A Random Image

Posts Tagged ‘music for the muffinasses’

 
|| July 19, 2012 || 4:06 am || Comments (8) ||

My father has spent most of his adult life being a success.
Cancer is beating the shit out of him.
I feel terrible for him.
Lots of people might ask me,
“How could you spend and decade-and-a-half without someone
Who was supposed to love you, to be there for you

No Matter What

and then love him and tend him and fret in your heart over his pain
when he shows back up only to
promptly get sick?”
(It is indeed a long-winded and big-ass question)
My answer to them what would ask this is,
pretty much:

“Man. I don’t even know.
I do not know
and
I’ve come to realize that
I do not care

and

All I know is that this is in my heart, this thing,
a knowledge that says, concrete but sorta kind,
This is what You Are Supposed To Do.
Not just that, I guess.
There’s some sort of biological imperative
thing at play that won’t let me peel off
Or turn away
Or fall down and holler quits.
I guess I’m finding out, too

that

This is maybe just who I am.”
“Thank God, because seriously:
If you’d have asked me as early as ten months ago
to predict an outcome, well….
I’d have never put money on myself.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

(you might want to hold your breath a little for this one, y’all)

 
|| June 16, 2012 || 11:10 pm || Comments (5) ||

A few years back, my life was in a state that could best be described as ‘high and dry’.

As I started regaining myself, I met a man who was drunk and kind and whose smile had this ridiculous mix of boyishness and let-me-show-you-what-can-happen. We waved hello and goodbye at parties, we played cards at crowded tables heavy with cigarette smoke and laughing drawls. It did not occur to me to date him until one night he said to me, “The next time I see you I’ll be taking you home with me.”

There was a lot of whiskey involved. When I told him of this later –the third or fourth time we slept together, maybe– he sheeted crimson and I shook my head, holding my amusement in check. A smile leaked past my lips but what I really wanted to do was laugh so hard that it shook one of us out of that bed.

We dated for a good while. He had a fair amount of change in his bank account, but we did simple things: We went shooting, we made runs into Georgia for scratch-offs and forties and just for the simple satisfaction of riding some back roads, listening to some good music.

There came a day when he turned to me and said, “Babedoll,

(yes he said babedoll in a way that no fancy movie cowboy will ever, ever be able to nail)

“you like to shoot pool?”

Well do I ever, sir: I owned a pool cue when I was just about chest-high to a table and I wish my dad would have taken me and my sister to a pool hall and hustled the shit out of the patrons with two little toothless ruthless billiard-rounding towheads. Alas, he did not, and we had to satisfy our  competitive natures sharking the neighborhood boys who hadn’t got the memo yet (it was forthcoming; this was the late seventies in rural middle America) that Sisters Are Fucking Doing It For Themselves.

“I do indeed enjoy a game or two on the now and again.”

People, I had been such a billiards dork between the ages of seven and twelve that I watched televised matches whenever one was aired.

I found myself being escorted into the local pool hall, which –despite its existence smack dab in the middle of the main street in town– I hadn’t known was there. It was, ah….stealthy and low-key on the outside, but inside was the magic of wide industrial windows facing an alley at the back and high, high tin ceilings. This place had always been a gathering spot and never wanted to be anything else; you could tell.

So we lined up healthy stacks of quarters and played and played; I was the only woman in the place and I was treated well, with respect and deference. At one point we noticed the group of men that had been occupying the other tables were loosely gathered around a television in one corner of the room. We made our way toward them; the televison was older, with rabbit ears and flip dials. It rested on a metal teevee tray, but nobody seemed to be worried that it would tip its perch and explode upon impact with the concrete floor. A flat metal stool that stood nearby held a cup and an ashtray.

The fellas were watching ‘Jeopardy’, flipping quarters into the cup between questions. Trebek would read the answer, and the first person to roll out the correct question won the pot. They were playing with two cups, so that each time a quarter-heavy one was pulled, an empty was put back onto the stool. The game had a rhythm, a frankness, a confidence that was exciting. The cowboy and I hung back at the edge of the group, taking in the scene. Thing about him, well…he was a gambler. He was so good that he likely could have made a living at it.

As we watched, I shot out questions under my breath, knowing ninety percent of them and beating everyone in the room. I was wearing the cowboy’s leather coat, the cuffs of it skimming down around my knuckles. I tapped the tips of my fingers against them when I issued a correct question; I can still feel them rat-tat-tatting, the index and ring fingers of each hand, but mostly my overexcited right. The cowboy began to move his eyes from the television to me and back again, quietly running the numbers in his head.

