Friday, September 30, 2011

into the grey

Another week is winding down, and the blur of time is finally starting to lead to a sense of clarity. I lost a great-uncle this week, someone who seemed larger than life, with stories handed down, and there's sundry other little dramas with no need to be spread about the Internet, but last night I took some much needed chill time to get annoyed with my history textbook's YAYCOMMUNISM slant (sure, Stalin killed people but the ones that didn't died were freed from their superstitions so yay Stalin and artistic propaganda posters were keeping it real).

The Randian kid on the other side of the room is absurd to the point of being way too amusing, the know-it-all wasn't there today, and all I can think of is Traktoristy. , the soundtrack to the Hoxha/Uncle Joe Bromance. Get a room comrades, in the name of Winged Eros.

My interest in history is decidedly more ephemeral. I like the weird tendrils that come off of the name and date generica. I'm also convinced that while our book talks about how it was so awesome for women in the Soviet Union as opposed to the Evil Capitalist West, it probably sucked all around everywhere especially for people like me with a big mouth.

But anyways, external drama and dadaesque classroom absurdity aside, I'm heading down to Killumbus to hopefully get a second dose of sweet and heavy tuneage. It's not every day I get to slay my eardrums in good company with the shoegazing metallurgy of Alcest and VikingVikeness like a good little berzerker. Pictures and epic tales hopefully shall follow.

not I'm bitter or anything.

So there are these flyers everywhere for some kind of sermon series a local church is doing on Song of Solomon, the words of which I love, even though the entire erotica part kind of went over my head as a kid. Lush verse, beautiful words. Me and a friend of mine concluded one night over a dish of pomegranate seeds in an apartment that's served as a crash pad for Indian medical students for the past three years that this book would make a fantastic Bollywood movie, what with all the daughters of Jerusalem chorusing Athenian in the background, love and poetry, dream sequences through cities and gardens, "One blink of your eye, one jewel of your necklace..."

As I get older I find I've gotten more liberal about everything else, and less so about religion. Not in a fundamentalist kind of way, but in the sense that I get really irritated with something with an essence so beautiful and inscrutable and sacred is marketed like a club flyer or a brand of perfume, attempting to tap into the confusion about love and all that icky cootie stuff.

I tried to explain to my coworker and great Pagan of Distinction (whose snarky Naked Gun commentary is on the side) why this kind of thing irritates me. It's hard to explain. Part of it's the graphic designer in me that knows how much full color printing on cardstock costs and thinks the money could have been better spent helping people or something, and the whole marketing to my demographic of white angsty suburban questioning Christians by appealing to the need for love and the desire to be around people my age cuts a little too close in a way that hits a nerve.

The closest analogy I could come to was the packaging of classical music as a commodity to be background music for a dinner party, to make your baby smarter, or to relax to something innocuous. Maybe someone will fall in love with Beethoven after hearing it on a compilation. Bach for Babies, Mozart for Modern Romantics. Whatever. Maybe something like this will be the first step to trigger a spiritual reawakening for some fellow traveling soul like yours truly discovering underground tuneage through a K-Tel indie rock compilation that included the Minutemen and the Melvins. It's not necessarily that the end is so bad, it's just the means and manner in which it comes. And I hate the feeling of being marketed to.

The blatant marketing to the 18-30 demographic, those of us who are on the spiritual kick, and possibly looking for love. What better way, perhaps? Easier to meet someone at church than the bar, gives you a good story later on, maybe you have some mutual friends. Maybe you'll like the same generic indie bands with vaguely spiritual overtones and that new book by whoever's cool this week.

I snark, but there's a little bitter in here too. It's hard for everyone, but it's especially difficult for quirky religious like yours truly who relate to neither the America&Guns&ValuesWhenIt'sConvenient or the Trying-To-Hard-To-Be-Cool-And-Relevant binary. The similar spiritual perspective thing is the prerequisite for anything serious, and even that seems hard to come by. I know there's way more nuance and I'm being harsh, but this is more or less what I come across. If there isn't an astounding lack of intellectual depth, the opposite extreme is to be so philosophical and esoteric that there's no room for life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

and so it begins again

Like buzzards circling over Hinckley Lake, it's time again for the annual get-off-my-lawnism debate about the current batch of Rock Hall nominees, as if it isn't already more than predictable after how many years of this, post-freedom-rocking boomers. Inevitably, there is a disco act, and in the last five years, a hip-hop act, and some 60's bubblegum pop group that I've never heard of.

Because this city is still stuck somewhere in the vortex of 1975-1987, one would think that the most pressing issue affecting the average Clevelander is not corruption, a craptastic economy, and failing schools, but that their favorite somewhat dorky 70's prog bands aren't liked by people in New York who don't even care that we the relative yokels exist. Still, there seems to be this inherent need within the rustbelt to be validated by the arbiters of some strange standard of cool on either coast, which isn't all that cool anyway, considering that these are people are mostly industry hacks and hangers-on.

