Things are looking up. Looking up indeed.
Since despite all Chinese Calendars telling me otherwise, 2012 for me was apparently the Year of the Anxiety Attack. And this was a rousing follow-up to the previous year 2011 which most undeniably turned out to be the Year of the Endless Writers Slump. (I mean, we can go back a bit further too if we wanted..though 2010 was admittedly a bit of a high AND low for me in many ways. So, that would probably have to be considered, since everything seemed to revolve around it, the Year of Turning 40. Or more to the point, the Year I Rediscovered That I’m Still 14.)
But- looking forward- this year will most assuredly unfold in all its glory as the Year of Our Lord, 2013, the Year of the Smartass. And of course, by smartass, I mean me. Not the “This is my year!” in that annoying way that people in films of the 80’s and 90’s used to say with accompanying fist pumps. But this is the year I get my Smartass On. Because let’s face it, Hol, you’ve been kinda down in the doldrums for awhile. And the only way you’re going to come out kicking and screaming and surviving all this is by using your wits. You ain’t got much else. Sure- a pretty good singing voice. Occasionally you can write a song or two. Some fairly decent legs, and now that my hair is growing back in after the scalp revolt brought upon by the Sorrowful Brazilian Hair Straightening Incident of 2010….wait, wait- I’m digressing. Perhaps my wits aren’t the ONLY thing I’ve got going for me- but they just might be the most important thing right now.
And this is because my smartassity very well may turn out to be the thing that keeps the panic attacks from winning, whereby I become one of those folks who never leave the house, or when I do, have to employ one of those “What About Bob” baby-steps tactics just to reach the mailbox right outside my front door. My smartassness just might be my ticket to feeling like I’ve written myself authentically upon the world in some teeny tiny way- finally. Like I showed up. The teacher called “Long, Holly?” and I for the first time answered “Present!”
My smartassiolity keeps nipping at my heels like the patchy Chihuahua/Bull Terrier that it is. Whenever I stay for too long a time in that really comfy seat of melancholic blue-green tinged despair- the seat that my ass has carved a painstakingly perfect-fitting dent into- it’s Smartass that yanks me out by my fingernails. Sniveling and snotty nosed- glancing back longingly over my shoulder at my personal ass-dent in the middle of the squooshy Everything Sucks seat that I’ve somehow been ripped asunder from. Smartass knows its time. Time to get some mojo back ON.
Which I suppose I’ve been doing sort of on again, off again, for the latter few months of 2012.
Here’s what happened in 2012 that I think is worth mentioning: First of all, I realized I was a total wanker for not really ever picking up the electric Telecaster guitar the universe sought to inexplicably plant upon my doorstep in the winter of 2000. So I started actually playing it- and more importantly, with a little help from my friends, bought a killer vintage Guild amplifier for said guitar which has so much more legit street cred than I could ever manage to summon. (This task was accomplished specifically with a knowledgable dude musician friend with whom I could plunk around on a variety of amps in the music store without feeling like all the other musician dudes on either side of the counter were constantly sniggering behind my back. Or at least if they were, I wasn’t by myself.)
Second of all, in 2012 I pulled out my old turntable and not only began listening to my old LP’s, (the most notable of which for my musical purposes became, in this order: The Pretenders first album, David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and Tom Petty’s “Hard Promises”) but I started buying new albums on vinyl, and listening to them. The result of which… I believe… is that for the first time… I have started to rock.
Smartass-1. Squooshy ass-dent seat-0.
Now there are obvious drawbacks to realizing at the ripe age of 42 that what you really want to be when you grow up is Chrissie Hynde. But there it is. That’s sort of what I have discovered. (There is also a vague Dorothy Parker/Chrissie Hynde version of me that will also suffice for my Grown Up fantasy of myself. Or maybe a Laurie Anderson/Kate Bush/Chrissie incarnation too…though I really don’t know much about Laurie at all, other than she along with Dorothy joins the ranks of the Really Cool Chicks who said Fuck It and did a bunch of groundbreaking stuff similar to what only men were doing at the time she decided to do it.)
And in order to overcome those drawbacks, I’m going to have to enlist the Smartass. Oh, wait—I’m sorry- what’s that you say? You ask, what drawbacks could you possibly be referring to? Well, for heaven’s sake let me list them here for you.
1. Nobody in the professional pop/rock music world gives a shit what you’re doing after you pass the age of say, 25. If you haven’t made a dent- if you haven’t already sparked real interest by either procuring some sort of a deal or building up a large, strong fan base, you might as well have not existed at all. Die- not Fade Away.
2. There is no way I’m going to leave my delightful family and go on the road for nine months out of the year at this point in my life, which is the only thing you can really do to earn a living and ply your trade as a rock and roller.
3. Plus, usually when you’re doing that whole nine months on the road thing, you’ve got a BAND that you’re doing it with. If what you’re doing is mostly rocking. And that brings me to the final current drawback. I have no band. And I’m so old and comfortable in my entitled middle-aged American lifestyle, that I can’t imagine how it could come to pass that I would eventually hook up with the few number of young, hungry, talented other musicians I would need to hook up with in order to form said band.
Squooshy ass-dent seat- 1. Smartass- 1. Curses, a draw.
So the Smartass needs to show up now. The smartass needs to come forth and trumpet- I DON’T CARE. I don’t care what the drawbacks are. I don’t care that this is the silliest endeavor I’ve heard of since the Sorrowful Hair Straightening Incident of 2010. (Let’s just refer to that from now on as the SHSI of ’10.) You, Holly, need to get off your ass and stop believing your life is over. You must rock, and if at all possible, find yourself a band. You need to fight those horrible hormones that have you convulsively shaking through your panic attack, spending large amounts of time on the loo at 3am, stuffing down Ativan tablets, praying to a god you kind of don’t believe in anymore that this one will end soon. This attack will be over within an hour or so and you can go back to what you’ve apparently lost any real talent for lately, which is sleeping through the night.
I DON’T GIVE A POOP ANY LONGER FOR WHAT MAY APPEAR RIDICULOUS. I’m a woman fighting for her life now. I’m a woman with a whole lot of snidey growly stuff to say- I’ve always been. And I’m tired of being afraid. Just plain effing tired of collapsing under the significant weight of my well-tended mountains of fear. Because when I think about what I used to be afraid of, versus what I’m actually afraid of now (please refer to the previous paragraph where I roughly outline my delightful 3am bi- or sometimes tri-weekly activities) my old fear just seems flighty and stupid. Just totally weak. My old fear was simply- I was afraid of being rejected. I was afraid of being unwanted and scorned and forgotten.
My NEW fear is so much more completely awesome than that. It’s MUCH more intricate and simultaneously simple and predatory and well-groomed and historical and primal and basically human. My NEW fear kicks my OLD fear’s ASS. Because my new fear is simply… that I am…going …
And when I say that- please understand that I don’t mean fear that I’m going to die whenever that eventually is. Not that I’m going to sort of tarry and fritter away the years I have coming to me before I eventually end up face down, breathless, in a salt-free bowl of chicken noodle soup during lunch at the Green Hills Manor.
Though those thoughts do terrify me, they’re still not nearly as arresting as the death fear I’ve encountered staring at the bathroom tile in the wee hours. And that matured and well-developed fear is that I’m going to die RIGHT NOW. Truly. My heart will feel like it is beating so hard and also so fast and fluttery that it’s amazing I’m managing to get any oxygen into my lungs and through my bloodstream at all. My thoughts will become so furiously fast and dizzingly abbreviated, scorching paths through my brain like a PCP-laced dose of heroin that I just want to shut the brain down entirely. And those thoughts usually include some bizarrely uber-rational thought. Specifically, the sort of bone-piercing sadness that whatever is about to happen in the next few moments, I can only marvel at what a shitty parenting job I will have ended up doing. My poor beautiful babies will simply become motherless. My previously ebullient, rakishly boyish husband will have to deal with being a widow and raising our children on his own. If only I wasn’t dying RIGHT NOW. Everything would be so great- so rad- if only my time hadn’t JUST come up.
That’s what a motherfucker these anxiety attacks are, if you’ve never had one. Akin to back labor during child birth (I know- I went through it twice with both kids.) Akin to a horrendous car accident which leaves one motionless and helpless in the hospital. Akin to your worst nightmare you ever had- the one where you couldn’t shake it off for days after you awoke from it.
But, but but. As maybe you can already glimpse, dear reader, there is a bright spot to all this darkness. My shrink keeps reminding me. (Easier to recall and embrace more fully in the safety of his sage-green hued office miles away from the eerily lit floor tile four inches below my heaving sweating face the night before.) All this trauma, all this shaking, all this horrid feeling of staring at death in the FACE— is healing. Is helping me.
Is strengthening the Smartass.
Who’s gonna start taking the lead a bit more in my life if I have anything to say about it. Who’s gonna start breaking through those fear walls for me, “There you are, Holly, Darling, just paved the way a tweensy for you there…yes yes, step on gingerly through to the other side, that’s my girl…” Because there’s nothing else for it. There’s no other way. I know (well, let’s say I hope, because enough professional people have told me) that the raucus anxiety should abate in my later 40’s. Maybe even as early as the mid 40’s. Which really, other than the happiness of my own kids and eventual world peace, will probably be the only thing I end up wishing on stars for the rest of my life until I am no longer a regular victim to these hellish night episodes. Geez, I thought chronic cystic acne sucked in my 20’s. That was nuthin.
But until they’re over, I can only use them as fuel, I am discovering. There’s nothing else for it. I can only use them to get me the fuck onstage much more often with my sweet ass Guild amp and my beat up Mexican-assembled Tele and SING. (Hopefully with what will become my band. Whatever that means. Whenever that comes into being.) There’s nothing else for it but for me to perform, snarling and giggling and yelling and growling through my songs. And to write. And play and play and play and laugh as much as I can. I think it may be all we’ve got, y’all.
