27 June 2004

nothing really beautiful or amazing happened today. it was the first of our two formal nights. we do the captains toast (jazz standards) and the 60's show. we played stevie's "you are the sunshine of my life" first, and then i kind of went off on whole tone scales (the second chord of the intro is all whole tone). too symmetrical, i said, and wheres that halfstep edge, that sexy dissonant bite, that s-s-s-truggle, di-di-di-difficulty, zazazaconflict that makes life so -*yow*-. for the rest of the set the sax player and i played whole tone scales at every opportunity (ie every dominant seventh chord). skating up and down their space age slides!

we are up in a box stage left, looking down on the audience so we can see their gaping faces. they really love the shows, they get so happy. there were some nice moments out there tonight: a group of teenagers singing along to "help!", and a beautiful family in the front row, mother, young girl, father, the girl was maybe 8. she kept putting her hands up to her new hair berette (sp?) to make sure it was in place. formal nights are great for seeing young children in dressy clothes for the first time. so careful and gentle with their new precious things! she had really cute round glasses too, and she smiled and tucked her head into her fathers arm after the lead singer gave her a high five during "surfin usa".

but overall, nothing really, and i dont feel particularily happy or sad.

i had a child in a dream last night, the size of a pistachio. he was doing wild, digital fast breakdancing on the carpet. then another child, equally small, joined in, and they played pinballed across the carpet, bumper car twirling, and then swoosh! under the couch...we lifted the couch to find them, and they were not there. and then, there they are in the pocket of my cardigan sweater. we left to go enroll in college, enroll in geometry, and i took the long way down, a huge sandy path in the rain, the sand filling my sandals and the wind and lightning purple deep purple. later, my bicycle skidding on shiny asphalt.

i wonder how my child will be. will i indulge her in the materialist ecsatsy of fancy new things? let her grow out of it later? let her pretend to grow out of it...hm. i cant wait until i buy my new powerbook. though, i spent much of today making a gift, making, with pens and glue and the torn off covers of old hardcover books from the crew library. i noticed that i like using mistakes to my advantage-- this slip of the pen makes a really neat design, etc. it felt good. good for me. but will they like it? really? always selfish acts of love. sigh.

still, i guess that was beautiful, hanging out in the crew mess with a coffee and european cookies on a linen napkin, brushing glue on to avoid lumps, whistling "itsy witsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini" over and over again, fixing little mistakes by creating large abstarct blocks with black and silver permanent markers.

if you make a mistake in bingo, and call bingo, and then when the bingo commisioner comes over to check your card he finds that youve punched a number that wasnt called, you know what thats called? its called a bongo.

another thing my polish roomate does is comment on my comings and goings.
"you going?"
"aha! you come back!"
or, more perplexing: "aha! you come back?"

kenny, the conspiracy theorist trumpet player, asked me today if i beleived in reincarnation. i told him i didnt beleive in anything, but i thought there were prettier ideas than reincarnation out there. the book im reading now, "the third policeman" by some irish guy whose name...flann o'brien? i dont think so. one thing thats happens in this delightfully odd book is that in a bicycle obsessed town people become more and more bicycle like as their riding over the bumpy rocky roads causes their atoms and the bicycles atoms to mix. they dont actually turn into bicycles, they just can be seen leaning against walls and posts.

how many atoms would i have to lose before im not me anymore? ha.
is that my skindust behind the desk? ha.
when will i have a child? ha.

one of the crew channels plays a constant loop of csi, las vegas and miami. id never seen it before. i love the main guy in miami. he is so cool. he knows how to use language. "no. heres what youre going to do." i also saw the film "chicago" for the first time today, and i liked it too. really good braiding of the musical numbers with the real world. he had it coming! he had it coming! oh and that tap dancing lawyer at the end! man!

these are small pleasures that ease me and cool me and cease the pain of my useless and pointless knowledge.

the night before, after the drummer and i finished a really excitng, tight game of chess (the d column was a real traffic jam: black king d8, just a step shy of promotion white pawn d7, white rooks d 1 and 3. and a black rook stalking outside on f7, threatening [and eventually enacting] a dubious rook trade), we poured the pieces into the torn flat box and stared at each other for a moment.

earlier that night, we were watching pool in the crew bar, and this big guy from trinidad who can make the ball jump (and thus make me girlishly yelp) said "bloodclot!" as a curse upon missing a shot.

so now were staring at each other. and then i said, well good, im going to go to bed..and then tomorrow well just do this all again. and he said, yup, good luck with that.

then we ran up the steps, my sandalflops echoing all through the ship.

