Thursday, January 29, 2004

Melissa means "Honey Bee"

Ok, so I admit it, you scared the hell out of me and I wasn't ready. What I was ready to do was to find anything and everything wrong with you in order to get out. In the end, all I could come up with was that you just didn't seem to see anything wrong with me. You called when you said you would. You sent me thoughtful packages with inside jokes and hidden memories. You bought a plane ticket to come see me. Your brother asked why I couldn't fly down to see you and meet him, meet the whole family. Your mom sent me a gift in one of your thoughtful packages-- a pewter frame and a nice, little note (I didn't have the heart to tell you the glass had shattered en route). We had only been dating a week and then two and then three and then I started to break out in hives.

I liked you a lot and I admired you more. I knew you were a mature man of God. I knew you were going to be an amazing husband and a loving father-- just not to me and not to my kids, even if I would have wanted that-- which I could have, maybe, in time but not right then, not at that time in my life--maybe not even yet. It's so hard to explain how I know these things, I just do. Kind of how you know the feeling of wet or how the smell of something tastes; you don't know how, you just know. I suppose it could be like how you know when you're in love-- though I might not be the right person to judge that. But I can judge when I'm not, and when I won't be. I just know (the hives might help).

I got a message that you called back the next day. Terrified, I picked up the phone to return the call, bracing myself for the verbal shredding of the century, waiting to hear how much your mom hated me now. But you thanked me. You thanked me for being honest. You didn't second guess me and go through a thousand "why"s. You thanked me for knowing and for following what I knew. I guess deep down you knew, too. That call confirmed my decision. That call saved our friendship-- because we were friends first and are friends still. And I can't express how much that means to me.

You got engaged and married the next year and I am still as sure as ever when I won't fall in love- and sometimes I still break out in hives. Unfortunately, I am still a day late and a dollar short delivering the news to the other "you"s. Not because I am unsure of him, but because I'm still trying to talk myself out of what I just know. I want to give him a chance. I want to believe I'm wrong. I want to be wrong, just once. But I've learned I have to trust in what I know and trust that I'll know when I could fall in love. So I'm waiting. Waiting to just know like I know the smell of a fresh cantaloupe or old cedar-- the way I know my mother's cough or my father's laugh-- the way I know my favorite song from just one chord--the way I know when I'm not in love- and won't be, regardless of the hives.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A Picture in Less than a Thousand Words, though it deserves more

I ran across a picture today. It's a picture of a guy and a gal-- no longer boy and girl, not yet man and woman. I'd like to tell you a story about these two people-- some of it may be true, some it may just flow from my imagination-- I suppose I'll be the only one to really know.


Some people you meet in life will never leave you, whether you want them to or not. Some relationships form without the knowledge of either party involved. Some ties made can never be broken, no matter how hard you try. She knows this. She's tried. You can see it in the sadness trapped behind her smile, in the lilt of her eyelashes and the glaze across her entire expression. She's been here before, where he says what she knows deep down and yet cannot seem to accept. She's tried this before and she's tried to walk away.

The last time wasn't so much a walk as a peel across the state line. She sat in the driveway, car running idle for ten minutes that seemed like twenty with every tick and tock. Almost eerily, Jeff Buckley wailed Last Goodbye over the stereo. Slowly, she opened the door and the car lurched backward, threatening to roll down the steep gravel incline. Hastily she threw the parking break into gear, fearful it might impede her getaway. She'd taken her time, though, and written it just right so all she had to do was drop off the note and head out of town.

The termite-tattered stairs groaned even under her fragile frame. Her hand lingered near the doorbell for the last time. A roommate swung the door to on his way out for the day, warm spring air rushing into the dusty foyer. He stopped to look at her, ask her if she needed help, if perhaps she was lost. He didn't know her. Didn't recognize her. Maybe he'd seen her once, or twice. Maybe in pictures, but she hasn't been around for a couple of years and he was never asked to pay much attention. He didn't know the history and impact of message in her grip. She extended the envelope from her pale fingers, the guy's full name hastily scrawled across the front. The roommate took it and set it with the other mail. He'd get it later today.