So- that’s what Smartass sez you’ve got to do right now, Hol. Since so far, you’ve been wrong every time about it being NOW that you’re going to die, maybe you should take it as a sign that you should live a little wilder and freer and who gives-a-shit- what all the moms at the school think about you, the odd conundrum of a wealthy-by-proxy, mostly-stay-at-home, curmudgeonly, rock and roll West Los Angeles parent. Who cares what the other supreme hipster musical beings of Venice make of the late 30-something? Early 40- something? I hear she’s married with kids? Tall rocker lady in the pleather pants and Sex Pistols Tshirt up on stage rocking it to them along with her tiny little muffin top, her oh-so-vaguely Cellulite-ridden back thighs, and her needs-a-bit-o-Botox worry lines. Maybe to really rock just means to not give a fuck. It doesn’t mean you have to actually look exactly like Chrissie herself, you just have to channel her. And maybe because in this dawning Year of the Smartass, I’m finding I really, truly, for the first time don’t give any fucks, whatsoever. At least not about what I used to. All that personal time with the bathroom tile has earned me that honest to goodness gold star.
I shall close with a quote. Not my own- because, goodness, I’m not even quoteable to myself. No no. This quote happens to be swiped from the lyrics to a song belonging to a fellow musician dude. The song is called “It’s Your Life” and is sung and written by an LA east-sider whom I know only very tangentially through the vague tendrils of the music scene here. His name is John Gold. I really like his stuff. This feels particularly relevant to me at this juncture, and who knows, maybe you too, so go google him and this song if you dare- it’s bouncy and fun, in a good way. For the time being, here are the words, dear reader, please pay attention to the very last part, and thanks for reading. Your Own Personal Smartass, signing off for now:
“IT’S YOUR LIFE” by John Gold
When you get up you get up
When you’re down you go down
I hope you’re getting a kick out of this sweetheart
I hope you’re gonna laugh as much as you can
Try to do them right when they do you wrong
They might be writing you this song
We’ve got the same spider that’s creeping in
And you know the kind of rough that you’re a diamond in now
Baby it’s your life baby it’s your life
You gotta love your life have fun with your life
When you’re in the zone when you’re on the shelf
When your real id says you are somebody else
When you’re on a plane when you’re uptown
Or you’re in the nude all wrapped up in a towel
If your high heel gets caught up in your gown
And you tumble down the stairs right into a crowd
I hope you’re getting a kick out of this sweetheart
I hope you’re gonna laugh as much as you can
Baby it’s your life baby it’s your life
You gotta live your life have fun with your life
Baby it’s your life baby it’s your life
You gotta live your life have fun with your life
Don’t freak out
Don’t freak out
Don’t freak out
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I’ve been talking a lot to my dad and to my therapist and my manager, my husband—I suppose anybody who will listen—about the recent discovery (well, partial proof of existence) of this thing in physics called “The God Particle.” Another name for it is the Higgs Boson, if you’re unaware. It’s about the most important advance in subatomic science—in all of science, really- since Einstein’s e=mc2.
Just to bring some of you folks up to speed, and also to demonstrate my supremely substandard layman’s understanding of this discovery, let me say that they’ve been working on this Higgs theory for about forty some years now. They built this amazing particle collider called the Hadron Collider at CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire) underground, somewhere on the French/Swiss border a number of years back. And they’ve recently been colliding away teeny weeny particles by running protons and things into each other at enormous speeds gained in these miles of subterranean tubes. Generally, they’ve been attempting to recreate a tiny fraction of the Big Bang, to discover, among other things related to the nature of all existence, how mass came into being.
There have been a small number of theories made in this area by very very smart scientists over the past century, one of which was named Peter Higgs. He postulated that upon moment of impact of the Big Bang, there existed a particle which was responsible for giving previously mass-less particles mass. For, upon its demise, endowing all other particles around it with substance and form. With mass. Pop-culture has designated this the “God” particle for potentially obvious reasons, though it has nothing to do with God or religion. The great thing about this particle is that it shows up only upon the very moment of collision, apparently does its thing, and immediately disintegrates with a fraction of a second, thereby only allowing scientists the ability to study decay values in order to determine its existence.
Which they’ve been doing. And from my feeble understanding, they apparently decided sometime early this month, that yes, indeed, after studying rounds of decay values, most likely there is such a thing as this elusive “God” particle, which gives everything shape and form and mass. And now they have the scientific evidence to prove the theory.
If you’re interested in this—and oh my god, aren’t you? I mean, maybe I’m just a crazy geek at heart, but this is about the fundamental nature of our UNIVERSE, about EVERYTHING that exists as we know it…it’s awesome and completely confusing and I am fascinated! Anyway—if you are too, you should really start googling “Higgs Boson” or “Particle Collider” or CERN. Or even just “Peter Higgs.” You’ll find out some really interesting stuff. Because what I’ve said above is so rudimentary, and probably some of it is just plain wrong. Truly. Those darn nuclear physicists can really make a girl feel like a total moron.
But OK. So, check this out. Here’s where I think it gets really interesting, and relates to the title of my blog entry, here….
Concurrently, as I’ve been tooling around online trying to wrap my head around this mind splitting information, I’ve also been attempting to turn my attention toward growing this here little blog of mine and landing it onto a Tumblr page of its own. Or Blogspot. Or making a brand new little dot com—what have you. And this has required me to begin poking around in my Higgs-Boson-Addled brain for a new title. A new Name. Not for me, per se, but for my blog- for my bloggish persona. And as I’ve done so, I’ve realized that I truly am on a little precipice of my own- a new frontier. I’ve been a performer and songwriter and singer for so long, I’ve never had the privilege of standing behind some name other than “Holly Long.” And a blog gives me that right. To title my own personal five paragraph essay. To spin my own voice into a theme of some kind—which I love.
So, yesterday, in the middle of some errands, (which in my life, turns out, is when anything and everything happens) I end up in a thrift store. Just to poke around- I have no actual goal. And for some reason I end up gravitating over to the men’s Tshirt rack- an area I do not normally frequent in any store- thrift or otherwise. I’m idly shuffling through them one by one (why am I doing this, I think?) when one in the black section of color-coordinated shirts catches my eye. It possesses an iron-on image of what looks to be an old photo of an Asian man (perhaps Japanese?) and what looks to be an accompanying photo of a Geisha-esque woman below and to the left of him. There are additionally what appear to be a small string of Japanese lettering upon this shirt- and two words in English. “Ryoma Sakamoto.”
I am drawn to this Tshirt. Yes, admittedly in a teenage rockstar-wanna-be sort of way where I’ve decided immediately upon looking that I’ll cut off the sleeves, most likely the neck as well- will wash it a number of times to fade the photo iron ons- will probably destroy the shirt to make it look much cooler and more lived in, and will pair it with either black or colored skinny jeans and perhaps throw a vest on over it. The early twenty-something outfits are swirling in my early-forty-something head. But fuck it, this is how I roll. And for six bucks, I’m definitely buying this shirt.
So I bring it home, try it on, cut off the sleeves, approve of the effect in the mirror. Will probably keep the collar in tact- looks slightly more punk this way. And it’s only until I embarrassingly realize I care that the shirt is slightly “punk” that the deeper meaning of my purchase starts to dawn on me. I realize I must immediately google “Ryoma Sakamoto.” Who is this person- or rather people, let us not forget the gorgeously-bunned kneeling female in the kimono and Obi sitting passively under the male figure- Who are these people I have decided to wear on my chest so blithely and so vapidly?
What I discover after three minutes of online research is perfect. And as I’ve noticed, if you’re paying attention to the universe regularly, you’ll discover that the universe much of the time serves up its dishes with similar perfection, with symmetry and kismet-like synergy. Harmonious ideas and energies afloat at once in the ether. Turns out, Ryoma Sakamoto- and forgive my ignorance for those who already knew this- was a hugely famous man. Ryoma Sakamoto was to 19th Century Japan, basically who Mao Tse Tung was to 20th Century China, or Cesar Chavez was to the labor movement. To paint with the widest, least complex brush stroke. Sakamoto was a working class stiff who came from nothing, rose to the level of low ranking Samurai though luck, hard knocks, and hard work, and who later rose to become the leader of a movement to overthrow the government at the time. Ryoma “..is credited with engineering a bloodless revolution that transformed the feudal Japan of the Tokugawa Shogunate into a unified nation bent on modernizing itself and catching up with the West.” (Squidoo.com) Again, if you wanna- google the man.
And of course, the “geisha” at his feet on my Tshirt is thought to have been Sakamoto’s wife, Narasaki Ryo. She was not technically a geisha, and she was also active politically, evidently, at the hand of her husband. The photo is considered one of the only pictures of her in existence.
But the story goes on—Now of course as I’m zooming around the web with the fair speed of a Gen Exer but the light speed fickle attention span of a Milennnial, I come across some article written by some guy in some publication about Sakamoto entitled “The Indispensable Nobody.” And I stop. I try to read the article, which is not particularly engaging- not well written at all. And so I listen to my instinct, and I stop reading the article, realizing that I have already landed upon what the forces of nature were perhaps helping to nudge me toward all along. And it’s not IN the article. It is simply- the title of this article.
The title- “The Indispensable Nobody” is exactly my take on what it is I have to say, what is my voice in the grand stew of the music world and the bloggosphere. As is anyone else’s, really. Nevermind that this title has particularly specific meaning in terms of the scope of what a young fervent Japanese rebel accomplished in his lifetime back in the 1800’s, beginning from such a modest start. Nevermind that I’m probably never going to read much more of this particular article, or even wear my punkish rock and roll Tshirt very often now. Somehow, some information was provided me- a bit of a honing device- and so I’ll take that, thank you.