20 June 2004

assignment 1.1
se/breakfast empathy

i sat outside her room at 5am and waited. the floor tiles were dirty- the corners were chipped and there was bus station era streaking. the corners of my eyes were thick with glass. i kept a wool blanket about my shoulders to protect me from the madness air conditioning and her eventual postdooropening survey. i had an itch all down my back, the side of my neck, the pillow.

there was a cardboard box at the end of the hall that contained christmas tree parts, garlands, the empty packaging of hoisery, a small piece of wire bent into a man with doubled arms but singled legs. the garland seemed to be breathing a little, but i kept still.

her door opened at 8:30am. she was dressed in gingham and she walked to the mess. i followed close behind. she left a tiny trail of small flying primary colors behind her. i could follow her movements exactly. as her left leg would raise, mine would then towards me and tandem her. i felt physically focused and mentally vacant.

she had not noticed me. she pushed the heavy metallic door open and i glided in behind her soft. there was a stack of individual milk cartons on the counter. the sugar in baskets. she chose a white round moonplate, and i did, and i traced her meal onto mine. three pieces of pineapple, one strawberry yogurt, one spoonful of scrambled egg, one thick half slice of french toast, two links of sausage. there were flowers on many of the tables, white linen on all. she held the yogurt in her hand, away from her chest, and the rest on her plate clockwise from the start.

we sat, i just a left behind her. my shoulders shy. i heard her shadow twitch to my presence, but still. the lighting gave our skin surprise gifts. she began eating. i followed her exactly. left fork, right knife, to the sausage, the cut, roughly one-fifth of the sausage, through the air, to the mouth, 5 major chews, 16 minor. a two second swallow. a three scene smile: a testraise, then back down, then full arise. arise then for the forgotten juice-- we get it together. the machine hums as we press our glass. she drinks the first sip while walking back, so beautiful is the orange; and she lets her juice enter her mouth just to the right, the right front incisor receiving the first splash. i do the same. i had never done it before. we peel our yogurt back together and pour our syrup from a height of seven inches and we eat our meals exactly the same. there are posters on the walls, but i cannot read them because she will not look at them.

after a while, i begin to notice that my eyes are watering. her eyes are watering also. there is a vague mint. she raises her hand to her face and touches it once, just under her eye, the sensitive upper cheek with bone just beneath, and i copy her and feel two hands upon this one spot on my face. our eyes close and we see the blackness. our sounds are the same, the ocean waves to the left and behind. there is mint.

inside this mint blackness we see an older woman sad, lying under a shawl, and a mahogany clock ringing a dullsonorous Db. we see the soft down of dirt under a lakeside tree, and there a wasp cradles our fingers and gives us her own smile. the mother is unrecognizable, but her face is like mine, and like the woman, and like the pieces of french toast...the the piece piece ofof frefrench ttoast...

that is finally finding its way onto our mutual tongue and the sweet sweet firework joy of that first swallow shimmers up both of our memories of swing metal cold and pleasently painful in our thin hands.

and i open my eyes and see that my skin is soft, my breasts full, my belly doubled with sustanence. a three, no six, second smile. two threes overlapping. the day can begin.

