Hello. Or, as the English say, Helair. I am only writing this nonsense because I said that I would and I am trying to establish just a soupcon of discipline in my slipshod breast.

I am in Pennsylvania. It is misty and people tail gate. I am lying in the left most motel bed, my niece in all-but-blood is in the right most motel bed. We spent the day driving and listening to recordings of other people playing Dungeons and Dragons. That sounds rather sad, but it wasn’t, it was lovely. And all the trees across Virginia are turning colour, so the hills are blotchy like kid paintings are. Blotch of brown. Blotch of red. Blotch of yellow. Greeny grey. Niece and I talked about emotional processing and got all keyed up on Women’s Vitality ™ trail mix and figuring out our mutual experiences. It’s women’s vitality because it has chocolate and cranberries and some other fluff in it. The cranberries are for our parts. And the chocolate is for our hearts. In this way, we shall be soothed and smoothed so that all we want is to buy chakra scented candles that leave us with glossy hair and the gentle smugness of inner peace.

I am nattering. I hate being sold things. I hate it less than selling things (I was a girl scout for two months. all sales), but it makes my skin feel the wrong size. As though if I relaxed for just a second all their subliminal jostling would barge over my mental thresholds and I would be stricken with the longing to be cleansed and perfected by the new no calorie chocolate cherry long lasting 2 for 1 all natural sugar free douche and sanitizer. Ah, to be sanitized. There is nowhere safe for someone afraid of the unclean. Even in a white room, in a white suit, with all your stray hairs sucked silently into pure white vents, you’re covered in mites and you’re guts are overflowing with bacteria (hopefully) and so are your gums and the only way to get out from under all this nasty, teeming, squirming life is to vacuum seal yourself so nothing can survive in or on you. At that point, you too will be deceased and unable to enjoy the quiet. Give up.

Tomorrow, God willing and the creek failing to rise, we will be in Boston. My meat will be in the same room with the meat of Amanda Palmer. My meat doesn’t want to think about this because it might become hysterical. Niece has sewn her a sampler. You can imagine the sort of thing it says. Wish me luck, that I do not become hysterical and that I do not totally sacrifice my dignity in my longing to be acknowledged.

Good night, and see you tomorrow.


Assorted Musings to Get My Hand In

On my way to Boston to see the Dresden Dolls play. I left New Orleans yesterday noon and drove all afternoon in a podcast haze. Ellen Burstyn was on Death, Sex and Money (the best podcast) and she said she has days where she decides there is nothing she should do. Should-less days. These to counteract the voice in her head that says she’s lazy and should be accomplishing something. I would have everyday be a should-less day. I’m afraid that I would never do anything. I’m really afraid that I would be perfectly happy and drift like a balloon and finally admit what a silly sham the way we live is. All this pushing. All this struggle. Manufactured. Silly. It’s hard to admit that because after you admit that your society and the life it promotes are impossible and unpleasant, you don’t quite know how to conduct yourself or what to do. But since my whole plan is predicated on not doing anything in particular, I should be fine.

I remember being a child and knowing (somehow) about politicians being bribed and I always kind of thought that the things they were bribed with were things beyond my ken. Things only adults knew about, of some terrible and impossible value. To find out that they fold for big dinners, pretty women and golf was deeply disappointing. Almost like finding out that Fairyland isn’t real. You assume, as a child, that the things that make grown people sell their honour would have proportional worth.

I was looking at billboards this morning and disparaging their lowest common denominator copy, but it occurred to me that internet advertising is trying to do the opposite and I recoil from that equally. Internet advertising wants to know you as intimately as it possibly can. I had this mini vision of a future where the advertising algorithm specific to you understands you better than any person could. It tailors its language to you. It becomes what you identify with most, because in a way it is you. And then your best friend is a robot that makes you buy things. Everybody’s best friend. I think that is kind of the ideal vision of certain companies.

I declined podcasts today and spent the morning driving into Autumn. It was all gold and orange and lion brown once I got into Tennessee and I had the windows all the way down, as I do when I’m alone. My hair blows around and catches in my eyebrows. It’s the same colour as the hills in my peripheral vision and I feel a satisfying desolate feeling and vow to move somewhere that winter comes to properly.

I love to be alone. I love it more than cake. Which is not saying much, because cake is pretty much last on my dessert island list. Ahah. Hah. Ahah.

I love to be alone more than I love olives. That is saying something. I do not say I dislike people, although I used to. But when you are alone, away even from loved ones and those who best understand, when there’s no media pounding at you or addictions pricking at you, your voice comes shyly out and it is so fresh and sweet and full of observation and delight that you never want to see another person again. That is why I am in a coffee shop right now instead of where I ought to be, because I couldn’t bear to let the voice get buried again quite so soon just after she was unearthed. That is who I am on here. You hear my voice. That is why it is so hard to write sometimes, when I have no quiet, no time for her to spread into.


