Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My friend/brother, Manuel, rejoined my celebration of desultory with carpe diem crasseize the day tomorrow, make the most of tomorrow. Gotta love that. Manuel is also the author of the concept of Grump Stump, upon which I awoke this morning.

It's Farmer's Market Day in Brewster. I go to ogle the vegetables and often to eat a reasonably good almond croissant. We don't really need any more veggies, and I am off to Brooklyn for a couple of nights, so no cooking from me. I am trying to curb my I-can-eat-anything habit and was, for a change, able to remember that last week's almond croissant made me feel not so well. (A banana was the better, satisfying choice for a change.) I settled for onions and some local honey, very dark, for my morning reminder to be sweet to myself. Dark honey to start the day; that seems fitting for me.

I was thinking of that, being sweet to myself, this morning as I drank my-welcome-to-another-day hot water and honey. Some days, I barely taste it. I recall that I am missing the point in those cases. Today, the drink tasted quite good and I had a few moments of calmed and soothed spirits.

Irritation, grumpiness, frustration, and sorrow re-entered. (Hey, at least despair wasn't in the mix today.) I popped in an RT cd in the player as I headed out (the Farmer's Market is close enough to walk to, maybe 15 minutes, but it is all in direct sun, there being no trees shading the streets in that direction. There are plenty of trees around, for which I am grateful.) I wasn't ready to head back to my desk and the Sisyphian tasks that make up my current existence, and as I do have the car, I thought I would indulge myself in one of my favorite, albeit ecologically incorrect and not fiscally responsible, pasttimes: driving through the countryside. There really aren't too many places to go 'round here.

There is something potentially deadly, although quite freeing, about driving too fast and listening to killer guitar solos. RT's song Valerie has a manic, repetitive quality to it, but the version on the player was particularly so. I must have played it about 10 times, through the curves and shadows, stopping, starting, downshifting, leaning. Oh, and crying. I'll admit I wasn't the safest of drivers, but I am a pretty darn good driver in general, so there were no near misses or anything.

I find myself started to tears often these days. Guess crying is always just below the surface. Watching the Olympics brings tears of awe, which kind of embarrasses me. But is is a reflex, a response to the awesome and holy, very little of which I feel these days. I think those Olympians as well as those Olympian musicians reflect a wholeness and personal presence that I lack these days. Oh, and the ability to do something wonderful. (I might settle for less than wonderful right now.)

And music, too, when I am focussed and really listening, or sometimes when I least expect it, cuts through the thick hide of "getting through the day" I currently sport. (Probably good that I don't have actual horns. I feel more like a rhino than any other hooved critter. Not that I know what a rhino feels like. From the outside, ungainly, not very pretty, and not all that useful.) Good thing I found my headphones and the plug for the computer speakers, too! That Rodney Crowell-Mary Karr disc is getting a lot of play.

At any rate, back to RT: You can download this version here and hear for yourself. I would that the mix and mastering were better, but lordy can that man play. I really hated hearing those 'hood SUVs with their bombastic bass capabilities crusing down 8th Avenue (or anywhere else for that matter), but I could see the appeal of blasting through a neighborhood not your own and proclaming who YOU are. I might have disturbed suburbia a bit, but I don't have a very good nor loud music system in my car, so there was likely little discomfitting on that street.

This drive reminded me of another I took through Tilden Park in Berkeley about 12 years ago. Another soul-searching sojourn. Sometimes, I don't even know I need to drive and think. I was moving out of my Berkeley apartment and hence giving up my foothold and home there for New York. I was in a difficult romantic situation. Many things in motion, much at stake. And although I had a lot to do, (and anyone who has ever helped me move knows the truth of this: hello John, Melinda, Carol, Louise, Jay(s), Martha, Bryan, DMF, Laura, B, AJ, Dave, etc.) I put on some Van Morrison and hit the backroads.

(And tangentially, because that seems to be the structure du jour, Valerie was the song my romantic entanglement most associated with me. Yeah, that was the jangly, can't-wait-to-jump-some-bones period. )

The song that I hung onto as I swept around the corners and hills of Tilden Park, and along the ridge roads above Oakland and Berkeley was Van Morrison's In The Garden. As I sit here and write, I remember that I wrote about that song fairly extensively when I started this blog.

Turns out this is still true:

"Reading those words, "you had the key to your soul/and you did open" makes me weep. Every time."

This is like visiting someone I am not anymore:

A realm beyond ordinary expression ... or experience. Why that sounds like transcendence! Transcending the you that is uncomfortable and maybe outside of yourself. And the you that doesn't quite know where you are or what to do. And then you feel that deeper parter of yourself."

Right. Where you are or what to do. That sums up my life pretty well.

Well, here I am now, having listened to In the Garden for the past 30 minutes and cried my eyes out.

Melinda was kind enough to send photos of Emmylou this morning. Can't wait to see her. Enough circuitous nattering. (Moving to Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah.) Back to ... well, all of those things.


  1. transcendent tree,awesome cat.

  2. I always drive faster than I should when listening to great music, or singing ("sorry officer, I was Singing..."). A songwriter I heard perform not too long ago wrote a terrific song about that music-drive-fast phenomenon. Can't think who. With all your music knowledge maybe you know?