19 June 2004

my roommate is polish, late fifties. every day he asks me my schedule.
"you have play?
what time?


what time?
nine...nine thirty?


how long? one hour?


he is obsessed with time, and the news, iraq, beheadings, etc.:

"the news, i see, if is good news. maybe. maybe. every day is bad. so maybe today good....ah.


the shit, is pronounced as if through a screen door.

i notice in my responses to him a desire to flaunt my lack of judgement on things. i want him to know that i do not find the schedule or the news bad, but just the world as it is. i want to show people that i do not complain, and that i do not beleive in good and bad, that i can see both sides of all things. and in this flaunting, this righteous posturing, i recognize pride and ego, and i am shamed, for i recognize these as, hm, bad.

my secret heart (this is a phrase i like now) is a mystery; i do not know what i think of good and bad. such a confusion: this bird sees the sun and knows it is the light and this bird sees the moon and knows it is the light too and in the eclipses of living i bird i find myself confused and trembling by the pale shallow pools of morality and quality.

what kind of asshole would write a sentence like that? a bad one? a good one?

i finished east of eden today. steinbeck seems pretty sure that good and evil exist. and we great creatures have them both within us, we are filled to the brim with them, and we may choose, thou mayest, we are lovely. i love his writing and his acceptance of the bad, his painful embrace of it. i love lee!! and cal and abra love each other in the end for their imperfections, their bad thoughts.

but its not so clear out here. tonight on deck 12 after working out, i let the cold wind freeze my sweat as i was listening to a hiphop mix se gave me (sle? sae?...i cannot remember, bad)...i think it may have been eminem singing, "you better lose youself in the music, this opportunity comes but once in a lifetime, grab it," etc, that optimistic hiphop about seizing life and tearing down the drapes and dancing through the street. you know. and i found myself imagining a room, a pre boxing room, concrete, bare bulb, tattered whitewash posters, and here i am receiving this encouragement, my woodstain trainer massaging my blazing shoulders with his anisette breath, and i am about to enter a ring, and he tells me, seize it, lose yourself to it, be it, and i am so scared because it is not boxing ring i am entering, and it is not my fists, nor is it my mind that will save me...rather this game is played with my elusive hidden soul.

the odd contest is in a circular, eggshell white room, high ceilings, perhaps two doors, lady, tiger...i will be thrown in and will have to play, but the rules do not exist. and i have played before, by leaping and shouting, by hurling myself at a door and banging it with my radiant song...or by walking slowly through and examining the woodwork for holes that may house hints. once i sniffed the air for an hour before the walls collapsed on me and i again wet my pillow with lost sobs. once i tried to hide in the corner but could not find it. once i danced calypso shadow puppets on the wall with a coquettish smile.

but i have always lost, in the end, lost, always. i must have, for this uncertainty inside of me persists.

i sometimes just dont know what is good or bad. i dont know how to act. i dont know what to say to this stranger to let her know that i am interested in loving her, without frightening her. i dont know how to tell this man that i love him in spite of what i have done to him, in spite of my lies and betrayl. and maybe there is no good or bad...but the agony is that sometimes i know its good, because the things i do and say make the whole world smile and magic. so there are right ways to do it...ive been there and felt it. but when i try to figure it out, oh, oh oh. my teachers (many of you!) tell me that this is the problem...the thinking, the thinking, the math problem approach. i should "be myself", do thy will, and the chorus will emerge from the circular lip of the ring and shower me with the rose petals of a well lived life.

and i think that in real time i can do this...i think that in the continuum flow of moment silk moment improvisation, in conversation, music or love (occasionally in cooking and video game playing too), i find this loss of self and judgement does not come into play and i am blessed with the overwhelming happiness, the greatest laughter, and the world becomes a garden of light, water and sound, with giant green leaves to blanket and bed me.

but then time sneaks in...and i find myself alone with this head in the moments in between and the analysis begins and all comes scrumbling (LIKE THAT WORD!) apart and i cannot begin again because i cant be myself because myself is thinking of too many different options and has no rules by which to judge them. ugh! but the thinking is me! still, still. and i think of this act, an action of pure being, so right and true, that has ended up hurting another. good and bad...and there is time to think about that, and i am lost in eclipse season again. this man traveling at the speed of light seems to be still and sickly to this man on the ground who loves as well. right?

it is true if someone thinks it...if an action is thought to be bad by one, then he is right, it is bad. truth is only subjective...and all subjective thought is thus true. theyre both right, always. its all true, i remember.

