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day 504: strangers in the night

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Sinatra tastes like
Los Angeles and smells like
shadows. La smells
like jasmine flowers and tastes
like a dream; it’s barely real.

It surprised me when I hopped out of my old Jeep at 1am the night I got in to Venice Beach. I thought this was going to be home; but home is familiar and this was landing on the moon. Gravity failed me as I unpacked the car, high as a kite on I don’t remember if it was the trip or the thoughts or whatever they had bought at the store that day. Brandon has a prescription and there were lollipops and cookies and every/one/thing was smiling.

The next morning I woke up early and set out on bikes with Vanessa. We paddled up Lincoln to Washington to yoga. The world was a sea woven in different shades of cement grey that I had no frame of reference for. That night we cooked the best dinner I’ve ever had; I washed the dishes and cried and Vanessa smiled and hugged me. I had escaped. It was over. But I didn’t understand what I had run from and I didn’t know where I had run to. I didn’t know anything – more so than usual – so I went to sleep and slept for a long time. The next day too. And then I started working in the studios of Los Angeles and everything changed. I adopted Amy Correia’s California as my anthem and guide and set out with wide eyes to see what I could get in to. I climbed down into the echo chambers at Capitol Records. I met strangers with faces that are more familiar than my own. I bought some clothes at a thrift store and texted my brother but he was mad at me for leaving so it took him a while to write me back. I ate tacos and dated a dark brooding producer; he was 20 years older than me with issues and it probably wasn’t a good idea but I built a brick patio with Vanessa and we threw darts and built fires and hung out with Jeff and Shaun and the gin seemed ok, so.

Everyone says La takes a year to settle in to. I never did settle in to town, I just settled in to not knowing what the fuck is going on, ever. I’m glad for that. I’m glad for a lot of things in La.

Anyway; I got out of there too.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 494: let me explain

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Being a mess in Philadelphia is my most natural state. Chipped fingernail polish, aging dye job, knotted hair and mismatched clothes. In New York City and my mother’s house I would inspire cringing disappointment. But not here. Here the sidewalk greets me with glowing eyes and excited voices. Here my Dr. Seuss scarf matches the joy in my body and the color in Sweeny’s blue orange walls. Here we have records and tea and unconditionally loved children. Here I walk down the middle of the street and my car gets hit and the rules run in a slightly lighter way; kites floating in the sky anchored to the weight of the earth. We are candles in the darkness; candles on the table in the eternal home of my heart. The seat of my soul. South Philly.

I fit right in here,
running my fingers down the rippling sea of row houses.
Front windows filled with tacky figurines
guarding the living tombs behind them.
Rooms with sloppy paint and holes overflowing
with vinyl and instruments and art.

Everything is sacred here. People love you loudly in your face so you know it. Life is not pretty, and we know it. We’re not embarrassed to be alive here. We don’t waste time on appearances here. We spend our time loving. I love you so much I could cry. But I won’t, because music is waiting.

It takes the woman at the coffee shop a few minutes to recognize me. I used to sit here writing until they closed. She’d lock us all in and pour whiskey shots in espresso glasses and I’d light a cigarette. I don’t smoke anymore. I fell asleep last night in an arm chair watching Let’s Get Lost with a glass of wine and a brilliant artist and his dog sleeping in my lap too. I’m in the Italian Market and it’s cold and the street vendors are burning fires in metal trash cans outside. A man bought my coffee to pay it forward and told me not to forget. I told him I won’t. I almost did, but I never will. I promise.

Tara and I smile and share a silent disappointed knowing that we want me to stay but I’m leaving so Steve tops me off for free. It’s a harsh awakening when I get home; I sleep on the couch and get a headache and notice I can do the next right thing a little better than before. I’m sad and I sigh and I kneel to kiss the ground and pray and say thank you again.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 474: December poem

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But who will catch me?

I’ve felt the most held on a mountain,
contained in silence.
The gentle light of yet another snow;
the hopeful smell of wood stove on my clothes.
And utterly alone.
Still, afraid to scream,
every day a waking dream.
Or was the light blue?

True to me is true to you,
Miles Davis muse.
Empty kisses thrown in a room.
Parents waiting eagerly for news.
Look but don’t touch your love’s perfume.
I am asking – who will catch me now?
Who will save me before I drown?
Or will you banish me to silence.

The gentle light of yet another snow;
the hopeful smell of wood stove on my clothes.
And utterly alone.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 335: Georgia on my mind

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I’m listening to drums heavily compressed and distorted in the left speaker with a mono plate reverb on the right. I’m cycling between 24 – 22 – 20 – 18 – 16 bits on one of the returns. I’m glad to; I’ll settle on one. These are decisions I can make.

I can’t decide to fall in love. It just happens. I can’t decide it will be easy. It never is. I can’t decide who will write me and what they’ll say; I can only catch what comes if I can and say thank you. I can hope that he’ll text me but it doesn’t change if he will. But he will, and I don’t know why and I’m scared one day he won’t. Kim Hall (now Mrs. Tice) once told me over coffee, “I’m strong. I’m not going to stop being strong now that I have something to lose.” I haven’t seen her in years. I couldn’t look at her after I moved to La and I got my fire under control. I didn’t know how to not be on the edge of disaster. I didn’t know how to tell anyone that I was in a living hell and not sure I minded. I was scared to admit that maybe I liked it even. I didn’t know yet to be thankful in love without question; I couldn’t find the words to tell my friends I wanted them to come find me there. I didn’t know how to send love letters from another planet. The outpost. I came back but I never did because I moved forward instead.

