Monday, September 30, 2013

dream: nurturing

September 5, 2013

I dreamed I gave birth and labor wasn’t so bad.  I laid there  in a bed in a cabin at summer camp and they came and told me it was a girl.  I got up and could walk around.  I met Anna and I told her it’s a girl!  I was sure it was going to be a girl!  I was proud of my intuition.  She didn’t really care about that though.  I was a little disappointed, because this was actually a virgin birth and so there would be no dad around, and I realized then that I had kind of hoped Anna would help me bring up the baby, but now I knew she wasn’t into that at all.

So Anna and I went off and did stuff all day.  I came back to camp in the evening and I had sort of forgotten about my kid, not forgotten but just kind of been like, eh, she’s fine.  And then I got worried and felt guilty, I was meeting all these people who were like, congratulations!  and I saw Mom and she was like, hey, where’s the baby?  And I kind of laughed and I was like, I don’t know!  Anna and I have been working all day!  And then I was even more worried because I hadn’t fed her all day, and what about colostrum, that’s for people too right, not just cows and goats?  when did the window close for giving your baby those vital nutrients in your milk?  Why hadn’t I read the baby books, why didn’t I know?  Why hadn’t I just stayed with the kid, or at least fed her before I left?

So I went to the nurse’s cabin and there were all these cute fat happy babies that I kept seeing in decreasing age order, and I knew mine was the youngest, so I kept looking past all these blond baby girls and then inside a little kinda bassinet baby-shelter thing there were the youngest babies and I rummaged around for the smallest baby, the smallest one must be mine.  I found her and she had lots of black hair cut short like a little boy’s, and she had dark skin, like maybe someone from India would have.  This confused me for a second, I guess I expected a pale baby, but then I thought, Well, I have no idea who the father is!  This makes as much sense as anything!

She was emaciated skinny, with sad eyes.  She was definitely the smallest but she looked older in her face, like an old man.  like sometimes you see those heartbreaking pictures on TV of starving kids with old old faces.  I felt even more guilty.  Maybe I had completely screwed up this kid for life.  So I pulled up my green t-shirt (I know exactly which shirt it was) and just as soon as I picked her up I gave her my nipple not to waste any more time.  It felt very natural and proprietary, holding her, like “yep. this is my baby.”  I was sad for the hours I’d already missed of her life.  And she was hungry, she drank, thank god.  She immediately shat the milk out into my tiny russian shoulder-strap purse (I know exactly which purse) and I was a little worried but mostly relieved.  Like, oh good, the plumbing works!  And her eyes looked brighter after that, although I kind of wished she would get fat and happy before my eyes.  I thought, If I’m lucky I just have to be patient and keep feeding her and she’ll get fat and happy and stop looking old.

Friday, September 13, 2013

power of association

So!  Central Asia.

I got back about a week ago from Uzbekistan, this having been my second voyage to that general part of the world.  In many ways it was truly amazing, but for me it couldn't have the special place in my heart that Georgia did and does.  I actually feel a bit guilty because some of my favorite Uzbek hang-outs were accomplished with Georgians, pressing my nostalgia buttons, rather than digging myself into a new experience/place/culture.  But know what?  I don't feel that guilty.  And I sure as heck don't feel surprised.  It's pretty natural for me to seek out environments where I feel more at home, more familiar, more secure.  And I am not one who wants to forget important past moments.  I want them, if anything, to remain important, to crop up later in life with a sense of narrative circling.  I also think I just like the mountains better than the desert.


One thing I perhaps should have predicted but didn't, two years ago in Georgia, was the effect of what I was reading on my memories of that time.

I've noticed this more and more as I write letters, that if I'm reading a novel (more often than not what I'm reading is a novel), the ideas and the style often re-surface in some way in what I write.  Maybe here too--y'all can let me know if this post sounds like Haruki Murakami at all, that's the novel I finished today.  So what I'm reading apparently has a more profound effect on my moods and thought-shapes than I previously thought.  This fact occurred to me with particular strength during one of the evening concerts at the festival in Samarkand.  There were groups from many nations there, and everyone got a chance to perform on the big stage.  On the night when us Americans got to be in the audience, one of the groups was the Georgians.  They rocked, of course.  Georgian singing, especially in person, has an incredibly arresting effect on me, ever since the very first time I heard it after touching down in Georgia.  To me it's incredibly exciting, seeming to me to be this paradoxical mix of the ethereal and the earthy.  Something about the timbre of the voices, the strength and dexterity of the attack, the intervals, I'm not sure how to explain it but it seems to work on several emotional levels at once.  A blend of austere and sensual?  I wrote about it the first time I heard about it two phrases that don't seem compatible: "Salt of the earth" and "Music of  the spheres".  I don't know if anyone else experiences it like that, but it really gets me every time.