Now, the reason I believe this is sort of cool that I come across Sakamoto and the Higgs Boson at roughly the same time this summer is perhaps obvious to you, reader. As obvious as it is to me. As obviously unironic as the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal was back in 2011 when sniggeringly imagined in terms of the poor idiotic former Congressman’s last name—
The Higgs Boson, like Ryoma Sakamoto, could also potentially be conceived of as “The Indispensable Nobody.” And perhaps I am desperately looking for tendrils of connection where there are none, but hey- consider what those poor scientists at CERN have been straining their optic nerves looking at for the past few months- sometimes the devil is in the details. As they say- or the proof is in the pudding. (They say that too, right? I’m not really sure I know what that means.) And, yes, I’m gonna connect these two concepts because they are connected by the fourth dimension of time currently in my tiny world purview, and it makes sense to me.
The Higgs Boson is barely perceivable to humans. We (they) have JUST begun to understand the nature of its existence and to study its work at the moment of sub-atomic particle collision. To us humans, up until now, this particle has been a Nobody. A Nothing. Inconceivable. And then, after a few enormously brilliant scientific minds straining to understand the nature of everything through their twists and turns of algorithmic authorship noticed the possibility of the thing, it took more years for us (them) to be able to build something that could test for it. And then, the only way we could see this nobody doing its indispensable work is by studying what happens after it’s gone. Both the Higgs Boson and Ryoma Sakamoto are in their own way, the Indispensable Nobody’s” that get everything done. Without which, we have nothing.
There’s my blundering attempt at putting into words what my gut knows to be true. There are no mistakes. And in the randomness, sometimes pathways of connection and maybe even purpose can be discovered.
Now I know “Indispensable” is sorta hard to spell, so I probably need to find another word- perhaps another phrase entirely- with which to name my blog. Because in directing people there, not already online, I don’t want to have to go through “yeah… yeah- it’s i…n…d…i…s..no, no Able, an a, not i…yeah- only one p..” and so forth. My moniker needs to be more supple. Easier to spell and remember.
But the nobody part. Well- that’s easy. Def hanging on to that.
Thanks Higgs Boson.
(Which would also be a very cool Tshirt- no?) I may never understand what either of you actually did or does upon impact with the world as I know it, but I sure appreciate the concept you birthed into my little head this week. The week which happens to mark the birth of myself as a sentient being into this grand and strange cosmic soup world filled with many little noodles of indispensable energies. Happy Birthday to Me.
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O- sometimes it’s the lists that present themselves as the best possible means of true expression when all else fails. When the brain appears to not be able to focus on one topic long enough to eloquently pontificate. The list becomes the thing. And I’m not talking about “Groceries, Wash Dog, Pick Up Drycleaning.” I’m talking about
SHIT I NEVER BELIEVED AS A KID
And probably still don’t. (You wanna read this list right? It was fun for me to write it. Journey on, dear reader…)
- Your hair will grow faster if you cut it more often.
Ok- this just sounds like a big marketing scam for the world of hairdressers and hair salons. I can’t see how what’s goin on at the end of the hair shaft has anything to do with production value at the top. Why would the scalp CARE if there’s one or more split ends here and there at the ends?
I mean basically, what you’re telling me, is that back in the Dark Ages, when there was no indoor plumbing, much less well dressed Simon the Blacksmith (spelled Si’mon) who always trimmed his beard just so, whose cottage was squeaky clean and just seemed so well put together…when there just certainly was no Si’mon to style all the ladies hair on the side in his free time…you’re telling me that women’s hair just didn’t grow very fast. Because they didn’t get it trimmed regularly. Mmm Hmm. Too bad all these ladies were deprived. I suppose instead of having hair that went down well past their asses- hair that could be split into three huge long portions and wrapped into chunky weird Princess Leia-like cinnamon buns perched atop their heads- all these poor women of the Middle and Dark Ages COULD have attached themselves to their own plows with their hair, had they the privilege of a salon back then. The cost of monthly trims would have been a wash too, seeing as they’d not need to feed and house any more oxen. Thank god for the people who trim my hair- normally so loathe to grow.
- You can get an STD from a toilet seat.
Sigh. Don’t organic things like germs, bacteria, and the like need other organic things to live on in order to sustain themselves? I’m sure if I googled it, there’s got to be some exception to the rule- ok. But just from a practical point of view…if some poor infected individual sits on a toilet seat, and then minutes later I sit on the same seat- do the tiny microbial cells stand a chance of being able to live on that plastic or steel or rubber seat long enough to then jump up and take root on the skin of my thigh? Isn’t that the same thing as a fish being able to live outside of the water for a number of MINUTES, or say we humans holding our breath for like an hour?
And speaking of the thigh…So, when I go to the bathroom, and perch myself upon the toilet seat (after wiping it off if there’s something VISUALLY dirty or threatening about it) —when I’m sitting on the toilet, there’s a few square inches of the backside of my thighs that are actually TOUCHING the toilet seat. And these few square inches of thigh are very far away from the inside- or even the outside for that matter- of my vagina. Like, if I were a tiny Gonorrhea molecule, living it up on a toilet seat because I suppose someone who was infected with millions just like me had whooped it up on the seat- just whizzed and sprayed and sloshed around on the seat- if I were that molecule, and I were trying to make it from the back of Holly’s thigh to the inside of Holly’s Va-jay-jay, that would be like Holly trying to walk from here to the middle of Russia. With no food or water.
So- despite any medical evidence that surely is out there to fuel our strange germ-phobic fear-based society suggesting that yep- you CAN get MANY std’s from a toilet seat and here’s the proof- I’m not buying it. Not buying it, people.
- It’s safer to travel by plane than by car.
As an adult, I’ve read the statistics on this. What squirrelly traveler has not? And I know it is in fact true, statistically. You have much less of a chance of getting into a plane wreck than a car wreck- statistically speaking.
Alls I’m saying though is this: First off, I’m IN my car – or other people’s cars- so much more often than in a plane. Of course the statistics are going to be higher.
Secondly, and most importantly, there are many kinds of car wrecks. I know- I’ve been in about four. And I still have all my limbs and most of my brain cells in tact. I still am living. From what I’ve heard about plane wrecks- there’s really only one kind. And in this kind of wreck, people tend to not hurt themselves, or break bones, or tweak their backs, or have to subsequently shell out inordinate amounts of money in increased insurance rates- no. People DIE. In plane crashes people just die.
So, yeah- I know that my chances of being in a car crash are greater. But so are my chances of SURVIVING a car crash. So- um. Nuff said. Plane travel safer than car? The jury is still out on that one for me.
- Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God.
Well, this one is simple to explain and also, I know I’m really not alone here. Though roughly 75% of America apparently identifies itself as Christian (including everyone from the Evangelicals to the Catholics to the Baptists and beyond)- the world figure is very different. Roughly 1/3 of the world is Jesus-lovin. About 33.1%. Which is a lot- I’m sure- Go Jesus! Great marketing team! I know President Lincoln squeaked into office with the popular vote of roughly 1/3 of America back in the day, and he is I’m certain considered our most influential, most memorable president to date. So-hey-if there was a world wide religious election held today, the Prince of Peace could in all likelihood win. Because after all, whether you’re Catholic (comprising roughly half of all Christians world wide, by the way—the Catholics kind of rule in terms of owning the Word of Jesus) or whether you’re Mormon or anything in between- you still believe in Jesus and you still believe that he was the Dude.
But then there’s 2/3 of the rest of the world, including myself, who just doesn’t feel that way at all. And for various reasons, surely. You believe in Krishna, or Buddha or Islam or you are a Wicken or a Werewolf or you believe in a personal order no one else is privy to. Or nothing- you are agnostic and believe in nothing. Whatever- I count myself squarely in that 2/3.
And my why is fairly simple, as stated above: NO one is THE son of God in my opinion. We are all sons and daughters of it all. We, like all other life forms, and forms inorganic are part and parcel of the whole system. And the divinity of life springs from itself- no one member is more gracious or better than the rest or the whole. And that is simply what I know in my bones. So hey- Jesus, some stuff you said was money, man. Seriously, that stuff about love being the way, about your Father wanting all of us to love one another (there’s no He and even if there was, He’s not your dad, btw, but ok)- the love part is true and real. Yes, we should all treat our neighbor as ourselves because that is how we sustain and survive. That is how the whole bee hive of humanity moves forward ultimately—by rising to a sustainable peaceful coexistence in concert with the environment we are so insanely ridiculously lucky to be able to inhabit.
We’re still a long ways away. Maybe we’ll never get there, which would truly be a huge bummer because oh my- look at all of us here, all of this unbelievably amazing teeming ecosystem pulsing and thriving and swimming and moving around here on this little ball three deep from the center star in this little random solar system in the galaxy of the Milky Way. I mean- the fact that the Earth exists and we’re all on it- from piranhas to volcanic ash to strep bacteria to California redwoods to robins to lions and squirrels and Bono. And the homeless guy who sells ironic Tshirts outside my local coffee shop. We’re altogether the miracle- there is nothing more. And maybe if we could stop believing fairy tales about a guy who had some great facial hair and probably a pretty amazing flick of the wrist as well as a deep heart and soul being the One Guy who Knew Where It Was At, and start understanding that maybe all of us together can co-exist lovingly most of the time Not Really Exactly Knowing Where It’s At, just trying our best to live well and authentically—
Maybe then we can last a little longer here on this ball of gravitationally amassed energy third back from the center of this little solar system of ours.