so how to proceed? i want to live, but my living is thinking. this writing soothes me, but it is a dangerous attempt to find a side. i know this hypocrisy as i write it. or does it just occupy me...am i still so afraid of being alone.

not ready, still, old song. i must be not ready to accept the vows and live in peaceful stillness. i still dont beleive that the singing will be as sweet on the other side of nirvana. i still dont beleive that through stillness i can enter the ring without thinking, with my true self who can dance every dance. that my being can flow so effortlessly from me and the world will be all right if i dont worry about it. do i not trust...do i still not beleive that the world is good? that evolution triumphes over entropy. at the core of my un-understanding of good and evil is a presuppositon that good is good, and my distrust that the world is good, that death will not hurt, that they are not laughing at me, leaves me vacant.

its so hard, and so lovely, this not knowing how to live.

but i must be learning...for my impulse now, sometimes, is to stop the mad runnings into the sun, to stop the wild serenades and outpourings of words (clearly! ha!) and just lie in the center of the room, on my back, with arms folded sweetly on my chest, and wait. stare at the ceiling and feel the eggshells bubble my back. wait until the moment arises again where i may be distracted by a creation, a simple turn of phrase or hip, into not thinking. a fierce love that hurls me into the moment and lets me do no wrong.

and only if the love is true, right, only if the love is true will this work. only if i truly love all the glowing angels that surround me. and if it is true, it will outlast time, and will remain.

i am sorry for all i say sometimes. i try so hard to stay in the present but i fail all the time. and when i fail, when i drift away, is when it becomes bad and sadness creeps in with her old cellophone refrain. sometimes i wish i could erase the boards and enter the ring with nothing but a blanket, a guitar, and a plate of warm peach turnovers.

15 June 2004

so here i am, and there i am, in the pit, pounding through the zenith's first big production show, "that 60's show", beatles to motown to hair, enjoying the intellectual zing of sight reading music but still reeling emotionally from the wild shifts of the last few days, weeks, months. i have run away again, again, and hopefully for some good, some real financial problem solving this time, but i always manage to leave at a time of hallucinatory bliss...as if only the leaving, the sudden short time allowed, the instability, can produce those resonances in the world and those feelings in me. and so i am there with my fingers doing what they do best unknown to me as my mind is busy in the syrup of ago dreaming back and forth between the present and the longed for future, magnolia wind through my shivering skin, i am a drunken active coma of thought, and then the flower power sections begins-- and i am shocked into heart lump clutch because im suddenly not only listening to, hearing, but also helping create, with shining root position chords, a gel-lit morsel of the song "if you go to san francisco".
...youre gonna meet some gentle people there...
oh joy and sorrow! synchronicitous silken trickster universe conspires against my heart strings and rings them wet through her ivory hands. it medleys into california dreamin...

furthermore, im reading "east of eden" by steinbeck (thank you cgk!), and it is sooooooooo beautiful...the descriptions of california, the salinas valley, the rivers and winds and sagebrush. hes really brilliant. and more: joni mitchells blue, just really discovered on a drive up highway 1 after a magic magi weekend epitomizing the california vibe joni is talking about...yes the people i dig, and right, yes, sunset pig (which to me actually suggests that joni is a vegetarian but that the cookout on the beach will be so beautiful and so flowingly lovely that she will even kiss meat, perhaps have a taste, special occasion. hee!) and the next night, the guest performer (sax player from the benny hill show) does a really really fun to play version of "my life" (i pound the jangly high notes! du-du, dun, du-du, duh!)...and its lines about "...sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast..." all of this leaving me pining for a place! my home!