Anyway I was sitting listening to their short set, and thinking about spheres and visualizing astrolabes and revolving planets and orbs and ellipses of precious metals and space and time and galaxies and alchemical diagrams....and then I went, hang on, alchemical diagrams?

But of course.  When I traveled to Georgia, where I stayed for 3 weeks learning songs and climbing mountains and drinking wine, the only book I took with me was Jung's Psychology and Alchemy.  One memorable afternoon I read it aloud to a roomful of college students after a long ride in an open-back six-axel army vehicle--imagine riding for hours in the back of a dump-truck on wooden benches over a gravel road and you'll be in the headspace--and it sent everyone, including me, into a cool, irresistible sleep.  I mean, the book is dense.  I don't remember half of it, and I'm fairly sure I didn't comprehend a third.  I chose Psychology and Alchemy partly because I didn't want a novel with an arresting story to keep me up at night and be finished too quickly, and it did work admirably for that.  But the imagery of weird medieval and renaissance pen-and-ink drawings of suns and moon and goblets and crucibles and naked bodies and concentric circles have bonded with my experience of Georgian music on some fundamental level.

Which I think is awesome!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

more is less

I love the name of July.  I love the way it sounds.  Ju-ly.  Thick, unequivocal summer.  If June was thunder and lightning, smoke and tender leaves, July is full walls of green, gentler rains.  And crotch shots.

The cherries are ripe, they are the sweetest this year that I've known.  My sister's in the valley and we made a pie.  I don't really understand the phrase "easy as pie".  It's one of the harder things to make in my opinion, especially when you pick and pit the cherries yourself, which is by turns hot and neck-cricking and tedious and and bloody-looking.  The pie was very handsome though, and tasty.  Though I think we all know that nothing is ever as delicious as right off the tree, spittin the pits.  Is it a sign of greed to take more cherries than you can eat in one sitting and then make them into something richer and a bit less tasty?  Or is it a sign of thrift to make use of the glut while it's here, even if it doesn't give as pure a pleasure as serene, chimp-like, hand-to-mouth eating?

We had the first party in the yellow house!  Many songs sung on the porch in voices loud and soft, many beautiful friends cavorting on my lawn.  Later in the night we jumped in the pond and shivered and smoked ourselves over a little fire.  I walked home.  Going by starlight forces me to look up instead of down at my feet.  There was breathtaking lightning in the eastern sky, it looked like a giant, instantaneous orb.

I went up to Kentucky to Cowan Creek, it was just as magical as everyone said.  I built a fairy house and I talked to people about ballads, I forgot how good that feels.  Sooo good.  Anna was in her element, maybe a bit stressed but having fun and doing everything head-on.  She's a wonder.

Major goat milestone: If I sneak away from Stevie, I can leave her in the open pasture with the other goats instead of in the small pen.  Life is so much better this way since she has more forage, more exercise, and more time to develop herd dynamics with Hazel and Norah.  She cries much, much less and is an all around chiller goat.  This also means I can keep the small pen open so that any of the three goats can at any time run to the hutch for shelter or go to their water tub to take a drink.  It's still not perfect--if I'm not sneaky enough Stevie will still follow me, leaping silently between the two bottom electrical strands of the gate.  I try to be very surly when I toss her back in, making sure she at least brushes the zappers, hoping she will learn.  We finally ran out of goat formula and figure it's as good a time to wean as any, especially now that she has the opportunity to browse.  Her horns are coming in nicely, making her seem especially devilish!  What rites can we dream up for her?

As content as I am sitting here now, writing this, I still know how fragile I am.  I have...some problems...or...changes...happening.  With a relationship.  I mentioned how unmoored I feel to friend A, and she spoke so compassionately that my eyes filled with tears.  I wrote a letter about it to Z.  I figure, if I'm going to be open...keep going.  Like, be open with everyone that you can.  When did this become a novel concept??

Enough for now.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

the heart

the only way to talk about it is to talk about something else.

summer fever.  fattening up like a bear in summer, summer fruit.  long days, hay-making.

an enormous, earth-shaking clap of thunder woke me up last night, had me gasping and bracing my hand on the sheet as first the sound rolled over my mind, and then the image came merging with the book I was reading on Henry VIII and ending up with huge Cardinal Wolsey; then as my reason started to think about cause and effect I imagined the tree, surely only yards away from my window, that must be smoking in the wake of this lightning-strike.  This morning of course nobody else had heard the thunder.

my emotions coming up to surprise me, and my own efforts not to judge them, and not to wallow in the cold, leviathan-laden, scorpio-moon sea I keep under the surface.  I even tried, tried, clumsily tried to communicate them.  keep trying.

back into astrology, finding out more of my fire rabbit nature in Chinese astrology.  the weird thing is applying the same ideas to other people born in the same year.

I've been reading books for pleasure, I've been journaling.  Right now is a bit like time off (more like time off than it should be, to be truthful) from the folk-singing job.