While these debates make for slightly less divisive conversation than politics over morning coffee, it's a source of amusement to read the comments on and visualize all these grown men (I'm assuming they're mostly dudes older than me, sorry male species!) getting angry on the Internet due to the perceived snubbing of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

It's also amusing to me to read comments referring to Metallica as a "Poor Man's Led Zeppelin" and Rush as "a garage band that plays the same cord over and over again," and why is Parliament-Funkadelic in there because they don't rock because obviously they've been listening to Atomic Dog instead of Maggot Brain. Of course there's the terribly stereotypical and borderline comments about hip-hop, allegations of political correctness, the required appearance by the local legion of KISS fans, and people all but threatening to fight each other over the merits of Jethro Tull vs. Donna Summer.

Anyways, I talk tuneage with my fellow peons all the time, and it gets snarky, but it's nothing to come to fisticuffs over.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I haven't been good about posting pictures because I'm a PC person who owns a Mac, but these are from Dike 14 on Saturday, which is an awesome place.

I've been a mess these past few weeks, with everything going on, and the change of seasons, and the feeling of stasis. I went for a good two weeks of eating dinner alone unable to string two words together in conversation, but yesterday was beautiful even if it began feeling utterly overwhelmed and broken. Intangible divinity once again transcended at the moment of my leastness and deepest doubts in ways that are nearly impossible to explain, and it ended up being the first really good day I've had in months.

I meet up with Tangerine for the first time since this summer, and epic plans were altered to instead hang out at the cemetery because it was a beautiful day and it was close by. Lake View is massive and we went down the "nature walk" path and ended up somewhere completely different and somewhat deserted, with my nice camera getting lots of use.

I love this angel so much.

Shadows of leaves on the bronze doors of the tombs.

daddy long legs spiders guarding mildewing silk flowers. This crypt had this weird echo effect which meant we were saying all sorts of absurd things to hear the reverberation.

This one I'd never seen before and was in the middle of the woods.

Japanese maples turning colors, the way these branches bend is beautiful to me.

This was creepy enough from this angle, and then we realized from walking around to the other side that the little boys were naked, which is even creepier. I don't understand. By this time, we'd wandered around a lot and got hungry so we got pizza and gelato and sat at the little cafe tables on Murray Hill conversating until it started to rain and we both needed to get home anyway.

I got home later than I thought I would, and while buying earplugs at the drugstore for the show tonight, got a call from Muk, who was down at Edgewater and wanted to hang out. I didn't want to bother with opening acts for the show, so I joined him on the pier as we watched the waves break on the rocks and talked about everything until the park ranger started coming around and I had live music to go see.

Got to Peabody's about five minutes before Katatonia got onstage, got my much needed catharsis of moody rock and Swedish accents, the only sour note being the drunk blonde metalhead Snooki type who tried to start a pit and kept slamming into me ostensibly because I was about the same size and didn't have anyone with me. I'm too old for the mosh thing and didn't want to get into a chickfight when there's good music to get introspective to so I got out of her way after she grabbed my shirt by the bra straps and started pulling me, and found more chill people on the side (kids with their confused parents) to stand by.

Still, it was a good show, they played a long set and I was able to lose myself in sweet sounds and indulge my inner techie geek by checking out the chords, deciphering tunings and time signatures because I spent my teens reading guitar magazines instead of Seventeen. Most of the crowd except for the girls were chill. Seriously, ladies, you're doing us females who dig the heavy sounds a disfavor.

No pictures, as I had the little point and shoot and forgot to replace the memory card. Thankfully Randal's more organized than me and has the visuals.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

slow suicide's no way to go

A routine morning at the family leads to finding out that one relative has a week to live, that another one much closer is veering closer and closer to a total collapse and there's nothing any of us can do. I don't know what to say, and leave, not knowing what to do.

But it's so beautiful out, and how many more days like this will there be, so I go to the nature preserve that's open twice a year, take my camera and shoot pictures of leaves and trees, of reeds taller than me, of spiderwebs and deadwood, basking in the sun filtering through the green and the first red colors of fall, having awkward small talk with senior citizen birdwatchers, walking ahead so I can be alone with God and immerse myself in the sound of crickets and cicadas.

I want more green and flowers, but the botanical garden has some big event so I wander through the art museum looking at photos of the midwest and its broken dreams, ancient sculptures from Persia and Greece and Byzantium, the bright colors of oil paintings. I know that this is only temporary solace, but it is solace nonetheless.

I need sleep, need so many intangible things and wish for things that will never happen in this all too short life. I don't know what to say, what to do to make anything better. I don't know if any of us really does.

Friday, September 23, 2011

retain a sense of humor

A possibly innocent man is dead, REM broke up but that really didn't matter much, I still don't care what some politician says about someone else, my brain seems unable to function creatively with the cocktail of seasonal cold virus and rust belt allergens manifesting late in life.