But anyway. Go Jesus. I’m no hater. You were probably a really touched guy, and had a lot of great things to say. But man oh man- look how we’ve twisted your words. Perhaps your peyote trips in the desert were indeed profound- the last and only acid I dropped at a Dead show in 1993 at the Coliseum in Los Angeles was so overwhelming- my trip so replete with truth and fear and awesome streaks of understanding I basically spent most of it hunched over wanting to explode in all directions and just have it be done. So, I get it, Jesus. I just wish they all didn’t think you were the Son. Thereby denying themselves the ability to see themselves as also the Sons and Daughters (of enormously equal though different value, btw.) And of enormously equal value to YOU. And Buddha. And Gandhi. And Mohammed. And all the prophets and poets and drug addicts who speak and spoke the truth. I think y’all are just the Divine letting off steam, actually. It’s not that you’re the CHOSEN ones (well, in a way you are, because you were blessed/cursed with the truth and the desire to spread it) but it’s that y’all are the incorporation of the Divine- of Life Spirit, of Love, of Sustainability, that needs to Express from time to time after millennia of folks just kinda not getting it right over and over. Or, not necessarily not getting it right, per se, but not evolving or moving forward. Toward the one You- the one Us- toward Truth.
I’m hoping that’s kind of why we humans are here. I could be completely wrong and we were just put on the planet to develop the electric can opener. And now that we’ve done that, the countdown to our demise is on. Who knows.
All I know is that if Jesus were alive today, I would totally want to go out to coffee with him. But he probably wouldn’t have a whole lot of time what with all his appearances and agent meetings. No matter how many messages I texted him or how much love I showed on his Facebook Fan page. Jesus would never return my calls, and so I would be forced to return rather uncomfortably to this current yoga position I’ve been struggling to find peace with for years…this truthful position that reminds me how insignificant I am in the great scheme of things. I suppose the balm to that humbling, bone-cracking pose is concurrently knowing that no one else is particularly overly significant either.
Including the Big J himself.
- My grandparents had a perfect marriage.
This topic somehow seems potentially more blasphemous to me than the previous tirade. But it’s the next one that came up in my brain, and so— here it is.
I am certain that my grandparents, like most lovebirds at the beginning of their relationship, and the beginning of their union together, were incredibly in love. And I’m also certain that love stood the test of time- and however many times I go over and over the photos and the stories and my own personal memories, I am reminded of how much my Nana and Papa really did get enormously lucky in finding each other and in sustaining what they did for over fifty years before my Papa was sadly taken a bit too early due to his faulty heart.
That said, I cannot buy in to the notion that their marriage was without pitfalls and cramps and uncomfortable years and times when they were probably not so wonderfully nice to each other, and were not fulfilling each others every need. Because I’m married, which in and of itself should almost be the end of the topic.
But just to add to the argument- I’ve obsessively watched my Madmen for five seasons, and so I’ve seen my own marriage and everyone else’s I know, including my mother’s three, costumed and written beautifully- reflected and presented upon the HBO palette filled with human emotional truth and the stark realities of living in Post Modern American Society. Somehow it’s easier to imagine my grandparents’ marriage through this lens, for obvious reasons beyond just the dresses and gloves. The show presents a time and space that I know my grandparents were navigating as they swung their marriage ship through the rough waters.
And let’s face it- it’s tough to be married. Even without the Emmy magnet that is Madmen weaving its gorgeous tapestries of relations in the 1960’s, proving that obvious statement to be true, it is beyond apparent to any of us who’ve been involved with it over certain amounts of time that Marriage as a Pathway is frought and at times just bollocks.
So, knowing that, I can say hands down, no shadow of a doubt, that my grandparents’ marriage can be included in all that.
Which is not to say, as mentioned earlier, that it wasn’t most likely a beautiful, loving achievement over time. I suppose my grandparents probably did marriage with the best of them. With grace of the Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. With the fortitude of the Roosevelts (interesting twists in that one, for sure.) With the love and passion of Sampson and Delilah surely at times, though surely also the slings and arrows of George and Martha. And I guess that’s all I’m sayin. I don’t mean to rock the boat of my Family Memory, I just mean to say that even as a kid, I watched my grandparents move in and around each other, knowing they were deeply profoundly in love with each other, knowing that their union was a solid timeless thing. But also knowing that there is only imperfection consistently present within the perfection of such a journey.
Love and relationship are frigging hard, man. Many more eloquent writers than myself have pontificated on this thing back through the ages. I don’t need to say more. I’ll just move onto the next number on my list.
- Some things are better left unsaid.
Really? I mean really—never never EVER said? UN said? Now, I agree that some things should not be said out loud to the people whom these particular things are probably crafted about. But even that feels a little bit like a teensy lie, because really, most things, even potentially inflammatory things, maybe can be reworded or reframed such that they might have some value said out loud.
I know there’s many of you reading this right now saying- really Holly, horrid bigoted statements have a place in this world and should be said? Hate should be spewed? Really harmful words and phrases can be dressed up and edited such that they should be spoken aloud? And I say- ok, no. But yes! Because it’s my belief that we shouldn’t really hide anything. That just goes to foster shame and guilt and ignorance and mistrust and all sorts of other forces that really just tear us apart, both inside and between ourselves. If you’ve got a shitty horrid thing to say, maybe what you actually should do is say it aloud. Say it to yourself, firstly- but say it. Get it out of your head. And then examine it, and see if it’s something you really own.
Because some things once they’re said don’t actually ring true. But it took the saying of them to bring about that clarity. And some things once said allow the speaker to really understand that yes, indeed, this is what I believe and he/she can own whatever it is more fully.
Especially because it seems to me this aphorism about “some things” that are apparently better left “unsaid” tends to revolve around things that are not actually hateful bigoted remarks, but rather potentially uncomfortable truths between people or statements about dynamics between people. And so, perhaps these things that would be better left unsaid, are not actually as inflammatory as all that. Perhaps the saying and owning and sharing of these things would allow us to realize that words and beliefs certainly have power and can change things, but maybe we our more powerful than any of these feelings or ideas, etc.
And now that I re-read this, I’m not actually sure I believe it all. So there- I’ve said it anyway. Surely there must be some value in that.
More a bloggin we shall go later. For now I have to go do something useful with my life, so I think I will leave the list here for now. Dear reader, I bid you adieu.Leave a Comment
I’ve been crying on and off for about 36 hours now. More or less. And really it’s been weeks, maybe even months since my last crying. Since the last good run. See, crying comes on for me like hiccups, I find. I get them once at a dinner party or in the car or something after I’ve seen someone else hiccup on the street. I get them suddenly and briefly and they subside fairly soon after that first bout. And then I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m vaguely hiccupping again. I go through the following day unawares, forgetting that the Hiccupping is on, only to be sideswiped by yet another odd ferocious hiccup attack at say, mid-afternoon. Apropos of nothing occurring in my digestive and/or nervous system- just the Hiccups. Then the next day it will happen again- maybe even twice or three times that day. And then gradually as the Hiccupping week progresses, the bouts will get further and further in between, and my concern over the potential onslaught of a random hiccupping attack will move farther and farther into the back of the cranial cavity until I wake up one day and realize I have not had the hiccups for over six days in a row or something. That hiccup season is again over for the foreseeable future.
Crying occurs in much the same way for me.
So I’m now two and a half days into this year’s crying season (oh if only it were just a yearly event…) and I’m fortified by my ability to now know when the mascara can actually get reapplied- to know if the jag has merely subsided for 15 minutes and like a pesky mosquito bite, will again reassert its torturous itch any moment- or if the storm has really passed. That’s when the makeup will actually stick to the outer dermis layer. When the grey black rivers will no longer spread from the deltas of my smile lines down into and over the slightly splotchy high cheek bones to run jauntily into the cavities of equally slightly pocked cheeks and hurl themselves upon their final suicidal landing ground- somewhere either on the front of my shirt or puddled impressively upon whatever surface I happened to be hunched over. I definitely waste less facial product now and that’s nothing if not progress.
I’m noticing however, the tendency to “watch” myself cry has not subsided. At least not most of the time it happens. Now, there’s been a handful of jags in my past that have spurred me on to the actual mirror to observe the mucus running unabashedly everywhere and the bloodshot eyes (god how can eyes get that red without exploding?)- the bloodshot eyes continue to brim with non-stop saline. The strange squinch of my cry-face is always a bit of a mystery to me– much like a come face is. The specificity of the wrinkles and lines that spring here and there- the implosion of my forehead- the upside-down smile set of my mouth and downward turn of the outside of my eyes. I must say, speaking of my eyes, not only do they get weirdly phosphorescently green, but my eyelashes look awesome when I cry. Something about the wetting and squinting of them at the same time makes them look much more present on my face. Lush and almost middle-eastern. If I were ever to attempt something as ridiculous as an eyelash augmentation, I’d have to take a picture of myself crying and bring it to the doctor- “Make them like that.”
But I don’t actually mean watching myself physically while I’m crying. I mean that little piece of myself inside that carefully, almost methodically observes everything I do. And when I’m crying, that piece is furiously taking notes. And these notes, I find, have two voices (so maybe it’s really two pieces taking two different sets of notes.) There’s the voice that’s noticing how I’m reacting to my life- what I’m sad about- the contours of this particular sad- the need to, again, fall down on the floor of the bathroom sort of half on my hands and knees and then also sort of on my butt like I want to get as close to the ground as possible because that’s where I came from and something about this moment of uncontrollable despair is very primal and needs to be shared with Mother Earth. There’s that piece.
