Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Allen Ginsberg makes me cry at my desk sometimes.

In San Francisco Ginsberg saw a $1 an hour psychiatrist, Philip Hicks, who asked him what he would like to do. "Doctor," as Ginsberg recalls his answer...

"I don't think you're going to find this very healthy and clear, but I really would like to stop working forever. Never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I'm doing now, and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends. And I'd like to keep living with someone - maybe even a man - and explore relationships that way. And cultivate my perceptions, cultivate the visionary thing in me. Just a literary and quiet city-hermit existence. Then he said "Well, why don't you?" I asked him what the American Psychoanalytic Association would say about that, and he said . . . if that is what you really feel would please you, what in the world is stopping you from doing it?

A brief excerpt from David Burner's Making Peace with the Sixties (Princeton University Press, 1996)

Oh god. My thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Eulogy, To One of the Only Things I Have Left From Back Then

When I was fifteen I was asked out by the captain of my high school’s football team.

I didn’t care much, didn’t kiss him even. Went red-faced nonetheless.

15 year old girls, we do things like this.

But I? I was in love.

My high school had a mezzanine in a library full of winding, yellowing dog-eared pages and the smell of text that’s lived longer than any of us within it. Who can honestly say that they don’t love that smell, want to suck it up into a jar and wear it every day, the smell of knowledge so much older and greater than oneself?

I couldn’t keep it then, and I can’t now. So I went there (every day), sat there, and put on Definitely Maybe. I still, some days, wish I had it in a bottle somewhere.

I still, some days, wish I had the sandwiches my mother lovingly made me that back then were carelessly, terribly thrown into garbage bins prior to entering that place.

15 year old girls, we do things like this. Was there any part of my head that wasn’t, in some way or another, sad and sick?

Probably not, but someone, something, else loved me anyways.

And so I put on my headphones, and put on Definitely Maybe.

Supersonic. That solo. Blew my mind and gave me heaven. Every. Single. Fucking Time. Fifteen years old, no place to go. It gave me everywhere to go then (and still, now).

Then, when I was nineteen, there was D’You Know What I Mean. Taking me through 06:17 train rides, had me standing purposeful and thin and in a black pea coat that looked exactly as I meant it to, as I wanted it to (and still, now).

She’s Electric when dancing in my childhood home’s backyard, in faded grey track shorts and frizzed out summer hair, reflecting Californian sun for the first time, electric under my skin and swinging a little white dog, dying, round ‘til neither of us could take another breath or breathe, breathe, breathe out and drown in the staccato joy of strums and sound.

Hey Now! was highway car trips through West Virginian mountains and Carolinian plains that had alligators in their ditches. Scared us all.

Morning Glory, and I’m calling home from neon sign lit South Beach payphones on calling cards with my brother holding the receiver while I talk into it, afraid of the spit that others have left on it, afraid of anyone finding the three stale menthols I’ve hidden in a CD case in my motel room drawer, as if I lived there and had made a life there for the four night stay.

Some Might Say, my first driving test. I failed.

Listen Up in a car, driving home from early morning dreams in coffee shop windows, knowing that I really, really don’t mind being on my own and feeling it so deep throughout my bones when he sang it, too.

And I can’t say what it was about that album, those songs, that took me everywhere I needed to go in my head, but it did. It did at fifteen, and it did at every year I’ve been in between.

And now, at twenty four years old, it’s all over and, in another sense, just beginning.

I don’t feel like anyone could really ever understand what it is that I feel for those songs because, in a certain sense, they can’t. They’ll never hear the sunrises and being still drunk at work with Champagne Supernova, they’ll never feel the 3 a.m. Yonge Street walks alone of Cast No Shadow, or smell that library, full of sagacity and future, with the whole glorious fifty one minutes of Definitely Maybe.

And then one day, the makers, they’re gone. Like everything, every moment, every one of us in time.

That’s okay, though. That part of me is too.

But if I ever need to go back? They know, and I know, where to find me.