I don't know what to do with myself when I have a night off of work and no art center, and these hours of daylight are becoming rarer and more precious, so I walk through the neighborhood, go down to the shore which is beautiful and pastel and almost completely emptied, even the water is subdued.

A stack of CDs from the library, more books on my shelves than I ever seem to have time to read, a feeling of increasing disconnectedness when I half-think about calling up whoever but due to not wanting to bother anyone, not knowing what to say as it is. As it's gotten easier to interact, it gets harder to connect and there's less to connect with as the inevitable pairoffs become more frequent. There's a lot of things I don't mind doing by myself, but being too relational for my own good, I don't like to do it all the time and one can't hide behind the creative all the time without going a little crazy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I can't see you but I see what's in my way

Waiting for the bus, trying to navigate this whole insurance agent thing, driving through the rain to the east side sucking on cough drops, listening to Janelle Monae, zoned out, but still able to find my way, sitting in a room next to a dusty vending machine reading as the radio plays country music, coming home and turning on the radio to hear an Amber alert that breaks my heart as I drive down Harvard past boarded-up houses and steelyard bars and then coming down Denison to see the street blocked off and I find out that there was a shooting up there, and I just want to go home, so tired and wet.

But I haven't been to the art center in awhile, didn't get much done, but hung out with a fellow creative, puzzled over sheets and shapes of copper, jars of colored powders and chunks of glass and plotted future projects, deferring work on Paper From Hell Number 1 another day.

I just want to take a half day off and listen to Neil Young and watch the rain, shake the sleepiness, the sore throat and ennui, the discontentedness so unnecessary, sift through the halfhearted wants and incoherent thoughts. There are so many.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Conversations of frustration over coffee, a glimpse of what feels like a third world country black market down the street, best-laid plans go so awry, ran into a friend of mine from high school and his wife, haven't seen them in ten years... they've got two kids and lots of tattoos and he's so deadly serious in ways that I saw glimpses of when he was a typical teenager with lots of extra cash for fast cars and a CD collection, helped paint a front porch around the corner, went to the bibliotheque to get books for the paper I'm writing and bring pickles for Randal and came out to find the little back window broken and all the contents of my glove compartment in the front seat.


So I call the campus police and just stand there with the art books scattered where I dropped them and the weather is beautiful, the cop really nice and wonders why I'm so chill but the reality hasn't completely kicked in and it's really not that bad (the car is still there, mostly intact, nothing's missing as the thief isn't interested in books of Byzantine folklore or Alice in Chains CDs).

So I head back from errand-running with all intentions of catching the Cloud Nothings at Ingenuity Fest under the fantastically beautiful bridge, but it's not safe to walk the almost-hood alone and there's no parking to be found anywhere, as the spaces close by are reserved for More Important People, and the one space I did find I relinquished to the gigantic pimptastic white Buick that I cut off, only to have an angry figure in a shiny dress and long nails come storming up to my car and I'm not going to get into a fight over a parking space on a dark street so I acquiesce.

After circling around the block a few more times, getting cut off by countless Lexuses and minivans that either don't care or never drive downtown, I'm fed up with everyone, tell my friends waiting for me this, and while one of my very good guy friends offers to come and pick me up when he gets off work I don't want to put him through the hassle and I'm just too tired to be around all the stimulation, everything's starting to hit.

Too many people, too much noise. So I'm at a coffeeshop down the street on the gold coast reading about Russian art movements, drinking tea, the barista's playing 90s hits and I forgot about all those one-hit wonders that weren't very good, but the general peace here is comforting even in the ennui.

Friday, September 16, 2011


A cup of black tea scented mango and an almost-finished paper, the comfortable introverted companionship, the acquaintance made of Kandinsky in the name of attempting to making academic absurdity bearable. I can't help but try even with the work hard now/slack later ethos that's characterized my entire academic life. I barely have the ambition to be an artist or a writer, let alone pursue degrees and that kind of trajectory. Instead, I mess around, feed my brain, hang out with the souls I enjoy when I get the chance to.

The thought of sitting in a classroom of unbearableness after a long week led to a long-deferred and much-needed lunch hour excursion of food consumption, hanging out at the cemetery, and exploring the old Chinatown and due to my lack of photographic posting, I've decided to tag along with Randal's 30 day challenge thing. So here's the self-portrait, face obscured by signage and reflection to protect the guilty.

It's good for one's soul to be out in the fall air, walking and feeling momentarily free. We were made to walk and stand, not sit crouched at desks and sedentary. Hopefully I'll get to hang out under the bridge downtown but that doesn't look like it's in the plans tonight as I finish what I can before the place closes, thankful for weekends and the precious crystalline interludes of revelation like the first time I heard this album and it blew my mind.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

chop chop

"Come back in six weeks to get trimmed up, want some product?" Not so much. Another six months, maybe. He probably cares more about my hair than I do, but that's how he gets paid.

