Archive | March 2012

Song in C Minor (no chorus)

1

 

Evening fades from burnt orange to purple-blue.

Cup of fragrant tea cooling on the ledge.

Porch swing sway and your feet pressed flat into new,

weather-treated wood. Neighborhood houses sigh,

breathing secrets into the coming darkness.

 

Spurred by twilight, across and up from you,

a girl, her nightshirt pressed pristine and laced, stealthily

parts upstairs curtains, peers out at a nighttime

world she envies, cannot fully understand, yet craves.

It covers her face. You sigh a knowing sigh,

 

give a crooked smile. He often waited, hidden

in bushes across the street, heart pounding

with anticipation for you to wave from your attic

room. The taste of your kisses still swelling his lips.

You touch yours now.

 

2

He sleeps. His sky unchanged after decades. Still winter blue, littered with clouds, stringing themselves westward, following the day. Fleeing the oncoming moon that rises unchecked and unafraid over mountains, launching higher, rejecting, reflecting light. His dreams left unrestrained uncoil and dance themselves sick across white walls, unframed paintings. They are screams. They are tattered fingers. They are memory.

 

3

In the corner are the presents. Years of dust collected

on wrapping paper. Birthdays, Christmas, all the just

because moments. She never opens them, just stacks

one on top of the other. Brightly colored, pretty

piles. “That might be the most condescending thing

you have ever said to me,” Which it isn’t.

 

Words pour into her throat like rain pours

into shoes. “You do not even know yourself,”

She says to an empty room. “All this self deception,

it becomes you, dictates and limits,” while she sees

the evidence reflected in everything, in everyone.

 

4

I am not bored with you.

 

5

You have spoken to the shadows.

Felt their tendrils climb up and over

your legs, past the spot where his beard

rubbed against your inner thigh, (the weight

of him) soothing and comforting the rawness,

they cleanse you. Still, you cannot trust

when they speak for they must deceive.

It is their nature as shadows.

They can only allude.

 

The pillow is so cool beneath your freshly

shaved skin. You lay back, eyes to the

ceilings intricate pattern that you have

memorized. Hour after hour here

in this four poster bed, sharp metal edges

and a sheer canopy to hide you from

the devils you invent, all green and red

with callous yellow eyes.

 

All our monsters taste the same when we

rip them with our teeth.

 

But you are loved and most of the time

that is enough to let you let go.

Though there are moments when in spite

of yourself, you wish you could just say no

 

and mean it.

Top Stuff-5

I am obviously failing at making a top stuff list every week.  I can look at this two ways (well many more ways than two, but I am choosing to pick two. Perhaps it is a natural urge to place everything into some sort of dichotomy, a remnant from my public schooling, but regardless, I am picking two)-  first, I am a wealth of ideas and do not need to fall back on my fail safe top something list. Second, I can’t even think of a top five things list to make and therefore am forced to come up with some other, barely interesting, idea to write about.

I am leaning more towards number 2, but am hopeful it is number 1.

Anywho…I am changing the title a bit and removing the reference to the week. Not very clever, but it makes more sense than calling it Top Stuff-Week 5 when it is obviously at least week 8.

After that long winded and really pointless ramble, I present without further delay (I promise), this fabulous and clever list of top stuff. I am calling it-Top Songs I Like from Bands I Usually Don’t.

(Is that contraction ok?)

1. Moby-Southside Ft the lovely Gwen Stefani I tried really hard to like Moby. I checked out several records from the library and listened with every intent of liking them. I don’t like them and I can’t understand why. He seems clever, talented and on the cutting edge of things, but his music fails to reach me. In fact, I don’t even like the original version of this song. Its the addition of Gwen that makes it a song I really like a great deal. Best lyric- Here we are now going to the south side. I pick up my friends and we hope we won’t die…

2.Seven Mary Three-Cumbersome I really, really love this song. It is so heavy and dirty. When the drums drop in after the intro, I cant help but start shaking my head. The vocalist has a great, gravely voice. I sing this song all the time, post this same video link over and over. I also really think this band sucks. They must have sold their souls for this one track. Every once in a while, I put on the record this song is from, hoping I am finally ready for it and that I will like the rest of it as much as this one song. I don’t. Best lyric-To rich, too poor she’s wanting me less and I’m wanting her more…

