Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It was a weekend of photo shooting and hanging out and pretending that there was no homework to do and coming home to be introverted with a bunch of candles and incense and Arvo Part and spiritual tomes. 

The sky was so gorgeous when I got home from work that I came home and grabbed my camera, threw on some grungy clothes, and drove down to the wastelands to snap photos of graffiti and weeds and rusting bridges, coming back to help amigo move in some boxes upstairs, before one of the girls calls and wants some girl-time to ponder breakups, bogus feminism, and other matters of the heart.

That the kind of men who call themselves feminist often use their sensitivity to take advantage of women who want to believe the best, that the other girls who talk about independence and the patriarchal suckitude will still defend the indefensible behavior of their male friends because it's still "our fault," and why couldn't we save them from themselves and save ourselves too.

And Friday night I make coffee mugs, ride my bike around the west side because it's beautiful out and I'm feeling extra-invincible, and then come home to get introverted, to read books and listen to chants, drink tea, and burn incense like a damn monk-hippie.

My sister and other family members converge at my parents' house since my dad is on vacation and we talk about music, and he's bemused by my youngest sister wearing a Nirvana shirt even though she doesn't like Nirvana (I first heard "In Bloom") in the car with him, he's a fan. Why would you wear a shirt of a band you don't even like? he says, and I think of when my punk rock shirts would go missing and end up in her closet when I still lived at home.

A friend has a baby shower that I need to show up at, I'm incredibly happy for her, and even though it's a lot of estrogen in one place, these things are more fun than they used to be. My former roomie and partner in photo adventures is getting out of a wedding shower at the same time and we rejourney to our old post-industrial haunts to climb around on riverbanks and shoot photos of graffiti in ambiguous legal territory. When we get down to the tracks we realize that we're not alone, that there are two men randomly setting things on fire so we get out of there and get a meal of Salvadoran comfort food before heading home. Introversion ensues and is much-needed.

Sunday it is so beautiful outside and me and one of my neighbors drive out to "goth it up" at the cemetery, where we wander around through the Garfield monument through the graveyard, laughing about the toenails of the weeping angel being painted and gleeful at the gang of kids on dirtbikes and ATVs roaring through the Cultural Gardens and getting absurd over hot apple cider at the coffeeshop below his apartment. Homie calls me and offers dinner, and we play a little bit but we're both tired so we're spaced out on the couch talking about everything else.

the next night we end up watching some guys play Neil Young covers at a corner bar and they're quite good, I'm a sucker for Neil Young, it's hard to do it badly. We decide to go on a night hike, darkthroning that I could never do by myself but having a partner along is wonderful. I haven't done this in years, and we're listening to the owls hoot and the howls of dogs as we push our way through the dark pine forests to a gorgeous cliff overlooking the river valley. On the way down, we get lost but it's beautiful out so we're not too worried and then we end up down the hill at an intersection that we know but we're so disoriented and turned around that we start wandering one way and then the next trying to figure out how to get back to my car.

 By this time my feet are soaking and I'm debating whether or not to call anyone for directions, but he ended up thumbing us a ride, and some guy with a baby seat in his minivan and a bunch of bread in the front seat takes pity on us and gives us a ride back to the car, going into Dad-Mode about being careful about getting lost in the woods and we're so relieved to be back safe and I guess this is my first time hitchhiking,  and we're laughing over late night dinner and old country music and punk rock, pondering the wonder of occasionally compassionate human beings and the strange ways in which this world happens. I feared that adulthood would equal boredom, and it's been anything but.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

something that I said

I took some vacay time this week to get out in the sun, and we ended up out in Oberlin but got all weirded out by the Stepford-hippie vibes and feeling vaguely old among all the the neurotic rich college kids so we took a long drive through the countryside and ended up back in more familiar territory, maybe it was a waste of an afternoon because it was beautiful out and we never did get to the woods, but it felt good to get out of the Slab early for once, especially given that I'm at odds with a particular coworker who's decided that I'm at the top of her shitlist to the point where we don't work service points together anymore after this week. She says I'm crazy, but we all know she's lazy, so there's far worse dragging through the mud I've experienced than this time.

Three of us got together to play music the other night, and it sounded good and so far the new bandmate is making good to let me steer things in another direction, which is probably a good bit heavier than what he's used to and I find myself asking for less jangle and more chorus and the results are satisfying. I find I like the lower registers more, not as much of the treble, and that's a personal thing. I can see potential problems ahead despite how well it went, but I also see potential. Only time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, it's the most satisfying noise I've made in years, especially as the colder months come. And then last night I'm given a pile of Hungarian dances and Ukrainian folk music to learn and I only hope I can play it as well as he does someday.

