Wednesday, November 30, 2011


nothing written makes sense therefore sound.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The warm-weather reprieve meant that my furry friends went out to play but the chill of last night sent them running back into the house and I lay in bed listening to the scratching going up the ceiling, the clanking among the leftover pots and pans in the closet under the stairs, a knife in the middle of the kitchen floor, and my half-hearted trolling of Craigslist for new places to live has become a more urgent quest.

I haven't told my landlord yet because I have no idea when or how and hoped to leave the college-kid lifestyle of moving every year behind, but there are the vermin, and the small kitchen, and I can't walk to the next block over at night, and I get a new sex offender registry notice every few weeks in my mailbox which makes me more suspicious of these sketchy men hanging out in the alley that empties out across the street from me and the guy who wanders up the street wearing a t-shirt that says 'The Voices In My Head Don't Like You,' knowing that they probably don't.

I never used to be so skittish, but it's so painfully evident that I live alone in the almost-hood and I pick the streets I walk down depending on who's hanging out on the corner and how often I get hollered at. I wasn't raised with fear of the city, and I'm not really afraid the way others are, but I feel the vulnerability of being female, young, and unaccompanied too keenly here for comfort.

And then last night, I'm trying to plug up the holes in the apartment with steel wool, and stick some in between the window and the cardboard wedged in there and end up disturbing a nest of the critters that have caused me a month of sleepless nights, and I feel the squirming bodies beneath the cardboard as I'm trying to keep them from coming out of the wall and figure out what the hell to do and end up stumbling up to the attic to peel away the insulation and drop green kibbles of poison down into where I know they're swarming, and end up crashing at the neighbor's house. It's the first night in months I've slept like the dead. I need to get out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

bleak and bright

Strange dreams and scratching noises, the back screen door slamming, hoping that the engine revving outside my window isn't my car being driven off, wondering what that noise is in the stairwell, waking up to find a kitchen knife in the middle of the floor, I need to get out of here, and despite sea changes not so rich and strange, I am reminded of the love that I am surrounded by and that I'm not as stuck as I sometimes feel, that there are ways to survive and still live.

So I got introverted in the woods, taking paths arbitrarily based on bodies of water and groves of pine and birch.

The sun was fading ever so slowly and the golden light filtered down into the valley.

My mom used to take us here when we were kids to go hiking, and then me and one of the guy friends came up here late one night to climb the stairs of the overlook and it was so dark we could barely see each other and the forest was alive in ways that reminded me of childhood fairy tales.

I felt euphoric in the solitude, fragments of verse and hymn echoing, that though the wrong is oft so strong God is the ruler yet.

I never used to care that much about getting out to the woods, in part not having transportation for so long but I crave it now. Maybe it's living in a place of concrete and rust, needing green, needing the canopy of trees, and the inverse reflecting of the waters, a place that still feels primeval even with the roads on each side and the light pollution that obscures the stars. There is beauty even in the trees stripped of leaves, the peeling bark, the eroding cliffs adorned with ferns, the marshy lowlands. Here it is easier to get alone, to feel small in a way that's not crushing and strangely beautiful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

there can be no other means to the end...

A year older and I look in the mirror and the lines across my forehead and between my eyes get deeper, the smile lines at the end of my eyes more defined, and everyone's way more excited that I came into the world almost three decades ago than I am, and I'm able to distract myself long enough that it lifts the cloud of melancholia for a few hours before it settles in again.

There are feelings so strong that I feel paralyzed, even if I know they're not completely grounded in reality, that heavy sense of failure, of mediocrity, of trappedness, of being alone and unloved. I know it's not due to a lack of anything. I have everything I need and enough to share, and I lived with six roommates and dated people and felt the same as I do coming home to an empty apartment,looking at other places to live and feeling the economic constraint of underemployment, of wondering if life will always be like this, fighting off the loneliness, despairing over the creative arts in search of catharsis, the endless dark nights of the soul. I've done everything I can, and I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

just to wake up tells me, hell I must be brave

As I watched desert warriors play songs of protest and assertions of humanity, the drone of electric guitars, the heartbeat catharsis of calabash and djembe, the voices drawn out and chanted, as the hippies and hipsters and boomers and the girls in hijab sway and clap. They've had lives I can't imagine and struggles I can't comprehend and I'm tired from being awake from so long and zone out with my eyes closed, taking in this sound. Desert Sessions aren't just for swanky stoner rockers, after all...

I wake up exhausted, staring at the ceiling, asking for divine sustenance because it's not in me. Exhaustion and depression, post-quarterlife crisis of conscience and existence, further torpedoed by monumental shifts of power meaning more frustration for yours truly. It's not that it's so bad, but just with everything else, with the pent-up frustration, I ended up in tears today, but thankfully there was class-cutting and city-wandering and spiritual introspection as therapy to put things back into perspective.

And Mia Zapata's fabulous cut-too-short punk rock fury. It still kills me that for all the female-fronted punk bands, the Gits don't get more attention. I loved this stuff as a frustrated art kid, and as I've gotten older and dealt with more suck, it's stuck for me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the last minutes

Cramming the first draft of a paper, trolling for citations, a brief interlude in Pittsburghia with friends from the old days. We listen to Creedence and the Stones just like old times, watch hockey, laugh, drink, play broomball Clerks-style on the balcony between two houses, walk up to the overlook at Mount Washington to gaze over the glittering metropolis nestled among rivers and hills. This little tradition has lasted eight years now and what I love about this little crew of people is their openness to others, the conversations had, and the way that we keep cycling back into each others' lives every few years.

