Friday, November 28, 2008

alone again, four years later

my voice is slowly returning to normal. during the two nights i spent in new hampshire earlier this week i drank hundreds of gallons of filtered water, and went through at least a dozen bags of herbal tea. i also ate lots of homemade cookies and pie and a third of a tofurky. maybe it all got balanced out, i'm not sure. my voice got scratchier and more painfully pubescent as the night grew later. when the period that free cellphone minutes arrived, and my sweetheart was free to chat, my words were awkward skeletons straining to breathe dusty air.

returning to northampton in the middle of another dubious national holiday yesterday, i marvelled at the deserted streets. i got dropped off at home and didn't leave until well after the sun set and then rose again. i spent a delightful afternoon and evening alone, not straining my voice, doing as i pleased with no agenda to speak of. i grabbed my guitar and then halfway through a song grabbed a book on my bookshelf that caught my eye. i simultaneously strummed a chord and read a quote from an old professor of mine on the psychology of racism. i made tea, baked a pretzel, did whatever i pleased with the bathroom door open. i wore layers and comfortable sat around with the heat off.

i could've spent the day on cape cod with my dad or walked through the streets of plymouth mourning the ongoing genocide of native peoples. but i was content in my solitude, taking care of myself, getting healthy again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

making sense of last week

last week commemorated the births of two people i'm related to and those of countless others, close and distant; along with the death of someone loved by someone i now love, and saw the death of the father of someone i work with.

it officially became cold. tension and conflict permeated the frigid air. miscommunication, straight up insults, threats of lawsuits, ignoring inappropriate friend requests--all commenced as we layered up, armed with mittens, scarfs, and winter hats. is this winter?

last week i was centered, immune to it all. i surprised the surprisers. triumphant, until i began coughing and sniffling. and now today i found myself making your lunch with gloves, my nose dripping, my vocal chords unable to articulate the words transmitted from my brain. we were all damaged in our own special way, but i left early and haven't left home since.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


sitting together in anticipation, we slowly flip the next page of the calendar: survive. the crows stand defiantly in the puddles, staring up at the emerging sun as it begins to drown out the ominous storm clouds surrounding them. the prospects of a new year are like those beams of light radiating from the sun. it's still raining on us. our feet are wet. but soon the tunnels will recede and everything will be fresh, new and, most importantly, close. we are invincible.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

dreaming of insomniacs

shake me out of my comfort zone. feed my brain with seeds of a new world. there's too much at stake right now to sit on our asses watching romantic comedies. give me your words and i'll turn it into a song. join me at the grand opening of the corporate clothing store on main street and help me hand out molotov cocktail-shaped candies to teenage consumers. bring the wheat paste recipe tonight and we'll cover the town with our maps of picnic tables. meet me at my favorite one, where we'll conduct interviews at 12:30 am. the day after tomorrow is today.

Friday, November 07, 2008

we're all presidents: election night part two

we had already bounced all over downtown, but we needed a change of scenery. we needed a better setting to witness the big speech. i'm sure for some it was exhausting, but i really appreciated how on that night the only thing on people's lips was politics. it was a glimpse of what it's like in countries with a richer, more informed year round political culture. a contagious sense of participation and purpose permeated the streets, workplaces, schools, bars, and cafes--in northampton and all across the country.

we briskly walked across town as hundreds of thousands of chicagoans eagerly awaited the historic speech in grant park. when we arrived at the backroom of packards to an enthusastic crowd that had graciously saved us a seat to view the big screen tv on the wall. minutes later obama began his speech. despite my mixed, even ambivalent feelings about his victory i have to admit to being moved in that moment.

returning to the warm november night outside, honking cars and screams of joys came from all directions. i decided to embrace it by borrowing a guitar from a kid sitting on main street across from city hall. i belted out the only song that made sense:

we're all presidents. we're all congressmen. we're all cops in waiting. we're the workers of the world. there is the elite and the dispossessed. and it's only about survival. who has skill to play the game for all it's worth. and reach an obscure kind of perfection.

just before we reached the point in the song where the guitar drops out and handclaps take over, a police officer walked up to us and asked if i had a permit. he commanded me to stop playing. after he left, we resumed singing with handclaps:

and we rock. because it's us against them. we found our own reasons to sing...

