Thursday, July 29, 2010

what's left of summer.

in may i was already thinking about what i'd do with this summer. june ran right past me. i guess i was still settling in from my move. now the fat middle part of july has somehow lumbered by, and all that's left is august. i better grab hold, or its tail will drag off into september before i know it.

i am aching to be near water. now it seems surreal that 12 yrs ago i lived four blocks from the ocean. lucky, and so young, i was. some days after work i'd walk down 8th st., turn left at ocean drive, pass versace's ostentatious mansion, and
when i reached the self-appointed flamenco dancer in front of mango's i would cross to the beach, where i'd sit with my chin resting on my arms resting on my knees, watching the water. just for half an hour or so. long enough to take a few deep breaths without inhaling neon and silicone. even in vainglorious miami there's a teeny space for peace, in the early evening, by the water.

i haven't seen the
ocean in ten years. it won't be this summer, either. but i'd settle for a lake. one night, maybe two, on a lake. i want to wake up early and have coffee outside, before the water is torn open by boats and skis, squealing children and drunken twentysomethings. i want to take a walk and lay in a hammock...make veggie skewers on the grill for dinner...stay late into the evening on the deck, next to the water. i want to drink beer and listen to funny stories, and as it gets darker i want the noise and chatter to trickle away, and i want everything to be still, except for whatever is crawling in the brush.

and if i can't have a lake, then...a picnic...the botanical gardens...a few quiet evenings in a backyard...a nighttime drive or two, just because...a dinner cooked entirely on the grill...

32 days left.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

one night on pleasant street.

Barstool Lullaby

Under dim lights, in darkened corners,

they gather.

Slumped atop skeletons of stained oak,

faces find harbor in smoky gauze.

The man with a black ponytail

moves by rote: Nodding. Turning. Reaching.

A sweating bottle waits where a perfect circle spreads,

wet with commiseration.

Curses and dedications etched in wood

recall decades of how it began:

with a glance.

And ended:

with another.

There is the smell

of too many combined smells.

Twenty-one smokes and ten ounces from the well,

the girl with a scar for each of her eighteen years

fades into brick and mortar

behind the fourth booth to the left,

the one signed by

Hank Williams III:

Hellbilly, it says,


The hours grow old and wasted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

tiny magic.

things i like . . .
  • coffee. i go to bed looking forward to that first cup, when my house is still morning-quiet.
  • "the lion sleeps tonight." it's on my itunes right now. my dad would sing it as he walked from room to room in our old house, the one i grew up in.
  • when joker comes to my desk chair and puts his head in my lap, and it makes me feel like he's saying, "thank you for keeping me."
  • right now, swaying in my chair along with townes van zandt and emmylou harris singing "if i needed you." i think i'll press repeat.
  • when a man i like carries me. it's a perfect moment, no matter what.
  • the long drives ellen and i used to take when i first moved here, when everything was new and nothing was old.
  • the way jessi closes her eyes and turns her head and crunches her shoulders when she's laughing. that's when i know it's really, really funny.
  • listening to erin's off-the-cuff hillbilly-isms that are funnier than anything heehaw ever dreamed up, and especially imagining the look on someone's face after they've crossed her, and the way she always knows exactly what to say to me, more than anyone else in the world.
  • cupcakes. they make me little-kid excited.
  • grass. the kind next to bodies of water or in big fields or pretty yards.
. . . off to work now. i think. hopefully i can catch hold of my sugar-rush little brain and hold it still long enough.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

a tempest, a respite.

a friend, a writer, told me today to write about what i love, not what brings me turmoil. it was good advice. certain pieces of life can't be written right away. they should be put in a box in the attic, only to be revisited on a day, much later, when i am looking for something else.

after talking with her, i ran, and i thought about her advice. i should write about what i love. but the word "advice" kept coming back around. i've gotten a lot of it recently. it's all been about heavy, grown up things, though. into the box it went. so i kept running. and i started associating words with people and places, and before i knew it, 6 miles had passed and two people from long ago had found their way into today. so i'll write about them.