I'm thankful that others have driven and that I can sleep in the car, lulled by the sound of 90's tuneage, waking up the next morning in need of caffeine, still feeling somnambulant and warm.

And then it's back to the daily grind after the lack of sleep, as we debate kinder gentler machine gun hands in class and I say too much incoherently, but I just can't agree with seeing the world through the binary of men and women, and it means nothing to me. Was I ever idealistic about people in large groups? Even in my days of starry eyes I don't think I ever was.

And the last hour is brutal, piles of things beyond my control and pay grade and ability because I can't be magical and compliant all the time, and I find myself getting angry, feeling resentful being constantly patronized, trying to hold in the angry salt eyes until I can be out of this building because I'm tired, praying for grace to keep calm and put things in perspective, trying to be thankful for what I've got yet resentful for feeling used, though that's the way of life for the peonage. I guess we're human resources and that's what we're there for. It's the ennui of perky holidays and innate nature sneaking up, just two more days til painting and sleeping in and just being away.

Friday, November 18, 2011

next week, I'll be twenty-eight

I'm still young...

Age being relative, that is, the lines beginning to indent the skin, ten years of adulthood and how things have changed, the idealism burned away, the abstract raging against machines replaced by greater knowledge and subsequent despair, knowing that these cycles of depression and creative undulations, of faith and doubt, will always be there in one form or another, that there will be ways to continue to create and do so in ways that are ever more beautiful and well-executed and that despite living alone or in the company of others, even with an ever-comforting divine reassurance, there will still be some degree of loneliness. It's the human condition and I'm learning to accept it.

I always get depressed on the day of birth for no real good reason, probably some degree of seasonal bleakness and the onset of holiday consumerism (what's up black friday), and that nameless angst that always seems to hover. It'll be fine, I just need to get through.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

it's rant time again.

So I haven't really been following this anti-bullying bill business in part because I think such bills are ridiculous. Kids, being kids, are generally mean and ruthless, especially to anyone who sticks out for any reason, and usually the Powers That Be either ignore this kind of thing ("You need to toughen up, kid") or turn it into this self-righteous moral crusade to show that they care about the children.

But I didn't know there was an attempt to add a religious exemption in there too. I get that it's kind of been co-opted as a "gay issue," which I find kind of irksome because this is a human issue and a common decency issue. One of my friends is a social worker at one of the local psych units and told me that "if I was thirteen, and I got picked on in school and then I came home and saw that someone had made a Facebook group making fun of me and all my friends joined and were writing all sorts of bad stuff about me, I'd want to kill myself too."

It's terrible that GLBT kids get picked on, yet they're not the only ones, it's hard to be a minority of any kind in a hostile environment, be it due to religion or language or skin color (or differing tone within that skin color) or just looking different. No amount of legislation is going to change that despite any presumed best intentions. I would hope that teachers and powers that be would have the sense to not enable and encourage (because that does happen so often) but it's hard for me to be so optimistic having dealt with my own share of awful teen years.

But what the hell, people? Especially you religious folk out there who like to talk about how you're persecuted. So it's ok to beat up the gay kid because you've got some "deeply held belief" that their personal choices are wrong? There's a lot of people who have a deeply held belief that you're crazy, does that make it ok to give you a hard time? And what about this whole loving your neighbor business? Jesus said a lot more about loving people even if they treat you like crap or are different than you than anything resembling the implications of what's being advocated. What's in the water up there? Even the most fundie of the people I've met in my short time on earth might have some strange ways of looking at the world, but usually don't tend to advocate being nasty to other kids (usually they just don't put their kids in public school to shelter them from that BIG BAD SECULAR HUMANIST WORLD but that's a whole other story).

The fact that there's debate on who's a protected class and who isn't smacks of handicapping for the Suffering Olympics and really makes me even more cynical about the dumbassery of our elected officials and the education system. And regardless of what your personal beliefs or family structure is, you really should be raising your kids to not be mean to other kids, not that it'll always stop them, but it really does start at home, not thinking your kid is so damn special and right all the time, and being a good example, and not encouraging them to be hateful.

And it seems like grandstanding on all sides, and I wonder what all these people were like when they were teens. Were they the bullies, or the bullies' minions (those who stand by or chime in out of some combination of power and fear of being the next victim), or the kids who just kind of drifted through, or the kids that got picked on and now that they have power, dammit, they're going to use it to get back at the ones lower on the pecking order or the ones above them or maybe there's an idealistic "well maybe if I do this it won't happen to someone else."

But we're a nation of bullies in a world of bullies, overcompensating for the glaring flaws by mocking the flaws of others and doing the geopolitical equivalent of beating them up after school or sending our minions to do it next. It happened in New York the past couple days, and it's been happening in our country since Columbus and all over the world when one group doesn't like another and decides to beat them up and take away what they have, be it dignity or stuff or both. Is that ever going to change? I wish it would, but nothing indicates that it will.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

click and clique

Less nervy this time, showing up and plugging in. No worries of doing cover songs for which I have disdain that smacks of unadmitted musical judgment. She has demos on her laptop recorded with a synth, like larva waiting to explode the chrysalis in glory, and my hands stretch into chords, coaxing out reverb-drenched riffs, bending strings, fingers gliding up and down the frets.