But I come in and some people don't recognize me, someone mistakes me for someone else, I'm told it looks nice, and the big cheese says it looks "professional" which is perhaps a compliment but makes me feel like a stiff. I say the art nouveau has been rubbing off on me before realizing that most people don't know what I'm talking about, hence the recent love of floor-length skirts and dangly earrings and my inner goth kid trying to reconcile with the daily grind of adulthood.

Attempts at creative and academic writing diminished by a sore throat and a sore brain, assuaged by cups of tea and vending machine tylenol and strange and arty things on the Internet.

original angsta

I want to go to the House on the Rock really bad.

Pretty stuff...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

she bangs the drums

A pile of papers on the desk finally close to being cleared, of spinning plates and juggling in this three ring circus of peonage, smiling and picking at my food, scavenging after the events for lukewarm coffee and leftover fruit, keeping the snark in check and realizing that letting out too much of my brains tends to have dire consequences among my superiors.

Having survived awkward social situations over lunch where I observed the angstings of fellow twentysomethings, awkward lunch dates, and marveled at the culinary generica of fine dining, endured an hour of the grind of history and being fed up with every -ism in existence, as we guess which one of us is going to say something in class first. I grew to expect absurdity when I was an undergrad, but now that I'm not just going along to get through, I get restless and my thoughts shoot off like fireworks in every direction, but instead of speaking up because my words and thoughts get so tangled, I doodle furiously in the margins and try not to roll my eyes as everyone talks about women who were totally down with the revolution.

No matter who's in charge, no matter what they say, the peonage get screwed in one way or another by the more powerful. It happens under czars and Dear Leaders and Mr. Presidents. The cast is different, the story the same.

I'm pondering all this as I miss the first bus and walk downtown to catch the next, in no real hurry, watching all the other working stiffs and the long lines of cars, the corner of the street where there are people sleeping when I ride in. 1 in 6 people in my country are living in poverty. Those of us who are really fortunate like yours truly hover just slightly above that line. Others will continue to bounce from one prestigious position to another, raking in the cash and perks. I wonder how they sleep at night.

A nap, a phone conversation, going up to church to wait for my fellow musicians to get there. Nobody's around so I pull out some old drumsticks and bang away at cymbals, toms and snare, surprised that the little bit of muscle memory is actually doing something even though I really don't know what I'm doing. One of my coworkers gave me a set she got from one of my other coworkers that I used to play when I lived at the old place and the roommate wasn't home, and I can at least do the Meg White if not the John Bonham. No one's here as it is so I can make all the noise I want and by the time they show up I've locked into some kind of rhythm. It's cathartic and I wonder why I don't do it more. It's something I'd love to do well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've staked out my corner at the coffeeshop where I sketch out this paper, thankful for the invention of Google Docs, answering the phone from my mom to find out my dad's in the hospital again (it's just precautionary like they always say, but there's the part of me that still worries), tapping my pen to a Bad Religion song that reminds me of senior year, pondering in a way that's not quite optimistic, but not really despairing either. My mom calls me to be sure I'm not dead, because I'm terrible at responding to text messages.

I've had a breakthrough in inspiration, a way around the problem, attempting to summarize the threads of globalization, my favorite mid 19th and early 20th century art movements and their expressions of geopolitical realities in 3-5 pages. I know I'm insane for trying this because it's more or less a dissertation, but it's better than parroting back what someone wants to hear or read. I know it doesn't matter because it's not for a degree or grade but it's a personal thing.

The couple at the table is talking about high school, about cheerleaders and jocks and freaks. The academics flash their credentials, the older women at the place of employment swap juicy details and complain about there not being enough rich men to have affairs with, the overlords obsess upon minutiae, and I wonder what the hell is wrong with people, because this all seems so stupid but then I'm sure the way I do things seems just as crazy if not moreso.

Monday, September 12, 2011

the facts we hate

So much said by others so much better, I'm in the same place I was at this time last year more or less. If I think about it all too much I get depressed, for good reason one could say. I remember thinking that things were going to get messed up really soon but I don't think I realized to what extent and to what extent these kind of things had been going on for years. Ignorance is bliss, and that becomes the pursuit of happiness. Disorder and war machinery that keeps turning.

Arguments in class over the semantics of genocide. Who cares what some historian thinks? Who cares what conference this paper was presented at? Who cares? A million dead and the argument is over linguistics rather than truth? People want to hear themselves talk and sound intellectual. If your side screwed up you should own up to it. I can't whitewash the things done in my God's name, and neither should you about whatever ideology or credo you hold to whatever that is.

