Waiting

I’m sitting in a hotel bar drinking Irish coffee and eating snails. There’s a very put together waitress with perfect makeup and a half-backed dress who looks at me dubiously in my boots and t-shirt and weird futuristic bubble wrap skirt. She is not sure about me because I look like I have no money (and because I ordered snails) but I am not sure about her because she has a glassy smile and sweat standing in small beads on her back. But I have to find a way to lurk here for three hours because I am across from the airport and soon my own true love shall be swooping down, delayed, from the heavens, to be whisked away to a magical Extended Stay America, where he can take a shower and go on the internet and generally weep with gratitude at being away from any suggestion of an airport. He has been on buses or in airports for approximately three days, and is near the breaking point. They have checked his passport ten times. He has gone through security eternally, like some cut rate circle of hell. He called me in near total despair at four when he found out that his flight from Phoenix was in another terminal and that he had insufficient time to get there. Thirty minutes later he called back, standing in line for Mcdonald’s, voice dull and heartless. “Fight them!” I cried and he said, “No. They’ve broken me. They’ve broken me.”

 

 

Waiting

Great Falls, Montana

Great Falls was an absolute wealth of humorous signage. Montana Lil’s Casino across from Tokyo Massage and mere steps from The School for the Deaf and Blind. That combo makes me so happy. Just down from that was Maverick Prosthetics and Orthotics, a name that I cannot get out of my head. Some people go immediately to a defiant and autonomous robot arm that tries to kill its possessor but I tend to see bootleggers in dank caves, smoking cigarillos and heaving crates of black market plastic feet. The underground defiant prosthetics of the Revolution. No more will we bow down to ProsthetiCorp, the evil corporate Goliath of the prosthetics world! No, we shall be free, free!

Another massage parlour called Touch of Klass (sic). Next to that a Chinese restaurant with a sign that said, “Try our general chicken.” Fred’s Lounge and Casino. Tagline: “There’s always something shaking at Fred’s.” Something, I assume, being butts. Ooooh, robot butts. There’s probably not a huge market for prosthetic butts. But you could just set it to vibrate and then not have to work so hard. For strippers. It’s just a crazy dream, guys, I know. I know.

Oh, not to mention the sampler in the bathroom of the friends I was staying with. A tidy framed white square with an acorn in its corner and the legend, “Nut up, Nancy.” It’s good to have friends.

I’ll be in Seattle tomorrow. As I approach its gravity well people are getting cooler and cooler. It’s alarming. I’m the cool one. What do I do if other people are cool? I’ll have to figure out something else.

 

Great Falls, Montana

Notes To Not Forget My Life

Went to the show out in the country on the front porch with the crazy eyed mini horse and the four big horses, Lovely, Levi, Lightning, Lucy and I don’t know, Phil, possibly. Moonshine. Tunes. Corns fields. Upsetting dreams sleeping on that couch, all squooshed against Aaron. Talked to thin silver haired beautiful massage therapist and carpenter boyfriend. Played pretty well. Could hear each other much better.

  Drove to MC’s house out in a misty valley, where all the musicians were gathering. MC just broken up with Katie, all awkward and weird. Shot the shit with Chris and Ali. Max played with Lizzie, and Chris Acker played. Chris Acker kind of snapped into focus for me as a person once I heard his music. Some people don’t want to admit to depth but they can’t help but be honest with their art.

  Thousands of beers. Centuries of cigarettes. Set up the tent drunk. Dogs everwhar. Flirting like A DEMON with Mickey. Not totally understanding the dynamic until Aaron explained that Mickey was removing his attention suddenly as a way to attract attention and then I could see it happening. He fell asleep on the couch and I snuck in to steal a cigarette out of his breast pocket. I knelt like a knight, all silent, and slowly pulled the pack out. His hand snapped out and seized my wrist with his eyes still closed, like James Bond or something, and there was a long moment of thrilling fear. He opened his eyes and it took him a second to register who I was. “Cigarette?” he muttered. “Yeeees. Sorry. Go back to sleep.” He fumbled one out of the packet and put it in my hand and was asleep.

  Show went really well. Getting a better sense of cello and when to bow to get the beat where I wanted it. Band cohesion increasing exponentially with every show.