A week later we went back; in his jacket were two pocketfuls of quarters and Jeopardy started at six on the money.  We steered to our previous position; my job was to roll out responses and his job was to pull the cup. Over and over, glory hallelujah, he pulled that cup as I calmly navigated the rounds. My voice was clear and measured where the week before it had been tucked into my chest. I’d had most all the questions. I just hadn’t been speaking them loudly enough to be a competitor.

At the end of the episode, I was given a civil nod from the other players and we found an old Folger’s can to hold what our pockets wouldn’t. We sat later at the kitchen table, rolling and counting. When we were done, he pushed the winnings toward me.

“My God, woman, that was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. That was one fuck of a lotta fun.” I bit my lip, because my mouth was threatening to melt off with all the smiling, all the smiling.

I feel something happening. Don’t ask me to go into details, because hell if I know that bit.

It occurs to me, though, that I’ve known a fair share of what I’ve needed to all along, and I have been speaking it low and to myself, getting a feel for the rhythm of the game. I’m pretty sure that I’m about to start speaking up and out, pulling quarters and having a fine time.

I feel real, real good about that business.

 
|| May 31, 2012 || 1:14 am || Comments (27) ||

Sometimes I wake up and I think, “I don’t know who the fuck I am.”

That is what age and wisdom does to you. The more you discover yourself, the less you know who you are. The trick is to get comfortable with being off-kilter most of the fucking time, standing ready in the rocking shift of consciousness. You get to pick from “I am enlightened and tickled about it,” or “I am a nervous fucking wreck.” Some days you’ll swing from one to the other like a big ole meat pendulum, you with your smirking mouth and your weak ankles. But you have a strong back and your bowels work, so there’s that to make up for the other.

Back to this waking up business: You wake up every morning and there is a certain amount of magic and science you expect to be on your side. Most of us are lucky enough that it is a fair deal of the time.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Apparently I have gotten far too comfortable in my life, is what the universe is trying to tell me today, All You Folk.

I don’t know a lot of things. Wait, scratch that. Yes the fuck I do. I know a metric ton of stuff.  One of the things I know is that I’m very self-aware (metaMetaMETA!), and I have a good grip on my strengths and weaknesses. Mostimes I am just as liable to tell you the ways in which I’m a sore fuckup as the ways in which I am strong and capable. I try not to make excuses for myself, especially if I’ve engaged in poor behavior. If I can be proud of the good things in my life, I can own the shabby ones, too. I try not to luxuriate in the one or self-flagellate with the other. These are all just things. There are happies and there are sads and graces and contemptuousnesses and all of the other point-counterpoint that life weaves through you. You enjoy the one, you motor through the other. You take a knee where it’s called for and you  jump around like a fool where it’s appropriate (and, if you’re like me, sometimes where it’s not).

I like to be in the moment, to wring everything I can out of it. It’s simple, really.

Another thing I know is that your secrets are the very things that will kneecap you and make you worthless. The tighter you hug them to yourself, your burdens, the colder and heavier and more unrelenting they become. They will drag you down without compromise. Some people will tell you to keep your game face on, to always telegraph surety and success.  They want you to believe right alongside them that you should never leave your neck exposed, even if it means sacrificing the act of turning your head, craning it for all it’s worth, to look at something amazing like a baby’s laughing mouth or a pretty, unselfconscious woman. You know, things worth exposing your soft meat for.

I can do stoic like nobody’s business. I learned from some of the best. I’m not convinced it’s the best way to live, though.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I have been sitting here all day fretting. I’m not supposed to tell you that. I was raised by a mother who took on as our family motto the phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” I see where she was going with that, and it was a well-intentioned route, one that encouraged us –my sister and me– to be proactive and not wallow and not have a sense of entitlement. She wanted it to be clear that we were to do our part in our destinies, whatever those may in fact be.

But you know, over the last couple of years I’ve been thinking, and those thinks tell me that “If it is to be, it is up to me” is just a titch arrogant, and inadvertently prideful. It implies that I can do it all on my lonesome….or worse, it implies that I should do it all on my lonesome. So my father actively drilled superiority into our heads while my mom passively did so, even as she touted the good virtue of humility in our hearts. That’s startling. (It also makes me think: “How many didn’t-mean-tos am I responsible for where my own bairns are concerned?” We are all so well-meaning, aren’t we?) If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I need a tribe. I’m not especially co-dependent, but I am hugely loving and tribesmen bring the lulz and sometimes buy the beer and they let you hug them. Most of them hug back. My tribe doesn’t need to be huge. It just needs to be mine.