You're so negative, someone once told me, stressing positivity over reality. Sometimes this is what's real.

the facts we hate
we'll never meet walking down the road
everybody yelling "hurry up, hurry up!"
but I'm waiting for you, I must go slow
I must not think bad thoughts

what is this world coming to?
both sides are right but both sides are murdered
I give up, why can't they?
I must not think bad thoughts

the civil wars and the uncivilized wars
conflagrations leap out of every poor furnace
the food cooks poorly and everyone goes hungry
from then on it's
dog eat dog, dog eat body, and body eat dog
I can't go down there, I can't understand it
I'm a no good coward
and an american too, a north american that is
not a south or a central or a native american
oh, I must not think bad thoughts

I'm guilty of murder of
innocent men, innocent women, innocent children
thousands of them
my planes, my guns, my money, my soul
my blood on my hands
it's all my fault
I must not think bad thoughts

Saturday, September 10, 2011

lo-fi love song

It's always a pleasure when my cousins come up, especially the one my sister's age who works in IT for an evil tween clothing company and has to work a 12-hour shift tomorrow for 9/11, which is also his birthday, though he's not the most social of people by any means. Just in case, you know, terrorists try to bring down the glittery pink site of Tweenage Western Decadent Strumpetry Bieberland, or something.

The conversation gets spirited as the wine flows freely though we don't delve into politics this time, which is probably good. My teenage cousins discuss their favorite bands earnestly in a way I remember doing, getting mad at the kids in school who like the one song they heard on the radio and saying that's the best band ever. I remember when it mattered so much, and now it doesn't. I don't say much because I'm losing touch with the pulse of the youth, and soon I'll be like their teachers that they make fun of for wanting to be in touch with POPULAR CULTURE.

My dad is tired from working all day and ends up sleeping on the couch in the other room, but I go back to get my laundry and we end up hanging out, playing guitar, listening to music. He's been going through his hundreds of cassette tapes recorded with friends on a double-tape deck with a microphone hanging from the ceiling and found one that had songs he wrote for my mom, twenty years into their marriage, played on three chords on the amp we got when I first decided I really liked making noise.

His voice is wavering, the words simple, the sentiments deep, the uncomplicated thoughts of first impressions and insecurities of questions of himself and God, the guitar swirling with the flange, fading out as he runs out of words. I ask him if he's ever played this for her and he says no and for some reason this moment moves me in a way I can't explain.

I drive home through the dark streets, considering trying to catch the last half of Studio-A-Rama but by then Scrawl will be done and the night is beautiful and for some reason 80's thrash on the radio sounds like the best thing ever, so I drive with the windows down, the greasy rain on my shoulders, my hair wild, missing late night drives of spilling words, knowing that there just isn't time or words to say what's there.

storm in my house

Maybe it's some last vestiges of picket fence American dreams when I've wanted a place of my own, when I see for sale signs for little 1920s urban cottages in my neighborhood with stained glass windows or century old Victorian-era rowhouse townhomes with slate roofs and wild roses growing up the porch within walking distance of the water in Lakewood, knowing that with no credit history (no credit cards, no debt, no car payment), and little income, this would be almost impossible, and I'm not the world's greatest maintainer of things. Keeping an apartment clean and the garden weeded is hard enough, and I live alone. I really don't need all that space and hassle and wouldn't want to have my life and money tied up in something that seems to be more of an albatross than equity at this point in history.

So I went into the kitchen this morning, and realized that not only is it raining outside, it's dripping in my kitchen. A plastic bucket and some pots and pans on top of the fridge, going up to the attic to find the source, which looks like piles of insulation and boards of dubious stability. I'll leave this to the experts and my landlord, and head to the empty house I grew up in to do laundry and drink coffee. Plans of seeing Scrawl tonight look like they'll be derailed by both inclement weather and family functionals. It won't be so bad.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

best of the blotter: gum, guns, drugs, and turtles


CHRISTOPHER DRIVE: During the evening of Aug. 29, a resident reported an older man pointing a rifle at the complainant, his wife, and his dog while they were walking by.

The resident asked the man with the rifle if it was loaded, after observing the red laser coming from it.

The elderly man with the rifle told them he was just aligning his laser on his .308 rifle and need a long distance to do it.

He told the officer he detached the laser and waved it across the street, a story with which the complainant disagreed.

The man with the rifle was issued a citation for disorderly conduct.

NOISE COMPLAINT, NORTH STREET: Police responded shortly after 10 p.m. on Sept. 3 to a report of “very loud and scary music that sounds like it’s coming from Waterfall Trail or Twin Lakes Trail.” Police tracked the commotion to Waterfall Trail, where the revelers were advised to turn the sound down and disband the party at 11 p.m.

DISTURBANCE, EAST WASHINGTON STREET: A clerk at the BP Station reported Sept. 3 that a woman and her daughter had been in the station making a purchase and that she then accused him of throwing her change back at her. “The clerk countered that he had accidentally dropped a dime on the floor. The clerk said a witness backed his story up that “he did not throw coins at the delusional, out of control customer.”

DISTURBANCE, RIDGEBURY BOULEVARD: Police responded Sept. 1 to a report of a boy stepping out in front of passing motorists on the street and blowing his trumpet. Officers advised the boy to put his trumpet away and march on.

