It’s really late at night, and I have to work tomorrow. It’s also the night that the last original song is due for the online songwriting group that I am in. The prompt was “don’t turn around,” and it was really hard for me to get Ace of Bass out of my head. I did it though, and as I was writing I started thinking about Orpheus and Eurydice, and how he forced his way into the underworld by his music after she died, and could have led her back to the surface with him if he had been able to trust her enough not to turn around and make sure she was behind him. I wondered whether or not she really would have wanted to go back to life. I wondered whether or not her own music was actually the most beautiful that ever was.
It’s morning time, the day after the start of daylight savings. For the next few weeks, I know that everyone will keep looking at the time and being surprised at how late it is, how light it is. Right now the sun is barely starting to make the sky twilight blue - I wonder, can you call it twilight in the morning? Last night I almost gave up on writing a song for songwriting group, which would have meant that I would be kicked out on week four out of twelve, but instead I finally took all the scraps I’d been figting with all weekend and tumbled them together until something that kind of made a bit of sense came out the other side. I hope that Belle likes the sound of my music, because she has to listen to it all day sometimes.
Writing so many songs this winter and spring has been illuminating. I have never written this much in such a short span of time. I think I used to be afraid that the well I have for writing songs is finite - like if I went back to it too often, it would dry up, but that’s not true at all. The more you go to it, the easier it is to get there, the more you find. I want to make songs that are true, solid, discrete as a pebble in your shoe, and there is no shortage of pebbles.
There is a boat washed up on the bay at Squalicum beach. It’s a big sailboat. Most of what you see of the boat was meant to be underwater, but it’s flipped over on the shore, and it looks enormous. It was improperly moored in a storm, and now its weight is just crushing itself like a beached whale. You can climb on the side of the boat and look under the deck at all the smashed cabinetry and plumbing. The water made it light, elegant, zippy, but now on the rocks it’s impossibly heavy, totally broken. I saw it at the beginning of the last snowstorm, and the whole thing was so beautiful and incongruous and unforgettable, with big fat flakes melting in the receding tide and turning the sand white in the twilight. I love walking on the beach, it makes me think of when I lived in Port Townsend. I could walk on the beach and feel peaceful, with water on one side, and a sandstone cliff on the other.
It’s my first week back to my online songwriting group. There was a break between semesters, and this week there was no prompt, because the new professor wanted to make things easy on us. What he doesn’t know is that I need a prompt. Without a prompt, it’s just like every day for me, in that I don’t know what I should say. Luckily, I shared my songwriting frustration with my dear Nora, and she gave me a prompt: the word “island.” I wonder when she suggested it, if she knew that I feel like an island most of the time.
I was thinking about Darwin’s finches when I wrote this song. When he went to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830’s, he noticed that the finches from island to island had specially evolved beaks depending on the food available on each particular island. I wonder if living alone, my beak keeps getting more specific. I wonder if I will be able to feed off my own island, or if I have to keep my beak sharp for the wider world. The older I get, the harder it is, but being an artist there has to be some kind of beak specialization. My economy is shrinking. I don’t know if anyone else can live here.
It’s been kind of a tough season. I’m still getting used to being myself. Sometimes I get sick of living with me and want to get away for a while, but I have to sit down and be patient and try to get my brain to slow down. I downloaded a therapy bot on my phone last week. Its name is Woebot, and I may have downloaded it just for the pun. Every day it beeps at me and asks me how I’m feeling. Yesterday we thought of three things I am thankful for. All week was strangely warm, and I hung out with Belle by the river a lot on my lunch breaks. I kept hearing the snow was coming, and first thing this morning, just like it had made an appointment or something, it showed up the exact day the weather report said it would. I admit that it’s pretty, especially at night when everything has a weird glow - the clouds and the snow seem to make everything closer. But I hate driving in it, and I hate how I can’t run or walk Belle as much. She gets cold so easily, and I left her red fleece shirt behind at a friend’s who I haven’t seen in a while.
I don’t know where to catch back up from where I was the last time I posted a song, because it’s been over a month. I guess that’s part of the reason it’s taken me so long to get back to it. I’ve been trying to plan a new band. I’ve been trying to book lots of shows. Today Nora and I took photos in the snow. We get to play at a skating rink in May. It seems like a long way off, but it’s nothing - think of the last thing you were really looking forward to. Now think of how it seemed like it was so far away at the time. Now think about how it’s over. That’s how far off my show is. That’s how long I have to wait.
I made it to monday morning with a new song in tow. I’m not sure what to say about it. I recorded it fast, and didn’t do any second takes. I wrote it for week #10 of the online songwriting group I'm in. The prompt was “with an ocean view.”
Sometimes I wish I lived in some desert somewhere. Belle has been really emotional lately, and she chewed a hole in my bed the other day. Seems like we only can find time to walk when it’s dark outside, and my headlamp keeps burning out. All my lamps also keep breaking - I’ve lost 2 in the same amount of weeks. But there are only 4 more days til solstice, and the light will slowly start creeping back in.
This week has been kind of weird. I think that the holidays make everyone feel a little more wound up. Holidays get weird, they feel so arbitrary. It’s not really a party anymore. It’s an anniversary. I suppose all holidays are anniversarys in a way, but the older I get, the less and less I can take a day just on its own. Christmas 2018 won’t just be that. It’ll remember everything that happened on Christmas as far back as I can remember. That’s why stuff gets heavier.
The other day my friend Robert posted a request on facebook for “Grown Ass Love Songs.” The first one I thought of was “Aint No Way” sung by Aretha Franklin, which is a juggernaut of heartbreak and love, and I posted a link. Then later, I remembered this song, and I started learning it. I grew up hearing it on the radio, so it crept in really sneakily before I realized how brutal it is. I have other things to do to get ready for Christmas, and I feel selfish learning a sad song, but I can’t help it. It has been freezing, freezing cold every day lately, but I’ve been paranoid that it’s not really cold, and I’m just getting used to the warming climate. When I was a kid, the whole winter was frosty, right? Did we complain this much? Was it this cold? Is it colder now, or am I just lonely?
This weekend it started to get really cold. Me and Belle went on walks, and even some runs, but all just here around the house and the ballfields. We see things: graffiti, deer, football practice, Orion, frost on the grass, that same woodpecker, dugout sleepers, van sleepers, shopping carts, nice looking trees. Sometimes I try to take a picture, sometimes I don’t bother. Sometimes I get a picture of me trying to get a picture, and sometimes those are my favorite ones.
This was week 9 of my songwriting group. The prompt was “what I have to do.” Last week, I thought it was the final prompt of the semester, but it turns out there are 12, not 8, so I have three more to do after this. I am glad that it isn’t over yet. I worked all day yesterday on this song, which started with a chorus and then went all over the place before ending up like this. Now that it’s done, it feels kind of remote and sad to me. Forgiveness feels like that. I didn’t want to have to forgive you for anything, and I was so super mad, but now it feels like maybe something can grow back where it all burned down.