That’s all for today. See you tomorrow.

Assorted Musings to Get My Hand In

Argumentative Review of Barbecue Shop

Mark’s Feed Store Bar B Q Review

Dear Reader,

Oh lord, these fried pickles are good. My husband goaded me into writing a review, using transparent reverse psychology, which I keenly observed, roundly derided, and then succumbed to.  We’re sitting outside because he forgot to wear shoes to meet me.  He’s often worried about the decline of his mental health, but this didn’t phase him in the least.  Because he only worries about losing his mind when he remembers to.  For real, though. These fried pickles. They’re pretty good.  Most places use those rehydrated hamburger pickles that give you a mild chemical burn even through the thick, orangey, morning-news anchor pancake-makeup foundation of breading.   These, however, are mild with a thin seasoned breading and a luverly ranch dressing.

(Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once I was a snob who gently looked down on those of my acquaintance who put ranch dressing on everything. Now I am a snob who thinks, but does not use, words like “complex” and “impudent” about the ranch dressing I am pouring in my gob. )

I have a tray of barbecued chicken, coleslaw and a piece a Texas toast. He has a beef brisket sandwich with a cup of baked apples, that taste like the inside of a Perkins apple pie. In a good way. They taste like they came out of a can in a time when canned things were exciting.

The chicken is a little dry, but I am young and can overcome this, with enough emotional processing. The coleslaw is like a normal coleslaw, that is to say quite tasty if one is fond of semen texture, which I am. Not in semen. It’s gross there. But in other, semen-like foods.

The Texas toast is beautiful. It is golden and porous and definitely had a pat of butter melted on its middle, which shines with an oleaginous light. I am not going to eat it, because some days I tell myself that I am gluten free. It was a toss up when I saw the toast, whether today was going to be one of those days or not. Oh shit. I already had a bite of his sandwich. Fuck it.

Anyway, Aaron’s going to write about the Texas toast because it will give him a lovely pretentious glow in his midsection.

I gave him the computer and he totally failed to write about Texas toast. He just edited me. Forces me to write restaurant reviews so I can’t enjoy my perfectly adequate barbecue and then heartlessly wrenches away the computer. The computer that I handed to him so he can laugh at my jokes. Which he barely snickers at and then edits. It’s a dog’s life with a partner who has an English degree that they don’t use for their work. They have to justify those three and half years at your expense. He’s staring at me now. He knows I’m writing about him. But he’s distracted by Texas toast and any movement in the distance.

We’ve finished the meal now. I have only vague memories of it past the pickles because we were mostly arguing about my use of syntax in describing the pickles. If you are hungry and want a food, this place is fine. If you are a barbecue zealot, you should have the brisket and not the chicken. The brisket is better. There. Are you happy?

P.S. He put double spaces after all my sentences. Because he is FROM THE PAST.

Argumentative Review of Barbecue Shop

Physical Pain

I am given pain over and over. Inescapable pain. I suppose most people are. I don’t know. My father is. Are you? Is it normal?

I rarely go three weeks without something springing up from the long grass to sink it’s teeth into my back and ride me around for another three weeks. Gastritis. Cystitis. Anxiety and depressive attacks that hurt just as blackly and may end up being more dangerous. Poison ivy, or some mystery cousin thereof. The urgent care antidote to the by-now systemic poison ivy, to whose preservative I had an allergic reaction and suffered chest pains, more terrifying than threatening. Constant coughs as a child, where I did not sleep, but camped in a one man tent of sheet draped over bedposts, leaning over the fat orange humidifier and wiping small fingers sticky with Vic’s VapoRub on my already sticky sheets. Ear infections every time I put my head under non-chlorinated water, long and epic ear infections that left me sobbing with the pain. Most recently a sprained ankle that would not heal, a queer week-long panic attack where I woke up every morning with my heart racing and could eat no food but was not nauseous in the traditional way. The strangest vomiting I’ve ever done. I could feel it crawling up my esophagus. And throat infections. Tonsil infections. That is what I have now. They usually test negative for strep. I’ve had these really serious ones five times in my adult life, about once a year since I was twenty, and they too make me cry. I do not like to cry, but each new thing, each new kind of pain brings me low. I beg for relief, I am granted it, a new pain comes and sweeps me up and off we dance.