I am a tough motherfucker. I can take a shot to the head, no sweat. Depending on who you are, I may taunt you for another (I’m off-kilter but I ain’t dumb) . I can take a verbal bludgeoning and laugh and shake it off later via elaborate voodoo rituals on your person
by knifing your tires

with a rowdy game of darts and your picture
,
leaving it be. This is not to say that I don’t believe in being vulnerable, however. I do. I just need to correct myself in the error of thinking that I should have absolute control over where and when I’m vulnerable. I mean, I don’t advocate walking around being a slobbering mess, but what’s the harm of showing armor chinks? I’m sure as shit not afraid of someone seeing me beat my spear on my shield. Truth be told, I don’t even need a spear OR a shield: I have a fearsome haka, just ask anyone who’s seen it.

Hell, ask my husband. I love him the most fiercely of all, and he has seen my most brutal parts and all the weapons that I brandish outwardly, only to turn them inward on myself.

Now then, there is something that the guys with the no-vulnerability mindset and I agree on: Faking it until you make it; I believe in a certain degree of that for sure. I don’t believe in lying. I do believe in saying, “Fuck yeah I can do that,” partly for the other guy in the room, but partly for yourself, too. You gotta hear yourself say that you can do something. You gotta hear those words. Then something in you is beholden to step into them and make them fit, see? Something in you is challenged, awakened, teased out. I believe in challenges, because I’m big on adventure. If you’re not an adventurer, then that’s fine. You can, for instance, believe in challenges because you are a glutton for punishment. Hahaha. (no really)

Okay?

(I love you. We will get to the end. You can take a pee break or whatever and come back.)

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

A friend tells me that the air conditioning in his house has broken again, almost as an aside in another conversation we are having. I know that when the air goes out he gets sick. I also know that his clients have been slow to pay. I pray for his air to work, both so that he can be well and so he doesn’t have to lay out any more money on that damn unit. He doesn’t know that I am praying. I pray for his wife, who must surely worry and fret over him when he is sick, even though she may not actively show him her worry so as not to cause him any strain. I know this dance; I am a wife.

I pray for life to be less mean for you.
I pray for the doctors to find out what’s going on in your physiological self so that it will stop being an albatross on your spiritual self.
I pray for you to find a job.
I pray that you don’t have to make the shitty choice between medication and shelter, between living and L!I!V!I!N!G!
I pray for those little shitbirds at school to stop bullying your sweet kid.
I pray for you even though you mock people like me, people who pray and believe that it works.
I pray for peace and understanding between you and your family, for them to accept and love, for you to forgive hurts, for unification and joy and laughter around a laden table.
I pray for you to stop being scared of the world, and for it in turn to reward and be good to you.
I pray for your beautiful son, locked in a different self, and for you, because the way you parent him is so big and so lovely and so perfect that you could never, ever fail.
I pray for you to stop believing that lying thing inside you that says you are not enough.
I pray for your trust, your openness, and your ability to receive those things from others in return.
I pray for understanding between us.
….and so on.

I’m pretty bad at asking God for things for myself. I used to be pretty bad at asking a few select people to pray for me, over me,  but I’ve gotten better at that. There have been a handful of people praying for me and my family about a specific thing for about a week now.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Today I sat with myself, dragging myself from task to task until I just finally quit trying to focus on other things and sat frozen, petrified, unable to do anything but cry, even though I hate to cry and I believe that worry is unnecessary things like a) taxing and b) a flavor of abomination. Up and out, right? Crying is the emesis of the soul or some shit and today I just couldn’t quell the spiritual nausea and so I bawled like a tit on and off, using a corner of an old towel I’d torn up for rags as a kleenex.

That! Is how thrifty! And repurposeful! I have become! Behold my prowess! I will never ‘make my own toilet paper’, though. There are leaves and catalogs and corncobs left in the world, my Lord.

Then I reached out tentatively to some more people, willing myself to place in them the trust I know that they are worthy of, because they’ve never shown themselves to be full of anything other than integrity and goodwill. (some of them are full of beer, too: tribesmen)

I told them: There is a very strong chance that we may lose our house. I told them: I need every bit of Spirit you can muster my way. I told them: This is humiliating. This is infuriating. I am on the cusp, on the cusp, but there are still bricks to be shoved into place, and I’ve set enough of them that it makes no kind of sense to turn back. I told them: Maxim’s income has steadily declined. Worse, his morale has steadily declined as he’s had to slash away at the jobs of others. His nerves are taut and he has this stress tic where his jaw clenches and unclenches and I am furious at the state of this country for what it has done to the state of my husband, the state of many of its families. The pigs that stole away with all the lifeboats cannot so much as throw out the stray pair of arm floaties to the drowning masses they’ve helped to shipwreck.

