My Thrilling Coffee Shop Visit

So for some reason I can’t fathom, the coffee shop where I like to go has decided to play the same damn 80s tape over and over and over. No matter when I come in, early morning, late afternoon, midday, there it is, belting out Michael Jackson or Madonna or Bob Marley or one of several one-hit-wonder songs from the era that, if heard, will stick in one’s brain for HOURS and DAYS after. This has been going on for weeks. What happened, did they lose their iPod? They should run across the street to the little used shop and buy something else. Anything. Even a different 80s tape. Please?

I don’t miss Papa Don’t Preach. I don’t. I heard it enough in the 80s. Madonna can sort of rhyme. Preach. Deep. I get it.

I don’t mind Thriller so much. In fact, I really kind of like Michael Jackson, freak show that he was, but I keep wanting to claw the air when I hear it, and I’m afraid the rest of the coffee shop won’t dance with me if I start, so…

Prince’s girl doesn’t have to be rich or cool to be his girl. She just has to leave it all up to him and give him a kiss. He also doesn’t want her to act her shoe size. I have a question about this. If your age is 3 and your shoe size is 10, like my daughter, does this advice still apply? I think maybe he would rather she act her shoe size in this case. Also, is there a point at which age and shoe size align? Maybe an 8 year old would wear size 8 ladies, but she would sure have some really big feet. I’ll have to mull that one over.

As an aside, there are two years out of every decade where birth year juxtaposes with graduation year: 1946 and 1964 and 1968 and 1986. That’s it. There aren’t any others.

The Thompson Twins. Yeah, well. I admit it. I had their tape. I played it a lot until one part got too thin and finally broke. I had to pull the little parts out, cut the thin part away, and tape it. Then the song skipped. You can’t do anything like this with CDs. I tried. I had a CD with a deep scratch that just would not play, so I used one of those CD repair kits that is supposed to fill in the groove. It didn’t work — it broke my CD player. I don’t recommend it. Tapes weren’t great because you had to fast forward or rewind or turn over to get where you wanted on the song, but you could keep taping them together forever if you wanted. My patience for whatever they played wore out before they ever did.

Another aside, did you know drinking blackberry juice will stop diarrhea? Yep. Seems counterintuitive, but it works.

I wish my coffee shop would change the music and that when it does, it would turn down the volume. I can’t think when the music is too loud, even when I like it.

Ooh. Something not 80s. Marvin Gaye. I have a thing for Marvin Gaye. So hot, and that voice, that amazing, delicious voice… Okay. I’ll stop.

Dolly and Steve, What Have You Done to Your Faces?

Dear Steve Martin and Dolly Parton,

Your age would have looked better than whatever it is you have done to your faces. You both have always managed to present an aura of self-possession through which the surgeries have exposed a fissure, a dissonance.  It’s a shock, frankly. There are other entertainment figures who, if they were to undergo such drastic and obvious alterations, it would seem in character with the person they have presented to the public over the years. But not you.

It’s ironic too, that on some level you were seeking to pass as youthful, with that sort of attractiveness, and in your bizarre caricatures, you have made yourself even more noticeable, but not for the reasons you sought. The attractiveness of your age would have been enough. Having spent years watching you, we would have understood the grace it takes to remain public and mature.

In any case, you surprised me. You under met my expectations. I do hope on a personal level that the extraordinary surgeries have helped you to understand how little important what you desired was to who you are.

Interview with the Author of The Cello Suites, Eric Siblin

Described as “part biography, part music history, and part literary mystery,” The Cello Suites weaves together three narratives:  the disappearance of Bach’s cello suites in the eighteenth century, Pablo Casals’s discovery and popularization of the music, and author Eric Siblin’s quest for the truth behind the suites today.  Mr. Siblin graciously agreed to an interview, and we spent over an hour discussing his book, the music, and the beauty of the cello.

LG:  I was fascinated by the Walter Joachim story.  That was one of my favorite parts of the book.  It was just timed so perfectly, and it seemed incredible to run into somebody with that kind of personal history.  I was really curious about how that acquaintance went, how long it lasted, and what it was like to run into someone with his background.
ES:    Walter seemed like the music fleshed out before my very eyes.  It was wonderful to stumble upon him.  When I heard about his story I was just amazed and spellbound that somebody living a few blocks from where I was living had such a profound connection to the music, and somebody who I was crossing paths with every week, but not knowing, had turned out to be such an embodiment of the music.  It was just delightful to get to know him.

Unfortunately it happened late in his life.  I think I met him in October and I think by Christmas he had passed away.  So I didn’t get that much time to hang out with Walter, but I would regularly bump into him on the streets, the main street that he lived on, Monkland Avenue, and I would walk with him either to the cafe and have lunch with him, or escort him (because he walked with a certain amount of frailty) back to his high-rise apartment, and started to do some interviews with him as well with a tape recorder, but had only gotten up I think to 1938 or something, when he passed away.  It was fairly short-lived my encounter with Walter, but it was really pivotal for the writing of the book because firstly, it just spurred me on and got me quite enthusiastic, and secondly, Walter urged me to take up the cello, so that also gave the idea of the book a shot in the arm.

LG:  Yes, the timing seemed really fortuitous.
ES:    Yeah, so it was wonderful timing and terrific to meet him at that stage.  It was perfect to meet him period.  He had a real joie de vivre, and he was a great raconteur who would regale me with stories of music history, his own life story, which was fascinating, and music gossip, cellist gossip.  It was great.  And he was right, by trying to pick up the cello, in a really rudimentary way, it was also gave me insight into the music and helped me, and helped the book get written, I think.  I never sat down at the outset and thought, okay, what solid ground do I have to cover in order to turn this into a book?  What activities can I do to make it readable?  It was really an organic process that stemmed from own genuine curiosity.

I was really trying to connect-the-dots that comprised the music, and often it was by happenstance.  The case with Walter, was one.  There were other times.  I was in Europe once doing other work and I would inevitably look around to see if there were other connections where I happened to be to the Cello Suites.  Sure enough, often something would pop up.

