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day 670: art + wanting

Part I: art

Alison took the train up all the way from Philly to Hudson to visit. She’s 20 weeks pregnant, and for the first time. Sweeny says she’s glowing and he’s right. She’s painting a mural on my wall; something Sandra Cisneros wrote once about the reasons we make art. We shimmied the windows open and we’re focused on our choices here. We’re determined. We put on a movie and I fall asleep and I’m glad because it’s better to hear her tell it the next day as we walk down alleyways to get some tea.

She posts a picture on Facebook and Birdie comments, “yeah we do.” She’s on the phone; she and Jaron are buying a house and they’re putting in an offer. I’m sitting on the couch thinking about death. I’m listening to a tambourine and upright bass. Ira Gitler wrote the liner notes and Van Gelder recorded. I took a picture of my front steps for the first time today – I’m in a Van Vleck apartment building and it’s about to be spring. I make lists in the morning when I meditate, and I’m thankful for it all.


Part II: wanting

I tell Alison I feel an urgency to the creative process. I’m wildly in love with people creating. I’m sitting in a basement in Brooklyn and I can hear bands practicing around me. Two different ones – a bass playing 8ths with drums coming in to my side, a synth organ dialing in a sound that shakes the snares in the live room behind me. The first time I came down here I was visiting Dev at his new studio. I’d gotten my very first speeding ticket on the drive down and felt terrible. Devin sat on the Leslie speaker and told me about a time he got a ticket upstate and didn’t pay it and hadn’t thought about it in a while, but maybe he should now? I left that day feeling safe. That day was years ago now.

But we’re here. I am here. I want to stay here until the day I go, and I want to leave with grace. I want to look you in the eye without fear or expectation; because I see you with love. I want you to know that you are loved, because it’s true. We make it true, you and me, and if you forget I’ll remember. Pinky swear kiss your thumb – I promise.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 661: so here we are

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Nice save, New York.

Remember smoking cigarettes on the sidewalk in the spring? I spent the warm morning in with windows closed; a caged bird who hasn’t realized the door fell open in her sleep. But now I’m flying. My skin is on fire and my heart is safe in the smiles of friends. I’ve been arrested and moments are not my own; my head is open and clear and neon. I need to call my family, but I have a new family too.

It’s good to be on a slow subway platform and my train pulls up just in time. Monk in my ears and the air is warm and welcoming. I spent the day

walking through memories
finding pennies in the road.
Heads up;
it’s time to go.

I’m down here looking up
at melting snow
falling from the bridge
and it’s home.

Muted sunshine reflecting through water. Heart embers gathering for bed. We wrap ourselves in stale blankets and I’m trying to give you love. Sad bitterness boiling, share the light in my eyes. If you let me go we can stay here forever. Fingers crossed,

I promise.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 552: in like a lion











I have a fractured concept of hope. I see nature in everything and my innocence was destroyed in a fire a long time ago. So here we are. It’s snowing outside. I’m sitting in the basement of an old Lutheran church that was desacralized when Henry bought it so he could record music here. The tape machines are spinning and there are layers of sadness on the floor. There’s always something to look out for here; but I’m learning to let go.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 504: strangers in the night


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 made 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


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


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


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


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


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