Or did he? Seven months later, there they are in the exact position she prayed to avoid that spring morning: standing face to face, every inch scaled to a mile. His shoulders sagging slightly under the weight of his certainty in her hope dismayed. In her eyes one more bauble to the ocean between them. Resonating in their bones, Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye one last time. That is, until the next time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

ever wonder what it's like to feel drunk for several days in a row? take my sinus medication... oy- such a fog.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Red Light, Green Light

So, here's the deal-- when did it become inherent to look into the cars next to you at a stop light? Everyone does it and I'm not really sure why. If you've ever noticed someone looking at you at a stop light, then you do it too. Because how would you know that they're looking at you if you weren't looking at them? It's not like there was a special section in this in driver's ed, it just happens. Once, at that time relatively new to the driving world, I stopped at a light and found some gross guy next to me staring at me and I said "ewww" only to remember that it was summer and our windows were open. But, seriously, I wouldn't have even known he was looking if I wasn't looking to see who was over there. For the most part it's a subconscious action, however, every once in a while, you'll catch someone's eye and realize that your little world inside your car isn't as safe and secluded as you think it is once you close the door.

People wave you to pass them, they thank you for letting them in, you can see them nod-- you can watch them apply lipstick or mascara through your rearview mirror. It makes me think that if we changed our perspectives just a little bit, red cars and black trucks would be replaced with roads of mobile picture boxes into other people's lives. Kind of a scary thought.

You mean I'm supposed to write new stuff on here? Sheesh-- you people are never satisfied. Ok, fine. Stay tuned for the weekend edition.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Decaying Dreams

What's the deal with girls and old, dried out flowers anyway? Ok, ok, I know what you're saying, "Why ask me? You're a girl." Right. Not only am I a girl, I'm a girl who currently has old, dried out bouquets from recent weddings hanging in her hallway, who has innocently slept with rose petals under her pillow in hopes of dreaming of true love, who has kept everything from school yard game dandelions to my first dozen roses from a boy to a pansy plucked from the landscaping of Michael Jordan's front gate on an excursion to help my friend forget, if only for a moment, that his father alit from a bridge into a cloud of his own delusions of failure less than 24 hours earlier. My mom calls me a pack rat--I like to think of myself as sentimental. To me, these dainties represent more than my inability to use a trash receptacle.

They hang daintily from hooks and rods, they lay cradled in bowls and buggies; they appear pressed in the folds of encyclopedias, nestled between Egypt and Ethiopia. In a world of failing minds and decaying dreams they don't merely represent memories-- they are memories: tangible yet untouchable, poignant yet impassive, delicate and yet, enduring.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Monday, January 19, 2004

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Daddy did a star come to you?
the one that I told all about you last night
as we sailed through the sky?
Daddy did it beg you come home
cause when you're always on the road momma cries
late at night?
We all know that you're just trying
To give us a better life
But we'd rather be poor as church mice
If it meant havin' you more than part-time.

Daddy did your ears ring last night
when I plinked my very last dime in that well?
Could you tell?
Daddy I'd give all my money
To hear you follow honey with good night
And not good bye.
We all know that you're just trying
To give us a better life
But we'd rather be poor as church mice
If it meant havin' you more than part-time.

'Cause what's the good in a better life
If you never really feel quite whole?
What's the use in the finer things
If a house is never really made your home?
Cause a house is not a home
when it's got a great big lonely hole
Daddy, we'd rather be poor as church mice
If it meant havin' a daddy full-time.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I Try Harder (Second Best) part 2

Last night at youth group, a 15-year-old girl summed up what haunts my every hour, enervates me to a point of artistic paralysis and yet whets my anthropologic appetite all in one simple sentence: "Every thought I've ever had and everything I've ever done was someone else's idea." The simple thought that who I am is an accumulation of every person and idea since the beginning of time. The knowledge that ideas, just as matter, cannot be created nor destroyed both dehydrates and quenches my creative juices.

This thought nearly crushes my will to write. Anything I could write about has already been said. Every idea has already been expounded upon. All attempts to express my ideas or myself result in merely rearranging the dictionary. Why, then, should I even endeavor to produce anything at all when authors from the beginning of time have only been writing from the knowledge left to him or her by their predecessor?

And yet, if we follow the trickle down effect throughout time, we find gullies and culverts along the way. We find deltas, brimming with fertile silt from converging concepts, running over one another, mingling notions, birthing hybrids, stronger and steadier still. We find separate constellations and solar systems of thought, stemming from a wayside brook. We find new inventions, new ways of saying things, new translations and configurations to match our ever-transforming society, our respective cultures- new every day thanks to the constant battle between conformity and deconstruction.