For example, I was in Brussels a few times, and I would not otherwise think of going to Brussels to research the Cello Suites, but I was there for other work reasons and I would look around, and Brussels produced a few different scenes that made their way into the book.  One, the first cellist I interviewed was living not far from Brussels in Belgium, Mischa Maisky, and I interviewed him.  Then it turned out when I was researching Cello Suite No. 6 and grappling with the sort of mystery of the five-stringed instrument in Cello Suite No. 6, I learned of this fellow Dmitry Badiarov, a Russian immigrant luthier who was building violoncello piccolos, and had strong opinions about Cello Suite No. 6.  In fact all the Cello Suites from his point of view were written for the violoncello piccolo.  So I got to go hear him play and interview him.  On another occasion I wandered into this store where I found a business card advertising a store called Prelude.  Following my nose I had to go there.  That was another serendipitous happening.

LG:  Did you ever have imagine walking into some unusual little store and finding the actual Cello Suites?
ES:    Oh, I suppose you could file that under fantasy.  I’m not sure that I ever expected it to happen, but kind of operating at the fantasy level, I think when I felt it most vividly was when I was in the little shop called Prelude.  I certainly didn’t set out to go to that shop with the idea of finding anything.  But I had that sort of magical feeling that you’re sort of stepping into your own fantasy in a way and your own book where a 13-year-old Pablo Casals stumbles upon the Gruetzmacher edition in Barcelona in a second-hand bookshop.  You know how that scene was so pivotal I think for Pablo Casals, for the history of the music, and in my case for imagining there was a story in the music.  Here I was at sort of the end of my journey, kind of walking into, literally, a prelude of my own imagination.  That was a really neat feeling.  I can’t say that I seriously expected to personally find the manuscript.  To do that, I think you would have to be rooting in castles and be very familiar with German history.

LG:  And with the war, so much got damaged.
ES:    Yeah.  People do look for Bach compositions and things do turn up fairly regularly, but I never seriously thought that I would be the one to unearth it, beyond daydreaming.  I did think that well, if somebody else found it while I was writing the book, that would have been interesting.

LG:  While doing the research you said that you were often there on other trips, so was the book a sideline project you were working on while you were living your regular life and doing your regular day job?
ES:    Yes, very much so.  For most of the time I was a freelance magazine writer and an independent documentary film maker, during that period.  It began when I was still writing for the daily newspaper The Montreal Gazette, but I quit that job while the book was being researched.  I had a day job throughout the process and was writing in my spare time.  [I’m glad the book took time to write] because there was such a learning curve for me that I think if someone said to me here is fifty-thousand dollars, write this book in one year, it wouldn’t have been a very good book. It certainly wouldn’t have been as developed as the book that got written, because I benefitted from having all this time.  The ideas had time to marinate in my head, and I had time to just stumble upon people like Walter and accident upon business cards that advertised a shop called Prelude and make sense of what was essentially a pretty complicated story if you factor in eighteenth-century Europe and history and the slow unification of Germany, and the militarization of Prussia, and the Spanish civil war, and the life of Bach.  There were a lot of dots to connect so I think it is good that I had a lot of time to do it.

LG:  And Dimitry Badiarov, the fellow who believes the suites were made for a 5 stringed instrument, did he play all of them for you?
ES:    No.  I heard he has a recording out that just came out recently, but I haven’t heard it.  No, he did not play them all.  He is in Holland.  He just feels that Suites 1- 5 were written for a 4-string violin piccolo, and the last suite was written for a 5 string violin piccolo.  Part of his argument is that nowhere in the Anna Magdalena manuscript is there a reference to a cello.  He could be right for all we know.  It is one of the reasons this music works so fabulously well on so many different instruments.  If you had only heard all the suites played on the lute, you would say, “Well, yes, this was a composition for the lute.”  You wouldn’t even think of the cello if you didn’t know any better.

LG:  I found especially interesting your description of taking cello lessons.  It gave me a little boost to me in my own playing because to me so much of the time it just sounds bloody awful, and I wonder why am I doing this?  But then I have moments where it sounds beautiful and I can feel it in my body, and I realize this is why I’m doing it. I was curious about your cello lessons, how much you learned, and how much you played, and why you stopped.
ES:    I am a firm believer in amateurs.  I think today society is kind of a almost instructing us to be spectators, not players or creators in life, and we get so taken up with the wizardry of virtuosos in all the arts that people don’t feel they can be good enough to play, or never develop the desire so I think picking up the instrument at any age, or any art form, is a terrific thing to do.  I play guitar so I don’t play any other instrument, so learning the cello as you mentioned, as you alluded to, is kind of a daunting thing after a certain age.

I think the bowing in particular is a real challenge.  It was kind of like a combination for me of calligraphy, golf, and archery, none of which I know how to do, and so that was tough, but my left hand was okay because I play the guitar.  After getting over the trauma that there are no frets on the fingerboard, it wasn’t as bad as I might of feared.  There is something really quite special about finding your way to the correct note, real or imagined, just intuiting the intonation.  If you’ve never done it before and you’re used to frets, you would tend to think this is absurd, I don’t have a hope in hell of landing in the right spot, but you do, and it feels great.

Likewise, the great sort of rumbling and reverberations of this majestic instrument running through your whole body is a thing of great visceral pleasure, I think. So even though it doesn’t sound great at times, and you’re forced to play really Mickey Mouse material at the beginning, I think that the progress inevitably proceeds and it feels wonderful. That was my experience, and certainly when I got to the point where I could play some bonafide Bach ditties from this book called Bach for Cello, it’s great.  However watered down and basic those pieces are you still get a sense of Bach’s music in the phrasing.  The genius of Bach’s phrasing somehow comes out, and for me that was really exciting.

I didn’t stick with the instrument right to the end of the book, I think for reasons of time.  I realized that I wasn’t going to learn a Cello Suite very quickly, and I at some point quite spontaneously got the idea that I could try to tackle this on guitar.  I have just been a folk rock guitarist.  I never played classical guitar.  I took the cello notes and transposed them on the guitar.  It was kind of goofy.  I was playing essentially baselines on guitar, that mimicked the beginning of the first Cello Suites.  And then it didn’t take very long to learn that in fact there were bonafide arrangements of the Cello Suites for guitar, so I bought some guitar tablature, which I don’t read, I don’t have facility for reading for guitar.  I am used to doing what is called guitar tab, so slowly, measure by measure, in a real painstaking way, I was able to figure out the prelude of the first cello suite, so that sort of displaced the cello experience for me.  Also I didn’t own a cello, I was renting a cello, and paying for lessons, and doing a lot of things in life, so that is how my cello lessons came to a close.