I love that it's not just verse-chorus-verse that there are pieces and parts and interludes. Having to keep time and remember how all these go together is a new thing compared with Peter-Hooking basslines to try to make pedestrian suburban punk sound more interesting. Maybe I'm more of a prog-head than I'll admit, but I love that I have the freedom to let out my inner J. Mascis that it's more than three chords. No vocals yet but hopefully those will be forthcoming and something beautiful. I'm more into catharsis than aggression these days, and if this all falls through the ability to string chords together and maybe pair those with some verbiage seems like a less mysterious art now that it's been tried.

We are still shaping, trying to figure out the sonics, turning notes into chords, and I'm scrawling out chord progressions, codes of letters and numbers on pieces of notebook paper, adding minor chords, attempting to flesh out these skeletal ideas into something I hope I can say I love as much as what I've heard others do. I'd love to do something this beautiful.

I saw this band open for Agalloch earlier this year and wasn't expecting something so incredibly beautiful with a name like that, which is probably the point. Really should have bought the album then, but there's a new record coming out, and I fell in love with the cathartic crunch and shimmer of guitars and sinuous basslines and I'll make good I promise this time.

I guess one never knows how these will work out, but the act of stepping out and getting over the nervousness to see what happens has been liberating in itself, and gives me another thing to look forward to after sitting at a desk and pushing papers, ivory tower style, negotiating the tricky terrain of a world of grownups who still jockey for position in the pecking order, whose words and demeanor belie an ultimate dishonesty and embarrassing insecurity.

My circle has always been open to some extent to those with some degree of compassion and a lack of pretension, as I try not to judge others based on tastes or initial appearance, but when someone wants to join the Order of St. Drogo, someone who's denoted other compadres as being "weird"(if you think that about him, than I'm sure you're saying it about me) and seems more interested in gleaning workplace gossip and being in good with the Powers That Be, I'm not inclined to extend the invitation. It's not the economics or the upper echelon with which I take issue, but the lack of trust. Besides, this is the coffee pot of Peonage not the water cooler, no juicy gossip, just the indulgence of lifelong geekery for the stranger side of all things. And, of course, that's just too weird.

More and more I find myself putting up walls, weighing each word so carefully, smiling wide to distract from my narrowed eyes, because I know that if I don't care for someone, it's really hard to hide. I don't know how to truly be dishonest.

And I sit in the halls of power, listening to the conversations of those above, as wording is shifted and the dialogue is not born out of genuine feeling but a constant mental calculation, and I see the masks drop enough to recognize them as such, finding what is underneath so distasteful that the coverings seem like they make sense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

it's all blueprint, it must be easy.

Rumblings of probably not-reckonings heeded, the darkness that comes so early, the quiet street where nobody seems to live, haunted by ghosts of gentrifiers past, of immigrants and regular folks, boarded up buildings.

But I drive through the rain to make art, and my fingernails have taken a beating from scrubbing with all that acetone and pumice and I show the new student the treasure trove of colored powders and jars of jewel-toned glass like raw-hewn gems. The time goes by so quickly and I'm trying to decide between hues of ruby, amethyst, aquamarine, amber. There will be time for all of these and more.

And tonight, music. I am past the feelings of insecurity, of not being cool enough, of not being good enough, even though I'm not as technically proficient as I once was, which tends to happen when one's tastes shift from reading the John Petrucci columns in Guitar World to listening to the squalling guitars of Repeater for the first time. I know more what I'd want to do.

What I wonder is if this is what I want to do.

It's said there's only two types of music: good and bad, and to some extent this is true. But anyone who has any shred of geeky love for tuneage knows that the strands of genre can be split indefinitely. What kind of 'rock' does your band play? Does it jangle, does it plod, does it shred, does it shimmer? Do you want to save the world or smash it or just get laid? Does it matter? Are you pop-punk or old-school punk or crusty punk? Is your metal classic/thrash/black/death/core/whatever?

Does it matter? Do we get along? We don't have to see things the same way, but are we wired to mesh so well that the creative sparks fly? There's been so many times where it hasn't despite our best efforts. When I didn't know what to play, when Ithought your lyrics sucked, when you all wanted to play Bikini Kill, when you were all friends and I was the interloper, when you said I was ok for a girl. , when me and the drummer decided we didn't want to play with them anymore and quit, when you were a drama queen and maybe I was too and we didn't get along as friends let alone as bandmates, those times I waited for practice to end so we could wander in the woods and be existential beneath the stars and trees.

And now my vision is focused, and I still dream of weekend warrioring, of getting off work to make noise like I did so long ago and dreamed. I miss it so much in these times when the art and the writing just don't coalesce. And maybe by now I'm just getting too old.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

unbalanced pieces

Awakening on a couch more comfortable than my bed to the cats running, it's cold outside, and maybe it's the artificial sweetener accidentally ingested making my head feel foggy, wondering how the brain processes all these things, the physical, the mental, the spiritual because sometimes the little clarity I have is blurred and I mumble and grumble incoherently to God as I sit up and realize the sun's already risen but it's not all that late.

I tried to play guitar last night, between the ringing of the phone, couldn't find it in me to be social to do anything functional as the Paper From Hell's day of reckoning gets closer, someone knocked on the door and scared me last night but it was just the kid across the street. I felt bad, but I didn't want to open the door either.

But the sun is out, and I will go in pursuit of coffee and relating and being, wondering how I let a little Lanegan/Patton jam pass me by the first time around.

Friday, November 11, 2011

dead cells

I could write...

...about those who defend the indefensible. Of cults of sports and personality, of men in power who do horrible things and those who enable it.