VANDALISM, NORTH INDUSTRIAL PARKWAY: Representatives from Digestive Disease reported a second-floor window of their building shattered some time between 5:20 p.m. Sept. 1 and 8:20 a.m. Sept. 2. Police had no suspects or damage estimates at the time of the report.

SNAPPING TURTLE, SPRINGBROOK: A large snapping turtle was loitering in the parking lot of a Springbrook Drive apartment complex around 7:30 p.m., Aug. 28. A concerned resident told police that the turtle could be injured or could injure somebody else. An officer responded and escorted the turtle into a nearby creek. The turtle readily entered the water.


COMPLICITY, SPRAGUE ROAD: Police arrested a 31-year-old store clerk after he gave money to one of two youngsters to steal a sign.

A resident who put up a handmade sign urging people not to shop at a nearby store saw a boy on a bike Aug. 27 take the sign and leave. The report said the man has had an ongoing problem with his signs disappearing from his yard.

Police found two boys at the store, one of whom was described as the culprit. The 13-year-old said the clerk gave him $11 to steal the sign. The boy also told police he was offer $20 to egg the house and shout obscenities at the resident. The boy gave police a $1 and $10 bill from his pocket.

The clerk said he had “international” lawyers and the case would be dismissed if he did give the boy the money. He also said he had a “billion dollar” family and that “We run America,” according to the police report.

The Rocky River man was cited for complicity regarding the theft since he caused an irresponsible person to commit an offense.

SCARY MOVIE, WARREN ROAD: Someone called police just after midnight on Aug. 19 out of concern for their neighbor. The caller told police they heard arguing and a female screaming for help. Police responded, but found all the drama was for naught. Apparently, the neighbors were just watching a scary movie and the volume was a little high.

DISTURBANCE, WHTNEY ROAD: An anonymous caller reported that it sounded like someone was shooting a gun in the neighborhood around 10:30 p.m. Aug. 20.

Officers arrived at the scene and spoke with several people, though no one else heard or saw anything resembling the report.

The noise was later identified when officers discovered a resident on the fifth floor of an apartment complex dropping bags of clothing off his balcony. That resident explained that dropping the clothes to the ground was easier than taking them down in the elevator.

Not Much Fun on Party Bus

Police found an unoccupied party bus marked "Rock It Cleveland" pulled over on Sprague Road near Pearl Road about 5 a.m. Aug. 28.

There was no sign of the partiers. Officers called the number on the bus, but the person who answered said he did not know why the vehicle was there.

He promised to have it moved shortly.

Suspicious Bag

A caller didn't like the looks of a large red bag sitting on the side of the road at Royalton and Prospect Aug. 26.

Police found the bag had an address on it and was advertising a garage sale.

An alarm brought police to Twilight Boutique, 11025 Prospect Rd., just before midnight Sunday.

Officers found the glass broken and some products, including herbal incense, missing.
In addition, the cash register had been picked up, but was left behind.

The product sold at the store is marketed as incense, but is often rolled into cigarettes and smoked by teens and young adults for what they call a "legal high."

The leafy material in the packets is treated with chemicals that produce a marijuana-like high when smoked, authorities say.

DRUG NOTE, NORTHLAND: A Northland Drive woman returned home on Aug. 19 around 10:50 p.m., and found out that one of her neighbors had given her 12-year-old brother a note asking if the woman would sell the neighbor marijuana or pills. The woman filed a report with police, but no arrests have been made.

THEFT, GIRARD DRIVE: About $130 worth of chewing gun was stolen overnight Aug. 26 from a car in the 400 block. The owner of the car is a sales representative for the company that makes gum. The thief did not take a wallet or a backpack that the owner found outside his car.

nothing to offer but confusion

Two extra hours of sleep mean the world, the moments of nerve-wracking, the strange feeling when one finds out someone of one's teenage acquaintance got arrested for murder, of peon ex machina from meetings of infinite awkwardness, of possibly being the 'missed connection in a Craigslist ad for the first time to my knowledge (I don't remember saying anything to him, and think I only looked back because I got that sixth sense of being looked at and wanted to see who was doing the looking), of strange characters that I need to be nice to as a civil servant though they give me the creeps and I can't tell if they're just socially awkward or if they're creepy, though it seems to be the latter more often than not when the age gap is bigger than half your age plus seven. I don't envy the awkward position of the male species, especially the non-Type-A's.

I do not hide my feelings well even when I say nothing. The perpetual smile inherited from my father is both a blessing and curse, though it's harder to hide my anger than my cynicism (because I hold almost nothing except God to be sacred and so everything is ripe for snark), and when I deal with the creeps and those who come on too strong, I have to force my cadence into monotone, avoid eye contact, detach out of risk of getting pulled in.

Every time I think of turning my string of non-degree kicks-and-giggles classes into something like a real piece of semi-worthless paper, I sit in a class where I am condescended to and my synapses are stimulated only the absurdity of immature undergrads and sycophantic adults, and the grad student tales of department politics that remind me exactly of why I used to call my mom up every other week and claim I was going to drop out of school, and why I didn't want to continue on to do an MFA or literary crit. I know I have the brains, but when the classes don't grab me, when it's theoretical or revisionist or regurgitating, I check out.