LG:  How far did you get with them?  Did you move out of first position and were you doing vibrato?
ES:    No. I didn’t get beyond just those first few pieces in that book Bach for Cello.  Ultimately it was a feeling that I’m a respectable guitar player, but I was really a beginner at cello, so I decided to devote what time I had in life to playing an instrument I was fairly good at, so that is what put me off. If I were ever to get a cello somehow, I would love to pick it up occasionally.  I have actually dreamed about some of those Anna Magdalena notebook pieces.

I might get back to it someday in retirement.  It was a case of spreading myself too thin.  I don’t have that much time for music playing and I can do more with the guitar.  I’m more ambitious with the guitar and I learned a few other classical pieces on the guitar.  I still play popular music.  It wasn’t a total irreversible conversion.  After I wrote the book I found myself free to listen to all sorts of music which is what I do now, which includes Bach and the whole gamut of classical music.

Another thing I really liked about Bach was that if you try to get a sense of Bach, if you look at the people Bach was influenced by, and then Bach’s career, and his sons, and all the musicians Bach influenced, it is a pretty nifty way of getting a crash course in classical music.  Also I had the career of Casals and the cello repertoire to add to that, so it was a great way of getting up to speed with something that I think intimidates people.  How do I start with this colossal, sometimes intellectually intimidating, vast body of work, you know?  People don’t know where to start.  In my case I feel really fortunate that I had this really terrific, little spring board that I jumped on.  I was just so genuinely and intrigued about the real story.

LG:  The letter that Bach wrote to try and secure a position, and they are so obsequious, it grates against a modern mind. I thought it was funny too how he seemed to say, “This job doesn’t pay enough.”
ES:    We have to be forgiving in someways because there are certain conventions that were de riguer, that were practiced and expected in those days.  They are kind of unseemly.  In fact, when you read about the life of Bach, he wasn’t some kind of wimp who was cow-towing to whatever authority happened to be around.  He was kind of a rebellious type who really stood up for his own rights, particularly in the workplace, and his art.

He really knew the value of the currency that was used in those days.  Some people have called him a bit of a cheapskate, but on the other hand, when you have 20 children and you’ve got a really demanding job that includes the music in a substantial city like Leipzig, and running the music of a Lutheran boarding school and churches, on top of busily cranking out what is going to be the greatest output of music for all time, you’ve got a lot on your plate and you have to check the bills and see how much money is coming in.  He didn’t lead the sort of lackadaisical life of a sort of romantic and happily impoverished artist.  I think that helps explain part of his genius.  He wasn’t sitting around thinking what music is going to be popular or going to be considered a masterpiece.  He was really busy in the here and now. He must have really been living in the moment, I think, he was so busy.  It has a nice ending, his story.  Even though he wasn’t considered famous in his lifetime, and he has been rendered ultra famous by posterity, a man who had his nose to the grindstone and was just doing his best on a day to day basis ended up producing this music that had such everlasting allure.

Shello Chopping

I have been dabbling with the idea of buying a cello.  I have been taking lessons for a while now and renting a cello that actually sounds rather good.  The rental price applies to the purchase of a new cello, but only for the first year.  With this in mind, my teacher and I decided to head to the luthier’s to try some out and see what could be had within my budget.  Cello shopping.  Shello chopping!

When one goes to purchase a cello, there are usually practice rooms in which to try out various choices. I called the luthier ahead of time and let them know I would be in with my instructor to try cellos.  When we got there, the saleswoman brought in six to try.  None of them sounded better than my rental cello.  Even when my instructor played, they sounded screetchy and flat.

A note about the rental cello.  When I originally went to rent it, my instructor had informed me that the shop had an excellent rental cello, with a lovely, full-bodied sound.  She hoped I would be able to get this cello to rent, and indeed I did.  Nearly every week she comments about its pretty sound.  After having gone now and listened to many cellos, I can see what she means.

Since the first six were not worthy, we asked to see a few more in the next price bracket up.  These did not sound any better than the rental cello, and cost over a $1000 more.  So we asked to see some in the next price bracket.

Another side note.  About a week before this shopping trip, I had been to the same shop to purchase a violin for my daughter.  I told them my price range, and they brought in 8 for us to try.  One of the workers in the shop came in to play for us.  Two stood out, and one of those was obviously superior.  When we went to purchase it, however, it turned out the price was about $2000 more than I had intended to spend.  We sent that one back and got the second choice, which was in our price range.

I bring this story up because while cello shopping, something similar occurred.  The saleswoman brought in three cellos in the price category that was at the top of what I could spend (and this was more than what I really wanted to spend, but I figured it would not hurt to hear them).  These cellos were far superior to the previous lot, and one Czechoslovakian cello shone above all.  It had a full, round, gorgeous sound.  When I picked it up to play, I felt a welling of emotion through my body and my chest.  It reminded me of a dressage horse, eloquent and beautiful.  Even my playing sounded lovely on this cello.  I decided to take it home for a week when it turned out the price was $1000 more than I had told them I could spend.  I wondered then, whether this was their m.o., to bring in a batch of instruments with one far superior to the others in the hope that an unwitting buyer would fall so in love, that money be damned, they would buy the instrument.  I’m not so easily swayed, and my budget is my budget because I don’t have any more to spend, and I don’t use credit.  I decided to take the gorgeous thing home, but I knew the visit would be temporary.

Another big part of the trip entailed trying various bows.  It was not until that point that I realized how much a difference a good bow makes when playing a cello.  The rental bow I have is a piece of crap.  It is a lot of work to balance properly and requires effort to run along the strings.  I tried at least a dozen bows that day and discovered how much easier it is to play with a decent bow.  I could feel the difference.  It was amazing.  And the better bows sounded better.  Even I, rough and new, didn’t sound half bad with a good bow.  I found the bow that best matched the lovely Czechoslovakian cello and arranged to take them home.