So, why should I bother writing? Because maybe, just maybe, there is one person out there who teeters on the brink of understanding. Maybe, just maybe, stepping into my random rivulet will wash away the remaining groundwork, allowing them the freedom to topple with reckless abandon into discernment otherwise unattainable. Maybe, just maybe, that person is you. More than likely, that person is me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Pulp Faction

I bought orange juice last night. Not an entire gallon, just a single serving, with medium pulp. Given the option, I would have chosen maximum pulp, but alas there was none to be found. Knowing the possible ensuing consequences, I raised the container to my winter-chapped lips and let the bittersweet texture roll through my mouth, down my awaiting esophagus to my acid-loathing stomach. You see, about a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux and have cut back on a lot of the foods I love in order to appease my volcanic digestive system. While I have gone back to coffee, I have ceased my ritual breakfast of apple slices with peanut butter. I have descended to a lower zest salsa and given up a lot of mint and chocolate. I have not had orange juice since I don't know when.

Sitting in my car, I tipped back the last of the nectar, savoring every single drop. Yet, even as I licked a tiny bit of pulp from the rim, memories flooded back of sweeter sips still. I tasted the best juice ever in the Dominican Republic. Whether from the corner store carton or a vat homemade by the village women, my taste buds have never received such delectable succor from heat and thirst. While pondering this, other memories seeped in, not all happy, but all worthwhile.

I remember Allende, whose unused phone number still sits creased in my Bible. And I remember Elena, a sweet little girl of about 5 or 6 I met in a campo (village) set off from the road. We spent two days in the campo, painting a church and playing with the children. I met Elena the first day and promised to play again when we came back. Yet, on day two Elena was nowhere to be found, so another girl took us to find her. Along the way we passed beautiful gullies and trees brimming with ripe limoncias. Once we reached Elena's home, she ran out to great us in shorts and a t-shirt, her pigtails flopping with each bound.

To no avail, I tried to convince her mother that we would just be playing and getting dirty and a dress was not necessary, that Elena would be better off in her shorts and t-shirt. However, before she could come back with us, her mother made her put on a nice dress, to impress us I suppose, though I stood there in my bathing suit, wife beater and gym shorts. On the trek back home the day before, my Adidas sandals had ripped apart and now shone in the light patched with silvery duct tape. While we waited for Elena, I surveyed my duct-tape patched sandals, then sweeping my gaze to the dirt floor, up the clay walls and eventually around the sparsely decorated room.

I remember the thought of Elena returning home that evening, her best dress muddied and soiled saddened me greatly, knowing how fiercely my mother would react had it been me. Looking back, I wonder at the parallel of my own universe. I get ready in the morning, put on a face to impress a makeup-less world and carefully zip up my best dress only to slide through the mud. Every morning consists of getting made up only to return unmade by the end of the day. Yet, what good is life if we don't get our hands dirty? And what good are best dresses if we never wear them, afraid to soil them? Perhaps Elena and her mother had the right idea after all. Makes me want to wear my pearls while washing the floor; you know, if I had pearls--or washed the floor.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I Try Harder (Second Best) part 1

Someone asked me to expound upon my music life. For those of you who know (or don't care) you may stop reading now.

For those of you still with me, here goes. I've been singing for as long as I can remember; no, really, it's true, I have. My parents always encouraged my singing aspirations by enrolling me in voice lessons, sending me to opera camp and supporting my affinity for musicals. However, when it came down to the wire as to what I wanted to be when I grew up, whenever I said, "A musician," my dad said, "That's nice. Now what do you really want to be?" From that time on, I took a more peripheral stance to my musical participation. I still tried out for and performed in musicals and musical groups, but it wasn't life and death, it was extra-curricular.

My sophomore year of college I tried out for a solo in choir and the director of the school's a cappella groups heard me and asked me to try out for the ladies' group, Tangled Up In Blue. Chris made many a concession for me with schedules and practice at first, but eventually my life became school, work and a cappella. We were recording a CD, on which I was blessed to have a solo.

Growing up I was never the lead in the musical and even though I usually had one of the solos in choir, I would have never dreamt of getting the "best" ones--I suppose I was kind of the Avis of the choral scene. Chris, Delee and Chris (our director, producer and engineer) made me feel like I actually had legitimate talent, and I suppose I do. I suppose if I didn't believe that I wouldn't be here in Nashville. After graduation I moved to Nashville, not necessarily to drop everything and become a rock star, but because I still wasn't sure I had what it takes. However, if I did, I figured I should be somewhere where something could actually happen.

At first, moving to Nashville was more disheartening than inspiring. I definitely had the sensation of being big fish from a small pond that's transplanted into an ocean next to a whale. For the past two years I have been inundated with music: good music, bad music, great music, mediocre music. I've seen shows that make me want to go home and write and shows that make me want to sit in silence for hours in hope of retaining that blissful memory as aurally sharp as possible for as long as possible.

