Listening

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I get aura migraines. A fact of my life for more than thirty years. The tiniest dot of light that grows into a wild snake, gradually engulfing the whole of my vision. A beautiful menacing messenger commanding me to slow down, better yet, STOP, get to a dark place and observe. My latest got me thinking of how it resembles Acoma pottery, delicately bending lines of turquoise and white, rust and black. Beautiful really, despite what it really means.

Not only am I temporarily blinded, but pain is imminent. I have been warned. What better way to ride the wave than by getting lost in music, as singing is one of the best avenues I know to forgetting pain. And since I mentioned a 70s Playlist a while back, here goes, complete with a disco interlude!

This is a L O N G list, and equally notable for what isn’t here. Every time I thought I had it, I remembered something else. I think there’s got to be a part two.

Can’t You See – The Marshall Tucker Band

That’s the Way – Led Zeppelin

Low Spark of High Heeled Boys – Traffic

Angel from Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt

Southbound – The Allman Brothers

L.A. Woman – The Doors (one of my top karaoke songs!)

Bitch – The Rolling Stones

Hello It’s Me – Todd Rundgren

Hollywood Nights – Bob Seger

Love Reign O’er Me – The Who

Low Down – Boz Skaggs

Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens

Saturday in the Park – Chicago

Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash

Easy – The Commodores

Take it Easy – The Eagles

Come Down in Time – Elton John

Fernando – ABBA

Night Fever – The Bee Gees

Heroes – David Bowie

A Song for You – Leon Russell

Old Man – Neil Young

Time Has Told Me – Nick Drake

American Girl – Tom Petty

Sweet Thing – Van Morrison

Every Kinda People – Robert Palmer

Sara Smile – Hall & Oates

Poetry Man – Phoebe Snow

Us & Them – Pink Floyd

It’ll Take a Long Time – Sandy Denney

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inside out

This and the two above: Linda Fleming

Most handsome and best companion

Greetings from Friday night! It is exceedingly rare for us to have two events in one day, so you know it’s pretty special when we do. The recently completed Ent Center for the Arts (such a gorgeous space!) hosted Sybarite5, a unique and fabulous string quintet that plays Radiohead covers, among other magical music, so, you know, deal sealed. The show was fun and funny and the music super wow, wow, wow. These people can play, y’all!

We also had a pre-show nosh at Tap Traders – my stellar, delightfully pink and purdy, sour beer was a blackcurrant, and the hubster’s an Oktoberfest – tis the season. If you’re local (even just passing through), head on over to the Ent Center to see Linda Fleming’s great works, outdoors and in, check out the multitude of other sculptures, the beautiful architecture, and the stellar view (photo below), of course. You won’t regret it!

 

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Black is Beautiful

 A playlist to represent a little bit of everything I love:

Ella Fitzgerald – “Blue Skies” – My favorite singer of ALL TIME. The scatting! Look it up and whose photo does it show? ELLA! The queen.

John Coltrane – “Blue Train”

Miles Davis – “Stella by Starlight”

Marvin Gaye – “Inner City Blues”

Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour”

Mos Def – “Umi Says”

Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation”

Erykah Badu – “Love of My Life (an Ode to Hip Hop)”

Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”

James Brown – “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”

Jackson Five – “Never Can Say Goodbye”

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “The Creator”

The Carters – “Apeshit”

Public Enemy – “Rebel Without a Pause”

Erik B. & Rakim – “I Ain’t No Joke”

J Dilla – “Trashy”

Ray Charles – “Georgia”

Aretha Franklin – “Day Dreaming”

Abbey Lincoln – “For All We Know”

Nina Simone – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”

With two famous suicides in the news, I have been thinking, even more than I normally would, about mental illness and suicide. And since I have been plagued by what Winston Churchill called the “black dog” since I first tried to kill myself at age eight, I have a bit more than two cents to offer on it. I’ve got a whole dollar and what I anticipate being a lot of swear words. Because I am pissed.