I like to read things that are written well, that make me want to learn more, filled with passion and brimming with brilliance, not the self-indulgence of academic deconstruction written for conferences and journals that no one reads, kind of like the ivory tower counterpart to Yngwie Malmsteen albums that are owned only by uber-musicians who subscribe to Guitar World to read John Petrucci's columns religiously. It's boring as hell for everyone else and there's nothing to capture one's inspiration.

And I've been so tensed up, as I always am when there is change and when I'm dealing with Powers That Be whom I distrust, but I caught the early bus home and made a joyful noise tonight practicing for Sunday's music with dear friends who are also fantastically fun musicians to play with, everything loud and loose, and I need to get back to my parents' house and find my distortion pedals to add to the reverb and tremolo waves from the amplifier, laughing and messing with harmonies and key changes, hanging out in the cool already-fall night talking about books and museums and weirdness.

A late night dinner that didn't turn out so well, another comfortingly cloudy day, a morning to drink coffee with the neighbor who's come by to fix the drain and with whom discourse of caffeination and good conversation was had. And now I'm here, and it's not so bad...

Monday, September 5, 2011

healing waters

Some tension on the flesh-and-blood end had me wanting to bail before dinner, but a cooling-off walk around the block with the closer of my two siblings helped my troubled soul to chill out, and I made a much more graceful exit post-dessert, driving home through bleak streets and grey clouds, attempting to make sense of a sea of emotions and being unable to, venting to God because I don't want to bother anyone on a holiday weekend and He seems to be okay with my salty mouth and aching soul laid bare.

But with a full gas tank and looking so melancholy that even the attendants were trying to cheer me up, I began to drive towards the little bit of golden I could see in the sky, detouring from the route home to the lake when the clouds suddenly became so panoramic and vast and a deep blue-grey swirling over the hemisphere, and a band of golden on the horizon over the white-cap-flecked water, I could see the surf from the exit and knew I could find solace here.

Two of my former softball teammates were hanging out on the pier, people I didn't know very well but we were euphoric under the kaleidoscopic clouds deepening to dusky rose and blazing gold and rich blues over the swirling water crashing into the rocks and over the walkway like the ocean, the wind blowing my hair out as I huddled in a hoodie on the platform, wishing I had my camera, but knowing I'd miss this moment if I ran back to get it. The 1-pixel snapper on the phone and my memory would have to do.

We walked down to the beach, where the surfers were out and the sun set over pools in the sand, as seagulls flew silhouetted into the horizon and the water glided within inches of our feet as the darkness deepened. We walked back and I watched the water swirl some more before heading home, wondering why the turbulence calms me so intensely.

turning leaves

The rain so soothing last night, the soft rush of breeze and comforting grey, for melancholy music and the first preludes of the autumnal. Last year at this time as my living situation unraveled, I had driven out to the End of Civilization to stargaze caffeinated with my east-siders, but a year later I find the unplanned more solitude ever more comforting, as I settle in, having been here almost a year now, seeing the garden begin to go to seed, even as the zinnias and sunflowers are vibrant for awhile longer, as I'm ripping out more mint and pulling out weeds grown way too tall, where did August go, do I really miss it all that much...

It'd be a good day for museums if they were open, but it's sufficient for introversion, for reading books and pondering, for fighting the inevitable entropy of apartment life, not having to be anywhere until much later, beginning to tune out the warplanes flying overhead for the airshow at the lake, cup after cup of tea. I need days like this more often.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


The heat permeating, the inability to cool down, hair metal on the radio all weekend, no breeze to speak of and I end up spending the afternoon fleeing the heat and Getting Things Taken Care Of in strip malls and big box stores like a Real American because I need groceries and work clothes and art supplies. I've spent the night drinking tea and listening to 70's rock, swirling paint around to Skynyrd and Sabbath, relocating to the balcony because it finally feels good out here. I know it's the weekend of cookouts and revelry for the Peonage and their overlords, but I'm just not there right now.

We went to visit my great uncle this morning at the nursing home, and it's the first time I've seen him since he had a stroke a couple weeks ago. His words come slower, and he apologizes constantly for what he deems boring talk ("I just can't do the small talk anymore") but this is the best conversation I've ever had with him. Instead of sitting alone in his house listening to the radio where people keep talking about buying gold, he's found people there to talk to, a priest he likes (he's never liked organized religion because he thinks it's all about parting fools with their money, I understand this), a nice lady friend down the hall "Nothing romantic, we just talk about old times. I need an alliance now like I need a hole in my head..." He knows this will probably be where he spends his last days trying to learn how to walk again, how to speak the way he once did, but as strange as this is, it might be a good way to end, a place where there's people to talk to and take care of him so he won't die alone.