It wasn't until I moved here that I realized my true motivation and inspiration for singing. I don't want to sing to make the world happy or to be popular. I want to sing and write in order to share my heart with my friends and family and whoever else happens to eavesdrop and care. I need to know that I will always be a musician, no matter what my occupation. Inversely, I needed to know that no matter what I'm doing musically, I am so much more than a voice (or a face, or a hand). I am not a segment. I am a whole.
I definitely asked for Adam Brody for Christmas and didn't get him.

(or Topher Grace. or Chad Michael Murray.)

basically, an intelligent, sarcastic, cutey geek of my own with whom I may banter and play for the rest of my days. Is that too much to ask for?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Holy Abuse, Batman

Rob's latest post almost made me cry. Seriously. I tend to refer to my attempts to play guitar as "abusing my guitar," but I still have a hard time entrusting it to the hands of others. I have flown with my guitar a few times and have always carried it on, detuning some to avoid snapping strings or warping the neck. On the way to Sacramento last spring, the flight attendant actually asked me if we could play it a little in flight. That was kind of fun, he had some flight attendant parody songs that he played for the entire plane. Crazy guy.

I actually feel bad for my guitar, because it deserves to be played better. It's exactly the one I wanted--it sounds like a honey waterfall. Gah-- gorgeous. I've thought about taking guitar lessons more than several times. However, living in Nashville it's a kind of daunting thought because everyone assumes everyone is dying for a record deal-- and I'm not. I want to do my own thing. I don't think I could handle a dictating mainstream record label controlling my life. I wouldn't mind, however, a supportive indie label guiding me along... Anyway, my friend Andy, who produced my CD project also played guitar for it, since what I know I've taught myself, and that's not much.

I have never claimed to be a guitar player. I am a singer who aspires to play guitar more and "abuse" it less. I aspire to play my own music, dangit! So, if you don't see me playing out (which you won't really) this is why: because I want to play my own music. I want to be able to get up on stage with just Barley and Me. (Barley is my guitar and my music will be registered under "Barley and Me Music"). So, I guess I better get cracking at that. Until then, I'll be able to play out when my friends will so graciously play with me.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Guilty as charged (and I'm not talking ions)

Some of my (and by response your) favorite posts are really just notes, stories written to myself. Recording memories in an attempt to harvest them, bundle them, savor them before they slip beyond recall. Yet, of late I have most definitely been using this blog as less of a collecting well for the outpouring of an already existent stream of consciousness and more of a back up sump pump in a desert, vainly attempting to suck any remaining moisture from an already ravaged land.

Yeah. That's it. All this to say: I'm going back to listening to Death Cab for Cutie right now (well, once I'm back at my own desk).

Monday, January 05, 2004

Sitting at home on Saturday night, I reveled in the splendor of solitude, the rapture of peace and quiet. In the dark, on my "porch" loveseat I lay for hours, some awake, some asleep. One small lamp at the opposite corner of the room provided the only light. The day had been somewhat hectic, somewhat emotionally draining, ever so much clarifying and freeing.

There was a wedding. Two people whose relationship I have long respected had finally come to a point where they knew and would declare to the world that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives serving each other. Two people fully aware that their relationship with each other exists as but a shadow, a signpost, of their union with Christ. Two people dependent on each other, yet even more so dependent on Christ, knowing that while they will never be perfect in this world, HE was, is and always will be perfection. And He is with us and will not forsake us, though we forsake each other daily.

Half laying, half dangling over my loveseat, the day washed over me. The ideas of love as servitude, love incomplete in this world, love insatiable rolled like waves one after another, rocking me in silence, rocking me awake, rocking me to sleep. These concepts filled me with a sense of disturbed tranquility, fettered freedom. Throughout the stillness rang a conclusion dissonant yet harmonious. Though called to solitude for a time, alone we never may be.

Friday, January 02, 2004

New Beginnings

I may walk ahead or fall behind
I'm inclined to warn you
If I know me like I know me then I know there will be days
When I'll want to run away
Just ask me to stay

I'm not sure, how this works or how to play by the rules
I'm usually breaking them or making them up as I go
But I promise to be honest (to a fault) if you'll please
Be patient with me

We both know I'm indecisive, contradictory at best
This isn't my cup of tea
I'd rather paint my walls or fold my laundry
Than be available to anybody

I'm not sure, how this works or how to play by the rules
I'm usually breaking them or making them up as I go
But I promise to be honest (to a fault) if you'll please
Be patient with me

Slow the pace, slow the pace, no use making this a race
No use wasting your breath, no use getting irate
In gridlock traffic

This will take time
This will take time
This will take time
Know this if you want to be mine
Be patient with me