Then there’s the other voice that’s taking notes because she wants whatever overwhelming emotional moment I’m in to feel communal. Like what I’m doing is universal and bigger than myself- and maybe one day eventually I can capitalize on that universality. Like- “oh, this is how I would do it if I wrote the script of this moment and the director just said action and we’re probably on the second or third take of this particular cry because it took me that long to really recall it authentically. But look how well I’m enacting the half on my hands and knees and half on my butt thing- yes- that’s how this cry goes. And then the mucus dripping from the nose—yes, yes that’s right. NO no- you don’t wipe it up right away. You need it to drip disgustingly for awhile in weird sparkly ropes out of your nose. The audience needs to see how degraded and subhuman you feel right now. Yes, that’s right, and then when you do wipe it away, you don’t care where it goes because it doesn’t matter what gets wet and goopy. Why would that matter when nothing matters. When you don’t matter. When the universe has informed you time and time again that you don’t matter. EXCELLENT. AWESOME TAKE. Cut! Everyone take five.”
Up until recently, I sort of believed this second voice that has been apparently accumulating content for my many future appearances on Letterman was going to fade into the distance once I turned, oh, I don’t know, 30. Or – ok- 35. Certainly by 40. Once I grew up and became what I was going to be when I grow up, I figured I was no longer going to need to foster this particular facet of the many sided internal diamond (coal lump) that is Holly Long. But like so many aspects of my life thus far, I was wrong.
I think I’ve discussed before how I consume television like ancient Roman banquets. Epic, long ingestions of half or whole seasons at one sitting. And I know I’m not alone- our culture is leaning more and more toward consuming episodics this way. Perhaps it is our evolving society’s way of reading chapters in books, only with both hands free to input snack products into face while also texting. A three armed multi-tasking culture of intake, we are indeed fostering. Well, anyway, so I’m sort of a part of this culture. Though I refuse to text unless I either am doing nothing else, whereupon my texts read like emails or like voicemails used to (or hey, like LETTERS,) or I’m in the car. Yes, I text in the car. Dirty secret revealed. Not in MOTION, Jesus, but stuck at the stop light or mired in the traffic jam. Hells yes I’m atexting away. Not so much in front of the TV though. I’m one of those old schoolers who likes to eat my television without any distractions other than, well, actual food. I like to set the table for my television consumption. I try to do it when fully alone in the house. When I have large chunks of available time. I gleefully remove said cell phone and ipad from within reach, snuggle up a little closer to my lunch, and fill that time with sweet sweet TV.
One of these many shows that I like to bore people at dinner parties with my over-extended knowledge in…with my perhaps disturbingly invested recollection of plot and character structure…one of these shows is “Girls.” A recent acquisition in my collection. Or rather, a feast that is still being digested as I write this as opposed to say, a “Madmen,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Game of Thrones” or even “Louis”- all of which I have faithfully been consuming for many seasons now. I rather avoided “Girls” at regular airing time and OnDemand for weeks. Initially, I had soured on the concept after being bombarded with typically lame marketing billboards eerily placed at intervals along Los Angeles’ city streets that I seemed to regularly travel. It’s almost like they were goading me with this show, which according to the billboards, looked like it was gonna be four hot brunette chicks livin it up, sexin it up, fuckin it all up in the big city. Like another Miranda, Carrie, whatshername and whatshername. (Can you see I was not a diehard fan.)
Needless to say, I was not drawn in by said promotion. To be fair, I’m certain they were not aiming at me, so of course, Marketing may not have missed their Mark. I’m not sure who of the precious “demographic” they were most assuredly targeting is watching this show and who is not. All I know is that it took me- the early 40 something married ex-actress mommy writer/rocker- until the first season of “Girls” was almost over to even consider laying my eyes upon the show. Because, perhaps like Marketing, I just didn’t think it was for me. And of course, again, like many aspects in my life thus far, I was wrong.
I can’t exactly blame the recent Crying solely upon “Girls.” There’ve been other occurrences which could readily explain away the onslaught of sadness- the most salient of which is that I just put my daughter on a 6 hour bus drive yesterday to attend 2 weeks of sleepaway camp for the first time. A decision which was not at all difficult to make, and one I would do again, despite how gut wrenching it was for me. I know she’s gonna have a good time and be more than fine. I know these two weeks will help her cultivate herself and enable her to begin that long inevitable individuation process away from her parents in age-appropriate ways, at an age-appropriate time. But it still sucks for me because I already miss her ridiculously. Can’t even go in her room. The door is shut tight in case while walking by I accidentally get a glimpse of her cheery yellow-walled den waiting patiently for her without her actual sweet sunny presence to make it an actual sweet sunny place. OK. So there’s that.
And then there’s my husband who has been on deadline with writing his final episode for his TV show. (That’s how it goes in this house in regards to the world of television. He makes em. I watch em.) So though he’s done an amazing job of co-parenting and also just being here when he can to engage as my partner lately, let’s face it, he’s a show runner, which is a 24/7 job and I’m hurting from missing him.
But honestly, I’ve got to say, it’s “Girls” that tipped the scales. That started the Crying. It’s that second voice in me – the one that still rabidly collects embarrassing or hilariously odd moments from my life and gathers them in a little bag awaiting the Letterman stints – it’s that voice now actively screaming at me after consuming the entirety of this television show’s first season in a weekend. It’s saying “See? There it is, you fool! There’s what you were always too chicken to do!” And I can only assume it’s because Lena Dunham now exists in a public forum. And I’m part of that public forum, and can only watch and reel and feel along with the exquisitely articulated Hannah whom she bravely, shamelessly embodies and I’m left to wonder. I wonder how this show came into being. I wonder that it got even vaguely started, supported by Judd Apatow, much less greenlit by HBO. Because god knows back in my time in the world of being 24, this sort of thing- this sort of fully-rounded, plain faced, emotionally narcissistic, nakedly honest sort of portrayal just simply wasn’t possible. And I wonder how it is that I didn’t stick in long enough or perhaps didn’t get it ready, or didn’t believe enough in myself, or didn’t have the support, or spent too much time in my twenties being someone very much like Hannah instead of someone like Lena, or whatever myriad of reasons internal and external all co-conspiring against my favor. I wonder that I Just. Didn’t. Ever. Do. Something. As. Good. As. This.
Because I watch this show and it doesn’t matter that I’m somehow dipping into my personal past- I am no longer 24, not even close. It doesn’t matter that it’s New York instead of Los Angeles. It doesn’t matter that she’s a struggling writer instead of a struggling actor/musician. It doesn’t matter that her shape is different from mine and her humor is slightly more intellectualized. Her voice is hers and hers alone. But it’s also mine. And it’s also ours. And like anything great, I think the tiny head-of-a-pin specificity of this character and this show has unleashed her voice into a huge raging river of force. I think “Girls” is- perhaps on the DL, perhaps not- enacting a monumental societal shift in the way American women are portrayed in TV, in the way we are allowed to think of and portray ourselves publicly, to see and be seen. And this is why I am crying. The longing to join this river is overwhelming me- like it was overwhelming for me at 24. When I had no marriage or kids or money or houses or responsibility or adult history- no adult roots I could call my own. I had this longing to sing me, to be real and authentic, to be truly brave, to make an impact, to share my story with all its seething sores and soaring clouds. But I had not the means to do so- I was simply, surely not ready.
Now that I do have the kids and the marriage and the money and the houses and the responsibility which grows with each passing year to members of families in all directions, up and down on the age scale, turns out I still have that longing. I still want to share myself at Show and Tell. I still want to put that 24 year old energy forward. It’s why I keep going out at night to hear or play music and drink wine and flirt with men too young to realize how many fathoms deep the differences in our age gap go. It’s why I keep trying to write a Great American Song, and why I’m constantly disappointed in myself when I fail to do so. Because I’m trying to capture in some format – in some container- all that feeling. I’m trying to find a container to pour myself into, like those whom I admire have so found and formed. And are so sloshing around in for all to see.
Maybe this is too much to ask of myself. Certainly it’s too much to ask of anyone who feels as cut off from the world as I do so much of the time. Certain parts of my life have understandably brought on this persistent feeling of isolation. From the stubborn constancy parenting requires to put oneself aside, to the apathy borne of having way more than enough of everything to survive, to the sheer nature of being a lone singer, musician, songwriter, and now an occasional blogger. It’s not surprising that I live smaller, with less stress and with less publicity and with less drive than before.
But that thing still eats at me. The old fire in there is far from out. That little bag of David Letterman stories has not been donated to the Goodwill. Perhaps they never will be spun in all their glory late night to Dave himself, but they exist and are fodder for whatever it is I am supposed to now build this new container out of. I’m pretty sure of that. Many aspects of my life thus far have proven me to be dead wrong….but I’m pretty sure on this, I’ve got it right. And so the work begins again.Leave a Comment
I cannot think of a more beautiful poem than The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I had the distinct aching joy of a re-introduction to it today as I sat basking in a sea of my favorite songs of all time. (Brought to you by Spotify. Itunes for the music obsessed.) Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” was spinning for the third time in a row- maybe fourth. I just kept pressing play as the swelling third verse brought stinging tears to my eyes’ corners and burgeoning mucus to all membranes– a barely leveed flood for the face and the heart. And as “She lives with a broken man. A cracked polystyrene man who just crumbles and burns” floats out of Thom Yorke’s blotchy redheaded mouth, I must read Prufrock. ”She looks like the real thing- she tastes like the real thing…” Yorke pleads. And I’m pulling up All the Women Come and Go- Talking of Michelangelo.
And now the tears that were teasing and stinging in my ducts now come roaring down, bellowing out like clear lava forming little caves and ravines of Prescription Formula Number 40 foundation on my cheeks. Because as it wears out Yorke’s cracked plastic surgeon who eventually loses out to gravity every time, I am reaching desperately toward Eliot’s “attendant lord- no- not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be. One that will do, though, to swell a progress, start a scene or two. At times indeed almost ridiculous. Almost at times the Fool.”
And I can no longer remain sitting up straight. I am bowled over from the middle – cut in half- reduced to wracked sobbing. Quiet, long streams of wails emitting out of my mouth with the searing gorgeous painful truth of these lovely, wretched human souls.