During the week, I played both the Czech cello and my rental. I played my rental with the nice bow and while it sounded better than the rental bow, the good bow was not the best match for my rental cello (bows sound different on different cellos, so one has to find a good pair).  I loved the beautiful sounds I made on the Czech cello.  However, I realized that it was outside my price range.  And having listened to a lot of cellos, I saw that my little rental actually did sound pretty good.  I decided I would try to find my rental a good bow partner and keep her for a while.  In the long run, I might spend a bit more, but for now, the cello I have does just fine.  If I ever get to the point where my playing wouldn’t make people want to hide under a rock, I will look again at spending more money, and who knows?  Maybe the Czech cello will still be there, waiting for me.  I can dream.

Gee thanks, Benson

The Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon has decided to stop playing live music.  They gave the musicians who had been playing there for years one day notice.  Not long before they had installed a flat-screen television in the bar.  I guess sports or Fox News is preferable to any sort of culture.  Nothing like treating the people well who worked for you for years.  You never comped meals or parking, I guess there actions should not come as a surprise.

We still do not have the internets.  We are expecting the installation Friday.  I am really looking forward to having the internet at home.  I have so much stuff to post here, plus TONS of work to complete for my scholarship application to Columbia and Milla’s application to the Waldorf School here.  I have been hanging out at Starbucks, starting the process, figuring out what information is needed, heading back home, finding the information in all the boxes of crap, making another trip down, and on and on, so it goes.  The deadline is Saturday at midnight, so the internets better be hooked up Friday or I’m screwed, that’s just all there is to it.  I’ve been trying to get all the stuff together, but certain pages will not let you access them until you have entered information on the previous page.  So I gather that info, enter it, am allowed access to the next page, only to discover I need another 20 years’ worth of crap.  So much fun.  Um, not really.  I also have a bunch of blog posts, and a photo journal from our trip to post, but those things will have to happen after the financial aid apps are done.  I guess my February work is cut out for me.

Update:  So my boyfriend spoke to one of the lead musicians today.  It turns out that while the Benson decision to dump the musicians with one day’s notice was poorly timed, their reasons came from critical money problems.  The hotel has operated at 20 percent and below capacity all year.  Their bar costs more to operate than it brings in.  They are suffering economically.  To cut a $400 a night operation seemed a necessity.  Plus they are in talks to bring the musicians back as soon as they can afford to.  I get it–they couldn’t afford it.  I just wish they would have given the players the two weeks’ notice they were contractually obligated to supply.

Ginormous Headache

My head hurts like nobody’s business, right at the base of my skull in the back.  I slept wrong.  I wear this eye pillow.  It was cockeyed, plus my regular down pillow had slipped under my shoulders, so I awoke basically balanced on this little lump of eye pillow and my skull screaming in pain.  Every time I turn my head, I see white light and feel like vomiting.  The only thing that alleviates the pain is to stab my thumb or a finger deep into the tight muscle.  Unfortunately because of the angle, my arm cannot twist that direction very well.  I’ve tried stretching my neck to the front and back, left and right, to no avail.  This is so much fun.  I think I’m going to have to try an NSAID, and I generally avoid taking medications for such things.  Only for this, I don’t care.  It hurts that much.

I don’t know why I”m blogging about this.  It’s kind of a ridiculous subject.  But I told myself I would write some blurb every morning and all I can think about right now is this headache and Vantucky.  I know.  It’s silly.  There is a town next to Portland called Vancouver.  Portlanders call it Vantucky.  The reasons for this are self-evident.  Boyfriend is going to Vantucky this morning and he called me on the way. For some reason, the word Vantucky is stuck in my head, along with the headache, and the lyrics to Judy Garland singing I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.  It’s quite a combination, I can assure you.  The song is getting annoying.  It’s been crawling around in my head, worming its way through the neurons for days now.  I’m ready to be rid of it.  I will have to listen to something else over and over and over in an effort to make it go away.  Then that song might get stuck, but at least it will be a different song.  Last week it was Cape Verdean Blues.  I did not mind that song being in my head.  It flittered around, showing up periodically.  I would hum bars of it here and there.  It did not sit insiduously on one line for hours like the chasing rainbows number.  No.  It was a pleasant visitor.  Chasing rainbows is like a houseguest who has overstayed her welcome, leaving empty dishes around the house with food stuck in them and her underwear in the bathroom with the crotch up.  I want her to leave me.

I’m off to take drugs to try to obliterate this headache, then I need to take my baby to school.  Hopefully by the time I return home the drugs will have kicked in and this pain will have been alleviated.  If not, I’ll poke a nail in my hand.  It would probably feel better than this wretched headache.

mary jane white and red

Mary jane red and white, smoke a grape through a pipe. Mary jane white and red, eat a chocolate chip instead.

These days have been filled with beautiful moments. I keep forcing myself to live in the moment because I do not want to lose them. I will miss these moments when they are gone; I do not want to spend them thinking about a time that has not yet arrived.

I am in a room next door to a room where Man is playing music. Good music. Tight. I like it. It’s nice to be able to sit in here and play around on the computer and write while simultaneously hearing music. He’s doing a little piano solo now on keyboards. He’s got it set to an organ sound, plus he’s playing some left handed key bass as well. This appears to be a good and appreciative crowd. Their applause seems genuine and interested. I peeked in and saw some heads bobbing. That’s always a good sign. I just can’t get it when I see people listening to music and they seem not to feel it at all, especially a swinging jazz quartet with an amazing piano player.  Actually, all the players sound really good.  I’ll go in and listen from there in a few, but being in here is nice too.  Mellow.

Right now is one of those moments when I wish I drank coffee and could. I feel like lying down and taking a nap. I feel like I’ve had a sugar crash, but I haven’t eaten much sugar. I’m sleepy. Well this is a crappy post. It’s my pitiful attempt at showing up, but I’m too tired so I think I’ll go take a nap on the indoor outdoor carpet and dream of the sun.