I sleep down in the house they called Long Tall Sally, the yellow house.  A woman named Ruby who used to live there and also used to take care of my dad when he was little came to visit.  She's very beautiful!  White hair, clear face, clear eyes, still strong and balance in gait.  She wanted to get around and start weeding, righting fallen lawn chairs.  She was working in a fancy department store and my grandmother Mary came in to pick up some stuff and that was when they met and became friends.  They were bohemians! I like imagining this.

Couple of songs from Ireland I'm slowly working on, I can share soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

geek-out button

Geek-out switch has been re-set.

First of all: Ireland.

It was just tooooo much, y'all.  I don't know.  I loved it.

I met cool kids from Dublin, they let me stay at their house AND after we stayed up all night singing songs, we watched a documentary together about Irish music.  That is my kinda peeps.

And!!! when I met an old feller recovering from throat surgery and singing his first songs in months, he and his middle-aged son stayed up till four, and then his middle-age son stayed up till 8, singing and grinning.  "He's like a pig in the shit with singing," his son said.  Obviously it was true of him too.  That is how I felt too.  I felt like a pig in the shit.

I was so tired I was hallucinating crows/moths flying inside the room during Long Lankin; it was 7:30 am.  Also in my memory the dude singing it is playing the fiddle at the same time, and I'm not sure he plays fiddle at all?  So I hallucinated that too?  A surreal and beautiful moment.

I met this Scottish ethnologist and then we stayed up till 6 geekin out over singing styles and versions of the ballad "King Orfeo".
"King Orfeo?" said I, "Oh, I have a picture of a shadow-puppet show I'd like to show you."
Bwa ha's only this huge paper-cut shadow show I worked on for weeks and have been performing at every gig for months now with Anna.  You know.  Who's the nerd NOW?

Plusssss, in Dublin are some of my very favorite touristy things ever: an old church, a Yeats exhibit in the basement of the National Library, The! Book! Of! Kells!

Anyhow, the sap is rising.  Caffeine and spring are making my thoughts and my heart race.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

deep-sworn vow

OTHERS because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

luxury items

Okay, I wasn't going to post this, since when I look back over it it's quite unfocused; not to mention I feel a bit self-conscious talking just about ~feelings~ over here, internet.  However, my friend A. (a musician) wrote a facebook status about capitalism and suicidal thoughts and being an artist. And since I had just written this, I wanted to let it stand as part of that conversation.

Sitting here eating my chocolate and ginger candies, drinking my "English Breakfast" tea which came from my cousin at Christmas, in a tiny tin decorated like a red phone booth.

Sometimes I am just bowled over by the sheer blatant luxury of it all, like--what?!  I am wearing some pants with spandex in them?  And our human ape-brains figured out how to make spandex, you know, after we made those stone tools and invented writing, and also probably my pants flew all over the world and they went on a truck to a store and finally someone drove over to a Goodwill drop-box and put them in and then someone else hung them on the Goodwill rack in Wytheville, VA, where I figured a great use of my afternoon would be to wander about in a big lighted room full of clothes and try on these pants?

It makes me feel ashamed, I must say.  Ashamed of my thoughts about fashion, my love of pastries, the way I enjoy surfing the internet.  How I use coffee as a crutch to accomplish the stuff I call "work", which to others is play.

I just re-read "Cold Mountain", which of course only exacerbates my curmudgeonly dissatisfaction with modern life.  There is a moment near the beginning of the book when Inman has a few prescient glimpses of the coming industrial age, and considers it one where all the things he considered of value in life have either been "banished, or willingly fled".  How that hurts my heart!  How I long to live with a simplicity that harms none!  How I fear that my easy, easy upbringing has rendered me weak and unfit for such a life!

I know I'm not alone in this sentiment, but it still hurts me too look at the people of my generation, so overcome with guilt and pressure that they can't seem to "make it" or "succeed" in the post-modern mold.  Dear, intelligent friends who, for example, have trouble finding a job.  Who have trouble completing college.  Who take antidepressants because their job makes them sad.  Who long for love. Who struggle just to eat, not because they're too poor to afford food, but because their eating is disordered...

Sometimes I just want to tell them, you know what?  You are not the problem.  Our world is effed up.  The reason it's not working for you is because you have a good amount of sense.  You have a tender heart.  A human can only take so much, and our society seems built to alienate us.  Don't feel ashamed that you moved back with your parents.  A hundred years ago that was what you would do anyway.  Families are supposed to take care of each other.  So you feel privileged?  Me too.  That makes me feel sad and panicked too.

Paralysis is a terror for me.  I don't want to just live with this sadness, wandering around in Target to relax.  I want us to choose the right priorities.  I want all our trying and trying to mean something.  I want us to come together more.  I want our society to be more comfortable with physical touch, because I want a hug.  I want to know the place where I am, deeply, in its particulars.  I want to stop driving cars, forever.  I want to be better.

Yeah....Happy New Year.