  Next day went on a horrible mission to get coffee that ended up with us everywhere except a place where coffee might be. Drove through the mountains. Ended up in strange little town with coffee shop that felt like aliens had been told about hip youthful coffee shops and made one that was almost right. Uncanny Valley feeling. Coffee was weird. Apple cider tasted like hospitals. Dreadlocked baristo was nice in a not quite real way, perhaps as though he had read a manual on how to be nice. Obviously an alien.

  Managed to get out to Aaren’s (our unnaturally cheerful and boisterous host for the night) flute workshop and drove out to go swimming. Wonderful swimming, cold, avoided all poison ivy (thank all you gods and little fishes). Dear neurotic dog paddled around. Four of us crept in an inch of shrinking flesh at a time. Aaren ran in and splashed us like a cruel beast, and then went off to scale a cliff or something. Big purple gray water spiders, the size of the palm of my hand. I have small hands, but still. A crayfish half hiding under a rock. Eating day old croissants, a bit chewy but very welcome, and squatting in the sand. Sat on the edge of the small rapids with the water pulling at us and a little bit pretended I was a naiad. A black bathing suit, lesbian haircut, gap tooth naiad.

  Went to Charlottesville and busked, quite successfully. Little Chinese brothers playing classical cello and violin in the square. Their father put a buck in our bucket later and smiled at us. That excited smile like we were in the same club. It was a good smile. Aaren on clarinet. And bass clarinet. Aaron on tenor banjo, Ali on guitar, Mickey on banjo mandolin. Went off to the corner store and an young Arab guy with a comedically thick accent said, “Hey girrrl.” With a very rolly r. I gave him a dreadful look.

  Read for a while, slept on Aaren’s small hard bed curled up against Aaron. Slept well with good dreams. Woke up looking at window at small, high, brave clouds pushing across a bird’s egg sky. Ate potatoes and eggs and salsa, packed up and set off, remembered the things I had forgotten, turned around, got the things, set out again with revised directions from Aaren that Aaron hadn’t heard, suffered doubt and cynicism from a faithless passenger seat but was firm and rewarded.

Got to Richmond in a foul mood. Strip malls and strung out looking people on the sidewalks. A shock after all our green and spacious nests. Found the house, long haired ginger boy with skinny knobbly limbs welcomed us in. It smelled of cats. He was making a huge pot of chili. Many hip young collegey people talking about poetry and the noosphere. Felt old and critical. Was, in fact, critical. Only old in own head. Gave poor mustachioed poetry major a lot of shit about him not respecting rhyme and the challenge of fitting into a form. He burbled, defending his position but to PC to tell me I was a big jerk and should shut up.

Beers on the front porch. Moonshine. Again. (We’re still working on the same jar of moonshine, it’s not that we have some infinite fount of moonshine.) Listened to a completely kick ass harmonica player whose name I’ve forgotten, then played. It went well, they danced and hollered, although I’m sure they were badly broke and it reflected in our poor hollow hat.

Woke up, Mickey and Ali had a fight about coming to Wellbourne or not. They didn’t. We bid them adieu and they drove off in a gently boiling silence.

We were hard tired, and hung over, and low on blood sugar. We had weathered their fight without being drawn in or alienating anyone. I’m pretty sure. Time will tell on that one. We were so ready to be out of Richmond, for which we had developed a possibly unfair hate, partly due, on his part, to his inability to find coffee and on my part to my general dislike of youths. Youthes. Yuuuthes. This is not some kind of uninformed prejudice. I disliked teenagers when I was a child. I disliked teenagers when I was a teenager, leading to an M. C. Escher superiority self-hatred ouroboros. I dislike teenagers now, as a slightly-older-than-a-teenager. I look forward to a long and satisfying life of disliking teenagers.

Anyway. We drove forty minutes out of Richmond to a Indian restaurant cleverly concealed in a strip mall (damn. I guess they have some value.) At this point, we were pretty much fainting with hunger. Nursing the desperate hope that the food would be good because we had no reserves and might burst into tears if a lopsided leathery samosa swimming in pale pink chutney water was placed before us.

