I came home to play my shiny black Takamine acoustic with the turquoise and purple butterfly, but I broke a string and so…
And so listening to Underworld’s “Dirty Epic,” one of the most gorgeously dark songs ever created.
Freeze-dried with a new religion. Here comes Christ on crutches.
It’s a jammie-sad day, wandering home in the gray almost-sunset; springsky heavy with storm, broken leg aching with rain, to put on my powder blue flannel PJ’s with tiny stars on them.
I came here to my amber throne of a room — antique orange and magenta Christmas lights, gauze dragonfly wings and little fish hanging from the ceiling — to feel comforted.
And so, what? I was at the Someday Café reading Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block and I have such mixed emotions about that book each time I read it — sometimes so blithe and flimsy in its vibrant chaos, and tonight just making me sad that the whole world cannot be mint chocolate chip ice cream shakes and plastic palm trees forever.
Reality rears its ugly head.
Which is why my room is always perfect – a slice of fairytale, gargoyles and seashell lamps, surrounded by 47 notebooks — each page filled, and things around me with their polish loved off, shaped like my hands and fingers and feet.
That’s a poem I wrote once, a long time ago, about how irritating artists are. It’s coming back to me:
Tonight I am an artist
dripping with paints and sarcasm and cigarettes
red wine and candlelight
a million worn notebooks filled with the innards of my fabulous imagination
all the things around me with their polish loved off,
shaped like my hands and fingers and feet
novels with dog-eared pages and highlighted passages.
My moods come and go
but not my Piscean wizardry
I can laughingly discuss death
knowing I am too much for the world to lose.
I sit with my legs tucked up under me and write
with my Bic #2 disposable pencil that I’ve been using for years.
My striped socks don’t keep my feet warm
and my nail polish in “Cabernet” has smooshes in it
because I couldn’t sit still long enough for it to dry.
I speak softly — or not at all.
My eyes open wide and I stare with blinding thoughts screaming out of my pupils
imagining scars on your face, I hear you ask,
“What are you thinking?”
I do not answer because I think in pictures, not in words.
And you wouldn’t understand
even if I tried to tell you.
OH! The melodrama! October 1994, I think. I was surrounded by swankering sophomores, their pipes filled with vanilla tobacco, beat-up copies of On the Road stuffed in the back pocket of their dirty courderoys.
Artboys can be so irritating.
Speaking of artboys (of the non-irritating variety), Benjamin is moving in soon – in two weeks or so, and we have been discussing what to do with Bad Art Night.
I know my friends are all talented, and I also know many of them have stage fright when it comes to creation, so I began the Bad Art Night tradition, hosting parties for people to come play music, sing, read their poems and stories, display their photographs and share their paintings, or sit on the floor with charcoals and paper, coloring books and my little silver Polaroid Joycam. All without any pressure to do it well.
The last one was such a success that I realized I cannot rightly call it “Bad” Art Night. No no. It’s got to be something different this time. Ben suggested “Scared-of-Art Night” and I’m thinking of calling it “Stage Fright Night.”
One of my favorite pieces of art came out of that evening. I put a hardbound guestbook with black pages in my foyer with a jar of silver and gold gel pens, along with several Polaroid cameras. Each person that came in had to take a self-portrait for the book and write one thing about themselves that nobody else there knew – it was quite a trip.
People had some deep dark secrets, many of them involving nakedness.
Toward the end of the evening, the girls from across the street came over – Sarah, this young gorgeous creature with blond hair spiraling to her waist and bare feet and the voice of a 50-year-old black woman, wailing on 12-bar blues. We jammed out until all hours, playing Stevie Wonder (“I believe when I fall in love this time it will be forever” which will always take me back to freshman year, lying on the floor of the Berklee dorm listening to an entire room of boys singing a million-part harmony to that song, amazed).
There was not a crumb of bad art to be found that night.
Now Underworld has ended and JLC’s “Vertigo” spills from my mathematically-arranged speakers. Music is so imbedded in time and place for me. I am instantly Autumn and wearing a tawny sundress on the warm leather seat of my car. This album is the weekend I went to CT to retrieve my aging automobile, but it died on the way to Boston. My parents offered to mail me the title to my sister’s piece-of-shit minivan (which I was grateful for) but when I opened the envelope, it was actually a gift: the title to a new Nissan Altima.
Spoiled brat that I am, I drove my sexy black car named “Verna” over the Mass Ave bridge at 5:10 in the September afternoon, almost-ocean scent pouring in the sunroof, listening to “Vertigo,” singing at the top of my lungs, simultaneously pained and excited by unrequited love.
Tonight’s moodysky darkcloud evening is different from then. Except in one way: the “pained and excited by unrequited love” thing.
What can I write about that will be sparkly, witty and uplifting – vibrant enough to dig me out of this furrowed brow? Because life only exists as you document it – I’ve learned that living on the page all these years.
How about the night I found God? June 21st, 2001, 10:23 PM — standing before a magenta-lit stage, when my heart broke open and spilled on the dirty floor of the Paradise Rock Club, raining on all the late night broken beer bottles and cigarette butts, and I walked out weightless into the night, trailing stars.
The world all at once became my playground. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I just wrote. I was in such a fit of violent inspiration that I couldn’t sit still.
There was too much to do – tin whistles to be played, ceramic angels to be photographed, Irish bands to dance to, stories to be written, and people to truly listen to.
So I stopped doing drugs, cut off my long, dark hair and dyed it fushia, wrote a book, and tattooed the outline of a black star on my wrist so I would never forget how it felt to be that free.
I’m feeling a little bit of that freedom tonight.