...about the awkward moments of feeling fake when dealing with fake people, of self preservation and the fragile dynamics of small talk.

...about hearing so many people talk about the military and how much good it does for kids and shudder inwardly, knowing that if I say anything I'll sound crazy.

...about how I haven't been writing my paper.
...about how I haven't been writing anything else.
...about how I haven't written someone a letter because I'm too shy to.

...about the pending weekend.

I just don't know what to say. Did I ever?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

my dear lady disdain

There's a certain small meanness of being low on the totem pole and part of the out crowd, of being in a position of vulnerability, of being more or less powerless and frustrated and maybe more bitter than one would like to admit.

And I saw the janusian two-faced-ness of yet another, who exists in a world of networking and schmoozing of pleasant shallowness only to backbite out of earshot as I attempt to defend the quirkiness of my fellow peons as the bile in my gut churns with the acid of the coffee and I need to be polite to this person because it keeps the world spinning, even if I mean it as little as they do.

I feel like that kid in O'Connor's short story 'Temple of the Holy Ghost' making fun of the priest at her church and the stupid neighbor boys and the ditzy schoolgirls and coming to the realization that for whatever freakiness and ugly we have in us there is something beautiful and of God in each of us too, even though in all honesty it's damn near impossible to see sometimes if I speak truthfully.

So I think about him, and how I do the same thing, with different people, every day and while I could justify it, how different is it, even if they kind of give me the creeps or they say stupid and ignorant things, and who am I to denigrate, hypocritical in frowning upon it in others, having been on the receiving end all too often, and so many of the things I've said and thought that were just wrong, wrong, wrong, and how is that made right, because apologizing to someone by saying "I wasn't very nice to you and you wouldn't have ever known if I never said anything" just creates more drama, and I guess the next best thing is going and sinning no more I guess? Is that even possible? Or like all other unrealistic ideals made undoable in perfection due to our inherent suckness, something to aspire to?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

best of the blotter: Don't Fear The Reaper

A Drake Road resident called police Halloween night when her 11-year-old son came home from trick-or-treating with a can of beer.

The boy pointed out the house where he received the beer.

Police spoke with a resident, who said when she arrived home, there were 10 or 15 kids at her house without permission. They took off running when she arrived.

She said she was not sure which of the teens offered beer to a trick-or-treater, but said she would speak to her sons about it.

The 11-year-old's mother said she did not want to pursue criminal charges. Police disposed of the beer.

OVI, LAKE ROAD: Police stopped a car on Lake Road near Columbia Road Oct. 30 at 12:44 a.m. for a traffic violation. The 33-year-old woman driver, who was dressed like Goldilocks, admitted she had been drinking at a costume party. After taking a field sobriety test, the driver was arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired. She will face charge in Rocky River Municipal Court.

An Avon teen may have gotten a bit too realistic with his Halloween costume.

Someone in the North Doovys called Avon Police around 6:17 p.m. Monday, during trick-or-treating time in town, that a boy about 14 years old, wearing a dark sweatshirt and jeans, was walking along the road carrying a real scythe.

Police talked with the boy, who took the scythe home.

weekend warriors

I didn't make any money for the station during our annual fundraising thing, due to being on so early and everyone in Cleveland who still listens to terrestrial radio being poor.

Well, you're on really early and it's when a lot of blue collar people go to work," says a professorial looking friend of the DJ after me. "Blue collar people usually don't listen to college radio anyway."


It's not like I haven't run across this attitude in other places, and it seems prevalent among the multiply college degreed that make up the fields of academia and technocracy. The people who listen to Springsteen and Billy Bragg and talk about solidarity "working people" when it's a convenient talking point involving unions that they're not even in, yet condescend and disparage those whose hands are cracked and dirty at the end of a ten-hour day as ignorant of the finer things in life because they don't sit around all day reading blogs at work. "Well they probably listen to Nickelback and drink beer and watch football and don't read books."

Well how the hell do you know? And so what if other people do? No one's making you conform to that. And I wonder if they have any friends outside of their profession or income demographic or political affiliation, honestly, because when things are painted with this broad of a generalized brush of cultural snobbery, my Inner Parmastani kid gets mad because it's so condescending and at least in my experience (which admittedly might be both biased and also lucky), not totally true.

And it's funny, because a good amount of my callers are warehouse workers and third shifters who want to hear King Sunny Ade or really liked that Siouxsie and the Banshees song or would have loved to have a pair of those tickets to see that band but they work second shift and can't go. I think of people like my dad and his friends, my friends who are also peons who can talk as smart as any PhD scholar who just never had the opportunities or ambition or the convenient accidents of birth.

There is so much more nuance than credit is given, so many brilliant minds without the letters after their names who don't even give themselves credit for their brilliance because they like what they like and have nothing to prove. The poets whose brilliance will blush unseen in desk drawers or shared by a handful of others, the musicians whose gifts never leave the living room, the artists whose canvases are stacked in a corner and given away to friends, the infinite basement rockers with day jobs and sometimes kids who get their catharsis out on the weekends and after dinner.

But I hold my peace, because I haven't had my morning coffee, I don't know this person and will probably never see them again, and there are some battles just not worth fighting. This is our noise too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

progress progress pleasant myth

One of the great perks of academic peonage is the ability to take free classes and keep the brain from atrophying, though what good it does for my cortices might be cancelled out by the blood pressure, released only by doing my best to not laugh or start talking too much.