First off, for nearly every person I have heard comment on how important it is to talk to you about my depression, because you really care. Mean what you say. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this line, then attempted to get my head in a safe space only to be on the receiving end of bullshit like:

  1. How could YOU possibly know about depression? You’re my cheerful friend! Just because I work my ass off to keep it positive absolutely does not mean I have not visited or sometimes resided long-term in the pit of despair.
  2. Here’s what you should do! Yes, I have seen a therapist. Yes, I’ve read books. Yes, I have tried exercising more (an hour every day) and yoga and meditation and eating differently. Yes, I do take note of small miracles and kindnesses (bees! a smile from a stranger! that cloud there, literally floating!), of how TRULY great my husband is, AND how lucky I am. And yet, none is a cure. My brain is still broken.
  3. Oh, well then, maybe drugs are the answer. I tried them, multiple kinds and doses. They only made it worse, physically and mentally, so I quit them.
  4. I’m super uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something else.  If I am feeling brave enough to share my anguish with you, a person who is supposed to care, I am going full narcissist and only want to talk about my shit. Shut up and really listen. It is being heard, admitting openly (sometimes only in a whisper to myself) that I am hurting and my suffering is bordering on self destruction that I am saved.

Finally, should I ever choose suicide, know that it isn’t because I think it will make me happy or that I don’t have a fierce love or genuine concern for the feelings of my family and friends. It will be out of sheer exhaustion and a sincere desire for relief. My body aches with depression. My head, my heart. It makes me vomit while shouldering the crushing weight of mountains. It fills my mind with terrible piercing screams, of the horrible and unspeakable that exists in the world, of my own foibles – all that I am not, all that I cannot do and be and see, of the utterly stupid and trivial. Some of it is true. Much of it is not, but still, it continues, and I along with it, for how long I cannot say.

But, because, miracle of miracles, I remain an optimist, I have hope that it is ages and ages.

Last night Joy Division was on a constant loop, on the hi-fi and my mind’s eye. Positively agog that this music has been a steady part of my being for more than thirty years. What, whaaat? T H I R T Y.

I sat, joyfully awash in the memories elicited.

Of staying up late, hunched over my desk, doing homework, music low. Other times, the joyous solitude of listening for the sake of it, to grasp the meaning, scribbling words and ideas in notebooks, pinning them on walls and doors, of dancing by myself wrapped in the sheer pleasure, of attempting to drown the noise of a loud house and an even louder family.

Of being an outsider, neither a punk nor a waver, neither a stoner nor a jock, neither a nerd nor a cheerleader, but skirting the territories, knowing each as a person and friend, beloved, crafting the finest patchwork quilt of companions, threads of kindness in my wake. Proving some things never change. Be who you are. Love and do as you like, just show me your kindness, your heart, and we can be friends.

Unpredictable me. Clothes preppy and new wave, loafers and buckle shoes, never a sock. Obsessed with skulls and so much black, save around the eyes. Makeup light, bangs high, then the bob I would have for years, sometimes bangs, sometimes not, shoulder to chin and back again. Honor roll student doing donuts in my friend’s Charger, fast, faster, I laughed wildly while he whimpered like the baby I was purported to be. French student of the year who occasionally got high, drank practically never, save to taste. My first cocktail was a Lynchburg Lemonade, further proving some things never change. I do like whiskey best. Designated driver and caretaker, I got people safely home, handed out bowls to vomit in, and practically ran a therapist’s office out of my car.

My car! I worked long hours and saved for years, fast food and bussing tables, finally having enough Christmas break senior year of high school. 1981 Toyota Celica, five speeds and the freedom to do what I please. My music. My Thoughts. My whims. Mostly in darkness, when I reflect, whizzing and crawling along the back roads of Arvada, Boulder, and the mountains beyond. The Sex Lights and searching for possessed goats. Driving to parties, the Westminster Mall. The highway downtown to be among the skateboarders, outsider again, my favorite, wickedly handsome with a foot tall mohawk and bad manners. But, goll-ee, to watch him skate, the grace and lightness of fine articulated limbs.

Later, at night, to wander among the warehouses, under viaducts, places long gone. To smoke – stupidly, for a year – Camels and the fanciest black cloves at Paris on the Platte, sip a Cafe Jacques, or, on more brazen evenings, a Crowbar, plied with enough caffeine to open the eyes of the dead. Other times it was Muddy’s, darker, quiet and moodier, too, whispering among ceiling-high books, nursing a chocolaccino, delicate sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

Music was the undercurrent of it all, often misunderstood and mocked by friends, yet what held us together, too. Those dark hours, adding up to days and months, driving and talking, the music never stopped. Joy Division. The Doors. The Cure. U2. New Order. INXS. Lou Reed. The Clash. Eazy-E. The Rolling Stones. The Beastie Boys. The Psychedelic Furs. Echo and the Bunnymen. The Smiths. Modern English. General Public. More I can’t remember. More I choose to forget.

 

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