during one very bland year, i had a crush on a man who told me i was too interesting for my own good. it's my favorite thing he ever said, although i have no idea what he meant by it. i don't think he did, either. knowing him, he heard it somewhere else and thought this was a good a time as any to try it out, because we were otherwise failing miserably at flirting with each other. as we often did. why i kept on chasing him is purely cat and mouse, because other than not having him, i had no reason to want him at all. if i had to guess, at the moment he finished his sentence, i must have dropped my crush somewhere between the jukebox and the atm, along with the last ash on my cigarette. thank god. too bad he hadn't said you are too interested for your own good. he'd have been spot-on.

when i lived in miami, i had a friend named larry. he was much older than i, in his late forties, i'd guess. back then i was forty-by-way-of-twenty-two, so we made fine friends. got along swimmingly. according to mr. webster, "swimmingly" dates back to 1622 and means "very well" . . . the etymology is curiously absent from the entry. i wonder if mr. webster is toying with us sometimes. either way, it's a good word to use when talking about larry, because there was something grand about him, for no particular reason. we would go to dinner often, and would talk for hours, as if my newborn opining could interest a man who hung around with the likes of tom waits and gary sinise. weird thing is, it did. i kept up with him. i was an old soul back then. it's been a decade or more since we've seen each other, but we've spoken a few times. every time, he greets me with the same "hey danielle!" that makes me feel as if i've rescued him from a life of repose. larry is a rare one—a character, a gentleman, and a joy. i hope i'll see him again.

* * *
the rain is drip, drip, dripping from the sky and hitting my sidewalk in tiny explosions. the dogs are sighing away next to me on their beds. it makes me sleepy, too.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

blue masses.

the sweets are cooling off in the refrigerator. i wish it were that simple. i'd climb in, too.

this song came to mind today ...

i like how it's soft and float-y and dreamy. in a few hours i will be celebrating, a few days belatedly, the beginning of my 34th year. i hope it's like this song.

Friday, July 23, 2010

water, water everywhere...

yesterday's calm became today's disquiet. hopefully i will write my blues until they turn pale. the dogs are sleeping. the house is still, except for the slight whir of the ceiling fan in my room, its chain swinging like a lasso above the pile of clean sheets i've yet to put on my bed. my mind feels unmade, too. maybe it's a coming down, of sorts, from the cupcakes and beer of last night. if it were cool, and safe, i'd take a long run outside. if i were in morgantown i'd drive to the lake and sit cross-legged on the edge of the water. i have tried to find water in memphis. sometimes i drive downtown to the river, looking for a spot to make mine. the mississippi is impersonal. may mark twain turn in his grave.

i miss morgantown. occasionally i verge on pining for it. it's because i'm here now, sitting at the better desk in the bigger house in the newer city i wanted, still wondering how or if it all makes a home. maybe remembering morgantown fondly is the ground i haven't yet found here; it's something to hold on to when i feel myself slipping.

people who say they never look back . . . it's because they don't have a past, they only have what has passed. they are fearful creatures. next time someone tells me to learn to let go, i'll tell them to learn to hold on.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

art and love.

my blog has become an entity. i didn't have time to write yesterday,and i felt like i had let somebody down. a lot of art-makers fall in love with their art. an obsessive kind of love. i had a tempestuous romance with a painter who felt that way. we burned and melted and cooled, over and over for years. he told me i was easier to deal with on canvas...he said that way, when he was finished with me he could turn my face to the wall and walk away. he always walked away. i have often said what i remember most about him was the way he looked from behind. i don't miss him anymore, and i remember our good times more than our bad. i am free.

my art...not my lover, for sure. if it were so, i'd expect it to come to me instead of me to it, and then i'd resent it for always letting me down. when i'm alone with my thoughts, my hands, my sewing machine, my scissors and's almost inexplicable...there are so few things on this big green and blue orb that make me feel that way...

it's like...

kisses. not all of them. only the kisses with a man whose face i can't remember when he's away. maybe that has been my heart's way of saying what i won't...if you stay away too long i'll forget you.

it's like...

