Sometimes believing in magic is like believing I can find my cell phone in my purse. Sometimes it is more like believing the earth is not going to ripple open and swallow me whole. Sometimes belief is not so easy to tether yourself to.
Right now, pert near everyone I know is fouled by romance. Standing on the sidelines, broken hearted, or otherwise effectively benched. Or thier life scheme is give them mass hard times, they are being woken up at night with heart stopping fears that splay them for hours of rancid thought about what will change and when and the future and will their hearts ever mend, will their days and lives ever mend, will they write the great things they want, will oppurtunity knock. We all joke, it's the revenge of Saturns Return. Revenge pf the eve-of-30 reckoning. My aunt, who is in her 50's and a high-up prefect in a major Indian meditational sect/spiritualism, I told her all this, she says "Oh, yeah 27 and 28 were a bitch. It gets better though."
In the face of this, of the melting sadness of many people I love, of my own aged-28 malaise, it is hard to beleive in magic. It is hard to conjure faith and trust that goodness does exist and not all people feed their kids chee-tos for dinner and keep them up late on school nights at the Western Avenue laundry-mats.
This morning, I woke up knowing magic exists. I woke up with my hand on Sean's ribs, tiny breaths expanding them and I knew magic is real. You just have to trust. Sometimes it is just being quiet and sly on you. The fall days of Minneapolis is beautiful and breakfast was great. There are books and bikes and half started craft projects and 100 long range fantasy plans we all are laying out together that will sustain us until pre-30 melancholy stops sharpening it's teeth on us. Just have faith.
Love to the people with much on their minds and love to the people who do not know magic right now. Magic is soon. Promise.
Britt and I, on a lark, a graven, impulsive lark of a lark watched the OG version of Stepford Wives, which Britt sited as "our feminist duty". I like it when my feminist duty involves languishing on her couch. Anyhow. The metaphors were powerful, the tension was palpable and our most emo-breakdown fears that yes, the patriarchy is plotting against us , seemed oh so true. We sat on the porch, smoking our lite cigarettes, watching the sun go down, with a movie tension hangover on us like a filthy burqua, phantom high lacy collars dresses on our necks like an imposing hand.
The dads are out. They are mowing the yards, tending and doing trimming and grooming and seeding. The women are else where. The dads are out with the leave blower. No labourous raking, just high powered air vrooming and whisking the leaves to a wide circle around the property, dead leaves ringing it like an ancient ceremonial site. Blowing them so they are not on the walks lit by tiny lantern lights, so they are not on the lawn which with it's fresh mow now glows deep green and tidy, looking unnatural and storebought.
The lawns that are unmowed, the lawns where the summer planting is rotting, brown blooms languishing, sun-rotted amidst otherwise immaculate landscaping, lawns piled with leaves unmoved since their first fall - I wonder where are the dads? I imagine older dads, moored in the dark-wooded den, silent and swishing ice in tumblered hi-balls. I imagine them folling about in the garage, haplessly industrius, taking apart things they do not know how to put together. I imagine them defrosting tater-tots and fish-sticks because this is their weekend with the kids. I imagine them pawing their secretaries in 30 story hi-rises in Wayzata. In this neighboorhood, I can only imagine the staid man-lore of Cheever-ish men, unable to mow the lawn as they are quietly subsumed -- dwarfed by feelings of unnameable inadequacy, latent alcoholism and financial responsibility.
I finally finished the Muses book, which ended on a un-warm, tenative chapter on John and Yoko, where John sounds perma-stonded and parrottish, Yoko sounds less than genius. I wish, on feminist principle, that there were some less disspiriting examinations of the muse-women, but as the author says, that new feminism has relegated the role of muse to the "lesser of" strata, that feminists don't accept the muse-identity as actualized, or important. I feel like the author herself does not actually like or admire the women the way that she goads us to. Perhaps for the same reason i found myself being saddened or appauled at times about the muses, being relegated to second teir, to as she put it "art wives" carefully managing the households and diets of 'their" artists -- you want more of them. For them to go free and un-hem themselves from the web around the male artists which they largely constructed, or helped to construct, which, aside from Yoko and Suzanne Farrell, none of them really did. Perhaps this is the failing in my feminist-reading, perhaps it is too staid of me, to not acknowledge their success in simply being great inspiration and help-meet. I just feel that that designation has already been too-well perfected and exampled over the last 2000 years. I want scores of mercurial girl-heroes of our own, not more troubled women throwing the switches and towing the genius from behind a burqua-like velvet curtain.