3.Black Crows-Hard to Handle  While this is a cover of an Otis Redding song, it is a great version by the Crows. I have to also say that I also like She Talks to Angels, off the record “Shake Your Money Maker”,  just not as much as this cover.  That being said, this band is not very good (keeping in mind all musical taste  is very subjective).I think the songs feel lazy, like they were just tossed together over a night of Pabst and blunts. Best lyric-I’m advertising love for free, so you can place your ad with me…

4.Puscifer-Rev22:20 I am going to anger a lot of Tool fans by saying I don’t like Puscifer. Again, I really want to like them and I was so hopeful after this song (which was on the Underworld soundtrack) came out. Rev 22:20 sounds completely different than anything else Puscifer does. It has energy and life and grit (plus some really crafty lyrics that would easily offend, and I love songs that push buttons). Everything else they do feels like a cash grab, nothing else.  Best lyric (that won’t be too offensive, giggle)-If I gotta sin to see her again, then I’m gonna lie and lie and lie…

5.XTC-Dear God I know, I know…tell me I just don’t get the brilliance of XTC. There are other songs I tolerate. King for A Day is good. Making Plans for Nigel is alright but the Primus version is better. The band is just quirky for the sake of being quirky and if I want that, Talking Heads are  more talented and interesting. That being said, This song is really good. I am even willing to argue the content as I feel this song is not just an accusation towards divinity, but humans who have created an image of a God that selects one group to aid or save, while allowing others to suffer and die. Best Lyric- And all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting in the streets, cause they cant make opinions meet about God…

6.Stone Temple Pilots-Plush Another band that I know I should like and just don’t. If not for RockBand, I would most likely not like any of their songs. This one is groovy. and I like the acoustic guitar that lingers in the background. Very cool track. Best lyric-And I see that these are the eyes of disarray…

7.Avenged Sevenfold-Unholy Confessions  This song is from Screamo version of this band (and they really can scream well). I like most of this record (Waking the Fallen) but on the whole, this band is a let down. They went from a half decent screamo band to flat out trash rock. They are not terrible, just cliche’. It has been done and been done a lot better. This song is full of cheesy whiny lyrics and I should really despise it for that. Instead I find myself turning it up very loud, singing and screaming along. Give it a try! Best Lyric-“I’ll try” she said as she walked away. “Try not to lose you…”

8.10,000 Maniacs-What’s the Matter Here My sister will be mad at me for this one. Am I the only person who finds this band crushingly dull? They have a few songs that are likable, but nothing they make demands that I listen. Then there is this song. It talks about abuse and the justifications or lack thereof for getting involved. I get chills whenever this song comes on. It is the least preachy song about neglect and abuse I can think of, and that is what makes it so damn brilliant . Best lyric-If you don’t sit in your chair straight, I’ll take this belt from around my waist and don’t you think that I won’t use it…

So there you have it. Songs I like from bands I often don’t. I would love to have someone talk me into liking one of these bands. Please, somebody try.

Something for My Fingers

I grew up on vinyl.  My first, second and third sound systems all had turntables. I loved the feel, smell and sound of a new vinyl record. I have learned to enjoy listening to digital music but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the entire vinyl experience .  One of my favorite things to do when getting a new record was lay on my bed, the crackle of the first cut coming up, holding the cover and inner sleeve in my hands and reading along with the lyrics. The paper had a particular smell. Even now, when I break out a record, I love the smell almost as much as the sound.