Is this normal? Do you have this? I cannot help feeling that I am to blame somehow. My husband says, “Don’t take it personally. You’re just sick.” I sit against my stack of pillows and repeat in my heart, you are not a bad girl, you’re just sick, you are not a bad girl, you’re just sick.

I just want to know if this is a typical human experience or if I have something systemic I need to address. I know that body, mind, spirit are intimately bound up and I am afraid that I will be forced to examine that middle one in order to address this. At times, I feel the innate kindliness of my body. I have felt the welling mercy of my spirit, free there in my chest anytime I should ask for it. Mind. Mind does not want to play. Today, a scene popped into my head. My body as a child with arms stretched up to me. I look down at it. “You want me to love you? Well I won’t.” WHY? Come on, Mind! Get it together! You hate this too! If Body weren’t all messed up we could go back to eating kebabs and yelling at politicians and slothing around like a cat with thumbs! Do we put ourself here on purpose? Here where there is no escape from ourself, no escape from crying, no escape from mercy? We are very proud, after all, but when we are broken people take care of us. Hmm. That was telling.

Husband has made me some absolutely fiery concoctions that burn like a really good simile. I drink it when I can stand it. I fail to sleep. I sit cross legged in bed and listen to Aramaic singing on youtube. Oh. My father is in the shot. What a kindly surprise. I rewind, watch him make his way around the circle. I breathe. No escape.

Update: Went to spookily upscale urgent care centre next to the abandoned daiquiri shop. They gave me a barf bag to spit in, very kindly. (I can’t swallow my spit right now.) The doctors looked suitably horrified at the seamed and leaning cliffs of my tonsils. Which is very satisfying. And they pumped me full a drugs! I ate two whole spoons of yoghurt not ten minutes ago and am about to blitz my system with berserker life killers, a.k.a antibiotics.

Physical Pain




I don’t want to write things

Why not?

Why don’t I want to write things?


Uh. I don’t know. It might require that I sit here and be present and aware and think with my brain. You know. Hard things.

Instead of videos of baby hippos?


Can we write something and watch videos of baby hippos?

I guess. I don’t see why not.

Well, what’s all the fuss about then?

I don’t know. It still makes me grumpy and nervous. What if I can’t write anything good?

Who cares as long as you entertain yourself?



But I could entertain myself watching videos of baby hippos.

You know that palls after a while. And then you feel stale and wound up and still unsatisfied. No amount of baby animal videos will ultimately be as satisfying as the act of creation.


Do you want to feel good or to have value? What if the two sync up somewhere? What gives you value?

Well, according to some schools, my pink cheeks and healthy teeth. According to others, it is the cool and crystal brilliance of my soul. According to me, I guess it’s doing things that scare me, that then are transmuted into strength and joy.

Like hang gliding?


Like bungee jumping?

Shut up.

Give me an example, then.

Like talking to a stranger. Like diligence in any one path in what, from this vantage point, looks like a long and twisty life. Like going into a new place where maybe everyone hates you cause maybe, that happens sometimes you know, and then they don’t hate you and maybe they even like you and not just because you have big boobs but because you also have some sparkling repartee and try to actually listen to their hurt while you’re talking to them.

So you want to save people with minimum effort. You want to be a magical fairy girl who whisks in through the saloon doors in a shower of pink sparkles, imbues some brief meaning, and vanishes into the night before you have to deal with fallout of people’s transformational epiphanies.


Okay. Let’s do that.




Guilt Or Other Things

Guilt. It’s basically just something to occupy our time so we don’t get bored or have to look at the world ever or do our homework. How much simpler it is to feel guilty over the things we are failing to do than to do them. Oh, but I have discovered an even better thing! Don’t do the thing and don’t feel guilty about it! It’s a very confusing mental state, almost like being on drugs. You can’t slip up and start feeling guilty about not feeling guilty either, that’s cheating. You will find that the things that you do, in place of the things you think you ought to do, and/or feel guilty about not doing/not wanting to do (oh my god, I’m so tired and I’m only halfway through this sentence and now I’ve just added to it with this parentheses and there’s no escape) will be different. Different things. Different sorts of flavours of thoughts. Especially if, like me, you are used to a constant, low grade, arbitrary hum of guilt running on autopilot in the basement of your brain. Like a chest freezer full of food no one will ever want to eat. If you unplug said chest freezer (metaphorically, you see) and its hum is silenced, all the weird little animals who live in the walls of the house of your mind will come creeping out. There is stillness and quiet, so that butterfly thoughts don’t get blown out or overwhelmed. There’s more room for variety, because your default isn’t pulling everything so strongly into itself and making other thoughts guilt-coloured. Please, if it is your preference, replace every instance of the word “guilt” in this with “worry” or “anxiety” or “frothing scummy hatred.” I’ve never had a positive emotion long enough for it to become a default state, so I don’t know if your inner landscape gets sticky in the same way if you feel pleasant all the time. If you have had this happen, you should tell me about that, because I am curious.

