Archive | August, 2015

Baby, Lay Down Your Arms

30 Aug

I grew up thumbing through my parents records, completely fascinated by which records had made the thousand (upon thousands) mile journey our family had taken in this life. Some Saturdays, my Dad would put on Papa John Creach and chain smoke. Those were long days.

I had a cassette Walkman that was constantly tuned to the oldies station in my town (Q101.5, in case you were wondering.) I listened to it even when I slept and tried to tell my fortune by which songs played as I drifted off.

I liked that the songs all told a story and that most of them were devastatingly sad. The Cavaliers had the most sad song – Last Kiss – which was about a teenager who killed his sweetheart in a car crash and now he had to be very good so he could see her in Heaven. I mean, oh my gosh. The tragedy!

When I was 17, Pearl Jam covered Last Kiss and I immediately got the single. I felt very, you know, smug about already knowing this song and recognizing it as a cover. It didn’t catch on as the fucking international hit I thought it would be but I kept the single. The best part about it ended up being this B side. I have been moved to listen to this song every year of my life since then. That seems special to me.

Use your arms to hold me tight.

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If There’s Anything Good About Me

9 Aug

I’m the only one who knows.

I’m having a bout of spiritual malaise and as such, my ritual is to strip down and take to my bed. I crawled between the sheets this evening, heaved a big sigh, and considered the Universe / what might make me feel better. My heart settled on the White Stripes, particularly the song above.

I started listening to this band when I was only 18. I bought White Blood Cells in part to impress my friend Nikki and partly because I had seen a White Stripes video on MTV2 and I was totally transfixed. Nikki was from Detroit and therefore not impressed. But I was totally hooked on this gorgeous brother and sister but not really siblings  so maybe they had sex and that seemed hot in addition to the music being what it is. Which is, of course, real good. I bought their entire catalog.

The summer after my senior year in college, I had to get 3 more credits to finish my degree. I chose a pottery class because it seemed easy and inoffensive, which ended up being completely misguided. Making pottery is fucking hard and I was in a class full of  over-achieving housewives. The best part, though, was listening to Get Behind Me, Satan on my iPod mini while I worked the clay, alone in the studio. I was 23, a summer away from getting married, and completely terrified to become an adult. I have incredibly fond memories of that album and that silent alone time I had with it.

Later on when my marriage was folding in on itself, I pulled out my record player and listened to their version of “Jolene” obsessively. I knew I was losing my husband, maybe not to another woman. But he was slipping away and even Jack White couldn’t get him to stay.

Now I am 32, with messy hair and a tear-stained face. Still not sure there is anything good about me. I would probably know by now.

A Building Burning

3 Aug

I look strong. And I am, I guess. My Pa says I’m strong as an ox. I used to carry kegs up a decaying set of stairs, when I was a bartender in college. I have a big, ripe body that I love. You can’t knock me over.

Lately, though, I feel like one of those big, sad-eyed paintings. Completely new to and baffled by the world. I take things quite literally, like the Terminator or very small children. I am slower to pick up on jokes but I am quick to blush. I am shamefully earnest. I get confused by other people’s anger, confused when they say one thing but then do something else on purpose.

I am coming off such a grim, unreachable place in my life where I didn’t have the space for feelings. I was efficient and indifferent but I wasn’t, like, connecting to anything or anyone. I feel completely plugged into the world, very aware of the precarious and fucking weird condition that is being human. My feelings get hurt and that always seems to be such a mess. I expect things of people that I didn’t before and sometimes I am let down.

I try to stay quiet, mostly, these days because – for maybe the first time ever – I’m worried about saying the wrong thing. I keep my own secrets and study other people’s faces. I try to reconcile my rich figure and my tender heart. Soon enough, they will get along again.