Chet Baker

Ah, Chet. How horribly, dysfunctionally sad you are. Were the demons who drove you to infuse your body with toxins the same that inspired you to play? Are you the Sylvia Plath of horn playing? Your voice is like butter, so smooth and creamy, I want to lick your words. Your playing is sensual, lovely, golden. The sounds you create are so perfect, yet everything else about you is a disaster. Would your music be so beautiful if you were not so tortured? I suppose we will never know…

Inconsequential Blabbing

Well I managed to move out of the house I owned and rebuilt over the course of four and a half years.  You know, the first time I received an offer, tears formed in my eyes, but I knew it had to be done and moved forward.  Then that sale fell through, then the second sale fell through, and by the time of the third sale, I was so sick of the entire process, I never thought I’d be rid of the place.  During the sale that actually went through, there were numerous requests and addendums and all kinds of annoying crap that went on.  In addition, I had rented an apartment and begun moving stuff there I wanted to keep.  I needed to organize the stuff I did not want to keep in order to have a sale and get rid of it all.  During that week, I got to the point where I was so sick of it all, I didn’t care anymore.  I just wanted the process to be over.  When I finally visited the house for the last time to pick up my dogs and run a vacuum through the place, I felt nothing really except relief.  On the day the sale closed, I went over to meet the buyers and show them some stuff about the place.  I walked through showing them all the details, seeing this house I had lived in and loved, and felt no remorse or sadness of any sort.  I guess it was time to move on.  I made the house beautiful.  I am glad someone else will enjoy something to which I contributed.

I do not like the fourth of July.  I do not like fireworks. I do not like crowds of people, even if they are gathered together to listen to somewhat decent music.  We went down to the blues festival on the waterfront yesterday.  We walked back and forth through the incredibly dense crowds (so dense the fire marshall closed the place and only 10 people could enter for every 20 who left).  At one point we were at one end of the park and headed down to one of the stages.  As we walked, I noticed all the people sitting on their blankets facing the water.  There was a stage to their left and a stage to their right.  I wondered to myself why they were facing the water and surmised that perhaps it was to listen to both stages.  Then it dawned on me, genius that I am, that the people were there and facing the water to watch the pretty fires in the sky at dark.  Thousands of people were all mashed into that small space, smelling and rolling and milling about so they could spend a half an hour watching noisy fires in the sky.  My goodness.

I bought a Macbook.  I am typing on it now.  I am in love with it.  I like my desktop computer all right.  It serves its purpose.  But this thing is cool. It has so many features and runs so smoothly.  I am loving the steps that are left out.  On a pc, there are so many extra steps to arriving anywhere compared to this.  I also got an ipod.  I had one last year, but had to give it back to the ex-boyfriend who gave it to me.  Lucky Lara, welcome to the twenty-first century.

So now I have a little extra money, but I need for it to last.  I had a mini panic attack this morning considering all the things I am going to need to spend money on in the next few weeks.  I do not want the money to all end up gone.  The weird thing is, the more I have, the less inclined I am to want to spend it.  But I can be remarkably frugal (Macbook and Ipod notwithstanding).  I just have to pay attention.

This is a boring post.  I realized I had not been writing enough.  I have been staying up too late, and when I’m not working or doing things, I’ve been lying on my bed like a blob trying to catch up on sleep.  I recognize, however, that I have to write something, even if it’s boring, preferably every day.  It’s that old showing up I’ve committed to myself to do.  Since I’ve written less in the last two weeks then I’ve written in the last six months, I’ve got to recommit or I’ll end up out of the habit and I can’t do that.  So here I am, showing up and writing boring stuff.  Wheee!

I discovered Nina Simone.  I am in love.  Her voice gets under my skin, in my belly, fills me. I can’t explain it.  I hear her singing and I never want to turn it off.  Apparently she was a classically trained pianist who was not allowed to perform because she was black.  They let her sing instead.  Maybe it’s something behind that story I hear in her voice. Maybe it’s the grief of an entire race.  When she sings certain songs I feel something deep inside, a visceral response in my belly and chest.  There are a few other artists when theys sing that take me to that place.  When I hear music like this I feel like it channels me into that creative energy field, that primal place where I have to write and feel like I will expire if I don’t.  Weird.  I don’t think I’m explaining it well. I’m obviously not tapping into that place right now because I can’t seem to describe this.  Anyway, she’s brilliant.

Interesting Beats

I had to go to work today since I did not work yesterday and also my boss has a big brief due so he needed for me to proofread it and then help him put it all together in notebooks for the hearing. I’m tired. I woke up too early again this morning. I laid there contemplating things I did not want to contemplate, too tired to get up, but not falling asleep. Then I got the brilliant idea that it might be the light waking me up so I put on my eye pillow and promptly zonked out. Sometimes I marvel at my own incredible brilliance. Truly remarkable, me.

I heard a song I liked today. It’s called Unsquare Dance by Dave Brubeck. Actually, I love the rhythm. You can download it for free on the internet, so I’m going to. I found it because I’m working on my website. My logo is going to be a lamp with 7/8 in it for 7/8 time and 7/8th houses in astrology. I did a search for songs in 7/8 time. I found a great list. All the works have this unusual time signature. I really liked this one.

I get my new apartment keys today. Yippee. Moving from a house to an apartment sounds like so much fun. But it’s temporary. And I love the neighborhood. And the apartment really is cool if one is required to live in an apartment.

Altogether the day is shaping up to have different sorts of interesting beats. And it is sunny. That’s the best beat of all.

More Mindless Rambling

Wow.  So I check out of reality for a few days and when I check back in the hottest story out there is a transgendered man having a baby and Obama’s bowling ability.  I think maybe it’s time to check back out again.  I normally avoid the news but there are some headlines that are unavoidable.  Plus I listen to NPR and get bits and pieces there, although I extended my news fast to All Things Considered several years ago and have not felt the worse for wear as a result.  Gotta protect that old sanity, ya know?

So I pulled into WordPress this morning to discover many changes. I’m sure there are lots of us out here commenting on it, what we like, what we don’t.  I think once I get used to it, I will like it.  I’m already liking the place to type better than previously.  And I’ve noticed that there is a spell-checker.  Yes, I think I’m going to like it.  I’m not so keen yet on the dashboard, but I think with time and familiarity, it will all be good.

Okay, so right now Piper is spinning around and having a coniption fit because I’m typing and not paying one hundred percent attention to him, and Molly is standing over him, hovering like a bee over a flower.  I’m not sure of the influence she is attempting to exert, but Piper is oblivious.  Oh, and now she just got a good sniff of his butt.  Yum.  How was that for you, Molly?  Dogs.  They are unabashedly willing to partake of their senses, even if it involves a good solid butt sniffing.