I also grew up in the age of 8 tracks and cassette tapes. I have a very distinct memory of my father sitting in my grandparents living room, recording over 8 track tapes. The record button was broken and he had to hold it down the entire time. The idea of music you could take with you, something besides the radio, was groundbreaking.  When I was a teenager, having a cassette player, a personal walkman was a huge deal. You could be anywhere and have your music with you. Hard to comprehend now how revolutionary that was. Of course you had to record it and cassettes were notorious for having a very limited shelf life. The sound was also suspect. Sometimes you would get a very clean, clear sound. That rarely lasted. The older the tape got, the more the sound deteriorated. My favorite thing was when the tape would get magnetically reversed and the songs on one side would end up backwards on the other side.  It was for this reason that I rarely bought cassettes. I would buy vinyl and then record them to blank cassettes.  I loved making mix tapes, giving them to friends, playing them in the car. I did purchase a few cassettes and hated how most of them came without lyrics, and those that did were printed so small they were near impossible to read. It was like losing part of the listening experience.

It was an easy transition for me from vinyl to CD. The lyric sheets were readable and I still had the tangible disc to move from the case to the player and back. Much better than a cassette on all levels I realized how important that little bit of tangibility was when music began to move to a purely digital format. I love my ipod and I love my entire collection being so mobile, but I still struggle when I purchase digital copies of things. Time and time again, I will buy or download a song and then buy the hard copy.  Rumor has it that CD’s are on their way out. This leaves me two choices. Go purely digital, or revert back to vinyl. I already know what I will do.

Books have also moved to digital formats. This is a harder change for me and until yesterday, I had not read a digital copy of any book. I decided to read the Hunger Games series. We own the first two books, but Sheryl bought the third in digital format for her Nook. She loves the Nook and reads most of her books on that, rather than buying hard copies that take up space.

I have the same relationship with the touch and smell of books as I do with music. Reading to me is about holding the book in my hands. feeling the paper, seeing the flaws in the ink or the pages, the scent of the ink and the glue. Still, I couldn’t find any good reason to buy a copy of something we already owned, even if it was a digital book. The screen of the Nook was easy to read. It was better than reading from a computer, better than this screen I am typing on now. The image was very much like reading a page out of an actual book, which was a good thing, but I found myself worrying that I was skipping pages. I kept looking down to see if I had scrolled past chapters or pages. While easy to read, I did not like the restrictive nature of the digital page. I could scroll ahead, jump from place to place, but it was not the same as thumbing the pages as I read. Also, if I came across something confusing, it was very hard to go back and read a paragraph or browse for a name. I am sure I was limited by my knowledge of the reader I was using, but it all seemed needlessly complicated.  The thing that bothered me the most was not being able to place a bookmark, to look and see how far I had read, how much was left.  How silly. How important to me.

The reading was easy, and the book was fantastic. Still, I realized how much I need the connection to something beyond a digital  image. Maybe I will change, I have before, though I don’t see it coming anytime soon. Give me the hardback. Give me a trade copy. Just give me an actual book.

Lucky

My eyes are open and I am seeing you across the room through the light of a half opened bathroom door and the heavy vinyl curtains. We always did hotels right. Being here on the bottom floor, the smell of the river just before it dips under the unsuspecting city, I am consumed by a wish to hold you here, to relive some sordid fantasy, a dream I once had. But I am older and more pathetic, fitting in here among the desperately desolate. The man walking in the office and looking for work. Fifteen years of maintenance in Chicago doing him little good now as he pleads for the chance to prove he is a hard worker. Everyone is all smiles.

Metal stairs leading upwards towards cheap convenience story beer, beneath them, the remains of teenage weekend excursions, condom wrappers, pill boxes, glass bottles that once contained vodka or gin. Someone stumbles down.

I am distanced from my younger self. Unable to relate to the loudness of voices and the deliberate need for destruction. Still I could kiss your face for hours. If I am always about confessing my indiscretions, it is because they are less burdensome than the lies.

You are reaching for your clothes, silhouetted by cabinets and gray light. The fridge making that ticking sound over and over, waking us with wonder, annoyance and frustration. While we slept, the room around us dissolved, dissipated itself around us like a blanket, untrustworthy and cold.

I am always contradiction personified, not out to destroy everyone, just you.

You can always bring me back to sitting across from you eating garlic and drinking beer. It is your gift, your super power. Distracting memories that keep me occupied while you suck out whats left. Here you are, stealing a few moments of clarity, loving me in spite of my insistence. Again with this cleverness, repeating of words, lines and images and we end up sentenced to this over again. I can bring you t-shirts and swim wear. I can let you go away and burden someone else with your intent.