We burst into tears anyway, honestly, because we were very hungry and it was very very good. Everything seemed golden and kindly. I picked up my perfect samosa in my paws and grizzled over it for a minute before gnawing off its top and slavering all over its potatoey insides. I did. I cried. Aaron and I stared at each other through a misty haze of well-being and swelling love for the world, India in particular, and for humanity, our waiter in particular. It was a perfect moment.

Made our way up to Wellbourne, a northern Virginia plantation house where older caucasian gentleman sit on a huge front porch and drink bourbon and listen to jazz on the victrola. Except for those not rare occasions when they bring live jazz up from New Orleans to complete that time-traveling effect. Thus, our presence. They run the place by keeping horses who have aged out of competition. Fancy horses much loved by their owners but serving no set purpose save beauty. Bed and breakfasty type stuff too. I took a big nap in our big bed and when I delicately emerged at cocktail hour, no one demanded too much of me and a drink was pressed into my palsied hand.

To Be Continued When I Feel Like It Probably   

Notes To Not Forget My Life

Asheville

Played the show in Asheville. Mickey (23 yrs. Banjo mandolin. Beautiful as the day is long. Alcoholic.) got schwasted on cheap beer and I wore a pretty dress and cello-chain-smoked. We played on the back of a flat bed with some kind of metal floor that bounced beaucoup when everyone was stomping at the same time. We crawled up onto that truck like drunk ants. I can’t think of the right animal I want. Like a fat man trying to get out of a pool. Like a feeble dog trying to get onto a bed. It was a little sad, but hopefully endearing to the multitudes watching.

We couldn’t hear each other very well. Ali played the wooden guitar instead of her resonator and it didn’t carry as well. We made it through. They applauded. We oozed off the stage.

Vanya (the beloved of my heart) was there that night, knitting and looking up demurely from under her lashes and muttering to herself. Her beau was swooping around taking photographs of everything. My irritation at his swooping and weird directorial attitude towards life battled with my vanity, giving me rapid bipolar facial changes. Disapprove, disapprove, disapprove. Pose! Poseposepose! Grumpy. Mild disgust. Seductive! Mysterious! Fussy. When you are trying to be mysterious and fussy at the same time, you unfortunately just look constipated. Try it now. See how your face goes. You’ll see.

Aaron’s mum, Kathryn, (she is saved by picturesque typo in my phone as Jathryn, which I think sounds like a steel-tressed dragon rider) was there as well, beaming out at us from the dark and clogging absentmindedly. A couple of her friends came, a really very sweet gentleman from Manchester and his acerbic lady. She and I lamented the sad state of repartee among menfolk in these dark times. We all milled around outside in the friendly glow of christmas lights and quaffed.

There were seven or eight people from New Orleans there that night, no one we had been expecting. Everyone was chuffed to see each other, I think, and I ended up having a very frank discussion about sex with a bass player and a singer-songwriter. I cannot be equally frank with you, because I cannot remember most of it. I think the main theme was the terminal awkwardness of all human relations.

There was a big fight next morning because travel arrangements were not what people had thought they were and only one person was au courant. The word “frustrated” was used over and over with an impressive emotional load. I resisted my natural urge to slink into the bushes and pretend that I was an anonymous forest animal. Things were resolved, we went and ate acres of sushi, the dog had puppies and everybody laughed their asses off.

I went over to Vanya’s house that evening and got to hug and noogie her daughters, and meet the brothers of Lys, a weird wild red-haired witch lady who came and lived with me in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. She was sadly afflicted with a torn knee and probably-stress-induced shingles that night, but still in remarkably good temper. She is not a temperate lady, either. I mean she doesn’t get angry, but she definitely lives at extremes. What’s the relationship between temper and temperate?

We sat in her room and listened to jazz and read the poems of Hafiz to each other. There were bottles of wine strewn around. The world melted a little. Her brother Jack, who talks a lot of possibly pointless or possibly very deep and important shit, argued with people about the nature of reality, God, self, etc. Her brother Finn went and threw up in the bushes. Her paramour lounged on the ground next to me and we grinned at each other over the jazz.

I deflated pleasantly as the night passed and when I was quite flat, I went home and crawled into the van bed and slept like a stone until the crack of ten. We set off for Durham.

Asheville