watching my dogs play. it's love. simple, sweet, absolutely unconditional love. the kind i grew up with. that's why i now have three dogs instead of two. joker was a foster at first. i
thought i could do it...always getting myself into messes when it comes to my heart. fostering is like asking me to love halfway. or not even halfway. the first time i thought of watching him in the back of someone else's car, leaving me, i was in tears. i'm not cut out for halfway-or-less love. so now i have three dogs. it will make my life infinitely more difficult. it will be worth it.

painting by nathaniel price. 2003.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

i'm so, i'm so, unsatisfied...and other narratives.

i'm writing when i should be working. but if i were working, i'd want to be writing. today reminded me of how behind i am on everything. i'll get to it all... tomorrow. right now i want a beer, a back rub, and a roll in the hay. i can't afford two of the three, so i'll settle for a beer.

in an interview, paul westerberg said he hated playing "unsatisfied." he called it a "seeming angst-ridden cry for help"...did he mean to be profound? angst is always seeming, you know.

i have been unsatisfied for decades. it's my way. it's what i tell myself about myself to avoid becoming...still. if nothing is ever enough, i'll keep moving. and i'll never sink. this is what i tell myself. what i don't tell myself is that i may also never swim. but i know.

i know, because i took a graduate course in literary theory. it was 2003. my teacher's name was dennis. dennis with a smile like the cheshire cat. he was wonderful. we read psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, some esoteric way, all these things apparently apply to literature. i never quite grasped that part. it didn't matter. the best part of the class was the thinking. it made me think until my mind was inside out. some of it absurd, some of it completely tangible. it was the most important class i ever took. if i had to reduce everything i learned to one thought, it is this: everything is a lie.

i remember this every time i wish i had kept my mouth shut. not because i've said something awful, but because i know talk is futile. cheap, as they say. feelings are the basis for talk. we feel something, we create a concept in our mind. but by the time a concept becomes a group of words that become a sentence, it's all ruined. once my words leave me they fall apart, for someone else to put back together. feelings are the only truth. as soon as they morph into words they become lies.

paul westerberg says everything is a lie, too. or did he say liberty is a lie. in another interview, he said it doesn't matter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

know when to fold 'em?

first, i may never stop blogging. i don't mean in perpetuity. i mean today. it's been since college that i've written this much. it's blissful.

second, i wish i were typing in comic sans right now. "sorry i forgot about u this weekend"...that's what the text message said. all i could do was laugh. i think all my relationships could be reduced to that phrase, minus the "this weekend" part, which could be interchangeable with other timeframes, like "last night" or "this year" or most holidays.

thankfully, i no longer care that the above texter forgets me. i stopped caring a few years ago. he's an old fling. we're friends. sometimes we kiss, but they are hackneyed kisses. can kisses be hackneyed? i think so. anyhow, whatever heat once existed between us is now barely lukewarm. the last time we saw each other we didn't even bother. that makes me laugh, too.

what i have with texter is what most men want from me: they want me not to care. or they want me to act like i don't care? or they just don't care, period? i can't tell, bc the lines they draw leave me cocking my head this way and that way. you know, the way you look at a kindergartner's drawing, trying to decide if it's a penis with eyeballs, or a rocket. truth is, both the kindergartner and the man are drawing penises with eyeballs. difference being, if you ask them to explain, one says it's a map of confusion, the other says it's a rocket. neither will get you anywhere.

men are the worst invention ever, and i'll be damned if i don't love every bad thing about them. i've known many of 'em, and all i know is this: men are like sun exposure...most barely leave a mark, a few turn you pink, and one or two burn the hell out of you. i started wearing sunblock this summer.


last week i got a text from a man i barely know. he was visiting another country, and described how it looked there at the curtains in the old hotel were big and heavy, that when he pushed them back they revealed an even older city, and how he left the window open so the breeze could come through. he said it was romantic, and that it made him think of me. it was flattering to think that, in the very few conversations we'd had, this man had paid attention. to me. just me. if the age gap weren't 17 yrs wide i'd run off with him. instead, i am savoring a little taste of old fashioned courtship.