We can run the streets. We can choke on the colors.

Lesson 3-Perspectives

I took almost every English class the Community College offered. Two of them were composition courses while the majority were literature classes.

Anyone who has taken a literature course knows what the canon is. For those who don’t, the canon is the classics, the works that every aspiring literature studies student must read. The majority of these works are at least one hundred years old, mostly written by men, white men. During the early 90’s there was a great deal of backlash (at least in what I was reading and learning) against the canon. Several alternative anthologies and courses of study began to be popular. The most progressive and influential of these was an incorporation of cultural and women’s studies. Text from minority writers and women were making their way into mainstream college courses. Wanting more than anything to understand everything I could about writing and literature, I jumped at the opportunity to join in this revolution.

I wrote paper after paper on the subject of an exclusive and divisive canon of literature. I argued against the traditional western canon, not because the texts were in themselves not worth reading, but because I firmly (and still do) believed that they were not the only great western literature written. They told less than half of the story and the story they did tell was often from (at least in my mind) a distorted perspective.  How could I consider myself a student of literature if I only read texts from dead white men? Did that make any sense when the world was peopled (past and present) by so much more? Rather than reading Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce or Spenser, I read Leslie Marmon Silko and Ralph Ellison. I read Loiuse Erdrich rather than Jane Austen. I devoured poetry by unheard of writers and completely ignored what used to make up a classical Literature education. I learned that some of what was being currently written, currently talked about was as valuable and often more so than what was written in the past.

Strangely enough, when I attended the University of Utah, the same type of forward thinking professors, the feminists and cultural studies specialists reverted to classic texts. They offered me a different perspective. I read Virginia Woolf and Thomas Moore and ate up their words as well. I discovered a wealth of rebellious, anti establishment rhetoric in texts that often were criticized for being  misogynistic or racist. These professors had me thinking I was getting the education I finally deserved. It was easy to believe I had been shortchanged by my Community College experience, that I should have been reading these canonized text from the beginning and my time had been wasted by reading writers that anyone who really studied and talked about literature completely ignored.  I started to believe I had not been properly prepared for what would be expected at the university level.

Then I started to write papers again and found that the arguments I had used against the traditional canon still made sense. I could use what I had learned at the community college to make quality assertions, ones I could easily support when being critical of a text. It was a fun time and one that got me equal praise and condemnation from professors and student graders. I loved getting a paper back with long notes in the margins, trying to debunk my points or adding to them. I think if I had not taken the courses, read the material counter to the canon, I would not have done as well at the University.

What I find most interesting is at the Community College, I was learning about these things. Finding them out as if for the first time. When I was at the University, I was expected to already know and understand them. Again it is an issue of perspectives-in one case, I am there to learn, to be instructed, to ask questions and to take risks. Where as in the other, I felt like I was there to show what I knew, to impress, to be heard and seen. It was not about what I had read or learned but who I had read and what I could regurgitate.

There were some instructors, usually visiting professors or graduate students, those without tenure, who fostered open discussion in classrooms, where being wrong was allowed, were not already knowing the entirety of the course was alright. I admire that kind of teaching. I feel it is where the best learning takes place.

I don’t want to imply that I learned very little of value at the University of Utah. While the Community College was the place I learned how to think, how to be critical and what to look for when I read, my university education is where I feel I became fully realized. I grew into my own skin there. I felt strong and confident in what I understood and how I expressed it.

I sometimes miss it, that feel, the college atmosphere. Whenever we go to campus, I find myself remembering individual moments, conversations, interactions. I sometimes miss having that kind of experience be the goal of my day, week and month. I don’t miss it enough to enroll again though…

A Funeral

When I left for my mission, I was convinced at least one my father’s parents would die before I returned. I have a few journal entries where I discuss how sad I would be, that I should write them more and how grateful I was for them. They both were there when I got home, both were at my wedding. My grandfather died in 2004. My grandmother is still alive and in decent health.