I feel like all of this is part of the reason that the new le Tigre album, despite being, in my measuring, musically, less than what I want, less than what I like: le Tigre made an album that is about the consequence of women's daily life, about women in the man's world, women in their own community, about thriving in community and struggling in it, and identity. Where else are we getting women writing about their own lives, in a way that is meaningful and adequately reflects the complexion and complication in a real way, and not in, say, an Avril way? I do not even love their records, but on principle, I wish they were the biggest band in America, or at least running a little closer to like, Hoobstank's Top 40 terra firma.
Felt the psychic wherewithall (sp?) to soldier forth into more chapters of the Muses of Great Artists book. The ideas in it that are depressing, really, to me, is that history is intractable. In the stories of Gala Dali and others, I see the stories of my best friends, or myself (as a publicist), forgetting our own bold stories and creative desire to donkey-cart the ideas of great, tortured men - a fevered submitting to stinting as a pamphletter for another's cause. Being the tentpole for his process, his damage, his mommy-issue that will transmogrify into art that will heal/heel him, or heal the world.
Only the releiving chapter on Lou Andreas-Salome, conspirator to Rilke, Freud (ugh) and Nietze (sp), where she is recorded of being of a mind like that of a woman who had not been told she was a woman. Not conforming to pressures and expectation of what her femininity/life was 'sposed to play like. She stayed free, and managed peerdom, publishing on her own. (granted, her memoirs border on biography (again) of the great men ), Freud quietly crediting her for innagurating (not simply inspiring) ideas he took to new hilt.
And, still, a full century later, I see the same mini-dramas played out in the lives of women I love and barely know. Sociliazed into subversion, relegated to singing backups on the album, too uncomfortable to toddle into the world alone, or unarmored by the approval/reins/proxy of the powerful, mercurial artist-man -- and the (tethered) tread and entre which affords her in a world where she otherwise does not have permission to be.
Do we have to exhume the corpse of riot girl and run bell hooks for president to change this course? Bust magazine alone does not liberate us from this. I want to know where and how and especially when the new text for women's lives in art gets drafted. I am afraid a lot of great ideas, a lot of great women are languishing in the shadows otherwise doomed until then.
Minneapolis is a funny place. All these white people freak me out, but I am managing none the less. There is about one show a week I actually want to see, which i keep missing. I have not been in a bar in weeks. Meanwhile, my books and friends treat me nice. I bought a bike, I guess that means I am not leaving for a while still.
Last night, my mother told me a story about my childhood that does not even sound vaguely familiar to me. She says I was obsessed, year round, with Santa. That I would make her write out and revise extensive lists of what I wanted, but that the list always included walnuts and a nutcracker. That I had a red plastic phone on which I would "call" Santa, daily, to check in and tell him of my goodness, and then hand the phone to my mom so she could verify this with Santa. When Xmas would come, and we would go to the mall, for my Santa visit and polaroid-opp, she says I would panic, and freeze, and sit mute on Santa's lap, unable to do anything but whisper "Barbies". None the less, I carried my pictures of me with Santa in my purse, like he was my boyfriend, and had the others in frames decorating my room, along with my minor collection of nutcrackers.
I think this is only slightly less telling than my sister's Xmas list from age 4, which is still posted on my mom's fridge, where she asks Santa for "Chapstick" and "love".
I am beginning to make a living as a writer, and this frightens me. Perhaps mystifies me is a better phrasing. Despite the fact that, since age 15, when I began ye olde Hit it or Quit it, I have published about 90% of what I have ever written, admitting that yes in fact I am a writer and yes, I do want to be a writer is some real heavy shit, as the parlance goes. I have been writing publicly (professionally sounds overwrought) for 13 years, and I do not think it was until this week, getting multiple "real" checks for said writing, or meeting people out and people asking about or commenting on my writing, not my other work, not bands I work with, have I figured out I am a writer.
I feel much more akin to the girl i saw at the coffee shop today, all of 4 years old, who was pretending her plastic water cup was a cell phone, and was carrying on a lively, heavily animated convo with whomever was on the other side of the cups reception. All this time, I just thought I was talking into a cup.