courting lives in the interstices of dating. it is what happens during the time you spend apart. last year i felt like i was being courted, for a very brief time. i recall exactly the moment we met, nearly running right into each other in my friend's kitchen as i walked in and he walked out. oh my is he handsome, said the tingle in my belly. normally i would've walked away, sight set, finger on the trigger. i'm still not sure why i didn't. it was a while before we met again, a while before he asked to see me, and weeks before we so much as kissed. kisses being the ammunition for future wars, of course. in the the first few weeks, though, he did everything just right. we didn't see each other often, but every day my phone would announce his text message hellos, smiley faces, how he thought i was cute, and how his shirt smelled like me after i left. i wasn't worried about what we'd become. for once it was fine as wine, simple as syrup. i remember the day it changed. it was still very early on. he stopped in to drop off my jacket. if i could've painted and framed his face that day, i would've titled it "unease." he didn't hug or kiss me goodbye, and i knew something had soured. from then on, it grew into my most bemusing romance...ah, the limitations of nomenclature...there was no more romance to it. but there was...something? and it was odd. as the spaces between our visits became wider, the way we knew each other became deeper. relationships are canyons, it seems. this is why we learn to build bridges. or, all too often, we don't.

another lesson to write down for the books. except the lesson in it is still cloudy. is it that i should restrict all my romances to one month, perhaps two? then there would be no battles, no wars. i would live in eternal peacetime. and i would die young. people would say i had an undetected heart condition. it would be partially true.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

looking, and not looking.

in 4 days i will be 34. may be time to stop punishing myself. for being impulsive and irresponsible, for trusting too many and trusting too few, for biting my tongue at all the wrong times, for being a bad daughter, and hell, even for writing this blog that will be far too intimate and then everyone will know i am...alive. we are all dying, but i die faster every time i wish to hide.

7 yrs ago i cried to my mother, because he didn't love me back. in front of her four-poster bed, losing my words through billions of tears that rushed from all the cracks and spaces where my hands covered my eyes. animals can be calmed when they aren't able to see around them. people, too. not me, though. i see, maybe too much. maybe that night i cried that much harder bc what i saw most was myself giving up. giving up is louder than a train or an airplane. it is louder than anything. maybe i cried, too, bc i was afraid to run to her. she knew, so came to me. and held on as if 1979 weren't 27 years buried, making my bruises all better with a kiss. it was that night when my mother told me it took her far too long to realize how beautiful she was. not outward beauty, but the kind you find in knowing your worth. i didn't tell her that i don't think there are enough numbers in the universe to measure hers. maybe someday i will. there are days when i am grateful for nothing more than being my mother's daughter.

lately i've been tormented by what i see when i look in the mirror. i have wasted so much time, wanting this and then wanting that and then not knowing at all what i want. i moved to memphis 4 yrs ago, wanting to escape as always, except this time i'd surely do it right....right? indeed. no more screwing around. time to grow up and stay put. i'd be a writer who actually made a living at it...i'd sit on porches with my new friends, talkin shit and listening to gram parsons or anyone else who had a way w words and a guitar...i'd have a new boy to chase after any time i wanted, bc memphis was sure to be full of the kind that west virginia never had.

it hasn't happened that way. not at all. it's been the hardest 4 years of my life. some of it, irreparable. i live every day knowing that to do what is best for me, i will break my father's heart. now, 723 miles from him, i think of the thousands of "i love yous" i've withheld from him, all bc i didn't know how to say it. it still makes me cringe a little, saying it. i mean really saying it, not just the hurried iloveyoutoo before hanging up. i'm not sure why. my dad kissed my cheek and told me he loved me every night of my childhood. he still sends me a valentine every year and sends me love notes with my mail. i wonder if i'll ever tell him that i know he hung the moon.

love is troublesome. love of family, friends, and, of course, men. my god. i have spent the past 10 years turning the curious, careless behavior of men into art. writing is a precious release. sometimes i just sit in front of my computer for...who knows how long...and just think about what i'm going to write. it's mental canning, putting it up for later use.

afternoon coffee calls. if you give a damn, there are more musings to come. if you don't, then neither do i.