Monthly Archives: January 2012

a melody played in a penny arcade

I’m having a dinner party for work friends. It’s the first time I’ve invited any of them to my house, which is strange for me–usually it’s one of the first things I do when meeting a new friend, “Come to my house, I’ll make you dinner,” but I just haven’t with these guys. Part of it is that they all live pretty far away from me; it’s not like when Tom and Ian and all of us worked together and would just go to my house after work because it was close. Part of it might be that this house still doesn’t feel like my house, and it feels weird to invite people over to someone else’s house.

I mean, this is definitely my house. But the old apartment was allllll my stuff. Everything I like was everywhere. I haven’t even unpacked most of my stuff from that move, because this apartment was always full of other people’s stuff from the moment I got here, which is fine, of course, it was other people’s apartment too. But I never got around to making it mine, surprisingly. I don’t have shelves for all my books, and half my books are in my parents’ basement, and a quarter are in boxes in the storage space. Very few of my wall things are framed or hanging, although that’s partially from the central air construction which hasn’t quite ended yet. I only just unpacked one closet of stuff last week.

I have so much cardboard from the new bed, and from when Than.E got his big ass computer, that I was going to have to haul it all down little by little, but I think instead that I’m going to make a paper moon set up for my dinner party. And then make everyone take photos. I’ll go get some dark blue paint tomorrow to paint the one wall into a night sky (why use muslin when you can just paint the wall instead?) and then cut out the moon itself, and paint the sucker, and use the leftover cardboard to make the cardboard sea. It . . . might work . . .? I love paper moon photos. I have never found one in an antique store, but I daydream about finding an entire steamer trunk full of them, and then framing them all and covering an entire wall of this house with them.

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Requiem

One of my favorite musical memories is going to Inon Barnatan’s Harlem loft to hear a salon performance of Gregory Spears‘ music on Valentine’s Day, 2008, in New York City. The first time I’d heard Spears’ music was in 2007, at a performance in Milwaukee of his piece “Brave Men Sail.” I’d been fairly bored or irritated with the music being presented that night up until that piece. I don’t remember any of it now, I just remember getting that, “Get ON with it!” feeling I embarrassingly get almost exclusively at artistic functions. And then Brave Men Sail. It was lovely and exhilarating and sort of bitter, the way adventures have to be (I told you, you remember, that adventure can’t be sifted from loss–you’re either running to or from something), and it sounded the way love did to me then. Running to or from something.

A friend arranged for us to be invited to the Valentine’s Day concert at the loft the following year, and, as I always feel when in groups of people I have never met who know each other, I felt strange and intrusive. But once the music began, the music was the only thing.

I just got his album Requiem. This is the sound of the city in winter. It’s the sound of the city conspiring to break a hundred thousand hearts.

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restless

Tonight I’m taking measures to ensure that I sleep through the night. It’s been weeks. I feel like something is coming. Something that wakes me up several times a night. A storm maybe, or maybe just a migraine. Something violent and indulgent–a forest fire. Something destructive and clean.

I should be in classes. I should be surrounding myself in information and theory. I’m restless, and I’m not managing my time well. Or at all. Time forgets itself and takes liberties. Oh, I let it.

no deaths, no mysteries to solve

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up comes yesterday most green and young

“How does one calculate the loneliness of a life? For me, it is by the length of a hallway,” the old woman stopped, but did not invite comment.

“Strange, also, how I can measure my age in small increments. One day I wake up with no appetite. Young, I wake up ravenous. Hunger–for all things–ebbs. And by this I measure my age. When I wake up with no hunger for anything, I am finished with this.

“I always expected to become beautiful. Pretty girls had reached their beauty early, I thought, and one day I would wake up into mine. But I never woke up beautiful. Growth brought different shapes, different styles, slackening muscles and weakening skin, but never beauty. I spent my youth patient in wait for something that would never come. Like most people do! We collect possibilities when we are children, and we have faith that one day, at least one of them will be ours, and we believe until it is too late to do anything other than choose a new belief from whatever is left.”

” . . . stop,” murmured the girl.

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What is now proved was once, only imagin’d.

It always starts this way, with a map. There are no city demarcations, no windrose, no landmarks labeled for recognition. It is a map pocked with lives and words, transcribed in coincidence and happenstance, and it is the map we imagine will lead us to treasure. Without translation, or a legend of any kind, there is no way to know what the clues indicate or, indeed, if there are any clues to be followed at all.

Let’s have it out now: it begins with a map unmarked. We paint its dead ends in our own blood and exhausted hopes. We designate capitols and draw the borders with time, and we follow blindly stars for which there are no charts. Inevitably we are led to the same destination; all roads here belong to no one. There is no treasure, there is only the hope for one which sustains us.

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Or do we soon forget the things we cannot see?

In my head, she is the sound of my storm–that violent time period when we clumsily learn random elements of adulthood and have no fucking clue what to do with them, so everything is sound and fury, and oh, it means everything. At the time.

Little Earthquakes is 20 years old this year, and somehow it doesn’t make me feel old to know it. It’s such a wonderful album, and it happened at such a perfect time for me to hear it.

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oh, look.

“It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.”

So, that’s basically what I was trying to say a couple posts ago. Only now it’s totally validated–by Steinbeck, no less.

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