I'd like to officially thank my sister Anna and brother in law Brooks for seriously compromising- if not destroying outright- my ability to write. You see, it's much
easier to write when you're not so happy. Take, for example, the book that taught me the most about the technique and passion that one can throw into language. Wasted
was written by a woman named Marya Hornbacher; she was an anorexic and bulimic manic depressive Mid Westerner and her life was total shit. But my goodness could she string words together.
The time when I was 22 year old and I lost my mind over a break up, yeesh, I wrote like a banshee on the down side of an Ecstasy binge! That's when I started Then The Radio Died,
which is still some of my favorite stuff. I was schlepping around in my bedroom, searching for a rock to crawl under, thinking: woe to me, but at least I got my radio. I've always loved the radio. And as I had that thought, literally as the words passed through my brain, the radio died. Snapped off with a little, self-satisfied pop!
Oh, life, come on-really? You're going to take my radio?
Funny thing is- I'm sitting in my living room right now and I see about 8 different radios. I've collected them ever since I suppose. Dad keeps giving me radios for Christmas and I will take them, eyes gleaming, fingers groping at their dials and antennae, and I'll exhale thankkkk youuuuu and closet them away just in case.
So back to the point. Towards the end of the summer I was living alone in Vermont and settling into weird solidarity with the local flora and fauna. Poetry was starting to make a great deal of sense to me. The hazy sweet summer was a mockery of life's cold realities, and the turning tang of autumn on the wind was just further proof that everything eventually dies. That's when Anna and Brooks graciously insisted that I move back to Seattle, where if I wanted to be mopey at least I'd have an entire population sect to keep me company, and I could wear tight pants and drink tiny mournful cups of espresso. With a full understanding of my limited freelance/no-lance income, they welcomed me into their home. Where I live today.
They share their dog. They share their food. They share their bath tub. And with these three things accounted for, I've got nothing left to complain about. But when you're all strung out on gratefulness and social fulfillment, it's hard to write a post that doesn't slide down your throat like cool-whip.
If I really work at it, I can conjure a bit of my old flavor of lightning strike induced muteness and buried infant macabre (hey- give me a break, I payed 5 years of college tuition to learn how to talk about my writing, if not actually write) but just as I'm stirring it into some context, Brooks will wander in and say would you like some of my enchilada pie I whipped up from the the family cook book?
Or the sister bursts in the door (not historically a family of knockers, she's always bursting through doors) and says Who wants to do a TARGET CHRISTMAS LIGHTS RUN?
(Allow me to interject that while this is well and good, it is the cultural and moral obligation of older siblings to systematically wear away at the youthful, hopeful exterior of the lessers, slash younger, sibling, and my sister has done a fair amount of this. You should have heard the railing she gave me yesterday as I tried to read aloud from my new book of teach yourself chakra healing. Her reception of this proffered enlightenment consisted primarily of running the blender through the important parts and then lecturing me about hard scientific discoveries and their betterment of the human race. Not of a spiritual mind, that sister. And this is undeniably a good thing. Without her there is a good chance I'd float away in my own self-inflated thoughts and my balloon would burst over that Atlantic.)
Anyway, if in the past two months my sister and her husband has kept me far away from the darker recesses of my creativity, then I would call this weekend the zenith of their sabotage. They filled the house way past capacity with music, beer, and nearly every person I love in the entire city. So I'm sorry if this post reads like a cherry flavored gusher.( And here's hoping that my friend Jace doesn't read this, because we once made this pact that if our writing ever sucked to the point that it could be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, we'd tie one another to the railroad tracks. But Jace moved to Phoenix and became a fregan and has probably lost the will to live by now.)
Saturday night, we had a house concert.
And while I didn't perform per se
, I do think I was the true star of the evening because I was in charge of the snacks. Somewhat in charge of the snacks. And man, where they ever a hit!
Anna had a concert at the EMP on Saturday morning, so Brooks and I cleaned the entire house and cooked. Here's a little subtle marketing of my own project that I left in the bathroom:
And here's Brooks, trying to dismantle the table to make room for more chairs. Not a staged photo, promise. He didn't even know I was in the room.
Ian Parks played first, a Seattle musician who relocated to LA. He brought with him a pose of good matured folks who, by 10:00 in the evening, had completely given up the idea of the cup and were all clinging to nearly empty wine bottles by their neck and hand-rolling cigarettes in my bedroom. Ian is a stunning musician that plays with a ton of heart. My favorite song that he played was preference, as many good folk songs are, by the story that inspired it. This particular story was about a girl who Ian fell in love with to no avail- she played for the other team. "Well," Ian concluded heartily, "that didn't stop me from writing a love song about her!" The cheer that rose from the audience after this made me very happy. It made me think about everybody in the room, everybody in my life, who is currently flailing and struggling with the Love- not as an idea but as an actuality. How many of us try and try and try, even when love is not requited, and wonder what the hell it is we're doing. But the truth is, no matter what we're doing, if the intent is out of love, than it can't be wrong. Because the love songs we're writing will only truly be reciprocated once. And there's joy in the writing.
Sorry bout it. But that's what I think.
Then Anna Coogan and Brooks Miner took the narrow slab of living room we called the stage. And good Lord. They killed it. Their rendition of The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald, with Ian up with them playing Mandolin brought the house down, (in a sorrowful maritime tragic kind of way.) If you closed your eyes you'd be transported from an overcrowded home in Lake city and into the The Cathedral of the Maritme Sailors in Detroit, with the bell ringing 29 time for each sailor who lost his life on the Edmond Fitzgerald. Damn, what a song. The King of sea shanties. (And The Mary Ellen Carter
is the queen.)
Anna has this precisely tuned voice and she can do absolute wonders with it. Brooks has these musical seizures at the piano. Together, it's unbelievable. And I'm unbelievably proud of them.
I want to thank everyone who came out last night, made the trip all the way North to join us.You guys made this a perfect evening. Raise a glass to the gathering of neighbors and friends for a night of music and food. May there be many, many more this winter. Cause when it rains for 5 months straight, you gotta do something
to fight back
I love travelling and I miss Chile and the school every day. But having so many people you love in the same city? I'm not sure if there's anything better.