We get in thought habits, which are also feeling habits. Feelings can be harder to pinpoint than thoughts because there isn’t necessarily a verbal rope to climb down into the morass. Par example, if you hear yourself think, “I’m a right cunt, I am,” you might say, “Gosh! That wasn’t very nice, Insert Name Here. I wonder if perhaps I am stuck in a loop of profitless abusive thought? I shall ask a friend!” But if there are no words and you just feel like liquid shit stuffed into a skin bag with a name tag stapled to its leaky forehead, that can be harder to be aware of and thus prevent. It’s like colour. If everything is blue, nothing is blue. You can’t tell what your default state is because it’s default. This is where friends and relations come in handy, especially if they are the good bespoke kind, because they will yell at you and give you cake and make you feel bad for feeling bad about yourself, but in a good way. An eye watery, stuffed animal, listening to a boys’ choir kind of way. They will tell you you are lovely and list your good qualities for you. This is helpful up to a point, but can also become boring.

Once you are past the other-people-affirming-you part, you can gently investigate the ways in which you are not Jesus, the Buddha, or some other special, now deceased person. This is pulling the gross old frozen things out of your metaphor chest freezer. The corpse-white frozen peas of old trauma. The crystallised mystery meat chunks of that time you hit your brother too hard and made him bleed. The ancient gummy ice cream of failure. You don’t have to identify with these things. That’s the guilt part and we’re still not doing that, although you can go back to it at the end of the lesson if you really want to. Don’t identify with it, just admire it.

One way I am not like the Buddha is that I am very very lazy. My body naturally inclines to recline. I tend to laziness, both physically and mentally. I generally follow the laziness with guilt, but it corrupts the laziness and makes it not fun. Guilt clouds sensation. If you can really be there in your laziness, you need much less. Like a stronger strain of your preferred drug. Guilt is like water that dilutes the pleasant syrup of your foibles AND stops you looking at them properly. Dispense with it.

(Right now, for instance, I feel guilty about using the word “cunt” earlier in this broadcast. But you see, feeling guilty has caused me to use the word again, possibly upsetting the people I think it might upset even more. You see how profitless and indeed self defeating the whole business is.)

Remove guilt and you will feel fear slither down the drain with it, like the semi-animate clump of hair that goes out with the bathwater. And once fear and guilt have left a pleasant emptiness in the apartment of your soul, you will be able to tell what it is you really want to do. It will probably be a thing that looks boring but you won’t mind. Have fun.

Guilt Or Other Things


Welp. Huh. Here is my account of the evening of the twenty eighth of October in this, the year of our Lord 2016.

Things get crazy here around Halloween and Day of the Dead. People start partying hard about two weekends in advance and for the proceeding three or four days, they barely sleep, surviving on Red Bull, corner store fried chicken, Irish coffee and cocaine. With the occasional soothing brunch hosted by some sane person to fill us all with protein and juice. I cannot entirely remember how many shows I went to in the last week. It was lots. We went to see a band composed of Aaron’s good friends and my vague acquaintances at a punkish bar and I moshed again (fool! fool! when will we learn?) although much more restrainedly this time resulting in minimal neck pain. The band is called Cauchemar, French for nightmare, and they play swoony, Balkanish, string-heavy screamo. We had a lovely time.

This is pertinent because on said Oct. 28, Aaron and I and our friend Jen tried to go see an underground (figuratively, not literally) haunted house, reputed to be excellent. Before we left, we took some not-too-serious party kid drugs and leaped on our bikes and chortled along to the warehouse only to discover a huge bedsheet sign across the door saying “closed til further notice.” Turned out the fire marshal had showed up and fire marshaled out of business. So there we were. Standing in the street, drugs just starting to come on and not a beastie or a ghoulie to be had. We leapt back on the bikes, not being mopey sort of folk (generally), and headed to Poor Boys, a bar to which Aaron and I had never been, where our housemates and some mixed members of Cauchemar were playing.

It was a long one room place, with the bar on the right when you walked in and two low walls separating the bar half from a big empty dance floor. The roof was peaked wood, like in a barn or a simple church. We had just missed our friend’s performance, but not our housemate’s.

We hung around for ages, talking to people, taking pictures, out hanging, drinking bourbon, ginger and bitters (Aaron’s drink of choice. He claims it settles his stomach). The accordion came back into the mix and we started to dance.