Last night, in the car I was telling Sean about the book about the muses, about the unfortunate plight of the women relegated to adjunct-spotlight next to the genius and he quips that he is glad I am reading it, so now I will know what it is like for him. He insists he's the Yoko, and I am the tortured genius. Flattery gets him everywhere.
Also, for those in Chicago this weekend who like music and drinking:
The first night of HOTT/NUTTZZ, which I was supposed to DJ but will not be at:
SUN. 9/19/04 (10:00pm)
The Empty Bottle and Muy Romantico present HOTT/NUTTZZ featuring:
DJ Yves St. LeRoc
DJ Coco LeRoc
DJ Champagne James
DJ Dead Bent
Thats me, Miles, JR and Ben Fasman.
More bookish dilemma, dammit: Bought Lives of The Muses yesterday and manged to get half way through, despite it being discomforting reading. The Victorian-era Yokos and Courtneys and Brodey Dalles had it no easier. The muse is always doomed. Doomed to give up your own art for him , then wind dead from comsumption or die in childbirth, none of your own etchings or lithographs in mueseums or collection. Doomed to be slotted as official biographer, forever in a conjoined spotlight. Hated by the apologists and the family, belittled, second-guessed or omitted in the academic biographies or liner notes after you are dead.
Please lets say fuck this bunk history and tragic tale-e-ternal.
Please, girl: start your band. Start your band now.
Every book on women in rock in the used book store are always- ALWAYS titled to indictae the against-the odds, that the history and place of women in rock is virtually secret. Let's not be doomed to footnote or index-mention in the story of some genius-man's life. No more secret history, or untold story or quiet-reissues years after our deaths. No more relegation to ANTHOLOGIES, a chapter on each. We need entire books on dedicated subjects - ourselves, other women musicians and artists. Long investigative tomes and volumes. Please Please Please.
Please start your band now, girl.
The tinylucky is taking a time out today, seeing as this morning I was diagnosed with an ulcer. Nice. People ask me all the time all the time "how do you do all this stuff?". You do it all then you grow an ulcer apparently.
In my stead, read Miles on Elliott Smith. He really gets it right. Good job, Miles.
I really must switch books soon, I really must. All the books I am reading, the men heroes, as young boys, their fathers lie to them, imbue them with horrifyingly strange mythology about women and sex, abandon them - behaviour guised and written off as teaching them how to be a man - as in I will cheat you because the world will cheat you. From the men I love and know and the men whom I sit in doorstoops smoking and talking with, I know this is the truth, how it happens much of the time. These men in my life, really, they are good men, they are brothers in struggle, they are good feminists. But they are deep down afraid women will steal their souls, they cannot cry even when they are broken in two, they feel incredible silent social pressure to make more money because one day they will be expected to provide, they drink alone at home most nights with the TV on shrouded in sex-guilt and emptiness, they date down in order to preserve a power-paradigm and never have to commit. They are scared as the rest of us.
The three books where I have found this all-sad, harshing, making my heart melt sad and soft for all the wrong ways men are learned-up in this world, all the bad ancient-fear juju daddies are bestowing on babes and adult boys hungry for navigation: Augusten Borrough's Running With Scissors , Saul Bellow Collected Stories and the ultimate father/son travail of all time, The Holy Bible .
Yesterday, on the news, it was all about the triple homicide here in town, a man murdering his girlfriend and her parents, a week after she pressed rape charges against him. Today, it was more about the Wisconsin woman's fiance throwing her baby out on the freeway ( the baby is fine). They showed the footage twice on the national morning news. I could not watch.
I wish sons eventual upon the good men I know, so there can be more little men knowing of goodness and not brutalism.
This morning, left the house, walked with no destination.
Down to the lake, but not around the lake path crowded with couples and dogs and rollerbladers, but walked on the sidewalk up in front of the million dollar castlelettes with their ornate fencing and qrtr mile circular driveways and smiling peonies and firm hedgerows. It was so sunny this morning, the light so overwhelming, sky so blue, the beauty of nature so penetrating, it felt harsh, it was enough to give you a hang over.
