First, videos you need to see.
Second, in an attempt to wean myself off of the brain crack I’m clearing my inventory of random bits. Here are little zygotes of songs, stuff that’s gotten emailed to friends but hasn’t really hit daylight, languishing in the back of my closet. They’re kind of like flipping through a book of pencil sketches rather than oil paintings, but I think the zygotes need to get unpacked.
I used to have reoccurring dreams about abandoned babies and animals in infancy. I’d forget they existed, and later find them parched or starving, on the brink of death or shriveled and gone. I think the dreams were about leaving ideas to die in the back of closets.
Related: earlier tonight I said to a friend that playing music alone in a room is like lighting a fire in a bottle. The oxygen runs out when you’re alone, and the fire gets extinguished by your conviction it’s not good enough for the air… but either way the second it hits the air, it breathes, and lives, and the fire grows.
So maybe, in the land of mixed metaphors, I’m airing out my sketchbook… or setting fire to my puppies.. or something along those lines. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Pretty_Brave (Brokenglass Mix)
a tiny song from the living room piano
I’m standing outside the backstage door in the sharp cold, dressed in sweater upon sweater. It is cold you-can’t-feel-your-fingers-beneath-your-mittens cold. Pinpoints of white fall from the sky, and vanish, changing their collective minds: it is too cold even for snow.
I’m not sure why I’m standing here. A throng of people, flashing cell phones and digital cameras, outstretched hands grasping pens and playbills. I don’t need an autograph or a photo opportunity. I don’t need an extra piece of the limelight to put in my pocket; not this time.
But I am standing here just the same. The cold is whittling away the crowd to less and less, lost to the more sensible warmth of coffee shops and restaurants and home. But the writer hasn’t come out yet. And he’s who we’re waiting for.
Who I’m waiting for.
After the final bows I lingered among the rows of red cushioned seats, watching the people start to dress the set for the next performance. I didn’t want to leave. The shimmer that clings to the air after a show wouldn’t be out in the streets. The speedball of intensity born of tears and laughter in quick succession only stays in your veins so long.
So my feet led me to the backstage door. I am behind someone from Puerto Rico, beside a couple speaking in Spanish. There are only twelve of us, fifteen maybe now, when the door finally opens. He is in a hurry, but he signs quickly for the people gathered in the makeshift line, poses for snapshots, hugs a regular visitor. I am at the tail of the crowd and he nearly passes me by, obviously on his way somewhere. “I just wanted to say–” the words leave my mouth as his back is to me, stride purposeful. He turns.
“I just wanted to say thank you. That was beautiful.” He holds out his hand to mine, and shakes it, and thanks me for coming, before disappearing into the streets of New York.
I’m getting better at twittering than I am at keeping up this blog.
But I’m trying! I am!
Random highlights of the last eleven days:
– touched ground in four countries in two days
– went to Holland and Belgium for the first time
– knowing I’m in Amsterdam because the airport is filled with clouds of beautiful smoke
– eating my only meal in Belgium at Buffalo Bill’s, a faux American restaurant with tacky totem poles adorning the entrance out by the Brussels airport
– nearly got deported in Ireland by the friendly immigration officers
– arrived in New York City to brilliant snow
– opened up the new year surrounded by beautiful artists in a beautiful apartment full of art
– followed by, a few hours later, standing on a stage with Beth Hommel and Amanda Palmer and the Danger Ensemble, due to the sheer hubris of Miss Beth. (She took me by the hand, with no backstage passes of any kind, and hurried us past the bouncers with such a fierce look of intensity that of COURSE we belonged there.)
– am crashing with said Beth and her mom, happily surrounded by keys of all kinds, and art, and the streets of Brooklyn, and bodegas, and the J train, and, and, and
I think I don’t say much here because how much to say? My mood swings overcome me, I don’t want to get too personal, I wait, and I wait, and then weeks and months pass. And that’s okay.
It’s a New Year. I spent New Year’s Day, my birthday, bundled and scarved and gloved wandering the freezing pavement through Central park alone, past the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center, the giant Christmas tree, the sheer glowing warmth of the people on the street, the tourists, the fifteen vendors selling the same five winter hats, the hot dog sellers, the tourists, the families… being lost in the crowd of strangers and feeling so happy just to be next to these people in the middle of winter, wherever they were from, wherever they were going.
It was a good birthday. I’m thirty.
Really? Thirty? You look so young.
Kind of amazing.
I think I’m living my life backwards. At twenty my life was much more sort of “together” than it is now– and now I am a vagabond gypsy, flitting about the world and making music and art and, and, and…
I think my twenty year old self would admire me. I think my ten year old self would cling to me in equal parts infatuation and amazement.
I think these are good signs.
From the ever lovin’ Elaine:
A speech from Harvey Milk, who was shot to death in 1978, after being the first openly gay man to run for public office in the United States.
Gus Van Sant has made a movie about his life, which also looks fascinating:
(An aside, Milk’s killer is the reason people use the phrase “maybe he ate too many Twinkies.”)
I went to go see a blackbox theatre production of Rent last night in London. I’ve been in love with that show since I was 15, it imprinted on my bones. Mad creatures of various sexualities living on the razor edge of life, loving and dying and making art. Little hungry baby Olga ate it up.
I always walk away from it with a huge heart. Then I came home and watched this:
And it feels like one continuous thread. Not being afraid of being over-sentimental, or too earnest, and acknowledging the basic impulse to love. Like Maya Angelou said, America is growing up. And seeing this commentator from MSNBC almost in tears over the parts of the country that are still holding back is insanely heartening.
I’m a continent away from the soil in which change is being fostered. But I still woke up today with my heart like Christmas morning, giddy and girlish and full of love.
Last night I walked to the corner store in my London neighborhood, and right at the counter was a little old English woman asking the young Indian man behind the counter, “Who do you want to win? Obama, right?” They both agree, with hope and instant camaraderie in their eyes. I chime in.
“You two are making me so happy right now!” I say in my unmistakable American accent.
The woman looks at me and tells me that all of Europe, if certainly not the entire world, wants Obama to be president.
And now it is November 5th, and the world is a different place than it was the day before. I am so happy to be alive for it.
I’ve been writing snatches of songs that never make it into the wild.
I’ve been working too much.
I had an AMAZING gig.
I’ve been making wondrous long-lost new friends.
AND I bought shiny new super-cheap thrift store amazing gloves.
(Overwhelming Super-Gloves Of Cuteness.)
Bonus pictured: Elaine and me from our trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Pictured elsewhere: other things I’ve been doing in the last great while. And here.
Not pictured: beautiful Halloween costume given to me by dear friends
where I was a harem girl. Or a lamp genie, according to a nice English
stranger who stopped me in the street. Oh yes. I rode the London Underground
half-naked decked in shiny jeweled material in the freezing cold.
Super bonus: the lo-fi taping of Feather for the London gig, reincarnated into a folk song that should be played on a porch to an audience of fireflies.
Download: Feather (Live)
Thanks to the magic of I Am Not Lefthanded, I’m playing a gig this Sunday at the Fly on New Oxford Street, as their opening act. It will be very exciting. There will be confetti. Cuddling. Tiny elephants. Bad juggling. Ponies. And somewhere in there, I will sing!
Come. Wear a funny hat. It will be grand!
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