I realized today that I am in some regards paralyzed by the sheer number of things I need to do.  Many of them are small things.  I just need to chip away at those things.  Others are huge, like packing, for instance.  I just need to dive in and begin.  It’s funny, just last week I was discussing hoarding with my counselor.  You know, why people hoard, how it gets started, all that.  I know a few hoarders and their lives are completely stuck.  One of the reasons we discussed is how something happens and the person lets things go, then things get out of hand, then they are paralyzed by the mess and magnitude.  Then I discovered this morning that my paralysis is similar; I have not been doing anything because there is so much to do.

Earlier this week, I had dinner at the new house of some very good friends.  They were lamenting all the work they need to do to make the house a home.  I advised them to take it one space at a time.  Break it down into smaller pieces.  I’m taking my own advice.  I’m going to make a list, then I’m going to sort the list into manageable pieces, then attack each piece.  Some of the stuff I need to do could all be done in one day if I just did it.  Like filing a tax extension.  The taxes are done, I just don’t have the money to pay them yet.  So I’m going to file this extension.  I doubt it will take long, but I haven’t done it.  And this CLE reporting thing lawyers have to do.  It’s a pain.  I started it, then stopped for some reason (probably to go do something really important like bang drums or play the bass) and never picked it up again.  Now it’s sitting here on my desk.  Both these things, tax extensions and CLE reports, have a deadline.  It’s a good thing or I could see them sitting there even longer.

What is this, this procrastination?  I’ve not been much of a procastinator before.  Yet here I am.  And this week when Milla has been gone, it has been oh so easy to play.  South Park video?  Much more appealing than tax extensions.  I have a friend who texts me, Want to go watch a late movie? Yes.  Not Uh sure, or okay, but YES.  Emphatically, yes.  Oh, and go here and watch this video.  It’s called Mathmaticious and parodies Fergilicious.  It’s better than Fergie’s.  More entertaining.  His sexy dancing in front of the window kills me.  Very clever.  Pretty soon he’ll be passed all around and end up in a South Park episode getting killed by Chocolate Rain guy.  Good times.

See what I mean?  It’s so easy.  Just start typing your blog or doing something else.  After a bit, feel like a break.  Casually open a new tab.  Type in YouTube.  Then surf a little.  Find something that looks interesting, like Mathmaticious.  Watch it.  Laugh.  Then watch what it’s parodying, or click on something else on the side where all the videos are in a row.  Discover a lot of time has passed.  Shake your head in dismay at your ability to waste a lot of time.  There is facility in time-wasting like no other, especially when computers are involved.  Millions of others conspire to help you.  Yikes.

I have wasted enough time this morning, er, afternoon.  I must do something productive, if only for a moment.  So I’m going to get up and go brush my teeth.  That’s a step in the right direction.  My drum store neighbor is bringing over the drum set this afternoon.  I’m thrilled.  I CANNOT wait.  I keep looking out the window, waiting for him to pull up.  Come on little drummies, come into my house.  I want you.  Banging drums has to be better than watching YouTube, right?  I’m having one of those moments I’ve written about before where I can’t come up with a coherent ending to my post, so it continues to ramble on and on about nothing at all.  Come here little drummies?  Seriously?  Did I say that?  Okay, I’m really going now.  I have to go to the bathroom.  Oh there’s a story there that I can’t tell on the internet, but it’s so awful and funny, maybe I’ll put it on my secret blog, my anonymous blog.  It needs to be written about because it’s that hilarious.

I’ve decided since typing this that I REALLY like the new WordPress. It’s much more user friendly.  It saves my posts for me, eliminating the likelihood of blog loss because of my fucked up computer.  It’s great.  I love it.  I’m going to have to figure out tags and all that, but it will all be good.  I’ll get it done.

Empathy for Kurt Cobain

Life is surreal. It’s amazing how twisted up people can make things.  I constantly hear stories that from the outside seem to have such simple solutions, yet the parties involved are fully unwilling to act simply, choosing instead to remain mired in complications.  Humanity.  It appears we are doomed to destroy ourselves, but before we go we are all going to make certain we’re as miserable as possible.  How often, I wonder, could one’s life be different with the simple choice of just letting something go?  Ah, what do I know anyway?

Blogging non-sequitur: I did not know that Willie Nelson wrote Crazy.

So yesterday I went to Aberdeen, Washington.  The trip was an homage to Kurt Cobain.  We listened to Nirvana the whole way there.  Okay.  I’m joking.  That would have been pathetic.  Aberdeen was an afterthought.  We listened to a lot of music, but none of it was Nirvana.  My friend and I decided to go to Long Beach to get out of Portland since we both had the day free.  We got to Long Beach and although it was brilliantly sunny, the wind felt like it was blowing off the side of a glacier.  We walked out to the ocean then turned around and went right back to the car.  Our ears were frozen.  The best part of the visit was our dogs.  His dog was thrilled to pieces.  Oh my God, we’re at the beach!  There is sand!  There is water!  There are people to sniff!  I can get wet!  I can run!  I can wag! My dog was not thrilled to pieces and clearly thought we were insane.  He followed behind me whimpering.  You have got to be kidding.  Can’t you pick me up?  My paws are freezing!  Is that water?  That’s water.  No way.  I am NOT crossing that water.  Oh for Christ’s sake, are you crossing that water?  What is wrong with you people?  That water is freezing.  Do you feel that wind?  Seriously.  I can’t believe you would volunteer to come out here into the sand and water and wind.  There must be something deranged about human beings.

I think Piper was right.  It was too cold, windy, and wet.  So we decided to leave Long Beach and head to Aberdeen.  It was only another hour north and Kurt Cobain grew up there.  We had to see if the town was anything spectacular, particularly since he’d become famous and then died.  I mean, towns love that stuff, don’t they?

Apparently not.  Wow.  That is about all I can say.  We both lamented having failed to bring any sort of recording devices beyond the cameras in our mobile phones.  I don’t know that I can convey in words the pitifully depressed state of the place.  I actually had the thought that I could understand why someone living there would want to commit suicide.  Of course, Kurt wasn’t there when he committed suicide and had probably not been there for a long time, but it gives one the sense of the place to know that the impression it leaves is that of the will for self destruction.