we continued to sing other songs and keep the handclaps going as we walked to the dance party. the small crowd outside the basement was quietly smoking cigarettes when we showed up, still singing. but inside it was an epic celebration. we danced as hard as we could to "you can get it if you really want" and "let me clear my throat." when the ceo of the iron horse entertainment group, the owner of this building we danced in, arrived i had a thought that he might not be as excited as the rest of us.

if president obama does, as he promised on the campaign trail, to roll back bush's tax cuts for the wealthy this may negatively impact small-town capitalist eric suher. feeling fiesty, i approached him after using the bathroom to express my condolences for this potential threat to his assets. "what?!" he replied, caught off guard. "i said, i'm sorry to hear that you may lose your tax break under the new president." grumbling something inaudible beneath the booming dance beats, he was visibly angered. i smiled and just danced away.

we left a little early only to discover a smaller, but just as spirited dance party on the street. "groove is in the heart" played from a boombox as passerby smiled and cheered, some joining us. "what is love" began and we walked into the night, embracing the potential of a new future.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

spinning on that dizzy edge

last night was fun. in places like west philly, detroit, new orleans, harlem, and obviously chicago a collective bonfire of joy spread into the streets, triumphantly raging into the wee hours. in northampton it was more like an organic scented candle of relief, but we made the most of it.

as the returns came in and john mccain prepared his concession speech, we ran down the street for some live karaoke. i decided earlier that i had to sing. it had just been too long. after the band's intermission was over i chose a song from the piles of lyric sheets strewn across the bar. "surrender" by cheap trick--an appropriate lullaby for the arizona senator as his supporters, that angry sea of white in phoenix, booed obama's name.

"we played that one earlier," the guitarist informed me. "sorry."

someone else came up and sang a beatles song. i came back up with my second choice: "say it ain't so" by weezer. again for mr. mccain. but again, a song they had already played during their first set. crazy, no? so finally i chose a more celebratory tune that was a non-repeat: "just like heaven," by the cure. as i sung from the stage with this live band i thought less about the election results and more about the person i missed so much who was celebrating three states away:

show me how you do that trick. the one that makes me scream, she said. the one that makes me laugh, she said. and threw her arms around my neck. show me how you do it. and i promise you. i promise that i'll run away with you. i'll run away with you.

my performance was followed by hotel california, replete with wanking guitar solos, as the number of people smoking cigarettes outside outnumbered those watching the music. it was clearly time to move on and to witness history.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

we can all fly

let's create soundtracks to this moment. an amalgamation of your most meaningful songs of fall with mine. we'll break into that beautiful abandoned church and play these songs from the rusty boombox we found on the street, singing along at the top of our lungs. this is our last chance to not get caught.

i hope to learn more about the pronunciation of rivers, the best bicycle routes, and secret cupcake shops. and i know that you'll expertly teach me all of it. we will learn more together. we'll lay in the park, protected by the most ferocious of guard dogs, excavating the sky for cloud bunnies and horses. they all look like horses.

i close my eyes and we are rolling around in the snow, smiles ear to ear. it's cold, but we're not.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

chinatown bus & craigslist rideshare

exactly 9 hours after leaving philly i return to my home in northampton. as always, the trip was completely worth it. and despite the absurd amount of time spent enroute it was so much less stressful and traumatic (emotionally and financially) than the last time.

we were kurt and courtney for halloween. my voice was shot from singing along to every word of the misfits and minor threat (and some jawbreaker) cover bands in that west philly basement. i saw people from bard, northampton and other areas of my life as the universe shrunk just a little more. with some of them, i was too uncomfortable to say hello with my costume so i sort of avoided them. eventually, i felt confident enough being "the girl with most cake" and greeted dan berger, explaining who i was underneath the hot mess before we hugged and caught up. being there was important. it made me realize that there's a really vibrant community there that i can be a part of if i want. that i can sing-along with and maybe collaborate in all kinds of other ways.

the rest of the visit was pretty magical and i'm excited about january. congrats to lv for getting a job! everything is so ripe for potential right now. eating apple cobbler and drinking cider i think, exhale, and realize how lucky i am.