Tag Archives: jazz

Blow Me Down

28 Dec

threadsI am a succulent in the botany of love. I thrive in isolation and neglect, and I wither beneath an over-abundance of life-sustaining hydration. Please, let me dry out alone here in the sun, but do pass by on occasion with a drizzle of sentimental connection. I will soak up each molecule and enter my most blissful state, that of the sometimes forgotten lover.

Were you at a bar we once frequented, “running into” my dearest friend, who happens to be a very cool DJ who sets a very cool scene? I’m glad I was able to make you look good in front of your sister and your friend from Hong Kong. Would I love to meet these characters I’ve heard so much about? Yes. But I know, I see. You travel at the frayed edges of our fabric, gleaning the occasional tassel of affectionate reverie and then moving on.

Tell me you want to play records for me, discuss plans and drink scotch. Remind me that you owe me ice cream for my birthday, and pretend you will actually appear anywhere near that date with an offer that we get same. I crave each droplet, basking in the very specific comfort of dejection and closing my petals against better offers.

You, you give me just enough sustenance to carry me through months that I know I will endure alone.

You are just like my father. So triple cool and busy and knowledgeable. So brilliant and witty. And showing just a shard, a tiny shattered glimmer of sweetheart every now and then. Dangling this enveloping comfort as a possible outcome so that I chase it like a hummingbird sipping for a tiny drop of nectar.

When last we listened to records together, you tugged at my arm and pulled me down from sitting to repose with you. Your eyes were filled with tears when we heard notes from early Chicago soul. I fell, and I am still falling. So when you promise records again now, I think of the painting on your wall of two faceless people snuggled together in an armchair, the lady’s arm dangling languidly over the needle on the record.

It is a form of intimacy we both crave, but we are astrids in sand, and our spines fold at the prospect of too much constancy. We never had it, we tried to manufacture it, we rejected it, and in so doing built an exoskeleton of spiny scaffolding around our hearts. Nothing will crack us, not even our lingering tendency to reach for one another when the sand becomes too dry.

You will disappear when the work week resumes, and I will pretend to flourish, ignoring the watershed of interest I receive from other cultivators wishing to pull a harvest from this broken garden.

Hashtag sigh.

Fools Rush In

26 Dec

fuzzOn the scale of coincidences, with zero being “total disconnect” and 10 being “amazing cosmic intervention that could cause one to drop everything and change one’s life,” I think I just had a 10++ event.

Just a moment ago, I opened my laptop to write a whiny post about how the wrong guys fall in love with me, with some incisive analysis of the horrible realization that leapt into my mind the other day: “There is nothing worse than someone wanting more from you than you are willing to give.” For appropriate musical accompaniment, I clicked on a WNYC link that carried me safely to the bliss of jazz standards. And when the stream began, it was mid-song, precisely at the moment at the end of “Fools Rush In”, when the singer sums up the whole scenario for us. Awestruck by the serendipity, I started typing immediately, transcribing the lyrics as they came, and not knowing how many lines I’d get before I could stop:

Fools rush in
where wise men never go
But wise men never fall in love
So how are they to know?

When we met, I felt my life begin
so open up your heart
and let this fool rush in


And that was it, exactly the right amount of information to help me see my damaged heart more clearly. All those truths, laid out right in a row for me to contemplate immediately upon my attempt to discuss the inner convolutions of my heart. Suddenly, I seem to have retired my status as the fool in favor of being the wise girl, rejecting two perfectly nice suitors because “there wasn’t any chemistry” and “I just wasn’t attracted to him.”

Let’s parse the facts. Wise people never fall in love because they’re wise, and hence they protect themselves from a long list of harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

• Comfort and understanding
• Affectionate regard for one’s wellbeing
• Having someone to lean on/cling to/miss/long for
• Romance
• Thrills and surprises
• A date on a national holidays (When Harry Met Sally)
• Assistance and support for personal and professional pursuits
• Rides to and from the airport
• Someone who can hold your coat/purse/popcorn/heart
• Thoughtful responses to trifling problems through to major life crises
• Flowers

Wise indeed. In the past, when I whimpered and moaned, “You could have called me,” or intoned, “If you’re stressed out, you can come over here and I’ll help you,” I actually had no idea that the aloof anyman on the other end of the conversation was in fact well aware that he had the option to take succor in my presence. He just had absolutely zero interest in taking me up on it.

Now I know how he felt. Feels. Is doomed to feel forever in an independent hell of one’s own making.

Until love can run tackle through my wounded heart, I’ll just have to get used to being the fool. Chasing aloof men is easier than being the strangely complicated wise girl.