I love that we have these discussions and I'm sure people wonder what planet I'm from too with some of the things I think and say but sometimes these perspectives are either so bizarre I can't even parse them out or they're so caricatureistic that I just kind of shake my head and wait until the end of class to vent with Randal about the Ayn Rand acolyte, the Che-obsessed undergrad who can't believe that Stalin would ever do anything bad, the older gentleman who still believes in some archaic concept of law and order and neoconnery, the other who believes that the world is getting better and someday we'll all hold hands and kumbayah and brings EVERYTHING back to the KKK.

As a country, yes, we're not as institutionally racist and that's a really good thing, but is it any better in the rest of the world? Sub-Saharan Africans in post-Gaddafi Libya are getting massacred, the Bhutanese who say they're the happiest country in the world are uprooting their Nepali kindred, the Bantu Somali were enslaved by the ethnic Somali up through the 1930s and still endure discrimination there, and when they immigrate elsewhere.

You really think it's better? Same shit, different place no matter what book you read or statistics you throw my way. How do you live this long and travel the world and be so educated and yet be so constrained by the narrowness of your personal experience? I just don't understand.

And I speak up and say we've all got dirty hands here, that all this talk of rights and universalities is semantics, and that no one treats everyone justly.

Classroom lessons World War Two
Atrocities against the Jews
Never again our solemn vow
That's why we all share Cambodia
Isn't it great how far we've come since then?

And I can't help but bow my head and cry
It took so long to finally realize
That all our hopes are based on such gross lies

Dialectic's shit
Evolution's crap
Time and time again the masquerade is
Shown for what it really is:
Progress, progress it's a pleasant myth
Progress, progress it's a pleasant myth

Progress, progress
Pleasant myth
That makes my life worthwhile

the wood between the worlds

As an English major who spent more time reading the works of dead crackers than doing anything resembling creative writing both out of shyness and disdain for those who wanted to be the next Bret Easton Ellis or Thomas De Quincey, I got a decent dosage of medievals and Romantics that I alternated adored and was infuriated by.

Wordsworth might have said he wandered lonely as a cloud and found some daffodils, but his sister was most definitely along for the ride, as their diaries show, but she was conveniently written out of the picture to maintain the image of the loner among nature.

I've been rediscovering Annie Dillard after a long time of not maybe understanding, maybe not getting out into the almost-wilderness enough, obsessed with crumbling concrete dying from neglect rather than the world outside continually dying and reborn.

“Concerning trees and leaves... there's a real power here. It is amazing that trees can turn gravel and bitter salts into these soft-lipped lobes, as if I were to bite down on a granite slab and start to swell, bud and flower. Every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts. Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day. A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn't make one. A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out even more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.”

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”

So Saturday I was introverted, and I know these days are getting shorter and colder and more brutish, so I went out to the woods where we played as kids. Our parents would walk along the concrete path and we would run along the side, scampering over huge trees fallen across the creek, making our way across stones to the island in the middle of the creek as runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad or Robin Hood's merry band or the kids in Narnia, so immersed in this world of water and trees and imagination even with the suburbs on the top of the hill and the road running along the other side. It's still as beautiful as I remember it.

The summer I graduated, me and one of my friends used to come here, because it was so close by, and me and him would sit by the water and ponder, or lay on the picnic tables and stare up at the pine trees soaring so tall and straight over us. It felt like time was fluid, an endless eternal tap when it was already beginning to drain away.

This was so good for my soul, so when I got out of church, I did it again, driving out to Medina and wondering why every road now has the name of some poor kid who died in the army, stopping at Worden's Homestead, knowing that the ledges had to be nearby.

I'd only been there once, probably fifteen years ago, when we walked from my parents' friends house through some back yards and back woods to end up in a quiet place in the middle of a forest strewn with hanging Jungle Book vines in a place with carvings not quite Olmec, but ancient seeming enough for a part of the country where the ancients did not see it fit to build. The path behind the farmhouse is not well-marked, but I followed the couple in front of me in, and made my way across.

I wonder what the carver of these stones thought when he came upon them for the first time, and shaped and incised these rocks with sweat and fervor. The deformed Sphinx remains cryptic, the faces unidentified, the symbology of cross and schooner arcane.

I return up the path to the back of the property, where assorted playhouse-sized outbuildings disintegrate and a crucified effigy is sprawled on the ground, awkwardly formed, with a bulky torso and a crown of rusty nails. Attempts at getting a good shot were made but ultimately unsuccessful.

And from there I went to the much more populated Whipps Ledges, which was crawling with children, dogs and rock climbers. I walked the periphery and the then along the top, knowing I'd be unable to capture the grandeur completely.

“After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look I see fire; that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.”

“What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.”

And now I'm back at the daily routine, and I wonder why I didn't do this more, because of the euphoria of atmosphere, movement, and the created order at its most beautiful.

“There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: A people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death. It is a weakening and discoloring idea, that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time-- or even knew selflessness or courage or literature-- but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.”

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Building skyscrapers of procrastination like an Ani song, I want to do everything but write this paper, even though it's interesting subject matter, but how does one condense an entire literary culture into 8-10 pages? I've never been a super-achiever but writing's one of the things I don't suck at academically, and so it's disorienting to get B's on my work even if it's not the most effort-intensive work and the course isn't for credit as it is.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table at a friend's house, where they've left me ice cream in the freezer and there is canine companionship and tea. I found the last holdout of rodentia behind my refrigerator attempting to gnaw its way through the metal towards the culinary delights of freezerburned hot peppers from the garden last year and the cucumbers molding in the crisper drawer.

