living with an artist, part 14

conversation with an arteest:

me: why did you draw a sheep to illustrate pot roast?

mo: it was 11:30. 

me: oh. 

google should offer a translation service.

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“It’s weird to feel like you miss someone you’re not even sure you know.” — david foster wallace

When there’s nothing left to burn,
you have to set yourself on fire
— the prophet torquil campbell

I had googled the above quote, which is part song lyric and part rallying cry for a disenfranchised  electorate, just to see where it led me. I have a long list of Essential Things I Need To Get Done, so coming up with creative ways to stall has become a priority.

That is what led me to It’s one of a hundred billion discarded blogs on the internet, someone’s internal musings kept I suppose as a diary and an exercise in hanging onto sanity in a crazy world. Sometimes you write to survive.

One of her blog posts had used the title “when there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.” If you told me nothing about a person other than that they chose this as a title, I could tell you we would get along just fine. The post is about an old boyfriend who had written her to ask “do you need to be content to be happy?” It’s a lovely post with an interesting message. I was smitten.

I read the other day that you can judge a book by reading the 112th page independently. If page 112 grabs you, it’s a keeper. I think random blog posts are the same way. Given that I have a Long List of Essential Things I Need To Get Done, I started reading.

Mid-20s, professional writer of some sort, serial job changer. Likes Spoon. Writes stuff like “I keep my thinking cap next to my drinking cap” and “Three quarters of the way through we reached up our hands to stop everything but by then it was too late, by then things had been set in motion and there was nothing but a Sisyphusian sigh and the memories of what we had and the knowledge that what was to come might not fit into the photo frame, might not look the same under these new conditions, and now that you mention it yes our hands look bonier and the knuckles not so plush, but that’s not what we meant when we said we were growing up, that’s not what we wanted when we wanted something at all.”

She shared her life and love and frustration and drunken binges and dreams on a daily basis over several years. She is a fan of  David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”  And yes, she relentlessly rides the subway, where I suppose much of the blog originates.

The blog begins in 2007 as she begins her roller-coaster career in publishing and writing the Great American Novel. Too many boyfriends, too much booze, too many ping-pong balls in her head. The last entry is September 2013. She’s in a dentist’s chair. The drugs have just kicked in. She drifts off … forever.

There’s no name, no forwarding address, no goodbye. Just seven years of someone’s life and dreams, a little message in a bottle floating up on the shores of the interwebz.

Did she find her true love? Did her novel get published? Did she find the right job as a professional writer? We’ll never know. The blog. just. ends.

That’s the worst thing, and the best, about blogs. They’re not MEANT to be forever. You just go along for the ride. Where the hell IS the vegan antihero these days? and my hidden pony? “your baby smells like my cat.” priceless. 

I hope someday that happens with my blog. Someone will be looking up margarine recipes and stumble across this place. They’ll read a couple of posts, pour a cup of coffee, and go back to the the beginning. Scenes From the Sun Ray Park! Let’s see where this goes!

Or not.

I hope she found what she was looking for.  I hope we all do.

And maybe I need to get back to “Infinite Jest.” 82,000 pages coule be just the thing to put off a long list of Essential Things I Need To Get Done …

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just another trail

There are trails you hike, and then there are trails you celebrate. This is the second kind.



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life is funny, part 370

You don’t want to run. It’s been a depressing week and you just want to disappear. But it’s your day off and you’re scared to turn on the TV or look at the news, so you drag out the marx brothers and head out.

You go to the track, thinking it will be safe refuge. But there’s a guy getting out of the car at the same time as you and he’s bringing starting blocks. Nothing more annoying than a guy with starting blocks on the track. So you bail and go to Chaparral Park. Because. Ducks.

You start out on the usual mile course, moping along, only to discover you’re in the middle of a moving circus. There’s some sort of walk about to happen. There’s a drum line, the Phoenix Suns gorilla, a million people and a lot of love. Many families and religions and ages, all united by a shared joy. And a bouncy house. Never underestimate the power of a good bouncy house.

Normally you’d be annoyed. The sidewalk becomes instantly clogged with baby strollers and elderly people in walkers and tricycles and wagons and lots and lots and lots of people in blue shirts. But they’re all so stinkin’ happy. And you find, accidentally, that you’re becoming happy too.