The approach into town from Long Beach leads one by miles and miles of decimated forests.  Good for you, logging companies!  It appears you have ensured there will be no lumber to harvest for decades!  The land was fully raped and pillaged.  We passed the Weyerhauser Mill, drove along a stretch of uninviting highway lined with storage warehouses and beaten down manufactured homes.  We came to a bridge and wondered whether Aberdeen continued on the other side or if the next locale was Hoquiam.  We discovered to our delight that Aberdeen did indeed continue to the far side of the bridge. Unfortunately since our visit was an afterthought, we arrived just shortly after six p.m.  This meant that nothing was open except the corporate strip mall and a porn shop.  We browsed the porn shop.  It was the same as all other porn shops I have ever frequented.  The funny part of the visit there was that a man sat at a counter and another man browsed horrible videos.  There were rooms in the back and we heard noises leading us to believe there were men back there as well.  But as far as we could tell, other than me, there were no other women in the place.  I informed my friend that the other men in the place were probably impressed he had a real girl with him and not a plastic pussy.  Good times.  The other highlight of our Aberdeen visit was the Star Wars store, but unfortunately it was closed.  Today I discovered quite by accident a similar store less than a mile from my house.  Since we missed the Aberdeen version, we’ll have to hit the one here.

The homes in Aberdeen were run down beyond belief.  My friend suggested that perhaps I could purchase one there for cash out from the money received in the sale of my house.  We took down the address of a place for sale to look it up.  I did and it is actually possible to buy a house there for 1960’s prices.  I saw several for between $40k and $80k.  The only problem is why would you want to?  Yuck.

Visiting freezing Long Beach and decripit Aberdeen was a fun impromptu road trip. We went to the grocery store in Aberdeen and bought jelly beans and went to the bathroom.  The bathroom had a beautiful view of the bay.  Seriously amazing.  Too bad it was wasted on a grocery store bathroom.  We drove home on the non-scenic highway through Olympia.  An enjoyable time was had by all.

More Love Guru Love Letters

Here are some more letters to help ladies find their way to true love. Based on the sheer number of letters I’ve received, I am absolutely certain that many of you have similar questions and will find comfort in these answers I have provided.

Dear Love Guru,
My boyfriend says he doesn’t like the music I chose for him. He says I have zero taste and wouldn’t know a good song if it hit me in the head. I told him this hurts my feelings. He said so what? What should I do? Sincerely, Sally

Dear Sally,
I hate to tell you, darling, but your man is a mean clod and deserves to be put out on his head. Telling you that you have zero taste in music is not only not true, it’s just plain cruel. What does he know, anyway? He’s a man. Except in rare instances, men wouldn’t know musical taste if landed in their lap. Personally, I would take him out to the suburbs or the country and leave him there to figure his own way back to town, but if you love him like it seems you do, you are just going to have to change him. How? Well that’s simple. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in private quarters, the music is going to have to go a bit louder, the perfume is going to have to be sprayed a bit longer, and I hate to say this, but I think it is time to withhold some meals from this man. He really needs to learn that your love is what his life is all about and if he’s going to be critical of your choice in music, he should be thankful for every other wonderful aspect of your beautiful character. I would suggest starting out by feeding him only once a day in the late afternoon. He’ll be so grateful for the food, he won’t even notice the music. While he’s eating, turn the song up just a hair, while he’s still in the throes of tummy ecstacy. After about a week, go ahead and add another snack in the morning and when you do, bring the volume up on the music again right after he is through eating. Over the next several weeks, you can add in more meals, and also increase the size of the meals. Each time you do this, turn the musical volume up just a piece. He will begin to associate food with the song choice you made. If at any time he has something critical to say to you about your song choice, reduce the amount of food he receives for the next few days but do not lower the volume on your song. He’ll figure it out and you’ll be on your way to true love’s bliss in no time at all.

Dear Love Guru,
I hate to ask you this because you were probably intentional in leaving it out of your instructions, but what am I supposed to do with my fingernails? I have the hardest time keeping them tidy and I’m just afraid they detract from my entire sexy look. Do you have any advice? Thank you in advance, Nel
ly

Oh Nelly, Nelly,
What a fantastic question and you are so right that I should have addressed this earlier! What was I thinking? I just wasn’t, that’s all there is to it. I’m so sorry for leaving you out in the cold like this. Here’s the thing, dear. You are going to have to start using falsies. Men love a woman with long nails. They just do. Short nails remind them of their own unkempt manly hands and you know what happens when a man sees something that reminds him of himself…he begins to see you as a man. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? So find a nice nail salon and have them apply the tips for you. If you can’t afford a salon, go ahead and apply them yourself, but be sure you use a strong adhesive so they don’t fall off. I wouldn’t use the stuff that comes with the nail kit, but go buy some serious glue from the hardware store. You can simply use a bit of sandpaper on them to even out the lumps the glue leaves. After you apply your nail tips, be sure to paint them fire engine red. Fire engine red fires up a man’s imagination like nothing else. He’ll be so hot after seeing those nails, you might not even need his private quarters for a week! Toenails actually need attention too, but they do not need to be very long. Just be sure to have them cleaned up with a lovely pedicure. Be sure to get rid of any unsightly skin or fungus. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: SOS pads. SOS pads are amazing for scrubbing nastiness off your toes and heels. If you get a little burned, put on some lotion. Your feet will be utterly amazing. Throw on some high heeled sandals and he’ll be so gaga for your gorgeous feet, he won’t be able to sleep with loving you.

Dear Love Guru,
My mother, church, God, and the Bible taught me that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Shame on you for advocating sinful bedding like this! Shame on you also for telling women to show skin! Don’t you know that God wants our bodies covered? He does not like us to show others our private parts! Even in the sanctity of the marriage bed, he would be shocked if I allowed my Husband to see my breasts during relations. Shame, shame, shame! I may be coming up on 48 years old, but God will find me a Husband when he sees fit, on His own time. And if I never find a Husband, the Lord Jesus will be happy to comply. Signed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,
I do not know how in the world you came to the conclusion that God would not want you to use your body for sex since He gave you a hoo hoo and breasts, and I’ll bet your lovely form is way sexier than even you can imagine. Plus, there is no reason you can’t follow my other advice for getting love, even without having sex early and often, you just need to modify things a little. I think maybe Jesus is a bit busy healing babies and going to church and all that to be working on being your husband, so it would be best if you found yourself a nice human man to love. It may take a bit more time for you than it will for the average girl, but you’ve got spunk and I know you’ll find true love with a man in no time just like Jesus intended.