Banks, you see, would rather a corpse be fished out of the drink than aid the able-bodied to survive and swim. They don’t hear you when you tell them, “Um. Ahem. I see rocks ahead,” and ask about preventative measures. They aren’t concerned with the fact that you have dwindled your modest but promising nest egg (YOU HAD NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SAVE BEFORE! IT WAS EXCITING TO SEE THOSE NUMBERS TICK GENTLY UPWARD!). They don’t give a shit that I love that studio up there, the one it took me so long to get. It doesn’t matter to the suits that my dining room is the heart of this house, and that so many amazing things have happened in there. They would just blink at me if I told them how this big ole ambly thing was a literal garbage dump when we found it and although it’s not the Taj Mahal yet, we do a little at a time as we can and everyone but everyone without fail remarks on the easy sense of peace  they pick up on when they come into this place. I’m not the only one, you see, with a story like this. They probably don’t even hear the words anymore.

It’s only been a few days since I’ve known the full gravity of our situation and something in me is insistent that I cannot allow it to mow me under. If I keep it a secret, it will.

….and so now I’ve told you, too. I need rooting-for. I need LOUD, SPIRIT-FILLED, YODELING-TRIBE HOLLERING AND STOMPING ON MY BEHAAAAAALLLLF!

Freedom. I am speaking freedom over myself, whatever it turns out to look like. It may have different square footage or even be in a different town, another state altogether. It may be right here where I will bounce fat-cheeked grandbabes on my lap (“this is the way the farmer rides, hobbledy-hoy, hobbledy-hoy”) someday. Whatever. However. I’m asking for you to speak freedom over me, as well. I trust you. I trust you over there with your integrity and your goodwill and your hoping heart inside your rowdy chest.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

In the last few weeks I have been communicating with someone in a deep and meaningful way. We’ve been pondering on the nature of our respective beliefs and how it’s hard sometimes to be what we are in a world that either misunderstands us or perceives us to be something that we are not; they do so based on a mess of ignorant zealots who act like they don’t know anydamnbetter. We have been awkward and vulnerable and funny with one another. We have been mortifyingly honest, broken, excited to be in the company of someone of the same ilk: “Hi. I’m the fuckup who is here to love you.”

I have never written a truer or more naked assessment of myself: “Hi. I am the fuckup who is here to love you.” See what happens?

Anyway, I shakingly asked for prayers. I got a message back saying, “well. it isn’t a coincidence that I was listening to this when I got your message:”

And no. No it wasn’t. Because that freedom paragraph up there? I’d written it a couple hours before I reached for a hand.

‘Only chain a man can stand / Is that chain of hand in hand /Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

more missin’ than you’re worth, but I still do anyhow

Here I am in all this,
Last meal long gone and
Neck punching up a fierce crick,
Five or five-hundred miles
Past where you said the train would stop.
(I quit counting miles; I just listened
for the Johnny Cash in the hitch-gather of the wheels)
It’s not that you lied,
Or didn’t plan right.
It’s just that you underestimated my capacity
For saving you a seat.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Let’s try a little something. It may come up boon and it may come up bust-ass, but I’m always willing to try something new. So are most of you, you fetching little adventurers. As far as I know, I’ve never asked this question, and may never ask it again:

What do YOU want me to write about? What sorts of things would you like me to voodoo out of my pen?

I’m not stuck for topics or stories, but I’m curious to know what you, as my audience, would like to knock over in my brain so that it seeps everywhere. Excluded are those of you that would just simply like to knock me IN my brain. To you special folk I would say: Take a number, champ, and I hope you brought a stool, because the line is hella long.

Hey, here’s some music. Get up and boogie around the room. Shake your troubles loose, mighty Muffinass. Roots rock is our salvation, I’m convinced.

Well, roots rock and Jesus. Haaaallyloo!

 
|| April 8, 2012 || 1:42 am || Comments (9) ||

I didn’t take a picture of it. I didn’t take a picture of any of them. Hell, truth be known, I thought each and every one of them would be trucked back home with me.

I didn’t think that anyone would or could appreciate what I was trying to convey to, oh, the World At Large.

It’s not just about getting the money and ushering people on their way. It’s about hearing them, about receiving their story. Where is the art hitting them, in the face, the guts, the spirit?

I sold ‘if’, ‘amok’, ‘go’, ‘onward’ and ‘vivid’. Looking at it like that, doesn’t it look like some strange, staccato portry, like some theme is emerging?

