Saturday, July 11, 2009

More: A lesson in spots, dysfunction and nerves

A lesson for you: Don't judge a banana by the spots on the skin. Because the banana inside might be delicious. True story.

If you allow me to indulge in past banana-eating habits, I will tell you that I like them green, green, green. Call me a reformed picky eater.

But somewhere along the way, I started buying my own bananas, along with other grocery store items. And when you buy your own stuff, you eschew past prejudices and start rationalizing. Hm. The milk expired two days ago, but [smelling it] baaaah, it's still good. If it isn't, then it'll at least clean me out.

Or: Hm. I just bought those bananas three days ago and already with the spots? I'll just open one and if there are more bruises than banana, then I won't eat it. Oh, a perfectly clean banana -- bottoms up, my friend.


I went to bed last night at 11 PM, rather early for a Friday. Wait, let me backtrack. I got home from work, and a couple of friends were on their way to my place before driving out to Longview for some obligatory family function. I personally can't stand being obligated to go ANYWHERE, but my Catholic guilt always gets the better of me, so I oblige 85% of the time. So I can relate to my friends, who would rather postpone this trip to Small Town, Texas to come hang out on our couch for a couple of hours.

This couple is funny. They're funny individually with their insolent views of the world and filthy mouths, but together, they are an unstoppable force of dysfunctional entertainment.

For instance:
Her: Did I tell you the story about how I punched him in the nose?
Him: They've heard the story.
Her: Not from me. Okay, so he and I were fishing [blah, blah, blah], and he pissed me off, so I was getting in the truck, about to leave. He tried to stop me [blah, blah, blah], and I was just trying to get away, so I punched him in the face.
Him: I thought you'd broken my nose.
Her: [laughing] Yeah. And then, with blood all dripping down his face, he walks away saying, "All I ever did was love you!" Faggot.

Sounds like a sad story, no? But he's just as bad. It's like the story about the chicken and the egg. You don't know the original asshole who set the precedent for this highly troubling behavior.

Her: [in a skirt, showing me her legs] Oh man. I don't know why, but I have all these bruises!
Him: Close your legs.
Her: Shut up. So the other night, we were all hanging out drinking and HE was in the bathroom and I really had to pee, but he locked the door. I banged on the door so he could let me in, but it was too late. I pissed my pants.
[Laughter erupted.]
Him: That's cause you're all loose. That's why I told you to close your legs. So you don't piss all over their couch.
Her: Eat shit. I hate you.

Their visit lasted an all-too-short hour and a half. Then they went their merry way to Longview, where I'm sure they a.) Didn't speak to each other the entire drive, b.) Pulled over on the way and made out in the back of the truck, c.) Told each other to eat shit, or d.) All of the above.


After a glorious 11-hour's night of rest, I woke up at 10 AM, ready to spend the next three hours drinking coffee, lazing around, practicing the guitar before my lesson at 2 PM. As I sat down at the computer to start my morning routine, my phone buzzed. I recognized it as a reminder buzz, and checked it, thinking it was some stupid reminder I'd set months ago about some bet like "Matt bet Dewayne a bottle of whiskey that the stock market will be at X points today" or "By this time, Matt's cousin will be engaged to his girlfriend."

As it happened, this was a more urgent buzz. I had to be at a work screening in 45 minutes. Fuck. Thankfully, I know how forgetful I can be and had the foresight to schedule this reminder.

Cursing the stars, I quickly got dressed and jetted off to this tweeny movie (which I loved, BTW), and pretended grown-up for the next two hours. But dammit, my morning plans were ruined. Chiefly, my plan to practice before my lesson was thwarted, as I'd mentioned in previous posts that I have been uber lazy when it comes to practicing guitar.

On the slim chance that Guitar Teacher might've sent me an e-mail to reschedule, I checked my inbox for such a message. And holy relief! Cancelled lesson.

So I relaxed, made some coffee, and ate a banana. So far, I like this weekend.


"Lazy with music" might be inaccurate now, as I think I'm regaining my music mojo.

Sunday night, my brother was playing a gig at a small-ish mid-scale bar just north of Dallas, so we went to check it out. I like those gigs because they're low-key and more intimate than the big-stage late-night venue gigs.

We sat with the random musicians who happened to be taking a break from the song, and their girlfriends. At one point, they asked me to come up and play a song. Joy! I remember at this time last year, I was one part terrified and one part ecstatic to go up on stage. It's hard to describe, but the terrified part is gone, and replaced with "Who me? Oh, I'd be glad to."

I played "Death Came a'Knockin'" -- I am happy that I have moved on from the typical "Me and Bobby McGhee," although a great song, I have beat it to death at home and on stage. Maybe it's appropriate that I've adopted "Death..." as my new song to beat to death. Give me about four more years with this song and I'll tell you how I feel about it then.