You remember that people are basically good. They’re fair, they’re loving, they take care of each other, they care. We’re all in the same life boat. Row or sink.

You stroll and trot and stop to listen to the brass section play “Tom’s Diner” (Suzanne Vega will never die) and marvel that you almost missed this. You pose with the gorilla. You high five a kid. You cheer a pogo guy jumping over another pogo guy. You share the warmth of a couple holding hands while walking, and a young woman alone with her thoughts on a bench. You embrace life and love and the world. Never let the bad guys win.

You remember for the millionth time why you need to go out every day. Because you never know what you’ll find.

You go home and avoid the news for the rest of the day.

Life is funny …

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question authority

Sometimes you have to Question Authority.

I set out to run the mad dog today. I want to get in the habit of running that loop. 5.6 is  about right for a work day, and it’s just a fun course. But longtime readers will recall I’m not too smart. I should have known that the turn would again be washed out. The mad dog course is on the greenbelt, which serves as a drainage system when it rains. And it has rained.

So I made it to the turnaround only to find a sign that said “Sidewalk closed. Cross here.” Here being into the creek.

What to do? I’m as much of a government sheep as the next guy. Always follow orders blindly. Stop completely at the stop sign in the middle of nowhere when you can see there’s no cars coming for 20 miles.  I’ve gone 200 miles out of my way on a 3-mile trip because Google Maps said to. But into the creek? And me without my water wings? I staged an act of Civil Disobedience. I kept going.

The sidewalk was submerged, but not deep. I just took off my shoes, waded across, and then continued barefoot till my feet dried off in the sun.

It was great. The water was cold and I couldn’t feel my toes for a while, but really, isn’t feeling your toes overrated anyhow? Trotting barefoot also made me wonder, what if? But, nah. Marx Brothers seem to be the perfect compromise between Ernie Pook and Hokey Pokey. I totally forget about them during the run, except when I’m carrying them. It was my first river crossing in many moons, even though it was sunny. I feel so trail-runnery. Yes, that’s a word.

Felt a lot better today. Maybe it’s the mad dog mojo. Good run, dry feet, mission accomplished. Lesson learned. Sometimes Authority is wrong. Question it.

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the quotable mo sheppo, part 19

“My family is from Finland, 1904, through the great matriarch Statue of Liberty. God bless New York.”

And God bless everyone who takes a stand for what they believe in.

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strawberry apricot pie

Do your eyes have an answer
to this song of mine
They say we meet again
on down the line
Where is on down the line
how far away?
Tell me I’m okay
— Margaret A. Roche

Longtime readers will recall that I got married the first time because my bride-to-be had Graham Nash’s “Songs for Beginners” on vinyl. Yes, that was enough.

You know pretty much all you need to know about a person from their record collection. I figured anyone who had that album was a keeper. But she also introduced me to Joan Armatrading (I’m not in love, but I’m open to persuasion. What a perfect lyric). And she had an album that had just came out by three sisters named the Roches.

I was skeptical, but gave it a listen. And then another. And another 2 million.

It’s the perfect album. Simple acoustic guitar, impossible three-part harmonies, heartfelt lyrics about real life. It is so, so wonderful. I, of course, lost the album in the divorce, but when Spotify came along, it was one of the first I revisited.

I only saw them live once and I don’t remember much about the show. Subsequent albums never seemed quite the same. I guess you never get over your first love. And anytime I’m carrying my guitar I find myself singing “Please be careful with my guitar, whoever you are.”

They were  a little group that never made it big, a career living on the musical edges. “Despite modest sales, the Roches persisted,” the NYT obit says. Because you find what you do and you keep doing it, I suppose. What choice is there?

“We’d like to make a million dollars and be set for life,” Maggie Roche told the LAT in 1995. “We’ve been lucky, though. We have a career, and that is a gift. I guess I want things to be easy, but that’s not the way it is.”

So I didn’t quite know how to feel when I saw the obit today that Maggie Roche is dead at 65. It happens, I guess.

The weird thing is, I’m frozen in that moment in time. It’s 1980. I’m hearing that album for the first time for the millionth time. And it still makes me so stinkin’ happy.

Music lives forever. So will Maggie.maybe heaven is in Ireland.

I really need some strawberry apricot pie …

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