Because you see- my grandmother is losing her mind.
And I am going to visit her this weekend with my mother and my aunt. We are all purposefully traveling to the middle of the country- to the bread basket, the heartland of America– to Salina Kansas. We are coming to hold her and envelope her and guide her like whatshisname over the river Styx as her life passes from its final stages of rich independent livlihood to the waiting room of death that is Salina Kansas’ best assisted-living retirement community– The Manor. This barely disguised hole of finality. Encased in soft ecru and mauve tones– damask on the pillows of the overstuffed couches. This is where my Nana Ruth will now reside until the last of her days. It is where her mother, Lula Mae Buchanan (nee Moon) spent the last decade of her years. It is where most of her friends currently live. It is the beginning of the end.
And there’s something about being roughly half her age now, roughly half of what she’s accumulated in wisdom and experience- in Prufrock’s measured tea spoons- that makes me swoon with recognition at both the Radiohead lead characters in “Fake Plastic Trees” as well as Eliot’s Hamlet substitute. A man balding slowly- losing virility- losing gravity- losing sense of purpose and power that he is finding was all an illusion anyway. So- perhaps- more the crumpled styrene surgeon coming to terms with the scales always being tipped in gravity’s favor- I dig, I dig, I dig that space. I vibe to that- I get it. I live it. I awaken at 4 am to the hour of the wolf with sweaty palms and a heart beat too fast for such an hour lying in a supine position obsessed and anxious about only the big issues. Death. The end. The destruction. The last desperate squeeze of the heart- the squish of the blood through the valves. The end of being here and now as I know it.
And I wonder at what must be running through the brain of my grandmother. As her brain slowly calcifies- denying her access to the most basic of information that had been hers for the taking for decades. I wonder at her current concept of her reality. She forgets names, dates, having taken her multitude of medicines on time or not, the story she just told you 10 minutes ago that she’ll tell you again…but perhaps is her reality any closer to actual reality? Now that she’s sinking deeper into the chasm of The Manor? Of hospital-like fluorescents in the hallways (only turned on after 11pm through the night) and of oatmeal berber carpet on the living space of her 250 square foot apartment to enable easier cleaning? Is she somehow more able to grasp the moment to moment child like view of the world that allows her an ability to live somehow more presently? Or is it just a constant sea of o confusion. That in and of itself, possiblly a more authentic way of looking at the human experience.
I am not a stranger to confusion myself. Though I have not been friends with it so much. Confusion has at times brought about rage at my own limitations or misfortunes. Confusion has convinced me that I have Not Done It Right so many times at the 4am witching hour. I wonder if Confusion is really a starting point- a launching pad from which we (I) should more often be comfortable launching. Or not. Perhaps just camping out upon.
“I grow old…I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”
And now I am traveling back in time. To a world not so long ago- not so distant in time or space. A world right here in sunny smoggy Los Angeles. A world of beginnings and sex and possibilities where I am running–late– to my 3rd quarter junior year poetry class at UCLA’s Royce Hall. My long tanned limbs are beating the stones of the old-world section of campus clad in some short flowy 80′s mini skirt. I most assuredly have some white high heeled leather booties on my feet, making it hard for me to run very fast. But I am not even 21, and so my joints and bones and cartilage are all very up to the task. No physical repercussions are forthcoming. And this poetry class is a course I had every right, and every privilege to be able to sign up for. Because, you see, I am a theater major- attaining my bachelor’s degree as an artist. I am a student of every subject. And so I am allowed to take astronomy- ancient Chinese History, European Art History of the 17th-19th Centuries, a TV class where I learn how to run a 3 camera studio shoot a la “Cheers” or “Archie Bunker.”
And I sail into class and find an empty seat near the door just as my efficiently artsy and bespectacled sweater vest professor jabs passionately in the air with his pencil and tells us vehemently to turn to page 426 of our Anthology Of Poetry. For today we will tackle Prufrock. Today we will start at least on the first two paragraphs- we will analyze, we will wrack our brains, we will work caringly, dilligently and slowly through this work. Because this might be perhaps the most accomplished of all the post modern poems- this just might be our anthem for the Western World through time immemorial. And I am engaged and titillated by such talk. I have heard vaguely about this poem- though I have no real knowledge of it. I’m just busy crossing my legs and adjusting my very short very fashionable mini skirt so that any of the potentially inquisitive men- young or old- sitting vaguely in front of me might not get such a wanton show should Prufrock not prove as absorbing as sweater vest professes it will.
And we begin our reading. And I remember immediately being drawn by the cadence of the thing. By the words themselves and how they presented next to each other. By the sheer juxtaposition of language- I remember thinking- this is deep. This is dense. This is a grouping of words that deserves my utmost attention and this is the sort of thing I hoped to encounter when I decided to enroll in such a course- this is the very kind of ‘message’ that I need to be able to learn how to take in and absorb. Yes- bring it, Prufrock. Bring it to my young eager overly sensitized intellectualized brain stem. Push this up past my white booties and though the cotton of my skirt up through the reach of my spine past any young bouncy bodily section of me and plant this firmly in the old tree root that I know is my heart. Put ‘er there, TS- you know you’ve got a friend in me.
But for all my yearning- for all my desire- Prufrock was no more than a beautiful masterful tapestry of divine syllables then and for a long time afterwards. It was strings of pearly words draped neatly and deftly upon each other. Back in 1991, I had no more idea what to make of J Alfred Prufrock than I would have a urine stained nursing home bed pan. And now… And now somehow. I am closer. I do.
Now I think no more of this poem in terms of its paragraphs- of its “stanzas”- of the Michelangelo theme refrain…of its catchy clever phrases. No – now I consume this poem as a whole. As a big juicy pear that doesn’t actually satisfy, but feeds anyway. In fact- it is so nutritious for me, I almost don’t even need to read beyond the first few paragraphs. Once the evening has spread itself against the sky like an anesthetized patient, and we’re remembering the sawdust restaurant floors covered in oyster shells, I only really need to get to the yellow fog rubbing its back and muzzle on the window panes, and I’m already there. I’m already breaking. “Fake Plastic Trees” hasn’t even mentioned the surgeon, and I’m gripped in the throes of the deepest most profound bourgois ennui that is so painstakingly executed by Eliot’s Prufrock. And somehow so gorgeously set to music by Radiohead.
I am thankful for the recognition of this new juxtaposition for me. I am not looking forward to seeing my grandmother, though I do love her deeply and soundly and want so much to make a difference and help this passage for her be if only slightly less burdensome. As I hope some loved one will do for me one day.
“Streets that follow like a tedious argument of insidious intent to lead you to an overwhelming question…Oh, do not ask, “what is it?” Let us go and make our visit.”
I am coming to see you Nana.Leave a Comment
When I was in my twenties, I had the strange privilege and the desperate misfortune of living through a particularly deadly health disorder called Endocarditis. It’s a massive bacterial infection of the heart- either the lining or a valve, which brings on systematic organ shutdown and if left untreated for a mere few days to a week, will lead to death. The great composer and conductor Gustav Mahler died of Endocarditis (as I recently discovered.) The wondrous icon Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street, died of it too.
I mention my bout with Endocarditis briefly in my bio on my website. In fact, it used to take up more space on the page- as it took up more space in my brain the closer the events were in proximity to my current life. My spotty memories of that rush to the ICU- the hazy unconsciousness/coma state brought on by intensely high fever- the slow awakening from this near death state-the dread of realizing how direly ill I had become- the hope and strength and terror and countless procedures and bags and bags of liquid antibiotics that lead me to recovery—all that…all of it used to loom large as the most foundational memory in my life. Because it changed everything about my life. My body was forever scarred and changed and ultimately healed, but my spirit and soul were also more deeply rooted suddenly in the here and now. I felt what it was like to come to the brink of death, and feel powerless, and terrified, and then to be saved from it all, excruciatingly slowly and painfully, one step at a time over the course of over a year after my month long hospital stay.
It wasn’t really until my children were born in my thirties that any event eclipsed this Endocarditis in my mind. And I believe I decided to give birth to my first child, Josephine, without the use of an epidural because somewhere deep inside of me I wanted to know I was a kick ass survivor. That I had won over the bacteria- that my body was strong and vital and healthy and that I could birth another human into this world without drugs—that I just needed my bottom dwelling primal yells and Deep Mother Chi.
(It didn’t really work that way. I mean, maybe it did on paper. But in actuality, I puked and shook and wheedled the whole 24 hours worth for pain killers. My doula kept me on track through all of my blubbering assertions that I knew I was not going to make it. Through the pooping the table and the clutching her fingers and sobbing like a toddler who’s just realized he’s not the only human being on earth…so yes- I did successfully give birth to Jo without an epidural. A process I would never recommend to anyone. Ever. Turns out, the primal screams were there- that part happened. They were deep and guttural and would have scared the bejesus out of me if I wasn’t already so fucking terrified– SO sure that my body was going to rip itself in half and I was going to die a horrible primeval death by alien life form exeunting from twixt the center of me.)
But I did it.
And then two years later, I did it again- I gave birth a second time. And when the puking and the light-headedness and shakes started again during labor, I took my same doula by the collar of her sweet hand-crocheted baby blue bunny festooned sweater and told her to get me the effing epidural NOW. And she did. And so Truman was born in a haze of sweet dozing sleep as opposed to Josephine who came into the world sort of like the Nazis bombing London.
And it was only these two experiences that shook the Endocarditis out of its Kingly position in my memory. It was only the revisitation of a different hospital (Cedars for the heart infection- UCLA Santa Monica for the kids) that superceded the original hospital experience. I basically just swapped mauve tiles for light minty green. One squeaky waxed linoleum floor for another. One achingly ugly Aztec pine framed print above my head for another equally as soulless and sad.
