Transience v. presence

In one week I leave home - you know, the one I just got back to - for three months.

I guess I'm easing slowly into this first real stab at having a home in a couple of years. Two years ago I left the Bronx, put my clothes and books in storage and followed up with five tours and time spent in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Chicago. I made a big racket about Chicago being my new permanent home but others evidently knew me better than I knew myself.

"Bullshit," said Nick DiNardo. "Blog me in six months."

I hate when Nick is right

So about this idea of transience versus presence: I say I don't want to be on the road more than I'm off and that this whole roadie thing is a happy accident and possibly temporary. Then I notice that last year I was on the road more than I was off. I'm now starting my third year in this work and getting job offers and it's easier to justify taking them than turn them down.

People tell me that they or their husband or friend always said they didn't want to be a roadie for life but twenty years later there they are, all jacked up on whatever particular buzz it is that keeps them moving.

What I want to know is how to balance imbalance? Feel present when so many days are just about moving forward and going elsewhere? How to have time to make routines and spaces and relationships comfortable?

"How do you balance it?" I once asked a tour manager.

"You don't," he answered without pause.

I'm glad I'm back for another year of the American Idol tour but there are plenty of moments I've thought with regret, "Yeah, I'd be doing/planning/signing up for/getting into/checking out whatever except I'll be gone all summer, so that will have to wait."

But if everything is always waiting, what am I left with? I'm left returning in September to great yawing voids of places that still doesn't feel homey, despite my incredibly fluid ability to feel at home anywhere. My lack lies in STICKING AROUND. Home for a day or a month isn't the same as home for the long haul, whatever that is.


I'm so glad you're not dead

A guy at Jane's party saw the Ronckytonk shirt and thought it was a MEMORIAL FOR A CHILD WHO HAD PASSED AWAY. Someone eventually told him it was my photo and when we met later in the kitchen, he greeted me, "I'm so glad you're not dead!"

Yeah, me too...what?

The next day, a shirt was draped over a chair in the living room and Jamie, without paying attention, sat squarely on top of it. I squirmed around for a minute, until I had to say something:

"You're sitting on my face and that makes me feel weird."

He pulled the shirt out from under him and we all looked at it. The wrinkle in the fabric made my face look not only awkward but now a little deformed, too, with one eye bulging and mouth gaping.

Someone said, "Damn, you LOOKED like that."

And that's when we really couldn't stop laughing.


My face on a shirt

A few weeks ago, I got a big cardboard box in the mail. I didn't recognize the name on the return address.

Inside the box were THIRTY T-SHIRTS WITH MY FACE ON THEM. And my name. And this web address. The photo of me, which can also be seen here, was taken in 1983, the year after I got glasses and braces.

I knew that the barrettes I wore, the ones I decorated with long multicolored ribbons, were beautiful. I knew I looked good. I did not know that my face just barely got away with having my gigantic mouth plunked on the front of it and, at the time, I didn't understand why my friend's little brother asked me if my lips were on steroids.

Let's just say that the Dawn Weiner character from Welcome to the Dollhouse makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

I pawed through the box, seeing the reproduction of that happy, oblivious smile plastered on more t-shirts more times than I ever thought I would, which is to say more than zero times, but there was no note.

"WHAT? THE? FUCK?" I said, pacing, "WHATTHEFUCK!"

I looked at the return address again (Seattle) and made a phone call.

"Hi. Carl? Are you answering your phone by laughing uncontrollably because you sent me a box of t-shirts of my face?" Carl could have just said yes at this point but he was too busy convulsing.

He thought it would be funny if, when I visited Seattle, people were wearing this shirt. Specifically, if everyone in his bar had this shirt on when I walked in. But he got tired of this idea and decided to instead send me all the shirts anonymously. And you know what? That's more disturbing than than the bar prank would have been. Now it's up to me to inflict this face on the world. Which I should be good at by now.

Please meet Mark, who won a "door prize" at Jane's Tupac birthday party last weekend. Doesn't Mark look thrilled?

What about now? So pleased!

And please do not fail to notice the SUV / brass knuckle design of the shirt I'm wearing. I'd like to thank Brownsville, Brooklyn for having a store that sells this and Cathy for actually buying it.

And last but absolutely not least: Carl, thank you.


cream, sugar, and cowgirl boots

Sometimes my boots piss me off because they CLICK more than they THUD and I have to take them off my feet and leave them at the coffee bar for someone who's into that.


A sky like barfed cornflakes

I'm not always ecstatic to be in a place where patches of the sky resemble the color of barfed cornflakes. And while the patch over my neighborhood seems more blue and less smoggy than some, I'm reminded of the letter that Taryn sent from Colorado when I moved to Los Angeles:

"By the way, how is the air down there? You know that it only takes 8 minutes to ingest the recommended amount of pollution for a lifetime in parts of LA."

Bwahaha! I had to laugh because I imagined her writing that and then taking deep breaths of her fresh Colorado breeze as if she hadn't just diagnosed me with black lung. No big deal, Taryn! I try not to brood over the fact that whoever's job it is to recommended pollution levels knows that I'm already f'ed nine THOUSAND times over. I have better things to do. Like forget to put on suntan lotion and ride my bike without wearing a helmet.

This offer from the CEO of Metro for a week of free bus rides arrived in my mailbox today and it reminded me what hilarious interracial fun public transit can be in big smoggy cities like Los Angeles. Judging by the festive reactions of the ladies in this photo, that guy's story is AWESOME. What are they talking about? They're having such a seriously good time. If the LA Metro bus service is truly the nation's largest clean-burning compressed natural gas bus fleet like the pamphlet says, then I am impressed. It almost makes me want to stop cracking such snipey jokes about the city.

Of course, to escape the city I can always just run off to places like Big Sur to stare at trees and the paintings that hang from them, outrageously blue water, and elephant seals. This works well as a city antidote. And San Francisco! Jane's party for Tupac's would-be 36th birthday if he hadn't been gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas 11 years ago is this weekend. I need a plane ticket to San Francisco.


Seeking emptiness

Some might say LA is the perfect place for someone seeking emptiness.


Henry Miller Library

Henry Miller Library, Big Sur