It's hard to cook when your kitchen is small already and feels gross due to its unwanted inhabitants. So I cleaned the back up with the vacuum and threw the uneaten rat poison into the hole with a pair of tongs and call my dad and vent about the little bastards. A few minutes later I hear little teeth munching away and I'm past the point of feeling bad.

I figure this is one of those Important Life Lessons which are generally unpleasant but "build character" and there's no way in hell I ever want to be a homeowner even if I wonder if I'll be living in grungy cheap apartments in aesthetically pleasing but ultimately sketchy environs hoping that nothing really bad happens. I picked up this book at a library booksale because I'm eternally amused by vintage graphic design and have a terrible sense of humor but also because it looked like it was full of practical knowledge for old houses like the double I live in.

And now, another week, a week of working two nights, feeding cats, walking dogs, writing this paper, wondering how I used to write four or five at a time, though I guess it was the only thing I was doing then...

It was too beautiful outside this weekend to sit around inside, and I wandered through the woods alone, picking my paths carefully so I don't become a statistic through either my clumsiness or someone's ill intentions, with my camera aimed at the sparkle of creeks and the shimmer of the last leaves clinging golden to bare branches and the textures of sandstone ledges. Pictures in abundance tomorrow for those who care, but I was exhilarated to be wandering through piles of fallen leaves surrounded by trees and rocks as far I could see on a sunny Sunday afternoon in November in a t-shirt. These times are too good to let them slip away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

cut the kids in half

A longer writing, condensed and self-censored, of a not-so-daily grind of constant absurdity on the part of both customers and powers that be, of conversations treading different ground, of procrastination and existential ponderings of the way things are and deconstructing the idealism of my surroundings and finding ways to laugh at things like cat vomit on library books and the absurdity of those we serve, and ourselves.

I tried to be creative tonight, but my brain was racing too wildly to focus on picking one color of glaze to paint a teacup and I don't want to dump my cognitive craziness on unsuspecting artistes, and sometimes I wonder if it freaks people out, that ultimately I will say the wrong thing and totally offend someone or they'll get sick of my rants about third world countries and their favorite politicians, because I don't believe in excusing the unexcusable no matter who it is.

And people talk politics and rant about those awful Democrats and scumbag Republicans and I just want them all to shut the hell up. I hate Election Day with every fiber of my being because one party runs the state into the ground and the other runs the city into the ground and then each of the two takes their turn running the country into the ground but I guess it's like that everywhere right?

Governments do shitty things to powerless people, give the perks and the power to their cronies, and the everyday schlubs are left in the middle, paying taxes, pacified by entertainment or too tired or burned out to even bother trying, grabbing for any bone thrown their way and keeping anyone else from getting close.

I feel like my generation is the kids in a loveless marriage and my country is two selfish and immature parents in a marriage falling apart, where the big shiny house built up so fast is a mess and the credit card bills from years of buying the newest shiniest brightest thing are coming in and there's no money left to pay. In every marriage, it's the fault of both sides, and in this case, they're the same people ultimately, but they'd never admit to that, and they're screaming at each other, dangling promises and baubles for the kids, playing them off of each other, instigating fights that distract from the matter at hand, and the spite fences between us and the next door neighbor. It's for the kids, they say, but they're ultimately thinking only about themselves and what they can get before all of it's gone, because it's all going to be gone someday.

Sometimes the kids will take sides, they'll be loyal to one or the other or whichever one fits their immediate needs. Sometimes they just go and hide in the room or in the treehouse in the backyard with fingers in the ears wanting this big long nightmare to go away.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

girls go to mars

Once upon a time, I wanted so badly to be in a band. Via my dental work at Case by a rockabilly-loving resident, I was hooked up with his prof's daughter who played the drums. They lived in a very nice house in Berea with a room off to the side full of amazing guitar gear and a four-track recorder.

We attempted all sorts of sounds and projects, and at that time I didn't know how to sing (ah the wonders of embracing the alto and learning to transpose to different keys since!) and we had a revolving door of acquaintances with which we played, often with varying results, some lasting longer than others because sometimes they really didn't know how to play and just wanted to say they were in a band or they were in bands with other people or whatever.

After the short-lived punk band in which I played bass and we quit before playing a show that wouldn't have happened anyway, there was a brief all-girl project that resulted in a cassette tape with some Bikini Kill covers and our attempt at sounding like a Kim Gordon-fronted Sonic Youth track. For all the feminist rhetoric of my bandmates, that soon also went down in flames as I really don't like Bikini Kill and wanted to play something with more than four chords, and one of the other girls started dating some guy because most of the uber-feminist-I-don't-need-a-man girls usually end up doing. For those of us who prefer the company of the male species but always seem to end up being the platonic homie, this is frustrating in its irony but that's a whole other post.

I have not played these tapes for anyone for obvious reasons. After that, my drummer friend got sick of all this and went off to an Ivy League college and out of all my former bandmates, I'm still in touch with only one, incidentally the one who took the band breakup the hardest.

Ten years later, I'm driving back to Berea and getting utterly lost. I've been itching to play music in a more noise-making capacity for awhile now, so thanks to the strange connections made over fiber optic cables and a shred of musical commonality, I'm plugging my guitar in, tweaking the tone knobs on the amplifier and my distortion pedal as we try to find some common ground between my absurd college radio eclecticism and ultimate corporate rock tendencies that mesh well with the 90's rocking of the rhythm section and I wonder what the singer who's a few years younger than us and got the whole thing started thinks since none of us are really metalheads or at least that's not the style we play or it's not always that kind of metal.