I'm bundling up in layers of hoodies, diving underneath a pile of covers every night, crawling out to answer the phone which was ringing late thanks to my night owl people and second-shifters. One of my near and dears is moving in upstairs from me, which given our past history, (that time he put out that fire, that time he drove me home when I crashed my car, that time he confronted a guy who tried to steal my car, the time he let me bail out of an abandoned building ahead of him when we realized we weren't the only people in there, the time he came along with me to evict a crazy roommate and then helped out some deaf girl whose car broke down in the hood) makes me thankful as he's been around in the good times and the very bad.

I am too tired last night though, to have him come over, the running sleep deficit and the encroaching coldness made me surrender to turning on the thermostat, and not vacate the couch, where I've fallen asleep covered in blankets with the CD changer full of Dead Can Dance as the thunder shakes the house and I wake up hours later to the first autumn snow.

These times of the year make my soul more introverted and seeking, I read more poetry, drink more tea, journal more. I make more art, I write more, the solitude is easier to embrace on darker days.

Monday, October 21, 2013

october all over

I've realized I'm no longer that person who likes gallery walks, despite loving art and being interested in others' creativity, sometimes it seems that the same art just sits on the walls or it's either so art-school-obtuse or banal that it makes me never want to portray the Clevelandia landscape ever again or do anything remotely inspired by graffiti aesthetic. But a friend from liberry school days has a shop there where she sells vintage things and does tailoring and alterations so I hung out at her housewarming party and talked to random people, met a few acquaintances in the real world for the first time, saw friends and former roommates that I hadn't seen in awhile, and then returned home to clean the apartment and sleep for lack of creativity.

I took a Clevelandia newbie friend down to my favorite library booksale, where volumes of art books and medieval mysticism and sundry tunes were acquired. This Massive Attack b-side will probably be on a few mix compilations in the near future.

It was cold in my apartment because I'm fighting the urge to turn on the heat so I ended up heading back out in the warm car to pick up homie from work because the bus takes forever and the rain is super-cold. He bought me a coffee, made me laugh with his Vedder impersonations, and slipped me some gas money which I ended up spending on the mother lode of thrift-store records down the street from him, African roots reggae comps, old traditional Irish reels, a hefty stash of old-school country  (Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Loretta Lynn), psych (Nektar) and 80's weirdness (Talking Heads, Roxy Music, the Cure) and that first Nugent solo album which is damn good despite dude's more recent clownery. You have 27 albums here, says the checkout clerk. I don't believe it either. 

The fill-in at the radio station was good, happy listeners requesting Mars Red Sky and Meat Puppets and Karp.
And sunday morning comes, we play music, college radio compadre's been a drummer extraordinaire and it's a pleasure to lock into his drums when I'm playing bass.We get coffee and study afterwards while I try to sort through legal options for a friend in a tight spot, hang out with the little sis for a bit, and then meet up with homie for pumpkin carving with his incredibly nice neighbors and late night dinner with the roommate. It's so late I joke I don't need breakfast and it's true. I should be more tired, but I'm escaping for the afternoon for lack of work to get some darkthroning in. This October has been so beautiful.

Friday, October 18, 2013

so this is the aftermath

I was so tensed up the other night that I thought I would cry upon entering the sanctuary of my apartment, but instead I took a nap, and then remembered I was supposed to have a coffeeshop night with one of my favorite ladies, which turned into dinner instead, devouring vegetarian burritos and instead of talking about Calvino or Chechnya we're talking about the male species, and feeling a little intellectually slummy for it, and how we sometimes feel like the stronger ones, the more assertive ones in these dynamics, which is funny given that we've been pushovers for so long, and it's like we discovered this part of us that's strong and tough after all we've been through. Nothing like black bean and sweet potato goodness to restore the equilibrium, that and the wonderful and productive distraction of music lessons.

I feel like I'm reaching back ten years in memory to the last time I took all this theory, and it's strange and I find myself nervy and hitting the wrong strings even though I do practice, but he's a gentle teacher. I feel bad when the people greet me in Ukrainian and I don't speak it, but people overall seem friendly. I get some homework done at the coffeeshop and crash, feeling lame for wondering if I've made anyone upset and remembering that there's a whole lot of other life going on even if that does happen.

The next morning things are back to where they were, if not better, with more clarity and honesty, and I'm so used to others cutting and running in times of friction and that doesn't happen here. And that night there are other moments of dealing with the interpersonals of personalities and musicianship and trying to get beyond the theoreticals of culture and economics to what the core issues are.

I find that for all our talk about rich and poor and black and white and whatever, it really comes down to just how well individuals get along and get over themselves, how willing we are to meet in the middle, and some will do that across any boundary and others will refuse to for whatever reason. Humility and being able to listen and understand where someone's coming from goes a long way no matter who you are, and letting go of all your hangups about yourself and others to see the soul underneath. sometimes I feel like a lot of us went to school too long and are so full of jargon we forget to do the basics of just learning to exist with each other.