My mothers parents always seemed much younger than my fathers. The Cartys have looked pretty much the same since I have know them while I remember the Merediths with naturally dark hair and wrinkle free faces. Sadly, both of them are now dead. My grandfather died of cancer in 2010. My grandmothers funeral was this past weekend.

When my grandfather died, he had been ill for quite a while and there was a sense of relief along with a feeling of grief. His funeral was difficult as he was a difficult man to understand. Contrast that to the funeral this weekend where the atmosphere was almost joyful. My grandmother had deteriorated very rapidly. She suffered from dementia and many physical ailments but her passing was quiet, quick and merciful. I cant quite put my finger on why this funeral seemed so less sorrowful than that of my grandfather. To be clear, it wasn’t that people were happy my grandmother was dead. There were plenty of tears and heavy hearts. There was just more laughter, more happiness in the company of family and friends. People did not appear heavy with grief. I don’t mean this as an accusation. More an observation.

The first funeral I remember in detail was for my great uncle. It was 1987 and I had just turned 17. The death was unexpected, at least for me. He was young enough, just in his 60’s and I remember being quite shocked to hear of his passing. My family went to the funeral and i vividly remember my heavy heart and tears. We had not been particularly close but I always liked and admired him. I could not understand the extent of my sadness, though it passed soon after the funeral was over.

I realize how fortunate I had been to not have experienced the death of someone closer to me.  Some of my friends had lost parents or siblings. A few had lost close friends. I had only had this one death and I was near 20.

Of course the older I have become, the less fortunate I have been. I have still experienced much less death than some I know, but I have had my fair share. I have come to recognize that what I grieve for is usually lost possibility. I grieve for myself and what I will miss out on, the experiences I will not have.

When I was attending the University of Utah, a close friend of mine was murdered. It was a random act of violence committed by someone looking for money.  The unexpected and violent nature of her death affected me a great deal. I couldn’t sleep and found myself  obsessing about her-What had she experienced and did she know what was about to happen? It was hard to comprehend how any of this could have happened. I would imagine her sitting in her room, studying for the test she had the next day, then hearing the commotion out in the other room (It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that the 911 tapes were released and I heard her final words).  I  made myself sick with fear and anger. I fully expected to suffer the same fate and would be up nights, scared at ever sound. It was months before I felt safe again; years before I stopped missing her.

When someone we care for dies, grief can be overwhelming. We spend nearly every waking moment thinking of the person, remembering stories or events. Often it is just an image of the person that remains constant in our minds. Hearts feel almost too heavy and it is easy to wonder how we will ever get through it.

Then somehow we begin to think on them a little less. Soon days go by without a thought of them, then weeks-months-maybe a year.  Recovery is forgetting. Forgetting is relief.

Somehow after enough time passes, the thoughts bring less pain. Though sometimes, when memories sneak up on me, catch me unprepared, I feel guilty. In order to live my life, to move on, I have had to forget them, think of them less, which sometimes feels like a betrayal.

Well this has been a bit of a ramble, but conversations about death often are.

Perspective.

My Civic Duty

I attended a political rally yesterday.

HB 363 would force local public school to teach abstinence only sex education or teach nothing at all. Discussion of  contraception would be forbidden, as would any mention of homosexuality. As a parent who believes that abstinence is the best way to avoid STD’s and unwanted pregnancy, as well as emotional distress, I find this bill to be unnecessary. Current state law allows parents to opt out of an sex education. Parents can also limit what discussions their children can be involved in, including abstinence education. Currently, only 3% of parents opt out. This bill is needlessly restrictive. The Governor should veto this awful legislation.

More frustrating and frightening is the proponents of the bill attempting to marginalize those who oppose the legislation.They have questioned our residency, calling our petition “bogus’ and our numbers exaggerated.

Yesterday I saw people from many walks of life-business men and women, conservatives, liberals, independents, children, blue collar workers, stay at home parents, grandparents, great grandparents. A panorama of Utah was present. All of them wanting the same thing-the right to decide what children learn. I took photos as you can see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This being my first political rally, I didn’t know what to expect.

I was surprised at the size of the crowd though it was only a few hundred), and surprised at the passion of everyone present. It felt good to participate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time, we should all go together.