Friday, June 27, 2008

The dialogue in my head, lately, ricochets. That's not the same as being scatter-brained, instants of losing incidents, incidents of losing instants.

Thoughts aren't lost, but like a silver ball that bounces off tiny pillars wrapped with wires that send out signals to a larger machine that keeps track, my thoughts bounce off of one another. I can feel myself trying to keep track of the ball, trying to move the ball toward the pillars without "tilting" the larger machine, throwing it off balance, losing the points I've racked up toward winning another game, or simply sustaining.

To control the ball without over-controlling the ball.

The game, I guess, it the thinking game. There is a difference though, my pillars, my thoughts, my silver ball of a brain that ricochets from thought to thought and must be kept from falling to the bottom of a slanted surface where it will be lost, is contained in a space restrained only by the limits of my time here, and it remains un-walled until my time here is done. Not only does it remain unrestrained, bound only by my death, which it hasn't met and cannot predict, there are new thoughts forming constantly and they in turn create opportunities for my brain to make new connections.

So my brain is this ever expanding game that I partake in but am not wholly in control of, although I like to believe that I am. There is momentum that builds in thoughts I try to steer, to maneuver. When I try to write them down they continue to move, to ricochet. I have some say in how they move from the mind to the page to the mind again. (They are never still.) I have some influence, I create some force, but I mostly follow the ricochet of the ball.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Not Jelly

Based on Friday night's concert turn-out it appears to be true: "Pearl Jam* has outlasted many of its alternative rock contemporaries." I'd like to add, after agreeing, that they've also managed to "keep up" with the best of all artists, no matter the genre. I'm no music critic, so I won't. I'll just report that the crowd at Camden was younger than I expected and that made me happy for Pearl Jam. I'm not even sure if there was anyone there over 35 (except maybe me) but we were on the hill, so maybe an older crowd was seated down below the lawn?

The concert was part of my cousin Bernie's vacation: "A seven Pearl Jam concerts in nine days" road trip, and although I resisted at first, I gave in finally and went. I mean seriously -- is there anyone who doesn't like Pearl Jam? Well, maybe, but I'm not one of those people. I was trying to be a good citizen by not over-indulging since I have seen them once already, and under similar circumstances. But he insisted (read: he and Joel split the ticket) and then I had NO excuse! So thank you guys, so much! And Bernie, I agree: If I were to die right now I'd die happy. Not that I'm looking to go (believe me) but if I did -- it could be said that I couldn't have loved my life more. Thank you for being a part of that. Oh, and you too, Bob G. of poem a day fame.

Back to Pearl Jam. They were perfect. And they actually jammed. Have you ever entered the sound of a guitar? I did, last night. Something inside you merges with what the band releases and you feel the merge as you enter into each other. They feel it too, the band, as they enter you. If they didn't they couldn't be there, or wouldn't be for long.

I've posted pictures -- also given graciously by Bernie and Joel. I did take the pictures of the row of young men pissing against the doors of the "job-johnnies" (I think that's what Bernie called them) after the concert, and of the dashboard and also of Bernie and Joel together. I couldn't help taking a shot of the row of guys. Really. There were guys peeing everywhere. Not Bernie or Joel, though.

One thing I found interesting: deflated balloons that had previously been inflated with nitrous oxide and sucked into the lungs of their purchasers littered the parking lot along with broken beer bottles and bags of trash. I hadn't noticed the balloons earlier. Thank you Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. But after the concert, and probably because the parking log was sparse and the alcohol had mostly worn off -- I noticed the balloons and the men with the tanks who were surrounded with people who were paying $5 per balloon (or 5 for $20) -- and being the sheltered person I am, (oh but I am learning things all the time) I asked and learned. All I can say is that the last time I had anesthesia -- and for that matter -- every time -- something inside me went automatic-pilot and I began to recite the "Act of Contrition." I suppose I'm too afraid to die to do anything too toxic to my body. However, lest I be a hypocrite, I have to add -- I'm not judging their high and admit that this spiced rum? It's another drug all together and one I may trade vodka for. Well, not forever. But I think it might be a nice alternative!

Well, this was the setlist as posted by the Jambox website, and seems right to me:


You've Got To Hide Your Love Away

Main Set

Severed Hand
Brain Of J.
Low Light
Nothing As It Seems
Green Disease
Love Boat Captain
Even Flow
Thin Air
Daughter (tag: War)
Do The Evolution
Better Man
Why Go

(Encore 1)

Given To Fly

(Encore 2)

Baba O'Riley

*Pearl Jam is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Mike McCready (lead guitar). The band's current drummer is Matt Cameron, formerly of Soundgarden, who has been with the band since 1998.
Formed after the demise of Ament and Gossard's previous band Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album Ten. One of the key bands of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was criticized early on—most notably by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain—as being a corporate cash-in on the alternative rock explosion. However, over the course of the band's career its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices; including refusing to make music videos and engaging in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having "spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame."[1]
Since its inception, the band has sold 30 million records in the U.S.,[2] and an estimated 60 million albums worldwide.[3][4] Pearl Jam has outlasted many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of the decade,[5] and "the most popular American rock & roll band of the '90s".[6]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Think Locally (You can still Fuck Globally)

Another Example Of How What's Local Isn't, Really.