when i first drove into san francisco, following dps's thorough email directions in a metal uhaul truck (i like that unnecessary adjective there), my fantasy was incense and wine, a porch by the beach with friendly faces who would call me up from the street, seeing my fresh wide eyes, and would welcome my fat belly and wild hair with their bottles and beads and bare open arms. the fantasy was only half ironic...it seemed possible to me. so ingrained in my midwestern consciousness was this image of california, from a hundred songs of the sixties and seventies sucked down thirstily in my adolesence. here was music originally for a generation that didnt fit, that was creating their own "new explanation"...and in my childhood, i found myself not fitting either, not only with the establishment but with anyone of my own generation, pounding their way through beer cans of guns n roses. lost, alone, fucked. so the sixties music became mine, and maybe my parents listend to it, but it was really mine. to escape into. and it all seemed to come from california; even the british stuff. sgt pepper was, in my secret heart, recorded in san francisco. whatever. thats not true. but janis and jimi! i knew that somthing magic and decidely unmidwestern was going on over there, something filled with altered reality and possibility.

oh cwg, mcw, nda, how is it to have grown up there? grown up and always had honey dripping from branches to suckle?

now every time i leave or return, brisk san francisco air, that old feeling hits me again, of this actually being that cliched place, where the people are kind and open, where the oranges spill over the sides. and now the music! there is music that does this for me now, my music that brings me home and makes me feel so sweet all over. mine! my music! my most precious belonging, an audible photo album that exists everywhere, anywhere i go the songs are in the air. and it fills me, chills me, thrills me.

how does that happen? listen to another one, even weirder: the other guest entertainer does "tiny dancer", a hot fast version. ive never heard this song...never, except for the scene in almost famous where they sing it on the bus, and that just once, barely remember. anyway, so we play this song, again, sightreading, and fuck! the first minute is really fast rock solo piano! fucking great! the piano is miked and loud and still jingle jangle, like theres a chain over the strings. and by the end of the song, oh magic love i own it! by the end of the song, it is a whole world of nostalgia for me, instantly created and completely nebulous in content. it doesnt remind me of a person, or a place, but theres a feeling, a fuzziness now, like drinking from my grandmothers juice glasses. i love the tiny dancer, i can see her dressed in yellow, and i want her to win!

other songs are more concrete. my first lsd experience was in san francisco, in a flat high above haight ashbury, and i put on jefferson airplanes surrealistic pillow at a pivotal moment (said pivot being that a house across the way had turned into a gigantic robot), and it was mine. strangely billie holiday singing "nice work if you can get it" also figured prominently into that experience- the adorable horn line intro seemed like the only beautiful thing in the world for a scary half hour or so.

so music is a healer, and an inflicter, salvation and sadness, a memory puller and sentiment moonshiner stronger then scent for me. if i want to smell jason rigby again, i put on coltranes ballads and his laugh is bear shaking me awake again from my intoxicated highschool couch slumber. my mothers irish records played at full volume, my fathers ry cooder tapes, my sister doing hand motions to "help!" on the living room coffee table, and my family is not so far away. every caress of an exlover remembered through the ink spots, solomon burke, elliott smith.

i know this is nothing new, but its fun to talk about.

but new for me: now its a place too! not just a person or a time, or a weird drippily shivery feeling, but a whole honest to god place, all of the vastness. all of the times, each moment of four five years, every exoticly fragrant richmond corner and market street bicycle death trap and night sky bundled into a three minute song. california. my home, my wet winded lilypad!

i revel in the sadness and longing this music gives me. the wind is in from africa, there are flowers in my hair, im all alone and so lonely and lost again and i love music, 'my prom date for life'. i can ring tears out of this sad old heart be they joy or moan, with a whole ringing singing silver gilded catalogue of san francisco song now.

and oh i like that, i really do.

14 June 2004

we are docked in bermuda for four nights. so we can leave the boat at three in the morning if we want to...and so last night i did. walked and walked through the perfect air until the jewelery shops and expensive cafes were far behind me and i was on a winding dark road of millionaire homes and uncontrolled foilage. and the insects! a thousand electronic blips and bloops, every note of a minor sixth covered, spaced out in super thx stereo, this one close, this one a half step away and a half mile away reverbed out, a dangling forest of sound! this music is perfect in its naivete, its rhythmic coincidences...stars above and eerie streetlights cast upon the sides of a shattered mountain, a dynamited road with walls fifty tall, a tunnel, a cool night wind. deserted, this island is, i am a ghost at last, me alone, though still in the world, somewhere, somehow, may it do ya kind.