Well how do I do that, Love Guru? I can just hear you asking me that right now, so I’m going to tell you. First of all, nothing says that a good Christian lady can’t have her hair attractively styled. In fact I have seen more Christian ladies with the hair style I advocate than I see at the mall. And having a built in support system could be quite useful for you all. You could get together and color one another’s hair! It could be so fun. After Church you could have pie and do hair. God also doesn’t mind if you wear makeup. He made men so that they aren’t bright enough to know you are a girl without makeup, so He must have intended you to use some. Makeup parties can be fun too, kind of like those candle party things you Christian girls go to, only putting makeup on instead of lighting up a bunch of wax. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you could combine one of your candle parties with a makeup and hair removal party, and use the candle wax on your bikini line, armpits, and legs. It could be so much fun! Sitting here I’m thinking perhaps I should go into the Christian lady party planning business. I think I would be good at it.

You also mentioned some concern at having to show your skin. Again, I have to wonder why the good Lord would make skin if He meant for us to cover it all the time, but I also recognize that He did give us the ability to create some fantastic clothing choices, so I suppose He intended us to be creative in this department. It is too bad that he didn’t make men with a bit more imagination so us girls wouldn’t have to make things like nipples and labia so obvious, but it is what it is. I am here to tell you that you can still follow my steps while allowing for a man’s inability to figure out a breast is a breast and not just a lump. Basically you just have to go with ill-fitting clothing all over your whole body. Wear a very tight blouse. It can have a high neck and long sleeves. Just make sure that the silhouette of your breasts is clearly visible. Since your man will not be able to see your areola, you will need to wear your shirts tight enough he can see the shape of them through the shirt. Since it sounds like short skirts would offend your religious sensibilities, simply wear your pants tight enough to see your labia. Dressing to find a man without showing skin really is not as difficult as it seems, now is it?

As you can see, there are many of my steps to love that you can follow even if you are unwilling to have sex early and often. And don’t underestimate private quarters to assist you in developing a good Christian relationship. Suppose you meet a man you really like, but he doesn’t share your devotion? You can use your private quarters to help him along. This is especially effective if you have a very cold basement or root cellar for your man’s private quarters space. Basically, make sure your man’s private quarters are good and cold. Put him in there and leave him for several days. Every few days sit with him and read to him from your Bible. After reading to him about the comfort of the Lord, give him a little something to help him warm up just a bit. Over time, he will begin to associate the comfort of the Lord with the warmth you have provided. You also have the added bonus of his associating this comfort with your love. In no time at all, he’ll love you and the Lord more than anything in the world. Religious hymns can also make an effective musical choice in a case like yours. He’ll associate the lovely hymn with his love for the both of you. What could be better than that?

Dear Love Guru,
I bought some sexy clothes like you suggested. What should I do with my old ones? I really don’t think it would be right to donate them since another woman might end up buying them and keep herself from finding love. I simply could not live with myself knowing I contributed to another woman’s unhappiness. Thanks, Dotty

Dearest Dotty,
You are truly a generous spirit and your kindness will be rewarded with true love. What to do with those clothes? That’s easy, use them to fill in the cracks of your man’s private quarters so he stays warm. There’s nothing like the softness of a nice cotton polo shirt to snuggle up against. And if he’s being naughty, you can use them to poke in his mouth until he’s quiet. Alternatively, you can give them to my previous letter writer or any other Christian ladies who need to encourage their men to be a bit more devotional.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For the first batch of Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

John Mayer and Douchebags

I read John Mayer’s blog post for December 26. It made me laugh. Douchebag. Apparently, google searches for his name and the word douchebag alone bring up quite a few hits. Top on the list was another musician. Several other muscians and actors followed. He discusses the pleasure of the sound of the word, likens the air flowing through the lips to sliding across a wooden floor in woolen socks. I suppose it does have a sort of enjoyable wwwwooooooshhhh across the lips. Only it’s douchebag!  Eewww! Douchebags are gross. Think about it. They are bags of water with a tube attached to clean out the vagina. I suppose the bags themselves never get into the vaginal canal or touch whatever is rinsed out, but still. Ick.

Mr. Mayer…If it is indeed Mr. Mayer. My ex suggested to me that Mr. Mayer does not write this stuff himself. However, having heard interviews with him, the tone and style of his blogs are quite consistent with his natural speaking voice so I tend to believe Mr. Mayer wrote the post. Mr. Mayer…Mr. Mayer?  No, Johnny.  Johnny then goes on to analyze what precisely makes a douchebag. He points out that it is quite possible that those using the word douchebag probably do not like the objects of their affection because they are different than the users of the word, and that they are often expanding artistic direction in ways that do not appeal to the users of douchebag. Johnny concludes that true douchebags are those who treat others with disrespect. It is implied that the douchebag word users are the real douchebags.

Johnny doesn’t say this, but it is quite likely the douchebag word users are jealous of the objects of their affection. The word users are sitting home flinging word shit on their computer at actors and musicians who appear to live the diamond life, being famous, getting the girls, spending the big money. And there is something about the level of vocabulary of the type who regularly employs the word douchebag and in the context described by Johnny, as well as the types of people they choose to use it about. They criticize what they are paying attention to, the actors and the musicians. I started to type that they probably read People and Us mags, but actually, they probably don’t read paper at all. They get their news from Yahoo front page and Myspace entertainment. Then they call people they don’t like douchebags. They ignore politicians and people creating real harm. It is not a word used to discuss those I would perhaps consider douchebags, people like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and their ilk. I actually prefer fascist terrorist-producing sociopath dictator wannabees myself, but douchebag does seem to have a ring to it that may be quite appropriate under the circumstances.

Anyway, interesting blog choice, Johnny Boy.