"This time you're more potent. My nostrils burn and flare. Your fire
deposits smear the air so that everything I see is blurred, unclear."

I woke up yesterday to the smell of burning cedar. At first the smell was inviting and I considered that someone close by was having a Saturday BBQ, although I must admit I thought it was a bit early. After about an hour the smell got stronger and I could tell it was the result of more than a BBQ, that there must be a fire somewhere close by.

By eleven a.m. I was gloved and shoveled, ready to work in the gardens, but after a half hour my nostrils were burning. Everything was covered in a haze of smoke that I tried to ignore but finally decided wasn't healthy to be breathing in. I assumed today when I read the newspaper that I'd be informed of the fire's origin. I was.

The smoke didn't come from where I and hundreds of other local residents thought it came from. It wasn't "local" but the result of two southern wildfires on wildfire refuges in North Carolina and Virginia, approximately three hundred miles away.

If the air was too heavy here, to breathe, then it must be nearly impossible for those who live closer to the fires to remain there. I hope everything for them works out. Tonight I've got roses, honeysuckle, rain, ocean, and the sweet vanilla scent of some shrub I don't know the name of gusting bursts of perfume in through the window. It's not me, it's life that's bi-polar.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Toad The Wet Sprocket at The Trocadero in Philadelphia, June 11, 2008. I waited fifteen years for this!

I Can Be Happy

I Can Be Happy

If I say I'm blessed then I presume a god exists who believes I deserve a better life than someone who is less fortunate than I am.

If I say I'm lucky then I deny myself the satisfaction of accomplishment after (and during!) the labor I partake in. So what should I say? I'm glad? I'm touched? It's been difficult but rewarding? Yawn. That I know it can all be gone in an instant? Yes, I know that. But for now maybe I should just say that I am so very happy (as in as happy as I can be, being human with the immense ability to know and to feel the extreme range of emotions we are able to feel).

I don't know why -- maybe because of the surgery and because of how difficult and isolating it was for me -- I thought my life was somehow already decided: that I'd already met all the people I would meet, made all the friends I would make, loved all the people I would love.

Not true.

Although I go silent for two days, or more, although I have no desire to speak, I witness. And when I return I return exhilarated by the unpredictability as well as the familiarity of life.

The people I work with are tremendous. Really. We were like a machine today. A few snags here and there, but we were all tossing the ball -- keeping it up in the air.

I love working where I get a say in what's fair and can look out for my co-workers, not let them get bullied, not allow any one of them to take on too much on their own. There are a lot of good people in the world, still. Did you know that? Oh, our little tempers flare here and there, and yeah yeah yeah we're all in it for ourselves -- I've heard all that too -- but I don't believe it's entirely true. We're not all in it for ourselves. We're all just hoping to have a slice.

When I was younger and didn't know much about the misery in the world that existed beyond my immediate arena I thought "the great thing about happiness (remember? I am so very happy): the happiness pie doesn't run out. It's like Jesus' loaves of bread, his fish and wine. There is an unending supply and no one has to worry they'll be denied." Like I said, I was young and very optimistic. Of course it can run out. It's running out all over the world. But I can be happy here where I am while I look after and am looked after by others. Reaching out and reaching into as many hearts as I can. I can be happy that I can. And am.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Or Like A New Car That's Smooth On Tight Curves

Now to work off the cost.

Like I was saying... I was thinking

that if I couldn't get my violin to sound at least as sweet as Regina Spektor sounds singing, that it wasn't worth playing. And since I wasn't going to quit playing, that meant only one thing: upgrade the instrument. So I did. Now I feel like I was using a phillips head screwdriver (is phillips head trademarked, I wonder? Apostrophe, no apostrophe? Capital P? No capital? Oh well) on a flat one-slatted screw head. I guess what holds true of tools holds true of instruments, as well: that "the right tool makes all of the difference." I actually don't suck. At all. And I finally have a violin that doesn't "play" but sings. It's amazingly responsive to my fingering and my bowing and it's lighter and narrower than my last violin so it's easier for me to navigate and maneuver. I can reach the g-string without contorting my arm (!) and glide to 5th position without a snag. Wow. Not to mention, the sound is gorgeous.

This is why I work.

So I can play.



My co-workers and I were talking about Bipolar Disorder today and I mentioned that I was cyclothymic (the lowest rung on the BP to Schizophrenia ladder). I said something about my doctor telling me I have to make sure I sleep in order to prevent bouts of manic-depressive episodes, otherwise I become mean, and they said "Mean? You? Mean?"

I just wanted to say, that felt very nice.
Although life can be difficult, it can also be very touching.

Oh, and speaking of sleep, as you can see, it's nearly 3 a.m.
Don't worry, I promise I'll be nice. Tomorrow I get to sleep in!