Humble Beginnings for an Angry Psycho

It’s so easy to forget the people that inspired, directed, or that you admired that lead you into something (hopefully good).  Someone extraordinary that took an interest in you, perhaps, when you were looking for a place to fit in within the world.

There were really two escapes for me in life – music and writing. They work in tandem for the most part to keep me alive in a world that so often dampens every emotion.

Once I got out of high school and into the freedom of college life I really discovered the live show. Live shows can be so powerful it feels like an exorcism or sex, and when the object of your musical affection initiates any contact it changes you.

The first artist to take an interest in me as a person – not a fan – was POE.  Her genuine effort to connect with her fans was not lost on me.  I became somewhat of an honorary member of her crew, and when she packed up for tour I would be right with her entourage in the Texas, Oklahoma, sector.  I was eighteen the first time I sat on a tour bus; POE’s tour bus.  I philosophized with her merch girl and tech guy on music, and I helped her cellist (Cameron) maneuver between groupies.  I was the female William in  Almost  Famous, except I never ended up Cameron Crowe.

Back then little Ben Kweller was in a much-hyped band called Radish – a wonder boy he was tagged in the industry.  Too bad they didn’t live up to the expectations of the machine, but Ben did really well on his own much later – as a man.  I’ll never forget the chubby-cheeked blond singer begging me on my 18th birthday (The EDGE X-mas show) to introduce him to POE.  About ten years later at an ATO X-mas party, we ran into each other again and he remembered this as clearly as I did.

POE was the real deal, and it left an imprint on me.

Ps. The Angry Psychos = her fans.

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Gentle Loneliness

Stumbling into a bar, midday, alone and without any sense of urgency, albeit aimless.  The male bartenders in anytown, USA, pretty much look the same, but it’s their distinguished dialect that differentiates between the regions.  I remember a handful of bars because of their bar speciality, like the Greek tavern by Port Authority in New York City where the owner makes his own stout red wine and generously keeps my glass full without a bill.  I remember other bars for different reasons like Bar of America in Truckee, California, due to embedded nuanceslike the assymetically placed clock beside a large hole in the wall that could easily be covered up by that damn clock.    It’s not really about the bar, itself, that captures the aesthetically pleasing side of my loneliness.  No, it’s the ambiance of life’s vibrations and the romanticized connection to all those sentences I’ve read about characters that have sat on the same type of stool, in the same type of bar, experiencing the same synapses of mood, that connect me to these places. 

It doesn’t end at bars.  There are a series of places that come to mind like some scene of a coming-of-age movie where the shadow of loneliness envelopes the main character causing them to reflect and move forth in life, back on track.  Right off the interstate in Dallas, Texas, there is a grassy knoll hidden by an overpass that is across the street from a well-known hospital.  It was there that I would sit for hours just looking into the vastly lit wide open Texas sky at night, waiting for an epiphany.  I’ve used the term ‘epiphany’ so much that it’s often spouted out from my mom’s mouth in reference to wise stories from a strong-lived life as what my mom calls, “what’s your term?  I had an EPIPHANY.” 

I counted it up once and I had moved 32 times give or take a couple houses during my parent’s divorce, 5 different states, 20 different zip codes, 7 of those were in a NYC burrough, and 3 different towns in New Jersey.  That’s a lot of unsettledment in one lifetime.  I wasn’t running from anything per se as much as I was running toward this idea of a life that I only knew from books and movies. 

Nowdays I can’t really concentrate in bars due some latent A.D.D. that has me more interested in people watching than sitting with my gentle loneliness that brought forth much of my writing.  Other than my pickiness of not sitting by a kitchen or facing the crowd in a restaurant, I don’t really notice symmetrically conflicting items like oddly placed decorative ornaments.  I also just bought a house so there’s no need to go anywhere but home to find myself anymore. 

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When 31 isn’t cool…

Being a big sister has been rewarding in many ways, but mostly I was different than all the other sisters in the world; I was cool.   In college my brother proclaimed, “I’m going to live wherever you live when I get older, sissy.”  His loyalty ballooned my heart and helped me catch my breath in various stages of my life.  There was always this little guy that thought I was the coolest person in the world.  When my bruised ego pushed my shoulders to the ground, there he was–I was cool.  When I felt I couldn’t love anymore, there he was–someone I truly loved. 

While I did the college thing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK, my little brother tagged along a couple weekends as I visited the local hangouts.  When I lived in Dallas, Texas during my Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out phase, he was sent to stay with me and get me out of the Tie Dye.  After fame and fortune left me like a one-night stand, he came out to New York City to let me know that I was a star in his world.  There hasn’t been a place I’ve lived that my brother Blake hasn’t visited. 

This visit was different and as my place in life had solidified over the past few years,  his was changing in every way every single day–adolescence.  In fact, for the first time in his life I wasn’t cool.  I suppose I thought I would always be the cool big sister and never that old fart that referred to his uber bass levels as too loud or the uncool old hag that couldn’t point out cool truck rims from regular ones.  Even working at MTV wasn’t cutting it in his world since ‘MTV hadn’t been cool in over a decade’  and Maplewood, NJ was a suburbia he didn’t think he could live.  For the first time in my life I had moved from an era of cool into 31 is not cool.

As he walked out the door this morning from my New Jersey Colonial  to head back to Oklahoma after a visit to my first laying of roots, I knew our dynamic had shifted.  No longer would life send my little brother to check on me and lift me up, but rather I would be sent into his to return the favor. 

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