Though all the smells were the same. Hospital smells. The smells of the beginning and the end of lives. Bleachy cleaners. Floor wax. Urine. Citrus room freshener. Mild liquid body cleanser- no added dyes or odors. Lilies. Daisies. Death.
I don’t live in those memories very often. I do like to ritually revisit the birth stories of my kids for each of them on their respective birthdays- but only if they want to go there with me. I would never press those moments on them- though it is fun to go through the first early photos in each of their baby books. Look at the bracelets. Trace their first footy prints and feel the lock of hair.
(I may have missed my calling as a professional Scrapbooker actually. Though I didn’t and I don’t keep EVERYTHING- I’m a stickler for photos in books. In the right order. With terse captions if necessary. And yes, I’ve scrapbooked our families’ big vacations- was in charge of my own wedding book. Honeymoon album. None of them are ridiculous or overly splendid in any way, but I do have a knack for it. Jesus, don’t tell anyone- it will TOTALLY screw with my hard-ass rocker mom rep.)
On the other end of the spectrum- I have happily stopped revisiting my brush with death so often. That big ripe bundle of memories is mostly safely tucked away on the top shelf of a very dark closet in my brain now, and it only comes out every so often. Unfortunately though, that bundle does tend to come out whenever I am dealing with anything dark and scary- like my childrens’ ongoing health issues, or my own. When my infant son started developing a scary tendency to wheeze and gasp for air in the third month of his life and we discovered he had RSV, I remembered my heart. And then when he had to have surgery to correct a mild birth defect at nine months and they wheeled him away to get aenesthetized, I remembered my heart. And four years later when my daughter came down with a terrifyingly high fever and horrible back pain and had to be hospitalized for 4 days with an acute kidney infection, I remembered my heart.
And then finally this past month what with the initial re-breaking of the foot… and then subsequent scary information I received regarding my beautiful girl’s ongoing bladder issues now having something to do with a tethered spinal cord (SPINAL CORD- gives me sweaty hands just typing it)…and then my own need to revisit the cardiologist to get another look at my Endocarditis-scarred leaky heart valve- getting leakier… it’s been a month of remembering Cedars Sinai. A month of begrudgingly taking down that bundle of santizer soaked hospital memories and having to relive little frightened moments in claustrophobic, fluorescent lit rooms. With tubes sticking out of me and freshly scrubbed healthy men and women poking and prodding and the whole time feeling just so– tired. So desperately….weak…and…broken….and…tired.
And I just want to throw on my running shoes and fly to the beach with some AC/DC blaring in my earpads. To say Fuck You, you magnificent crazy reeling silly scary world! I’m still fucking HERE! I’m alive and my heart is BEATING and I’m running and breathing hard because I’m a motherfucker- you can’t kill me that EASY! But I can’t. Because my foot, she is still healing….
And I just DON”T want to go to Salina Kansas in June to help my mom and my aunt move my grandmother out of her house for the first and last time into an assisted living facility where all her friends now reside because her Alzheimers has finally gotten too severe for her to live alone. I don’t want to be a part of watching the family parcel out her belongings from that beautiful house that used to feel so safe and so lovely and so timeless to me as a kid. But I can’t not go. Because I may not see my grandmother alive for much longer- and she needs me now. And this may be the last time she can actually remember who I am…
And I just want to scoop up my children and hold them close to me and stop time- literally FREEZE it- so that we can just stay in this relatively healthy precious moment together. So that Jo won’t have to go through the fear of small spinal surgery in a few short months. So that Truman won’t wake up with another night terror and have to fall back to sleep shivering and clinging to me in mommy and daddy’s bed (a habit he developed a few years ago, and still has occasional dealings with.) So that they won’t have to crack open my chest—which they will eventually have to do whether this decade of my life or the next. And I will have to again fumble with the ties of that flimsy cheap pastel hospital gown, open in the back for all to see. I will again have to pad down the waxed linoleum floored halls wheeling my IV …face pale and slightly sweaty from the effort of walking…again in recovery. Again. Resting and healing my poor body after they’ve put a small saw through my breastplate and carefully replaced my fluttery, thickened human valve with one from a generous, not so fortunate swine.
But these are just fantasies. Fantasties that I can avoid these and all subsequent frightening moments in my life. Fantasies that I won’t have to go through the crying jags and the heart palpitations and the white knuckle minutes that seem to last days and the dry heaving in the toilets. I cannot pretend. Because as one of my best friends said the other day- “You have too much skin in the game, Hol.” This is the beauty of our lives- this is everything that’s worth anything and this is the center of the horror now.
It’s not that I’m actually all that esoterically afraid of dying anymore. Barring a suicidal end, when and how I die is basically not going to be up to me- and I’m more ok with that than I’ve ever been. Having to live with a chronic heart condition has enabled me to have a dialogue with death like I simply was not able to do previous to my infection. So, I’m far from “fine” with it. But I think I can mostly make peace with simply dying- because it’s the next thing. It’s the next portal through which we all pass eventually.
But it’s the thought of those that I would leave behind that now torture my life-filled, heart beating soul when I must come to the precipice of thinking about death. Now that I’ve swapped mauve tiles for light green, I’ve got too much skin in the game to make anything easy. Everything is costly now. Everything is beautifully, painfully important.
Now that there are two breathing living life forms that came bounding out from twixt the center of me- it’s all changed. There is no more bluffing- there is no more fantasizing. There is no more pretending I am only a lone small little soul back home in my tiny Eastside LA apartment after four weeks in a hospital that saved my life, trying to manage the searing pain in my head that is the healing brain scars, slowly grow back all the hair that fell out and the 25 pounds of muscle mass gone–dissolved from days on end of lying supine in a dreary hospital bed with sheets covered in fading moons and stars.
Now it’s really real. The heart that beats in my breast beats for two other creatures more than for anyone else. More than for myself. And I would do anything to have that heart beat as long as it possibly can for them. To allow for this body to squeeze any life out they need from me now and forever more.
And so basically I suppose, who better to crack my chest open for? It already feels like I have.
“Skin in the game, baby.”
(She pushes the entirety of her poker chips to the center of the table.)
“I’m all in.”
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It has been with much humility, and not a whole lot of grace that I have had to accept hobbling around on my orthopedic boot for the past four weeks after ONCE AGAIN causing a hairline stress fracture in one of my metatarsels. From running. This time the fracture is on my left foot.
My foot- she is healing, which is the good news. The bad news is that I’m not sure I can really engage in this whole “barefoot running” notion, or more recently, “flatshoe running” that I’ve been participating in. And I think, it’s not because those ways of running are inherently wrong and bad for your body. In fact, I actually believe the opposite to be true. Turns out I’m just too old and have been running on puffy running shoes for too long now to really be able to successfully change my stride from heel slammer/toe rocker to the much-better-for-you barefoot strike which is something akin to how children naturally run shoeless in the grass on a summer day. (Sliding down to the ground from the ball/toe of your foot first, then to the heel and finally springing off the toe. Try running in the park barefoot- it’s kinda what your foot wants to do naturally.)
I’d been trying to re-create my inner 7-year-old Holly over the past few months- or rather channel the 7-year-old Holly- in a noble attempt to allow myself the ability to run far into my senior years. See, those big old puffy running shoes that we humans have been plogging around on now for a few decades are kinda the worst thing for your body imaginable. They make you slam your heel down, which causes strain on your lower back, and secondly over-extend your knees. All this misaligns your body as you lean forward to run faster…farther…atop your over-extended knee. It’s no wonder why so many runners quit in their 40′s or 50′s with blown out backs, knees, hip pain.
Yet, attempting to side-step said pain by running on flatter shoes (or none at all) was clearly not the right direction for me. Help for the knees and back ended up blowing out the little bones on the top of my feet a number of times. So, I’ve been dejectedly entertaining the notion that perhaps– no. As far as running goes, you can’t teach this old dog new tricks. If I’m going to continue to run, I need to get back out there on my pumped up Nikes or Sauconys or New Balances, continue to pop my Omega 3′s, and just pray that my knees and joints hold out for at least the next decade.
This vaguely depresses me. Because running for me is akin to crack cocaine. Though I’ve never run longer than 5 miles at a stretch, running to me is something like a religion and it keeps me healthy and happy and if not stress-free- definitely stress-reduced.
So- I’ve decided to make a list in the other direction. A list of ways I HAVE changed lately. A reminder of how it IS possible to evolve. That not all attempts to alter one’s foot fall in this life end up in ugly black velcro laden boots that literally look good with zero fashion ensembles. And I’ve tried.
1. I walked into a Carl’s Jr today. I’ve NEVER eaten in a Carl’s Jr! I’ve eaten at many other fast food restaurants in my time, but until today- no love for Carl. This was not hard when you consider the horrid rumors I’ve neard about how he is a low-life racist and gives large amounts of money to politicians who would attempt to bring our country back to the good old days of the early 60′s. Additionally, I frequently scoffed at what I came to decide were Carl’s Jr’s dopey ad campaigns which seem strategically aimed at 15 year old boys. If it’s not some splooch of mustard sliding down the front of some girl’s tight white T-shirt, or glamorizing the amount of mess created from eating a Carl’s Jr burger by counting the napkins needed, it’s the “unreasonable-ness” of sit-down restaurants wanting to charge $6 for a decent hamburger. My god. Why would you ever pay $6 for a hamburger, when you can get something that LOOKS very much like that sit-down restaurant hamburger at Carl’s Jr for almost half that price?! (Where, by the way, is there a non-fast food restaurant serving a burger that’s anywhere near $6? Did anyone else find that to be a strangely silly lowball figure? Almost counter-productive to their own message? I mean, even at a joint like Marie Callendar’s- when you order a hamburger, you better be sure you have at LEAST 10 bucks floating around in your pocket. And that’s not even counting drink and tip!) But I digress. So-
Out running errands this afternoon, I got a hankerin for a hunka burger today for lunch. And seeing as it’s about that time of month I thought- yes Holly. You’re allowed a big old nasty fat burger. You need the protein- you need the iron. Go for it. As I drove toward home with my carnivorous fangs dripping, Carl’s Jr loomed ahead- mere blocks from my gastronomical brainstorm. The drive thru line was around the block. But lo- there was one little parking space left right in front of the entrance. So I swung myself and my big old velcro-festooned boot through the doors and ordered me a Six Dollar Burger. And by golly, if it didn’t turn out to be almost as good as if I had gone to one of those restaurants where they serve real burgers for about $12.95! And, btw, six napkins worth of mess. So there’s some truth in advertising. I’ll probably never align with Carl’s politics, but he now has $6.48 of my money and I was far from dissatisfied.