We met dancing. Sort of. I noticed him dancing, I guess. He says he noticed me right off and I believe him. We first met at my house in Asheville through a mutual (ex)girlfriend. After playing some fun sloppy music together, I expressed the desire for a drink drink (likker) in a house that contained only wine and beer, and he concurred. I said I was going to the local bar and asked, out of pure conviviality, if he would like to join me. He would, he said, but maybe not quite yet. Things went on for awhile, I started thinking about bar close and driving distance so I marched out into the darkness. I hesitated on the path and did a swivel turn three or four times. Politeness warring with shyness. Something firmed itself inside me like a quick cooling jello and I turned back, poked my head in the door and asked if he wanted to ride with me. He looked up and said he’d come along later. He tells me now that his heart leapt in his chest and he wanted to run out the door with me but he didn’t want to look too eager, so he played a rather convincing hard to get. I did not mind and did not expect to see him, went happily to the bar and sat myself down with some scotch and a book. And lo, he appeared. We talked about my Sufism and his Jesuit college teachers and I could feel him getting more interested in me for my exotic whatsit and my tight brown sweater and then (I’ll have to ask him who, but I’m sure we’ll disagree) one of us asked the other to dance to the 50’s R&B playing in the empty bar. Whoever was asked graciously acceded, fortunately.

We kept chatting and flirting as we danced, but that tailed off. We got quiet and intent. We both realised that we were dancing well, extraordinarily well together. He seemed unable to put a foot wrong and I floated along with him like a leaf. Things like the sound of breath and the look of light on hair spiked in importance. We danced.

The song ended and we separated slow and smiled at each other. I didn’t think I’d fall in love with the guy, but I knew he mattered. Of course, then I went in fell in love and had lots of turmoil and hand wringing and operatic coming and going about the whole thing. I think I left him four times? Maybe three. Maybe two. The third one might have been him leaving me, if you look at it in the right light, and the fourth one bore no fruit, it was just me planning to leave because I was having a never ending panic attack and then he proposed, so that did not go according to plan.


We’re dancing in Poor Boys. 6 days ago now, this is. Dancing like we danced that first time, and like we have four or five times since. Like there’s no wrong step to take and even if we did, it would be right by mercy of our happiness and total absence of shame. He is wearing work clothes (dress shirt, nondescript pants), I am wearing his clothes, feeling very free and easy and looking very fine and manly. Like a fancy mechanic on their day off. We’re spinning around to the Balkan jams, which change tempo every two minutes, and we roll with it. He leans in, all fevered looking and bug eyed, and says, “Do you want to get married?”

“Okay,” says I.

This ten minute monster of a medley ends and we stop with a flourish. Aaron barges up to the microphone and bellows, “Is anybody in here ordained?” There’s that sort of pause and giggle and murmur when people think they might be being made fun of, but he persists and finally Robbie, of Cauchemar, with his dreadlocks and his face tattoos and his nice eyes comes leaping up to the front of the room and Aaron and I are writing are vows ad lib and suddenly we’re saying I do. And we did.

Of course, Robbie came up afterward and said, “That wasn’t for real, was it?”

“Yes, it was for real! We meant that!”

“Oh. Cause I’m not actually ordained.”

Me: “COME ON.”

Aaron: “Don’t care. Doesn’t matter. We’re married.”

Me: “You’re too bloody right we are.”

I went around and kissed everybody in that bar. I stopped people on the street on the way back to the house and explained that I had just gotten married in a bar, dressed in drag in my now-husband’s clothes. They were all excited for me, except for one guy I stopped in his car who was brushing his teeth.

We went to another member of Cauchemar’s house, who had a pool, and five of us got in the pool and stood in a heat saving circle and sang drunk shanties at each other. Pretty much everyone was wandering around in their underwear or less. I challenged a bunch of people to arm wrestling. I went around and kissed everybody at that party. I seem to feel much more comfortable getting the pack-animal cuddles I need now that I am married. I fell over at one point, sprang up immediately caroling, “I’m fine! I’m fine!” I have some stupendous bruising from that. Aaron got his butt on the fire pit and has a burn the shape of a bird. Marriage leaves marks. When you do it our way.

Otherwise, things are pretty much the same. Playing music, playing pool, baking pies, living life. We’re still going to have big old wedding parties in every city we lay claim to, so don’t you worry that this was a one time deal. ‘Sides, it’s not legal yet. Which means arse all to me, but, you know, for insurance purposes.



P.S. TO ALL RESPECTIVE PARENTS AND PARENT-LIKE INDIVIDUALS: I did not call you because I truly did not know what to say. But now I do. And it’s written up there. So go read it again.