The soundtrack was the lapping of a sea of mechanized buzzing: choral lawnmowers, several to a block. I decided to let the path home be dictated by the mowers, like lighthouses, guiding by rumble and hum, by the scent of cut grass and gasoline. When I got to one, I would listen for the next and walk according. Up 47th, industrial hired-yardworker behind a giant red toro, streaking perfect one-light, one-dark lines up to the many terraced white house. Next, right, up through the alley on Humboldt, teenaged son, pushing the white automatic bagging mower laboriusly, carefully working around the garden's edge. His father stood a hundred yards away, arms crossed over his striped Izod shirt, stern and watchful like a foreman. Then, a family of young boys on yard duty, one raked, one mowed, the littlest one bagging. Next was another kid, summer jobbing with an industrial mower idling in the alley while he paced, shouldering a cell phone, conversating over the motor's blare, grass mulched to near-liquid, spat up all over his shins, leghair, sock and Air Jordans. We nodded to each other in acknowledgment. Neither of us belonged in that alley.
Behind these houses, these impecable lawns, back yard upon epic, verdant backyard, barely-used thousands-of-dollars playhouses and jungle gyms, porches with teak rocking chairs that were clearly decorational rather than practical. $ 60,000 add-on's in mid construction, frontloaders parked amongst palettes of clean brick. And there was no one. No one out but mowers.
Last night, I went to see Sleep Station at a club with a fake tree and a faux-Italian mezzanine akin to an Olive Garden lobby RIGHT THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CLUB. It was as if it had been trucked in from the prom night of my dreams, replete with tiny lite stars a-twinkle. You could hear the trickle of the fountain 'tween Sleep Station's prole New Jersey magic-rat lilts.
I spent the rest of my show-going in hawkeyed observation of Limbeck's groupie-base. Twelve people at the show, three of them were youngish women giggling too loud at the wry tour stand-up routines from the youngish men of Limbeck at their sides. "Really?! Wow.... was their unilateral response, followed by a crossing and uncrossing of their legs, or a deep drag off a white filtered cigarette smiling with a glossy mouth that looked like a wound. The Limbeck guys I have met before, Challenger played a show with them in Portland, where they sold freshly-signed & autographed posters for $3 after their set and cockstrutted around they exact way they instruct you in the Young Band Dude's Handbook (2004 Emo Update edition). I did not grace them with reacquaintance. The Limbeck men spoke of the travails of the road, punchlines rolling out from under ironic 'staches, tween swipes off their longnecks. Then, in the most realized bit of sexual guile/groupie theatre ever performed, one girl reaches into her handbag, pulls out her birth control pills, pops "Thursday" and then meets the eyes of the band dude she's cozied with, non-chalant, like it was a communion wafer.
I was not sure whether to cry or to genuflect at her feet.
This morning, I woke up, laid in bed talking to my little sister, who as of this writing is over on campus working her charm, white chicklet teeth and blonde main in hopes of pledging the sorority of her choice. I watched her as she applied her make up in the sunlight. I was thralled in the witness of the act of real interior landscaping, this personal girl-ritual that is fairly foreign to me.
"What do that do?"
"Why aren't you rubbing it in much?"
"Because I need it to moisterize extra, my chin is dry."
"It's for my zits. I break out if I stop using it."
"Is that foundation?"
"Why don't you use one that's the same color as your skin?"
"Because then I look like a dead zombie."
"Is that normal powder or is that blush?"
And so on.
My sister looks like the kind of girl who would have been on the cover of Seventeen Magazine in 1975. Classic blonde hair and blue eyes combo. She is also smart and very funny. She wears heels every time she leaves the house and walks like a confident little fawn. Her friends tell her they do not know how she does it -- are awed by her, because when they go to parties, when they go out with friends, she does not dumb herself down when talking to boys . Her girlfriends have every advantage in the world, but do not have the slightest sense of permission to be themselves amidst the patriarchal DMZ of keg parties.
Thusly, in conclusion: Until we destroy the patriarchy, no one is truly free.
There is something deeply disorienting about being back, for a stretch, in a city you have not resided in in the last 10 years. To drag out the cliche - it's like a dream - much of it achingly familiar, filled with ancient memory that has slowly taken to rot. But from there it begins to fragment - walking around last night, trying to buy cigarettes, but every place I used to know where to buy them had closed. Went to a show the other night, saw no one I knew but re-met half a dozen people from highschool, who are now puffier or sober, though I do not remember if I ever did more than bum a light or grace them with sidelong glances back in the eleventh-grade day, we are adults now, so we are cordial.
All actions and interactions, all strip malls, parking lots and grassy park slopes - the scrim of it's shadow hangs over. It's a muddied, vertiginous slide show of "When did they build that hotel?" and remembering holding my friends hair while she vomited in the bathroom at First Ave at a Jesus Lizard show and corners where I got frostbite while waiting for the school bus.
