I've been sorting, moving, and constructing new things, lately.
I stumbled upon a treasure trove: old notebooks and binders from school days... I've come across things like this before. Piles of old sheet music from Sam Ash or All Music. A random ziplock bag of guitar picks. Napkins with names and beeper/pager numbers from Munchaba Lounge or LIBC or New York Ave (a bar that always had great (ok, mediocre) live music from local bands...) or some equivalent. Paradise Rock Club or The Kells, if in Bean Town. Any number of sticky-floor, dimly lit dives with bad PAs and red solo cups, in the village. My mind went back to Culture Club, Pac-Man, Debbie, Tiffany, Boy George. Max Headroom. Marty McFly. All that jazz.
And these notebooks. Again. Always, always, smitten and longing for the unseen and out of grasp. I think I was just born with a poet's heart. And I can't help but notice how it's fallen out of fashion, these days.
Some of my favorite music was played in the key of melancholy. Sinatra was the king of melancholy. I was in a jazz club once, in the city, blabbing about heartbreak and life and all the rest and how that side of me was dead. The music-writing side. That I listened, I enjoyed, but I couldn't write. And this old guy, who could've been a sax player for Dorsey or something, looked at me and said... "you never let the blue out, babygirl. It'll fester until you sing the blue notes..." or something like that. It always stuck with me. The shadows. The dark. The blue. The minors. They have to find air to dissipate.
And these days, with the world the way it is, and the way it feels, we all want to feel good. And I do, a lot of the time. I hack my perspective by noticing the beautiful things, kind things, sacred things, and lingering in them. But, I just like to wander through the old days, they feel like warm, cozy, worn-in sweatshirts with faded, pitted elbows. In only the best way.
And I leaf through all of this and every lyric still resonates and has a note beneath it. Still. 25 years. The melody remains. What is it about music? What is this thing, that can etch itself so deeply into our minds and consciousness? Connect us like this? Like a time machine, it can put us right back into an emotional moment or memory. It's some sort of special language and one that I'm glad I get to participate in.
Mm. Nostalgia. Childhood. Naiveté. Dreaming and bliss and unfettered imaginings and endless infatuations and has it all changed so much, or do we stifle it all, beneath collared shirts and desks and very grown up activities and drop-offs and pickups and matured behaviors and ways of moving and being in the world?
Truth? I still "crush."
I think it's part of the human condition, if you're having any fun, single or not. To muse. Aimlessly, freely, it churns the restitched pieces of my poet's heart back into rhyme or rhythm, sometimes. I soak it up, like bourbon into a dry piece of shortbread. There can be great inspiration in sweet abstraction. There always has been, for me. It's where the art lives. Where the magic lives. Where hope and wonder and adventure and traveling to new places lives.
So it is, with most artists I know or know of. Dreamers, all.
I must say, before any others I may have mused about, there was Dave. I found him in '94. Look at this. We all went. The local kids. We all talked about it. He was it, man. I still don't know the actual words to some of the songs...so, so stylized. "............take these chances...leave them simply, absotimbly..." Yeah, I have no clue. I should Google it. But I loved every minute, regardless. Those first few bars of Ants Marching were electric. An anthem. Like a call to worship. So, so good. Still. I just put it on YouTube, actually.
It always feels cathartic to look back and reminisce. I'm a sucker for nostalgia. I still go to diners. I stalk old sweet shops, especially the ones with vintage soda-shop counters. I obsessed about Colony Records, in Manhattan, for years. I heard that it closed. I pouted. I survived.
But the nineties. I was finishing high school. Bangs.
Oh, and this girl... my Brandy girl. Best-est. Dog. Ever. Cold nose. Hot breath. And that thump, thump, thumping tail when she refused to get up, but still showed her excitement... here's me and my pooch and my shiny, saturated with light, big face.
And trouble. And going out. And Webster Hall and bad dates and Parliaments and crashing weird parties...I believe this was a random Lions Club benefit, or something, and we wanted the free beer. I remember protesting this picture, because I wanted to hide my smoking habit. No, no, no...oh the horror.