We settle on the Cure and on Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' because it's something everyone knows, and while my fingers are used to strumming from doing church music and bluegrass, I find that all those years of noodling on my dad's Gretsch in the basement haven't been for naught, as my fingers loosen and I have the back of bass and drums and rhythm guitar courtesy of the girl who just arrived.

I'm tremolo-picking on the upper frets and noodling through pentatonics, bending strings and sustaining notes with the whammy bar and letting the tremolo from my ancient amp reverberate like crush with eyeliner. While the others take a break, me and the bassist mess around with songs that we grew up hearing on the radio but turning them into something more feminine and melancholic and find that our voices harmonize well.

I wonder what this may or may not coalesce into, because there are so many dynamics and so many unknowns and so many ways in which tastes converge and also don't. I don't understand the love of Kittie when there are infinitely better and more interesting women making music. I still don't know how one gets through 20+ years in American subcultural life without ever hearing a song by Nirvana or Alice in Chains, or maybe I'm just more irrelevant than I first thought. It's highly possible.

I'm pondering the infinite strands of subculture and taste beneath the all-encompassing tag or rock and or roll. I have the certain sounds I like, and the things I play, and while I can break out of that, it's still where I ultimately come back to. I want to play songs that would move me if it wasn't me.

I love melodic vocals and strange harmonies, glorious layers of distortion, sinuous basslines and insistent drums. I love guitars that shimmer, crunch, and cry. I'm feeling old and past the point of wanting to make it good, and for now, I will play well with others, and see what comes.

All I know is that I still want to be Kristin Hersh when I grow up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So how did you end up here?

Being a Clevelander I ask this question of all people who settled here from much swankier and warmer climes. Usually they don't know how they got sucked into the Rust Belt vortex and that's understandable.

Same with this little corner of the Internets... Moral of the story is that what you're looking for probably isn't on here, except for my well-documented disdain for a certain Soundgarden frontman's solo material and maybe some gravestones.

cleveland call girls for sexy
things baby racoons play with
back in the days did prostitutes hang out on prospect ave in cleveland
chris cornell hate
cleveland east vs west
homework for kindergarten ms.ryan's class ps.165q
art beautiful obscure love statues tombstones
exotic women from the middle east in stained glass
quiet places in cleveland at night
amateur jailbait
tuna blotter
Deer Attack People
banana thieves
drug names on tombstones
victorian robber baron
barbie boadicea
sexy big game huntresses
pantheism female forest spirit

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

so small

There are more dead souls residing in this city than the living, and even among the living sometimes that seems a bit debatable.

This does mean there's quite a few old-school cemeteries with huge trees and statues of angels and ornate family vaults. When I was little before the presence of subculture in my consciousness, me and my friend up the street would have her dad take us to old graveyards half-hidden in the woods where we'd go through looking at the stones marveling at the oldness and the quiet. And now, I always stop to wander through the rows of stones whenever I go anywhere, because each place is different, and I try to conjure up the stories so cryptic in the semantics of epitaphs, the size and intricacy of the sculpture, the mementos left saying that they have not been forgotten.

There's a distance that is comfortable, as I have no family members there, and the history is often distant enough that it becomes like a park, a neutral space to linger and be introverted. I wonder if I've turned into a cliche this weekend, as I drove from one to the other on my day off, listening to of all people Nick Cave, snapped photos of stone angels under golden trees framed by the light of the late autumnal sunset.

I told a friend of mine this as we turned the corner to the one on Riverside because I'd seen a sign for a place called Babyland. It's an old place, with an imposing red stone gatehouse with gothic accents galore, so I assumed that Babyland would be similarly archaic.

I was not expecting what we found instead.

Rows of wooden crosses with names and Our Beloveds. Stillbirths and kids that died a day old, granite-etched faces of bright eyes and big smiles and lives cut short. And who decorates a cemetery for Halloween? I'm disoriented by the teddy bears encased in cellophane hanging from hooks. I walk through snapping pictures and trying to glean some meaning, but I just don't understand.

In the old cemeteries, it was common to see the names of children who lived a few weeks or a couple years, and that was the way it was, for every ten kids, maybe five made it. We don't think about it that way now. What also got me was that all of these names were clearly kids from the neighborhood, black and Puerto Rican and the occasional Greek or Romanian.

What were the stories here as fresh as the newly unearthed dirt and the ungrimed silk flowers? Is this another way of grieving that I don't understand? When my grandma would take me to the cemetery with her I would collect rose petals from her garden and scatter them on my youngest sister's grave. My parents never did get a headstone. It was too hard to think about, I guess.

How many of these kids would be in kindergarten right now if they had been born in a place with less pollution and more favorable circumstances? I don't know, and I feel like I'm treading in a place where the grief is still raw. I'm no longer a tourist. I'm an interloper, and I'm glad there's no one here besides us.

mysterious strangers

I'm not huge into Halloween, as my monsters this year seem to have more to do with mid-twenties angst, economic constraints, and the less glamorous side of city living. Still, there is always the comedie humaine of Craigslist as the awkwardness of men and women only gets more interesting when everyone's dressed up and either in or out of character.