So I got on stage, started playing, and I was feeling pretty good about it until the nerves came out of nowhere. I can't explain it, but the more I heard my voice in my head, saw the people looking at me, looked back down at my hands playing the guitar, I got that weird feeling in my stomach that streamed down my arms to my hands and all of a sudden, in the middle of the song, I was inexplicably nervous.

It used to happen all the time at piano recitals. I'd practice a piece for months and months, to the point of comfortable imperfection. I'd go up to play, confident, ready to do it. Then, about halfway, I'd realize where I was, that everyone was so quiet, looking at me, and all I wanted to do was finish and get off the stage.

I ignored the nerves, concentrated on finishing the song with poised awesomeness, and after what seemed like an eternity, I was done. Like any insecure artist, I asked Matt what he thought, and he gave me this gem, "I wanted to hear more."

There will be more.

Friday, July 03, 2009


I can't help myself. I am a sucker for sad stories. So now you are, too.

Sad things happen all the time. To everyone. But it isn't often when something sad hits close to home. It makes you feel. It's that pang of hurt wakes you up, in your chest, and you realize that you are not the center of the universe, and that people might really need you. And I am always obliged to reciprocate.

My friend's partner of 10 years died. Since I've known them, he'd always had health issues, so this doesn't come as a surprise, but the news still hits you and lays on your chest like a too-heavy blanket.

To hear my friend saying things like, "This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through," and "I'm not okay" is heartbreaking.

And it's so natural to put yourself in that situation. Like, what would I do? How would I react? Would I sleep all the time, too? (Yes.)

I am naturally curious. I don't know how much of that is part nosiness, and part "I actually care," but I asked her all kinds of questions. Typical questions like, "where were you when it happened," etc. What I'm feeling kind of guilty about is that I AM nosy. I want to know what is going to happen to his stuff, and who is making the funeral arrangements, and how she is feeling at this very moment. RIGHT NOW. Are you numb? Did you mentally prepare for this? I want to be there when she moves out of that house, partly just to see it. Will she cry? What will her face look like when she moves the last of her stuff out of the house they shared?

I feel guilty that I want to know all these things, but at the same time, it's a human study. This is what grief looks like.




Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Home, etc.

1. I am so tired that I am keeping track of the light and deciding when is an appropriate time to turn in. Exhaustion City.
2. My room mate, D, likes it when I go grocery shopping. He told me on day when I came home with shredded sharp cheddar, Oreos, and "good" luncheon meat from the deli. This tickles me. I still know this is true because the Oreos are only two days old and half the bag is gone.
3. Speaking of room mates. There has been some discontent in our kitchen lately, as we have all been exercising, which turns us all into ravenous beasts when it comes time for dinner, but tonight has been okay in that they made dinner and shared, and I am for once not a ravenous beast, so all is calm in casa de Sch-mith-ton-dler (yes, we have named our household) as all the moons have somehow aligned and I have somehow exercised all my demons during the day, leaving nothing but an exhausted heap of a mildly content zombie to scrounge for leftovers.
4. We all know that I like farts. Thus, my disclaimer to this tidbit. When my godfather felt the urge coming on, he used to yell, "Birdcall!" and let it rip. I kind of miss that.
5. I am feeling a new song coming on. It's time.
6. I love, love, love "Prairie Home Companion." Really. The show's passable, but it's the music I truly love. I still stand by this: I hate country music. But dammit, there is a gem in every one of the shows in the guise of a steel-string guitar and lovely lady voice telling of mamas and papas and aunts and uncles. Fuck, it brings me to my knees every time.
7. Operation Six Pack is going strong. I have abstained from the fast food (for the most part), and have been good about exercise, but dammit if I'm not satisfied. More lines! MORE LINES! The belly button skin is stretched across the hole like seran wrap across a bowl, but I need to see more definition. As if every line defined each hour, every five miles I've put into this dang OSP, which has taken the place of my music obsession. I MUST make time for both. Balance.
8. I had a really good weekend. Really good. I won't bore you with the details, but everything I did exceeded my expectations: kick-ass concert, movie experience, lounging around, more lounging at the pool, jam session at my brother's, then the anti-climactic cherry experience on top with 1.5 hours at a lackluster jazz bar, complete with shots and service from the usual tired waitress and music talk. We always seem to talk about how music can be better somehow.
9. My favorite belt is on its last legs. Tre sad, my friends. I bought it at Wal-Mart for $7.99 or something crazy like that. It's plastic, and is British-flag-themed, and I am sad that there is a big crack where my favorite buckle hole is. Thus, time to retire the British flag Wal-Mart belt. Probably in four weeks or so. I must find a new favorite belt. Soon.
10. A vacation is in order very soon. I am planning to go to the hometown this month for some much-needed R&R. It will be epic.