky, or horoscope predicted blue prints to follow. Sure we have our friends to dispel their perspectives and experiences, all that sage advice that we half-listen to, but is it what is true for us? Our intuition gets tied-up and blindfolded during these moments, drowned out by the off-kilter chorus of internal nay-sayers and you don't deserve this voices. Somewhere though, somewhere deep inside, we know - we hold our own truths and definitions of love - its in there.

But the shadows cast over, and all my darkest bits push and tug on me, reflect in everything I see and hear. I'm not ever so sure I deserve any of this.

For me I sat back and looked at you. It was one in the morning and you were wearing that sweater that I love paired up with those jeans that are falling apart everywhere, stained and worn in from work and life and you. Your hair was a mess, your eyes tired and squinting to look at me in the dim view from the porch light and our lit cigarettes - you never looked so beautiful to me. You grabbed hold of my hand right then and I knew - and for a moment the voices and the doubts and those feelings of frustration and fear all flew away.

I try to hold onto moments like that, just like I try to hold on to myself, and to you, and to us. Sometimes I have to remember who I am in all of this - and know that I'm the one to risk and jump and love - and that sometimes that is the best thing to do, the only thing to do.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Cause you’re the only song I want to hear

Soul Meets Body :: Death Cab For Cutie

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1) This time last year, and all the desires and hopes pinned on a week in January, just on the cusp of reality setting in and breaking my heart.

2) The kids and I driving up to the mountains. The way the air cleared as soon as we hit a certain altitude, and how beautiful everything was from that vantage point - and all the music that filled the car.

3) How much I lyrically love pretty much every song this band has released.

4) That I am falling, slowly, but falling nonetheless.

5) That I'm itching for a road trip, somewhere, anywhere, even if it is just an hour or so away kind of trip.

Why did you come if you can't stay forever?

I Love You, But Goodbye (live) :: Langhorne Slim

"Who was I before you?
I can't remember
Why couldn't I have been the one to
Leave here first?

I love you, but goodbye."

Seems I'm always leaving something. Seems like I'm always having to let something go, or someone. Maybe it is the same for everyone, the passing of time, the inevitability of getting older, the way that paths veer off in opposite directions and the way that things, and people disappear. I don't know, perhaps this is all part of growing up.

I'm not always sure that I like it so much, though.

Loss is a tricky thing to deal with. It is sticky and wrought with hidden trap doors and thorns that come up and grab hold at unexpected moments. I know I've had those times when I felt I was over something, or someone; that I was finally free of the sadness and grieving that one has to go through when they suffer a loss. But then, like a surprise attack by someone lurking behind a dark alley and leaping out, I've been struck by the pain of it all once again.

Music does it sometimes. That song that triggers a time, a place, or a person, and suddenly part of you is there. But, part of you isn't anymore and that is when the pain hits. An aural ripping off of a bandage that still covers a wound, even if you thought it was long since healed over.

I had one of those such moments this morning hearing this song. I was remembering how things were and how things are now, and how sometimes you can love someone deeply and still have to say goodbye. Though, I suppose the sadness hit because we never really did agree to say goodbye, it was more of me fading into the distance as I've been known to do when I feel overwhelmed and as if I am in this will just destroy my heart in the end kind of place - maybe my disappearing was a goodbye.

It still hurts, though; even now it still hurts. No matter what I still miss it, I think I always will.

"What am I here for?
Who makes the decision?
For every beginning,
there must come an end.
I want to thank you darling,
for all that you've give,
I want to thank you, thank you,
for being my friend."

She said I love you, but goodbye."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

She's a local girl with local scars

L.A. Song (live) :: Beth Hart

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1) My neverending love/hate relationship with Los Angeles.

2) A certain dive bar and the people that frequent it, the way it feels inside, the atmosphere and the conversations, the expectations and the desperation, and that "I want to get the hell out of here" emotional response I've had within it, on occasion.

3) That I wish I'd continued playing piano.

4) Long cross-country drives with bags in the back and naive hopes that this time, this place, this change will make all the difference.

5) The book God-Shaped Hole, and how Trixie and Jacob felt about LA, and how much I understood it.

Said won't you follow me down to the Rose Parade?

"Tripped over a dog in a choke-chain collar,
people were shouting and pushing and saying.
Traded a smoke for a food stamp dollar,
ridiculous marching band started playing;
Got me singing along with some half-hearted victory song."