You're welcome..."life is demanding, without understanding..." - Ace of Base
I've got so much. Boxes and piles of nostalgia, steeped in music, feeling, a chaotic life, upside-down beliefs, and journals that tell a much richer, deeper, hidden story. I was this girl, here...and I was a lost and searching artist, in the wee small hours. When I was alone with my guitar or keyboard, or journals, or a walkman and jazz standards and Frankie, and liner notes from albums, and usually a tall can of Pringles and some Nerds. I lived on absolute garbage, back then. (Not proud, I wasn't very healthy.)
Anyhow. I hope you've enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Fun times. A mess, I was. I think we all were. Waiting train wrecks, counting the years until life smacked us around enough to show us what's what.
No regrets. I like it here. Forty-something has its perks, too. Maybe we can't nosh on snacks and booze all night with a Pepto-chaser at dawn and then hit the gym before work, anymore... but we've got other talents. We've got some wisdom. We've earned some stripes. We've tried some things. We've loved, lost, and maybe loved again, some of us.
It's not even half-time. So much game left. I feel like I kinda get myself now. Okay, I'm ready, life. Let's do this. That first forty was a warm up...
Goodnight. I hope your Saturday was spectacular. If you went out, I hope you tore it up and had great fun with good people and ate all the good food. I hope you tried that thing you never try and always say you're gonna. If you stayed in, I hope Netflix or your book or your lover or your dinner was amazing. And if you had lots of laundry put away, a great kid to play with and snuggle with, and you got things organized and clothes to donate, well, you're just amazing.
"...lights down, you up and die..."
Can't believe how much more this song means, now that I've looked up the lyrics.
Wow, Dave. Yeah. They all do it the same way.
I had a choice to make this morning: a day off, with no looming responsibilities, and sublime weather on a beautiful island. What to do? Located between one of the greatest cities in the world and the gorgeous natural landscape and culture of the East End, I am spoiled, either way.
I listened in close to my heart and to my gut today, and I chose east. Trees and space and water and windmills. I'm so glad that I did. It was beautiful driving weather and it felt incredible to "Stretch my legs.".
First stop: The Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton. You'd never know that this was hiding such funky treasures inside. It's in a small house on a rural road. There were deer grazing on a field across the street. It was so peaceful, yet electric, inside. Perfect. I felt all my senses come alive and creativity start to churn and build, inside.
Next: I stopped at Pierre's after touring around the vacant streets and trendy boutiques and galleries... (off-season, I have a real knack for that). This place swept me right off my feet. Cozy lighting, kind people, a French bistro vibe with great music overhead. I sat down to read some art magazines from the shops, and had a salad and a big crock of french onion soup. And later, a delectable dish of something like an affogato (coffee ice cream, some fresh espresso poured over the top, with whipped cream and toasted almond slivers.) Exquisite. It was treat-night.
After some exploring and visiting, I drove back home - filled up and inspired. It's these moments...when I allow space - quiet, curiosity, and meandering - that inspiration sinks in. I've got more project ideas and plans and thought bubbles and song hooks/lyrics, and book outlines than I know what to do with right now, but I'm jotting it all down, in the right places. Grateful, grateful, grateful.
Creativity is never dead. It's always swirling, like an ever-present entity, all its own, ready to release its Magic for you, through you, into you. If you're open to the elements. This is why the "Artist's Date" is such a great thing (Julia Cameron.) It jogs the muse loose. It frees you from the mundane, from the tasks and to-dos and monotony of sameness and expectations that we often experience. Getting away, intentionally, with no plans and no strategy in your pocket, opens you up to something new and never seen. With new input, and new sensory information...comes a new response, sometimes minute and precious, sometimes grand-scale and worth a deep-dive planning session. And this is inspiration. And taking action on that inspiration, creating something tangible out of so much mood and energy and emotion and feeling and wonder and curiosity...is how we get Art.
If you want to be deeply inspired, truly, down to your weary bones and waiting soul, you've got to go out there and put yourself into life. And it will meet you there. It always does. For me, at least. And I'm glad for it.
**And yeah, that's a bathroom selfie. I'm fascinated by opposing mirrors, I always have been. It's like looking into the infinite. Reflection upon reflection upon reflection...etc... and this was a neat bathroom. It had a vintage pink rotary phone inside.**
Keep creating and exploring.
© 2019 - 2020 Stacie Hammond