2. (Remember this was a list?) Here’s another new thing for me: So- I shushed someone I didn’t know today sitting next to me and my kid in our school’s weekly Friday morning “All School Meeting.” (This isn’t really the new thing for me, but I’ll get to that, so bear with me for a little bit.) The ASM, as it’s affectionately called round the hood of our school, is a four parts lovely, two parts frivolous, one part annoying tradition where all kids, parents, teachers, etc meet for (what you hope is) about 35 minutes in the Common area. Kids share songs, skits…fifth graders lead the meetings, thereby culminating their private school elementary experience with a very public display of self-confidence, school information is passed around, sometimes visiting performers come to share their talents. It’s really mostly very nice.
However, for this particularly curmudgeonly mom, I find some elements of the tradition to be tiresome- the most common of which is the propensity for TALKING during the meeting. And I don’t mean kids talking. The students at school are for the most part fairly kind, helpful, thoughtful people. They are capable of actually sitting around for a long time criss-cross-applesauce on the floor with a bare minimum of disruption. Perhaps because these meetings are weekly, the kids get used to shutting up and mostly paying attention. And mostly not talking to their friends who might be sitting right next to them or across the room. I cannot say the same thing about the adults. It’s the PARENTS who tend to be so frigging annoying. It’s the clueless entitled private school PARENTS who cannot seem to stop talking to each other during ASM. As if the code of silence only applies to their younguns and not to them. As if politeness is an overly tight snakeskin that one eventually molts out of. Well, I for one don’t agree. I don’t go often any more to these all school meetings, but when I do, I try as hard as I can to mirror for the kids what I think it is we are attempting to teach them with our communal silence and attention to whatever is happening onstage– self control and respect for others.
So today I had it. There was a middle aged man and his teenage son sitting next to me and my son just yakking away during the beginning of the meeting. Now, I didn’t recognize them so it is possible they were visiting relatives of one of the students– perhaps even one of the fifth graders leading the meeting. But suffice to say, there was plenty of “shushing” at the onset of the meeting, so it seemed evident to me there was no lack of clarity about the desire for- the need for- silence from the audience. And the meeting begins- and there’s some talk. And then a song that we’re all singing together- a call and response sort of thing. And during both the call, and the response this father and his son are still talking to each other in regular voices. Not even really an attempt to whisper at all. And I’m starting to boil with rage. (Did I mention it’s about that time of the month for me? Just so we’re clear.) Because it’s really the lack of awareness that just niggles at me. It’s the lack of ability to apparently realize you’re in a room with many OTHER individuals who are there together- trying to co-create an experience. That maybe just shutting the fuck UP might be the best thing to do. You can giggle with your teenage son after the thing is over. So, I try to sit on it. Try to sit on it. Sit. Just sit, Holly. Just Sit on– and then I can’t any longer, and instead of slightly turning my head, vaguely looking into the middle of nowhere and uttering some sort of passive aggressive “ShhHHH” like I would imagine might be the normally accepted way of handling the situation, I actually turn to completely face these two and say something like, “Hey, could you both stop talking please? It’s loud and hard to concentrate.” There’s a pause. And then because I am literally 28.9 cm away from them both and have to spend the rest of the meeting sitting next to them, I turn back to mitigate a bit and say, “I’m sorry if I sound really rude, but it’s just distracting. Thank you.” Both the father and son say nothing. They sort of glare at me as if they realize they’ve accidentally opted to sit next to the school crazy. Then they look away haughtily. And I look away. And that’s the end of the encounter.
But now here’s the part that belongs in my list today. This is new for me: I was relatively calm afterwards. My heart did not continue to beat hard after I said my little piece. I was able to breathe normally and not regret what I had said. I did not feel the need to further mitigate the situation. I did not feel the need to try to make myself more likable and look at them later with apologetic eyes, which I believe is what my slightly younger self would have done. In other words, I believe I’m getting a little better at speaking my truth and letting it hang in the air without needing to make anyone else comfortable. That’s a biggie for me.
3. Ok. What else? I could list how I recently took my kids on a plane by myself (bootlegged) to Atlanta over spring break and how I didn’t let my peri-menopausal CRUSHING travel anxiety get the better of me. (I love you, Ativan.) Or I could say something about how when during my trip to the doc three days ago to re-check some hormone levels, and my well-intentioned GP mentioned something about how my facial melasma looks really bad- like it’s gotten worse- and it must be because I didn’t have any makeup on, I didn’t go down the self-esteem rabbit hole. Despite the fact that I had just seconds before her entrance been applying foundation to my face with the few minutes I had to myself in the exam room. Nor did I really care to inform her that for six months now I’ve been applying a very expensive bleaching cream that my dermatologist has recommended to me and that actually, my melasma is significantly better than it was the last time I saw her. I think she was trying to be supportive of my assertion that my estrogen is rising. (Melasma is a sign of high estrogen. I think she was trying to be a Yes Girl.)
4. Ah wait– I’ve got one. This is good. Two weeks ago I had a gig at a local joint. Fun place- two blocks from my house. And I hobbled over on my boot. Ready to rock it onstage with the Black Velcroed Wonder. And I brought out– for the very first time– my Fender Telecaster. Which is an electric guitar, for those who don’t know. And for those who don’t know me, I’d NEVER played my Fender Telecaster onstage before – never. Though the guitar was cool looking, and though I had posed with it slung on my back for the cover of my third album, and though the guitar came to me out of the blue- literally showed up on my doorstep one day back in 2001 after I’d put out my first record (I unwittingly won some online contest that I hadn’t even entered myself in) –I could not bring myself to play it. In fact, until 10 days ago, it still sported the same lightweight strings that it came with, propped up against my front door back in 2001 with a congratulatory note taped to it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to play the Telecaster. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to honor the nudge that the universal forces were apparently giving me right at the dawn of my recording career. It was just that the thought of figuring out what sort of AMP to buy for it, and what kind of STRINGS it might require and how it might change the way I was already haltingly picking and struming my acoustic guitar… I just wasn’t READY for it, I decided. The universe is never wrong, but in this case, I had decided the universe had shown up to the party a little early and would just have to hang around by the buffet with a drink and wait for the rest of the party guests to arrive.
So of course I didn’t play it or even pay any attention to it for a long time. And when any musician would come over to practice with me and notice the poor neglected Tele leaning expectantly in its stand in the corner of my office, he would comment on how- Oh Hol! I didn’t know you had a Fender! That’s cool. Why don’t you ever play it? And then the litany of whys would pour out of me.
And it wasn’t until 2012 that I really decided to own the ONLY reason why I wasn’t playing this delightful gift of the Magi that showed up like Moses in the basket to Pharoh’s wife. I wasn’t playing this guitar because I was SCARED. I was scared of trying something I didn’t know how to do. I was terrified of my eventual trips to Guitar Center armed with my little Tele, forced to go ask one of the tattoo encrusted sales dudes, “What kind of amp do you think I should buy for this guitar?” And I would be forced to say “I don’t know anything about anything when it comes to pedals and sounds and effects. I only know that they exist and that I won this guitar and I should probably start playing around with some gear and such and stuff.” I didn’t want to appear as the Soccer-Mom-Wanna-Be-Middle-Age Rockster whose smiling face would soon grace an ad-hoc WANTED poster in the Guitar Center break room: ”Seen this tall, slightly wrinkly, totally clueless loser? Warning- knows nothing about anything! If you happen to encounter, pitch only expensive reject guitar gear. She apparently has dough to burn! Claims to play the “keyboard.”
I finally swallowed my pride this month and borrowed a cool little amp. And a tremolo pedal. And immediately wrote a song on the 11 year old lightweight strings. And then showed up armed with said guitar, amp, pedal and song to my gig of two weeks ago. The best part is of course, the high E string broke onstage just as I was about to play the new tune. Though I played it anyway- struggling every moment with the guitar wailing painfully out of tune. See, when one string is missing on the neck of the guitar, the balance of tension gets all off and it will pull the remainder of the strings off their game. It was hilarious listening to my guitar in the monitor get softer and softer as the song progressed. (Thank you sound man.) Luckily, I was performing with my pal Eric who is a SMOKIN guitarist and who sort of took over the song even though he had never heard it and was wingin it the whole way through. Suffice to say, the song rocked. Even though I did not on my Fender Tele.
So there’s more. But I believe I have now reached the organic end of this blog post. It feels like it’s done. I think I’ve made my point to myself and the millions of tiny etheral quarks which surround me as I sit here typing away that I am indeed, if only very slowly and very slightly, evolving. I am learning to face my fears one broken guitar string at a time. I am edging farther away from my safe position of moralism, and learning to live who am I more consistently. Even though I may irritate a fellow human being or two seated next to me. Even though I may accomplish something as mundane and unnecessary as patronizing a fast food restaurant.
Because I suppose I can still surprise even myself. And that is something I never want to break.Leave a Comment