Rose Parade (live) :: Elliott Smith

Growing up I spent most holidays and vacations with my Grandparents. They lived nearly round the corner from where the Rose Parade takes place, and every year my Grandfather would wake up in the best mood - one we would never quite see again the rest of the year - because of this parade. I never understood the appeal, or why it meant so much to him. He was never a big fan of music (not like all the women in my family, a trait I inherited and ran with), he never seemed to care a thing about flowers, and he just never appeared to have the kind of naive hope that a parade seems to celebrate. But he loved it, nonetheless.

Most years I'd watch it with him, at least in parts, at least when I was a young girl who hadn't yet fallen under the spell of "I'm too cool for everything" early adolescence. He was gone not long after that age, anyway. His face would light up when the marching bands made the corner and the music swelled, and often he would get choked up at the beauty of the most ornate floats that drifted by. I never understood why he didn't go down and watch it in person, he lived so close. But maybe that was part of the magic for him, the not seeing it close up. Perhaps that would have taken away some of the appeal.

It happens that way sometimes, doesn't it? We adore something so much from a distance, yet when we get closer, seeing it for what it really is, with exposed wheels pushing it along, skinned knees and blisters from the march, and thorns just underneath the vibrant petals - does all the real change our feelings? Is part of the appeal the mystery and unknown, the squint and everything looks so much better kind of thing? Did my Grandfather long for something beautiful (a welder by trade, with perpetual dirty hands and clothes) and different from his everyday life?

Is there something in all of our lives that we love without really knowing? Do we all have our own Rose Parade?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We walk together, we're walking down the street and I just can't get enough

Just Can’t Get Enough :: Depeche Mode

5 Things this song reminds me of:

1) High School dances in the gym.

2) Lyrics scrawled all over Pee Chee notebooks, composition books, sides of sneakers, and passed notes to friends.

3) Cactus Coolers from the vending machine out by the bleachers.

4) Lying on the floor of my bedroom with a side-by-side cassette deck taping songs off KROQ.

5) Agree Shampoo bottles emptied into the trash bins outside of Knott’s Berry Farm to get in 1/2 price to go dancing at an amusement park.

And if you think you've finally found the perfect light, I hope it's true

Rapunzel's Tower
keep art alive :: art by Sarah Joncas

"Unholy and dirty words I gathered to me,
thinking the point was keep what's mine for me,
while he's laughing."

Seal My Fate (live) :: Belly

We are all a bit messy, torn around the edges, with broken pieces of the people we once were and the one's we become floating about in our inner selves. Despite this fact, this unspoken bond of flaws and scars, we still seem to expect some element of perfection. We try to hide the blemishes, the insecurities, those deep-rooted fears inside ourselves. The ugly truths, the dirty thoughts, the lies, the infidelities, the darker bits we consider not fit for the light of day, or the line of sight of anyone else.

Some days we run fast enough, sing loud enough, smile hard enough to separate ourselves from our darker side, even if it is only a temporary separation. I know there are days when I feel lighter, trust more, breathe deeper, and look in the mirror and think "okay, yeah, I'm okay with this." But other days I feel the weight of my past, the scars of heartaches - both given and received, and I see all my secrets fall out of each strand of hair.

On days like those, the latter shadowy ones, I lock what's me and mine inside myself. My body becomes its own secret tower, my eyes the guards on patrol, and my mouth (and subsequent words) my disguise. I walk around and think it works, that no one sees behind the curtain, and yet I hear the echoes of doubt and worry laugh somewhere in the background - the backseat driver, the critic sat on the side of the stage, the back row heckler throwing tomatoes and sneers, and the self-deprecating psyche frowning in disapproval.

Today though, this moment in the middle of my day, I feel caught somewhere in-between the lonely tower and the free-falling leap. I know I have thrown out more then a morning's share of ugly words this morning directed at my self in frustration over decisions I'm trying to make and the doubts that are plaguing me to the point of near non-existent sleep and jangled, half-zombie mornings.

Am I sealing my fate by the choices I'm making? Will these next steps be mine, or am I fooling myself in thinking this isn't just one more trip and fall mistake, patterns designed from emotional landscapes instead of carved out in thinking and planning? Is my tower just shape shifting into some new form of self-fulfilled lock down? Or am I finally stripping some of the layers off, letting my hair fall down, and trusting again?

Whichever way it goes in the end at least the music is still playing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I've probably made mistakes that I've forgotten

"I'm breaking my own rules,
becoming someone else.
Everybody says I oughtta get over myself.
I'm thinking I can't move,
if there isn't somewhere else,
to go."