To the 4 different girls I saw dressed up as Annie Hall last night - w4w - 32 (Cleveland Ohio)

I don't know why all of a sudden it's in vogue to be a 23yr old dressed up as Annie Hall, but you might have saved yourself the money you spent on a hat you will probably never wear again, and just gone as Zoey Deschanel, cause it's the same damn thing. Also, you should aspire to date better men, Woody Allen as a boyfriend sucks. And please promise yourself right now to never make a movie with Jack Nicholson.

I get a little offended when people think that I'm a Woody Allen movie person, because hopefully I don't come across too much like a brilliant yet neurotic and pathologically selfish loser. I really hope that's not the case.

Bonnie + Clyde's Wonder Woman 10/28/11 - m4w - 38 (Lakewood)
Date: 2011-10-31, 9:55AM EDT
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Hey Wonder Woman! Wow, you really are sexy and cute at the same time. Each time our eyes met, I got flustered. I'm kicking myself for being intimidated by your friends and the other guys drawn to you. Since Friday night, I just keep seeing your brown eyes, great figure in that little red, white and blue outfit; and most impressively, your bright smile which you flashed at me several times. I wasn't wearing a costume but I was drinking rum & coke. Tell me what color my shirt was........I saw you checking out my arms.. lol Let's connect Wonder Woman. Maybe I can be your Superman!

this makes me think of a terrible soft rock ballad by the All Sports Band that is sadly not on Youtube, and also this cinematic gem.

Werewolf at the Chamber Saturday 10/29 - w4m - 36 (Lakewood)
Date: 2011-10-30, 3:01AM EDT
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You: You're a great dancer, funny, and polite. You're about 5'10", nice solid build, and if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say you're about 5 years younger than me and good-looking without the makeup, ears and fangs.

Me: I'm 5'10" without the high heels that I ditched a couple times, full-figured with short dark hair (some of it was pink tonight), wearing a purple jacket, lace t-shirt, and shiny red/black pants. I was with a friend who's the same height and was dressed as Lady Gaga.

I was having a really rough night till you started dancing with me. You made me smile. Thank you.

As it's the Chamber, no Twilight jokes here, just that there was something kind of sweet about this one.

And outside of Clevelandia, here's more tales of missed chances in the Rust Belt.

Frida drew a bleeding heart - m4w - 27 (MOCAD)
Date: 2011-10-30, 1:05PM EDT
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Frida, you drew that amazing bleeding heart on me and even though my costume is gone it's still there. This is the first missed connect I've ever posted, really regretting not having talked to you more. How amazing, when a painter and a piece of paper can come together like that.

Oh art kids, I hope you find each other.

Also, Jay and Silent Bob seemed to be universally big this year, probably because any pair of average looking dudes around my age can look and act like them without any trouble.

Your mischevious eyes at Tops - m4w - 29 (Grand Island)
Date: 2011-09-23, 4:42PM EDT
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You were a beautiful brown haired woman, I was a dorky, bowling shirt clothed silent bob impersonator with great glasses. Your black hooded sweatshirt was adorned with what appeared to be neon writing, and your eyes lit up with mirth or mischief when you looked my way.

We exchanged glances a few times, finally nodding at one another in passing. I wondered by your expression if my hair was a mess or my shirt had something on it.

Well, was it my hair?

Your half smile melted my eyeballs out of my head, and I hope that whomever you smile like that for appreciates it as I did.

* Location: Grand Island
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Not only that, but the chicks seem intrigued by that dynamic duo.

Looking for Jay & Silent Bob from the town ballroom party this weekend - w4m - 26 (buffalo)
Date: 2011-11-01, 9:24AM EDT
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anyone know jay & silent bob from those parties and possibly know how to reach either of them???? PLEASE???? any info would help. a name, a number, a facebook page, ANYTHING!

looking for silent bob. i was the red-head standing next to you waiting to signup for the contest. i tried talking to you, but you remained in character and just smiled and waved at me. i'm hoping we can get together and actually TALK a bit, you're pretty cute!! 8-P

if you remember me, tell me what my costume was!! 8-)

i'm also throwing a party this week and I'd love it if you guys could make it! please get back to me asap if you see this or anyone can help me track him down!! thank you xoxoxoxo

And this really isn't Halloween related, but the sheer wastedness and embodiment of OSU bro-ness made it priceless.

Party Bus - From 7/11 to Park Street - m4w - 24 (Downtown Columbus)
Date: 2011-10-30, 5:14AM EDT
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Soooo... I was totally blacked out and I forgot your name. You live at waterford, teach something, and love New York like 50 cent. I'm still pretty drunk and won't remember posting this, but email a brother and we will get a cup of tea..


PostingID: 2676163433

Meanwhile, while dude is so drunk he doesn't remember that he's looking for lurve, other souls are for glitter girls who rock and roll and appear to be dating losers. It's strangely reassuring that this cuts both ways across the great divide of heteronormativity.

Hot Blonde at Skully's!!!!!!!!! - m4w - 39 (Columbus)
Date: 2011-10-30, 9:51PM EDT
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Halloween costume party at SKULLY'S on High Street this past Friday 28th. You were wearing a white ROLLING STONES t-shirt with glitter on your face.....some guy was all over you & I could tell you weren't into need a rocker......(me)......NIRVANA came on & you dug it, Mr. cool didn't get it.....he was either too drunk or..well, his actions spoke for themselves. If you were a couple, please forgive me, but I nor any of the people I was with saw it or understood it. Anyway, if you see this, by all means I'd love to hear from you. You were STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!

Thurston and Kim have called it quits, life is not usually a Sonic Youth video, but dream on rocker dude who loves the capital letters and exclamation points and it's an excuse to post the song below.