I’m sitting on my couch chewing doublemint next to the window with headphones on. Stayed at 24 but changed the release.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 321: listening

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I can’t stop listening to 50s on 5 in my car. Henry lent me his old tube amp for home. The right channel spits. I bought a pair of speakers at the thrift store and they’re all fucked up; so I fucked with the amp until they sound like just the right kind of broke down love for delta blues to sound perfect on them.

And I’m moving to New York City. I’m not moving to take over the world or anything, I’m just moving to let my heart explode and let something go. I’ve been holding my breath and biting my tongue for too long and I’m feeling in love and uncomfortable like Lover You Should’ve Come Over and I am ready to go.

Jo Ann Campbell’s on the radio right now – A Kookie Little Paradise. Indeed.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 296: Ty

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The last time I saw him I was on my way to turn up a kick drum. It was springtime and raining in west philly. It was morning; the night before we stumbled in late and the cat snuck out and we hopped fences to find him. I know his impermanence like I know his heart. Every time I see him it could be our last and I know it. And I know when it comes it will pass without a sound and it could be years before I know I’ll never kiss him again.

So we meet up in a concrete jungle and drink juice and smile and talk and it’s the same; it’s like the days I’d go out in the middle of the night and park on the sidewalk and we’d listen to music and were the rulers of our own little kingdom. No one bothered us there cause they can’t be bothered by the chaos. That’s how the chaos keeps us safe. He puts his arm around me. I take him with me to the valley and we listen to music and I meditate and we lay in the grass with the sun on our skin. It’s breezy and we speak softly because we’ve stumbled upon a sacred space. I make a salad and we go to a party where it’s hands off again; reality enters and he leaves.

And it hurts. But we let go. And it hurts. I listen to the records he told me and see the movies he said to and text another guy but my heart’s not in it so I let that go too. I put on Neil Young and practice yoga and text my father; he’s in the city checking Facebook and wants to know why Erin and Luke are selling their furniture and I tell him. I tell the boy who lives below me, “I know that I don’t know.” He asks me, “Wait- what does that one mean again?” It means do the next right thing. Chuck tells me that when I don’t know what to do and I tell Plotzkey and I’m telling you too cause it’s hard sometimes but it’s true.

I’m gutted and confused and numb but I don’t cry and everything’s happening. All I can do is kneel to kiss the ground and pray and say thank you again.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 293: on the corner

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Being high at a highway Starbucks listening to people order is truly an experience. And Sara McGlaughlin’s on the radio. It’s 78 degrees outside but in the shade it’s breezy and nice.

Devin almost lost his baby on Sunday. Alison wrote asking everyone to pray. It felt like a bad time to realize I’m shakier than I thought on the God thing, but I guess that’s how things go. So I snapped in two and went to my parents’ house and cried on their bed. My Mom stayed up late with me; she told me about the time her mother died and she lost her faith. How many times have I been to church with my mother – how many time have I asked her to pray? – and just now do I ask her what she thinks of God. I guess that’s how things go too.

I walk through their house by the ocean and look at the old family pictures on the walls. Our family pictures. The windows are open and the air tastes like salt. I know when I wake up there will be strong coffee and my parents will hug me. My brother will stop by and I’ll hug him too.

I may not know enough about God, but I know about blessings and I know about heaven. I know about hell too. I know about family; I know about love. And I know we’re gonna be ok.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

 

(playing: on the corner; streaming: dina kelberman gifs @IdleScreenings)

day 248: what’s happening?

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• Coltrane comes in panned left on Love Supreme and moves further center at about 5:42 into Part I: Acknowledgement. He comes in left again on Part II: Resolution and stays there till the end.

• I’m sitting next to a pair of lovers in a coffee shop in the west village. They’re on their computers playing footsie (I promise). There’s a big skylight and lots of plants and I feel like I walked into another world. I sat down in an empty seat next to an electrical outlet and my phone was at 40% #amazing

• I bought a woman lunch yesterday in midtown. She asked me for help and I told her I didn’t have any cash and she said it was ok could I just buy her some beef lo mein? I smiled and said yes. She told me about an old lady she used to visit in the area name Miss Lovie. She said she misses her and hopes she’s ok but she was 80 then and now…. She had a scarf on her head and big glasses on her face and carried a book bag and changed her order 4 times in line. She got some egg rolls too.

• I came close to crying listening to music in front of a client again today. This is becoming a theme. But don’t tell anyone. Especially that I’m glad.

• I’m tryna be in Harlem for a minute?

• I may or may not have commitment issues.

And I can still get drunk with a stranger on Macdougal Street. We’re on fire and shining; we’re going to change the world and I don’t believe it but I hope I’m wrong. So, to my Thursday night stranger: make me wrong.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

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