Can't Lose (video) :: We Are Scientists

There are costumes and masks, bottles of hair dye lined up on the bathroom shelf, and a borrowed brand of cigarettes (and those shoes, the ones she tossed out in the dumpster that you took for your own); they make up who you have become now, haven't they? Thrift store dresses from the late 70's, my Aunt June had a dress just like that he tells you, leaning in with whiskey breaths and a kidney shaped stain on his sleeve. You squint your eyes and pretend that whatever he says to you is funny, that you don't notice the decay that is playing at charm all around him, and you refuse to admit that this is nowhere you should be.

But the nights get lonely and the years they tick by, one by two by ten by twenty; not a one of us are getting any younger. He calls way too late, in what they call the wee hours, though we all know they are really the hours of desperation. You carry the phone with you into the kitchen, hold your hair back while you catch a light from the gas stove flame, and you sigh deeply. There are promises and proclamations, blurry-eyed role reversals, and we all pretend to pretend to be somebody else, to love somebody else, to just make it through the night (again).

Jane lets her dress fall to the floor, she tears the pages of her teenage diary into pieces, and she lets the lies trill off her lips, vodka laced and cherry glossed. She palms the lipstick cases at the corner Wallgreens, every third week when she changes her hair again. Tonight she will pull on boots and a name-change, Delia Louise who grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago, summers spent at the pinky side of Michigan with a Grandmother who taught her to play cards. She sings at the corner bar on Wednesday when the crowd is light, mainly truck drivers and minimum wagers who never remember her stories, or her name.

But she can't move if there is no place else to go.

(inspired by Can't Lose :: We Are Scientists and a found photograph of Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's midnight at the starlite diner

Starlite Diner
(live):: Ryan Adams

"Have you ever slept it off to the bones,
and woken up at night my love,
having dreamt you called them all,
every person you could never love?"

Awaken the middle of the night, the air stale from another California January which feels more akin to some early September night, and my head full of distorted half-dreamt images. They say in the dreamscapes of your mind all the struggles you try to deny and repress surface, playing out on the inside of closed eyelids on a flickering screen.

But most nights the faces have changed, even mine, and I'm never quite sure which way I'm supposed to be going, which door to leave locked, or if there is a me in any of it, at all. I just spin and float, my lips chapped and cheeks flushed, trying to traverse the long-hallways, the rain soaked city streets, and the deep waters below me (there is always some kind of water in my dreams, near me, surrounding me, falling from the sky), to find something - that ever elusive something - that keeps me moving, and dreaming.

My dreams, they always play in color, and quite often there is a musical soundtrack playing somewhere in the background. The latter is not too unexpected, really, as in my waking life, there are very few moments that are without a musical accompaniment. And often I greet the morning with the remnants of last night's dream in the form of a lyric tumbling through my mind, or a song stuck in me so persistently that I catch myself singing it, aloud, the rest of the day.

Sometimes the song is the only thing remaining; the only thing I take with me from the dream.

There was this diner in my dream last night. I've seen it before in my dreaming life, though sometimes the colors change. Last night it was grey with blue letters that lit up the night. It was some kind of neon middle-of-the-city 24-hour kind of place that you'd call a joint and expect to be offered strong coffee and some kind of finger-food fried in too much grease.

There was a girl sitting in a leather booth there, alone, her hair tucked under a dark red beret - like the one I've had since the early 90's from before my oldest was born - and she was leaning over a composition book writing something intently. A young waitress came to fill her coffee up and she mumbled thank you without looking up from the page. The waitress smelled like that hairspray that Jill used to wear, small hands like hers, too, so tiny and pale. I know it wasn't her, though, just a memory-recall version that the psyche creates to cast one's dreams.

We do that when we write stories, don't we? The characters crafted a mismatch of people we've known in our lives, some more vividly drawn then the others.

The girl reached for her coffee, lifted it to her lips with one hand, while with the other she tore out the sheet of paper she'd been writing on. The only words that were recognizable were the words "I love you". She held the sheet in front of her, then crumpled it up in the palm of her hand, stuffing it deeply into the pocket of an over-sized coat she had just resting around her shoulders. Then she took another drink of her coffee, finishing it.

I don't remember much else after that. There were other things, images that flashed and overheard words that rose and fell like musical scales around the dream, but this is what I took with me into my day. And this song, although it was not playing in the background (nothing was this time), it is what I thought of immediately, and it is the song that has been stuck in my head all day.

Today I planned on starting anew in a writing space, and I was searching for the name to give the new space I wanted to begin. The dream gave me the inspiration I needed, as well as a reminder that there are words I have been meaning to say but keep crumpling up and stuffing away until later. Maybe later is okay though, as long as I know the words are there inside my pocket, or inside of me. I've always been one to rush things - everything - but maybe this time it is the right thing to do to tuck some things away, until the later feels more like the now.