Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dark Was the Night

Today is the day you ate a really gross burger at the Toronto airport, ate good Thai food in the city, and also watched CNN coverage in your hotel room.  Earlier today--and even until now--it is not known how this Cairo-bound plane from Paris disappeared in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

On this flight, as you took a piss and noticed cracks on the corner near the toilet, you imagined a sudden jolt and the ripping of metal and your hanging onto the handicap-assisting handlebar.  It would be for naught, of course.  You imagined being ripped into the the 37,000 feet-high atmosphere.  You could not figure out if you'd freeze to death before you hit the ground.  Certainly there would be not enough oxygen, what with the hyperventilation.  And the hyperventilation and panic and cold would surmount the capability of your central nervous system.  You'd die at around 15K feet.

If somebody took a photo of your last moments on earth, it would be amazing, this body in full flight, eyes closed.  Probably not balletically posed, but weightless still.

What would it take to survive?  You imagined miles upon miles of increasingly thick foliage.  A flick of a whisp of a thought of a slice of a leaf of a fern first.  And then a cloud of dandelion weed flyaways.  And then a massive hammock made of banana leaves, woven together in a basket weave pattern.  You realized this would not happen. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Satellite Call" Sara Bareilles

Would it really be the last time he shut that door behind him, quietly.  No inserting of the key.  No turning of the deadbolt.  The noisy price of assuring security for those he left behind was too much to incur.  The grinding of metal against the door, the friction that would shake the still air.  Instead it was the steady tension of rubberized weatherproofing against the lightweight alloy of the doorframe.  The sound of a closed space being vacuumed sealed.

And with this gesture, at this moment, in the sobering coldness of late February, he walked away.  The ensuing moments, the careful opening and shutting of a car door.  The sliding of gears into neutral and of the gravity-assisted slide of the car into the street, all happened without  a problem.  Problems would appear hours later, but at this moment, in the sobering coldness of late February, all he imagined was a turning of the page.  Something about the start of a new chapter, as his mother used to say.

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Hiding Behind the Moon"  Jeff Hanson

I found out tonight that Jeff Hanson is dead.

Jeff at the Bordello singing this song found me tonight.

There's footage of an interview of him in 2009, such a normal guy from Minnesota. He had married.  He divorced.  His parents found him dead, apparently from a toxic overdose.  Nobody knows if it was accidental.

In the first weekend of May, this year, I woke up at 5am.  Maybe 4:30, I was so excited.  I used my sister-in-law's car and drove from Bucktown, north to Wisconsin.  The air this morning was something I wanted to remember.  It had cooled through the previous night, which was humid.  My shirt felt hot that night, walking back to the apartment we rented.  But this morning's air had the quality of a refrigerated watermelon that had just been taken out and cut open:  crisp and life-giving, but latent with a sinister promise of something sticky and wet in some hours.  Just outside the concrete reaches of Chicago, the urban sprawl of squat brick buildings, grass began to appear.  It competed 10 miles north with misplaced 4-story office buildings.  I imagined pale-skinned and overweight commuters sliding into their sedans early in the mornings to do their time.  Their brown pants and routine bitching about supervisors.  But at the point my GPS failed and the blue dot of me in my iPhone lingered miles behind, the grass gained preeminence.  I said hello to it, and soon, hello to the barns and other strange structures these humans had built upon it, to tend to it, to tend to the creatures grazing upon it.

Jeff's voice was so angelic, and so courageously not what it was supposed to be.  And it was born--I imagine--in a place like this.  Green and just far enough from the city.  His innocuous tinkering with a guitar, these random plucks eventually shaping melodies.  His experimenting with his voice, tapping its higher, thinner functions timidly, quietly, privately.  What was it like to let others hear it the first time.  Before he died when did he last think about running through the grass in these cool mornings.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Every Single Night" Fiona Apple

My relationship with sleep is the worst relationship in my life.  The tiptoeing around, the avoidance, the uneasiness that accompanies every engagement.  Will it be like last night's?  Will there be a sudden detail that springs up from the deeper parts of today's rehashing?  Will it be restorative?  Will I remember my dream?  Will it be enough?  Will the consecutive nights of deprivation further deepen these once indiscernible wrinkles?

Will I require a book for reading?  Or a piece of paper to write on?  Or exhuming an ancient experience--perhaps when I took a beautiful nap in that hammock in Montanita?  Or an imagining of a deeper level of protection:  curled up inside a killer whale, breathing in the warm viscosity of its jewel colored amniotic fluid, numbed to the pressures and stimuli of an outside world by a generous layer of blubber?

Perhaps a jungle and this song.  On an island.

The suddenness of appearing in this context introduces a mystery whose unraveling would otherwise be irresistible.  But I need to figure out my way out or just my way.  The rapid assessment of my vicinity under this moonlight.  The warmth and saltiness of the wind.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"When I Was a Boy" Dar Williams

If below, then above.

I look back fondly at more youthful times.  I smooth out actual history with a romanticized one, tempering rigors and diminishing challenges and somehow rounding out the edges.  What I'm left with is a false memory of what it meant to be 26 having just begun working, 24 and traveling the world, 19 and the independence of college, 12 and taking walks at night around my neighborhood, 10 and eating cereal while watching the Jetsons.

What I seem to casually forget in these moments are the fighting, the uneasiness with being me, the car accidents, the knee injuries, the awkwardness of age 13, the hunger, the deprivation.

At age 45 I will look back at age 33 and remember only the promise of business school, the simplicity of working at a company with a gym, the relationships, the financial independence and good fortune.

But tonight, you are sleep deprived, with a broken Samsung TV, wondering if you're overweight at 154 lbs., having a room mate across the hallway, the ringer volume of your iPhone isn't loud enough, and you're wondering if you can get Dar Williams tickets at the Largo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Virus" Bjork

It has been some time and this song is the reason I am here.  I would like to describe what this song makes me feel.

I feel I am floating in space, but am not cold.  And I swim through asteroid belts unharmed and wave my hands through comets' tails.  And around me are glass shards, remants from some faraway explosion, glistening and shimmering and reflecting light from the millions of stars around me.  And I smile and think nothing and remember nothing.  I wait for nothing and came from nowhere.  I just am there being and sensing.

Goodnight now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Leyendo en el Hospital" Gustavo Santaolalla

Tonight I miss my old life.  This movie brought me to tears because it so captured the feeling of the road and of travel.  Itcreated that pain in my stomach that signifies a visceral need to seek adventure, or was it, that whole time to shed this life.  To shake things off and rediscover parts of you that remain latent in this normal life.  Parts that this normal life just don't require.  Like feeling secure in the company of strangers, or knowing that within a 3000 mile radius, nobody knew me or communicating needs with hand signals and gratefulness with a real smile.  Of course things have moved on and my life now resembles what those people on the road--perhaps myself too at an earlier age--believe to be an unlived life.  What was i looking for all those years?  Have I found it?  if I am still writing this, perhaps not.  Perhaps it's just one of these complicated biorhythmic cycles, predicated on a very ancient urge to explore your terrain.  Living on the road is unsustaintable--those who do it end up dirty and always give off this impression that their lives back home in the UK or France or Germany presented something to them so overwhelming that the only way to cope was not to--and that living a life defined by strangers in strange places provided the safety and comfort they otherwise could not find.  Where do we go now?  Are the last adventures inside my head?