So far, I deal with it by obsessively walking my mom's cocker spaniel, trying to figure out a way to scam a library card as a non-resident and chain smoking my little sister's Parliments. The hours pass quietly, without much hassle, being free of well-worn Chicago distractions and the warm social tangle of running in to a dozen people you know every time you leave the house to do most anything. The steady calm -- filling the non-work hours with books, household tending, animal care and a little sewing -- is like a slightly more cosmopolitan Little House on the Prairie re-run.
Walked past the news stand this morning. Boston Globe was the only one not to put a photo of dead child on it's front page.
Everything feels like it has lost it's mooring and that all the oxygen has gone missing.
God lives here, in Rhode Island. Or, perhaps, is just shootin' cupidarrowed love game here on the clean streets of downtown Providence.
Left the hotel early to go outside and forrage for peace of mind, as in the immediate post dawn hours my brain space was found floating in the existential bedpan. Crossing the street to the tea store, I was tear-eyed and slumped, yet a bump of a bear-man in a F-150 hollurs "Hey baby! Hey beautiful!" as I made my way past him, through the crosswalk. Perhaps the only time in my life I felt grateful for some casual cat-calling. I gave him a wave.
Every person I passed today was honey sweet, smiling and gracious, like town folk in a musical, it was if they all knew I was not from these parts and were howdy-strangering me to welcome me. Taxi driver gave me an unmetered detour to show me HP Lovecraft's grave and some historical places, as soon as I told him I was from Chicago. Later, a man on the street singing along with some new jack R&B on his walkman, jubillant, clapping and shuffling like he was front row at Fifth Street Baptist rather than on his lunch break from his cafeteria job at the Chamber of Commerce. I smiled at him and he sing-songs back, shrugging, "I Can't help it! I'M HAPPY!" and kept clapping. I told him thank you, but he could not hear me. I wanted to ask him if he could follow me around for the rest of the day singing Mary J and Big Star songs. In my fantasy of heaven, it is something like Providence.
Tonight is the pre-wedding party for the Rjyan and Roby "Magic Happens!" costume wedding. Roby's band, WEATHER, is playing at a haunted house. (WEATHER is the best band I have seen since I was a zygote, link soon) Not sure if it is A Haunted House or simply a house that is haunted. Then Sage is performing some of his new album at a 10-person capacity club tonight - will report on that tomorrow.
Adventure is at hand. I think the ocean is around here maybe. Might try and find it. Go freestyle battle the sand.
I cut off my hair. A lot of it. Kind of just hacked at it with scissors til it looked satisfyingly ugly. I wanted to look like all the German women I love who have these really irreconsilable ugly hairdon't and pull them off with sexy aplumb. My hair was down mid-chest length. Being femme-y was fine, but I think real long hair is kind of porno. I felt like a mermaid. So now my hair is about eight inches shorter and looks like an accident. It's okay, because 2004 is really just about looking as weird as I feel. Willingly having an unflattering hairstyle is my way of saying I don't agree , for this week,, inspired by my weekend experience of djing to women who stopped operating on the patriarchy's clock sometime around '67 and who, as a result are deeply and profoundly free . I, like most of the young universe, spend a decent amount of of my 24 hours concerned with how I can be cool, stay cool and navigating fantasy hinged on coolness and what having it means. I kind of realized, you know, I really don't have that kind of time. My smart outfits and cunning witticisms do not go forth as doing good work in the world.
So, yeah, about my hair: For years, I had really short hair, shaved my head, which I loved. I loved it because I could pass for a boy on occasion, because I am of a slight build and my bitchiness easily transmutes to butchness. Passing was great and sedituous fun, and it still makes me envious of my friends that are gender-queer -- as gender ambiguity forces other people have to reconsile their own ideas about identity -- it's a pretty radical thing to take on. Being an "unfeminine" girl in the American-now is like treason.
When I was blonde, men generally expected very little of me, were marvelled by my brain power, laughed harder at my jokes and let me (sic) get away with (sic) most everything. Being blonde is like having some pass card, or secret hand shake - you can take the Concorde over certain brunette obstacles because you are graced with male-approval in the 7-11, at work, at the show. It was a clever trick, but I stopped going blonde when I realized that it's greatest impact on my life was having less respect for men than I already did.
I am anticipating a return to a shaved head by xmas.