I hate nursing homes slightly less than funeral homes, but this place is beautiful and if I become unable to take care of myself I'd rather be there than a lot of places. Catholics do the nursing home thing well, that whole sanctity of life/having the funds to stay there I guess, and I'm relieved I no longer have to fear going to check on him at his house and hoping he's still alive because I don't know what I'd do otherwise.

The prayers I struggle most with are those involving the changing of souls, because it's just such an impossible thing for me to understand that divine calculus of how it all works, but between this time and the last time I saw him he's a different person or rather not different but alive in a way that he wasn't before even as he grows closer to shedding the mortal coil now after 90 years of life and disappointments, a childhood in poverty, the hell of the Pacific theater (which he still doesn't talk about), an unhappy marriage with a woman who couldn't see past her own issues("She wasn't all there, but I didn't treat her right. I supported her financially but not emotionally..."), a daughter in worse shape than he is, a house full of tchotchkes worth nothing, if this is the closest thing to heaven how tragic is that?

He used to always talk about money and a good job and being a decent person being the ultimate most important thing and for the first time in 92 years, he's finally started talking to God after being so bitter and so stubborn for so long. I've never heard him apologize for anything before. I've never heard him say that what you have doesn't matter. I've never seen him so peaceful, so ready to face a pending mortality, ready to let go of all the other things he clung to so desperately. I'm glad he can't see me crying because I just couldn't stop.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

driving music

Things that sound absolutely amazing when one is driving home at night through empty streets past a glittering skyline, the perfect soundtrack to equal parts euphoria and resignation. I miss my late night Cleveland drives so much.

the last summer night

Writers block in attempting anything creative, the tap has run dry and the Sea of Stories is so fast that I'd drown attempting to dive in and come up with some kind of treasure.

But there's studying to do, and a decent flow of people coming through, the student diverting the creeps away. A half hour longer and I'll be home to be back here again.

paper scraps and paper chase

Being Peonage of the Towering Slab of Ivory, I hear a lot of people talk about their degrees, the degrees they want, the degrees that someone else has or doesn't, and there is some degree of cultural capital in certain circles where you're validated by how many letters are after your name or where you went to school, what you studied, and how far you went, where you got published, what conference you presented at, who you know.

And then there is the vicious cycle of a cramped job market, where everyone has the same credentials but possibly more experience or better connections, where you don't get called back because you don't have some piece of paper, or if you have too many pieces. I only got my gig of relative underemployment due to not graduating in time and learning the hard way after not getting called back for looking too overqualified or for having the right credentials but not the 20 years of experience that belonged to others. In Proverbs, it's said to be wise is to ask God for neither poverty nor riches and that's what I did, and that's what I got. While the interpersonals can get complicated, it's truly everywhere.

My peers defer adulthood and keep taking out more loans, to find out that they've screwed themselves over because that golden ticket never did materialize. Most of my fellow grad-schoolers pursued other dreams instead or held out for that Really Good Job because they considered themselves too good to do what I do. I've got free tuition and really good health insurance and a couple good coworker homies, which makes up for the lack of pay most of the time, but to think that one is entitled based on having such and such a degree or two, when there's little work ethic and even less decency towards others, starts seeming absurd.

Self-perpetuation of those already entrenched, ageism of the you're too old or you're so young, the stress of maintaining image and lifestyle, of making a good impression and paying the mortgage while the domestic life disintegrates. Maybe this is why people like Jonathan Franzen novels and Desperate Housewives. At least someone's suburban misery is worse.

Suburban desperation has long been a cultural trope and one I've found ridiculous and overwrought, but I've never existed in the world of the super-suburbs, just the working-class one where the people in my life who went to college ended up being truck drivers or stay-at-home moms who used their brains to help us use ours, so I've never truly understood this, and living in the city means that I see less of it, so when I do, it stands out intensely.

And as education becomes more to do with becoming good little cogs with culturally appropriate opinions, and higher education a lucrative enterprise that's bought into with the expectation of economic payoff, of higher wages and greater prestige, more people have bought in and it's gotten more cramped, and I watch more and more people reduced tears and bitterness because the system they paid so much into is not producing the returns that were expected.

And then the people who do have the qualifications who got where they were more or less by accident of birth, of getting in while the getting was good back when there were times of relative economic prosperity, when degrees and diplomas meant more, look down on everyone else who is not so lucky.

These are things that I don't deal with as much, only observe. I hover in social limbo between suburbanites and those that have little to nothing. I can't say that I've dropped out of this system, but I've left the rat racing to others, but I see it all around me and sometimes I wish I was doing a little bit better so maybe I could travel somewhere outside the United States just once, or maybe not live upstairs from someone, and realize that there's still residue of these American dreams that have fueled all sorts of bad things. We've all got our struggles, and those of us who preferred learning for the sake of learning and art for the sake of art are the ones living paycheck to paycheck, but I still feel like I made the better trade.