No? Then I’ll go you one further: I traded ‘pow’ away. Rather, my kid did. He traded it for an empty round vial nestled into a cage of leather. I pretty much equate ‘empty’ with ‘potential’; I can’t help it. ‘Pow’, incidentally, was that boy’s first word. Not ‘dada’ or ‘mama’ or anything remotely like what I expected (he’s super-good at Not Remotely Like What Anyone Expects). His first word was ‘pow’ and he’s pretty much been living up to that shit since his heels hit fresh air and the doctor announced him with a triumphant flourish.

I came on the day I was due, POW. You never saw that particular bit of magic coming, Mom, now did you? No, son; no, I did not. You took the lead from day one. If I’m any kind of mother, though, you’ll never know that until you have kids of your own.

Someone pondered ’spirit’, but then left it on the wall. Just as well; it came out slightly crooked anyway, and I probably should tear it down and remake it.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The fact that I didn’t take a picture of it only struck me later that night, when I was turning over the day’s events in my perpetual-motion, over-excitable brain. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a picture, though, because the buyer gave me a story, and my God, why on Earth would you ever prefer the flatness of a thing As It Was to the full and round something that it becomes when shored up by a personal story told to you in frank, even tones?

I knew the whole time I was painstakingly laying it out in its long, lacy brass frame that ‘onward’ would have a purpose and then I stood in the middle of the little shack that last year wasn’t even there to hear the woman say, in essence, “Here is why I connect with this thing that didn’t exist last week in this place that didn’t exist last year. Old things have passed away and now it is time to walk in the newness of life.”

She bought one for herself, but the important thing is that she bought ‘onward’ for a friend. She told me that it was perfect because that friend had lost everything she’d had to the tornadoes; her whole art collection was gone and now it was time to start rebuilding that particular aspect of her life. “So it’s fitting, the fact that it is made of found things, that it’s a piece of artwork that says ‘onward’. It will make a good start to her new collection.”

I watched her smiling face hanging out of a car window the next day. They were headed home, she and her friend for whom she bought the piece. I beamed at her, we waved. She was beautiful, so beautiful. I never did tell her about what the tornadoes did here. It was enough that the knowledge I have of them deepened my heart for her friend’s experience.

Onward.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I’m hearing the tumblers click. The Mayans forgot to mention that 2012 would equal struggle and magic in plentiful amounts and that I would be lucky enough to see the value of both. This is a Theme in the world right now. I don’t know if you know that. All over and all over I have been talking to people that are being reborn, getting new eyes, giving over to fatigue and frustration and saying, “I am done with being this way. There is a better one and I am going to look it in its big scary face and say ‘HERE I AM, HERE I COME!’ while wearing a silly-ass grin.” They (you) are ready to make a new world. Which, you know, would make the Mayans correct: The world is ending. Some people –as, you know, Some People are wont to do– maybe took that little bit of hinting to mean something more literal than originally intended.

To which I say, “Sorry Mayans. Our bad. Thanks for trying to give us a little supernatural ‘FORRRRRE!’ Good looking out. Really.” And then I pat the Mayans and they are happy and forgive us for being so short-sighted with the whole world-exploding-and-annihilating-mankind thing. We always carry things too far, we humanity-folk (some of us, in fact, got like ten truckloads of whatever dab of DNA is responsible for narcissism and histrionics, holy shit, right?).

“Oopsies!”

The Mayans will be happy to know that crooked spirits are being torn down and getting remade.

You, dear reader, may be relieved to know that, in fact, you are not the only one. Not by a longshot. Godspeed.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned / But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works / It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart / But the welcome I receive with the restart”

 
|| March 26, 2012 || 4:29 pm || Comments (4) ||

I have read your words a thousand times / All inspired by smashed up love and crime

// Tired Pony, ‘Dead American Writers’

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

1) Hello.
2) It’s time again for Doo-Nanny. HELLS YEAH SON.
3) A Canadian is downstairs. The internet intersects with life and it works.
4) I got nominated for Voices of the Year. You can see the piece and vote here, if you so desire.
5) Things are happening. This year aims to be triumph and tragedy hammered together in a manner that might leave everyone wondering which is which. For some reason, I am grinning out of one side of my mouth at the notion of this. Adventure. The first-quarter prediction is that 2012 has a whiff of adventure about it.
6) I know so many amazing people, I swear to God.
7) Over the next few days I’ll be driving around Hellabama in a gold GMC pickup. Wave and holler if you see me; we  can clink beers and grin for a little bit.

Today I feel like ‘amen’ is being breathed all over me, if that makes any sense. I hope you have a day like this soon.