The Magic of First Takes

The putting together of this project/ feels so analogue and piecemeal/ not at all peaceful/ her friend says to record it when the feeling hits

It’s strange to listen back.

It’s 1995, I’m living at the Parkside, 19th & Aloha. I’ve taken to writing poems on tiny white pads of paper. In my mind, they’re just frenzied mental notes, slated for the scrap-pile. One day I press record on my Sony Walkman and speak the bits into the room. Later, I listen back. The thing that hit my ears is astounding – polished and confident! I’m ashamed that I had thought so lowly of my scribbles. They’ve morphed into something real, something worthy of existing! Now I have something I have an obligation towards, something to preserve and protect. I stash the cassette in a box and later find the tape has tangled with another tape and must be cut. I keep the damaged tape for some time, but eventually throw it out,  tired of seeing it un-mended.

Flash forward to March 27, 2018. I soak in the tub and listen back to a recording on my phone. It’s rough. I’m playing a few coarse chords on the piano and singing words from my journal about the impossibility of capturing the essence of the moment. Body submerged, the sounds coalesce. The content strikes me as raw, yet perfect. Once it’s in my ears, I know it has become a thing that will hold up for me, that I’ll expect. That I’ll defend. If I hadn’t recorded it, I wouldn’t give it the time of day. The recording makes a claim on my memory, fixes it in my brain as something worth saving. What is behind my fascination with first takes? Is it blind obedience, or something higher, something approaching grace?

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Highland Ice Arena, Seattle, New Year’s Eve, 2014

icerinkbirthday2014

This ice arena looks exactly the same as it did 40 years ago when I was learning to skate here. Never could do figure eights, go figure, turning 48 today. Go on, ogle the new zamboni. Back in the day, one couldn’t google zamboni, but the old model squeegeed the ice just fine anyway.

Sharing authorship with Emily D.

I wrote this song several years ago using a prompt that said, take a poem and set it to music.

Actually, that’s not correct. (After searching in vain for a Dickinson poem that starts thus.)

Now I remember! The prompt was to write a poem in the style of a poet. I wrote this ala Dickinson, then put it to music (which you can link to here).

The Child that hears the Buzz

The Child that hears the Buzz
of bees whose Spirits merge
with sweet Honey/ attunes our ears to Spring

He boldly finds the lowly
worm the Robin in
Her rush may spurn/ upset by Winter’s fling

The daylight spent like
Licorice on tongues
aglow with innocence/ the Night a curtain falls

Unfurling Grace whose hidden
Rooms and servants guard
Against dour Gloom/ until kind Dawn shall call

How time plays with our perception of origins. I had forgotten my part in the poem’s inception! I suppose it is a valid gift, so, Happy Birthday Emily!

3 regrets

1. That time when we were talking about rejection and you said you had been dumped so many times that you had grown immune to the experience, I regret not mentioning that you were the only person to ever break my heart.

2. Tonight, when I ran into my playwriting idol at an reading and we gawked at each other like long lost friends, I regret not asking her how she wrote and performed that first piece when she was a nobody back in the day which haunts me still.

3. At the aforementioned event, after reading from her collection of dance reviews/poetry/ephemera, when the author asked which non-linear bits stuck with us, I regret not saying the bit about the reviewer not being allowed to drink wine before the show because it is funny and because laughter is a good way to salve the wounds that arise from appraising the situation and finding myself falling short.

An exercise in caring

It boils down to caring. It bothers her to think she is caring less about certain things she used to care more about. Yes, she is certain, there are things she is moving away from, and other things she is moving towards, in terms of caring, although the exact perimeters of those things she is unclear of. It strikes her that there are many things in life which she once cared an awful lot about, but now hardly considers outside of times like this, when a feeling of regret makes her contemplate her lack of caring and a caring is reborn in her. At other times a random thought or news item can infuse her with a new caring. At such moments she sees the ease in it; the minutiae of her caring are like waves in an ocean conveying her. Still she worries about the particulars of her caring, and whether or not she is caring or not caring and in the optimal proportions.

Solitude, a (brief) survival guide

It occurs to her, how solitude is like setting off for a jaunt on a craft, not anticipating the fathomlessness of the sea until in the middle of it. How one then cocks one’s ear into the air, bent on this idea of someone on shore signaling a pressing need, delivering one from the unknowable. When nothing comes of this, one’s mind turns to food. It’s like one pictures a desert isle where jerusalem artichoke pickles will make all the difference.