Last night I ended up through a series of unforeseen circumstances, meeting up with a friend of mine from high school that I haven't had a real conversation with in about ten years. We did punkass things together, wrote a zine together with her sister and a couple other folks when she was in high school and I was in college, I made her lots of punk rock mixtapes of bands she never did get into, except for the Dead Milkmen, who her dad maybe liked even more than her, and then she moved out of her folks' house and stopped talking to any of us who were still crazy enough to be into organized religion and we lost touch for a long time.

I show up at her apartment with a bag of food for a friend of hers who got her food stamps cut, she invites me in, we catch up, and find the conversation flows, she cooks me dinner, we are in such different places now, with her married and me living alone, and so many reconciliations along the way. She laughs when she finds out I've been arrested, we reminisce on our teenage absurdities, and ponder all the strangeness. Somehow those lost years cease to matter, and it's beautiful to be back again in a place better than where we were.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

got a gut feeling.

maybe it's the hormones, I could blame this on, that emotional roller coaster, but no, I was feeling this for awhile, already seeking a way to extricate, and evidence piling up only confirms that feeling intuited a month ago. I find it easier to bail sooner rather than later, all hesitations validated, all red flags signaling no. Creativity especially with others is a strange thing, and sometimes you just don't click with others and it's better to figure that out now than later, and I'm not convinced by concessions made, I don't want to make those concessions.

Explaining this over the phone at 1am makes no sense and makes me sound like a jerk, and it shouldn't bother me that a good friend might think less of me because of this unsurety about the motivations of others, that maybe rankles the most. I don't know if there's anything else I could do. I go back and forth between relief and regret.I hope I haven't lost too much here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

disconnect a million miles

There are friends coming over for our monthly dinner. Out of consideration for the less crunchy of my companions, I actually make an effort at cooking meat once every four months that isn't tilapia filets. There is vegan chili in a crockpot by my sink, jerk chicken marinating in the fridge. The new table isn't big enough for everyone, so I have a card table from my mom ready to set up.

Last night I had my first dulcimer lesson, having to relearn all the music theory from the days when I took piano lessons, words like mezzopiano and such. He jokes that I'll be learning Italian and Ukrainian along with all this music, and says I pick it up quickly, even if my hands are unsure as I'm looking at the scale on here for the first time. He asks what I want to learn, and I say anything but things like "Mary Had  a Little Lamb" so he gives me sheet music of a basic folk tune and scales to practice. I am so excited to see what's going to happen with this.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

the little things

I spent Friday night studying at the coffeeshop down the street watching men compare notes about their grindr apps and a couple out on an awkward first date, within an hour they were looking at their phones after several conversational nonstarters, and then I walked home, thankful that I can walk home at night in these parts without trepidation. My parents came by this week to drop off a table from my great-uncle's house and my mom was concerned about my walking home from there, and while it is an urban neighborhood, it's also one that's full of people walking down that stretch, and people hanging out on balconies, and so I don't have too much concern.

I feel almost guilty having nice things, having people move nice things for me, maybe it's still being in college mode or something, having only bought a coffee table, having everything else given or left behind by previous roomies. This stuff is still free too but then I'm figuring out what to get rid of and end up taking apart a broken plywood ikea dresser that the previous guy left in my art room, yanking out the nails, ripping the plywood off the sides, that it comes apart with minimal tools and my weak arms is a testament to its cheapness.

There was this incredible lightning storm going down the other night, I thought I saw the spire of the West Side Market get struck and this flash of green and blue light, the most intense lightning and the closest I've seen in a long time. I haven't driven through rain like that in awhile and when it died down, bandmate came over and we wrote our favorite stuff yet, and then chilled out listening to music for awhile, talking and losing all sense of time.We seem to have caught the sound we want even this early on, and continue to tweak our tones and spiral out riffs and chords until we get tired, which seems to happen sooner these days.

Friday, October 4, 2013


some emails exchanged restores some equilibrium, I've been sleepless and caffeinated the last couple days, and now I'm somewhat back to normal, here and there, trying catch up on rest, having needed conversations, hoping this weekend doesn't get too crazy with things needed to be done, frustrated with powers that be and the increasingly short attention span of my generation, trying to come up with a band name that isn't dumb, snagging a new bike last night that's in need of a maiden voyage, homework that needs to be done, booze to buy for someone's birthday, wanting to reconnect with the ones that make me feel most alive and loved, so tired, so ready to go.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

coming separate

I forget how hard and complicated being in a band can be, especially in the embryonic stages, and every project I've ever done has been stillborn or aborted. I don't know what this is, and maybe it's too early to tell, the last few times have been with relative strangers so it was easier to bow out early. They've got other projects, this is my only one and I want it to be something I love, I wonder if this is selfish sometimes, but I can't play what I can't believe in.