I Didn’t Want to Have to Do It

28 Sep

princeSeveral hundred years ago, when I was very young, my college boyfriend used an unusual tactic for the third of our four eventual breakups. We were on one of our long-distance phone call dates, and he played a newly discovered hip-hop cover of probably my favorite jazz standard at the time. “This is Always,” as sung by King Pleasure. He played the entire song down the line, and my heart was so thrilled. We were a very romantic pair, and were quite sentimental about music.

Then he changed the subject to how things between us weren’t working.

This may have been the first time I merely flinched and internalized the questions and pain associated with a romantic kick in the stomach, rather than asking the question aloud: “Wait, why would you play me my favorite love song to set the scene for ending our relationship?”

Thus began decades of my never asking the right question in the moment, and instead opting to seethe and wilt alone in some desolate field somewhere, whimpering to a crowd of my friends instead of interrogating the violator on the spot.

So, last weekend, when my current affliction played me what sounded like a romantic song, but had the lyrical quality of a breakup song… I just kinda twisted it around in my head. I mean, he said the song made him cry in the shower when he first heard it the day before. And when the song began to play a second time that evening as he played record after record for me, he pulled me close to him and held me tight.

I guess I knew then what I know better now. Like everyone, he hated having to cause me pain, and when it was becoming evident that he could not be as present in my life as I would like, he knew he was breaking my heart. Now, a week later, after I spent the past 72 hours calling for a decent end to our flailing exchanges (in a not-so-decent manner, I might add; I got a bit sassy via text message, as the written word is my weapon of choice), he was finally convinced that “shitty timing” had struck again. Oh yeah, the timing excuse. Come on, kid. We all know that if you wanted to, you’d find time. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for about two months.

So maybe this will be a neat and tidy end, now that I’ve made it abundantly clear to this guy that he really did have to do it, because I really did hope that I was involved with someone who might inquire as to my wellbeing when I informed him that I had an MRI for my headaches this week. Try to write that into a love song.

Even though I didn’t have the chance to ask about the record he played over and over while we diligently tried to resuscitate our moribund… what do you call a non-relationship? Anyway, neat and tidy aside, let me reassure you, dear reader, that when my headaches start to subside, and I feel better and stronger, the Affliction will hop right back into my life. Maybe this time I’ll listen to the lyrics first, and look for someone more willing to sing “This is Always” instead of “I Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”.

One Note Samba

29 Dec

rossiI cracked open a fortune cookie years ago and looked over my shoulder, sure that the author was perched a few tables behind me, typing the most pertinent truth for each noodle-slurping customer in the shiny, redone Vietnamese restaurant. I was clearly the girl with glasses and carefully, carelessly knotted scarf, seated with the bespectacled ice sculpture of a man who was smiling faintly at my commentary. There was only one fortune for me:

“Joys are often the shadows cast by sorrows.”

Damn straight. I posted the rectangle of paper on my bedroom mirror and patched its meaning into my permanent understanding of the world.

Even though some guy in a factory in Pennsylvania probably penned this observation, I really commend him on his ability to harness the subtlety of eastern philosophy. Joy would definitely never be equated with a grim shadow in western optimism’s seven habits of successful smilers. But the truth of the analogy is entirely accurate. Sometimes only in light of sadness can we see a glimmer of a grin.

Earlier this evening, in the manner of my habit since childhood, I finished reading one book and immediately picked up a new one. The first of these was a memoir about tremendous loss, and the second is a hammily translated autobiography of Italian Moto GP racing legend Valentino Rossi. I confess that as I wiped away tears still glistening in reflection of the pursuit of hope in the aftermath of death, I was barely suppressing a grin as my gaze slid over the visage of Rossi on the dust jacket of the barely-touched used copy of his book. Who can frown when Rossi’s around?

That fortune cookie writer had me pegged. He had me “pinned and wriggling on the wall,” as Prufrock seethes in my risky mantra. For me, the greatest joys in life have arrived as a curtain call to sorrow. I used to specialize in sadness, and now I am the girl who laughs way too damn hard at episodes of Frasier. I grew up in a family that bonded via lamentation and now I am the girl who suggests we go see This is 40 after I have a pseudo anxiety attack during a post-holiday retail excursion. These days, in the shadows cast by sorrows, I would rather laugh than cry. I would rather laugh because I’m about ready to cry.

Laconic vs. Loquacious

21 Dec

prufrockI count words for a living. I can estimate the word length of an article based on column inches in a magazine, or I can inside-out that idea and envision the page space required by a collection of on-screen paragraphs prior to formatting. Syllables form a picture for me, and the question is always wrapped around “enough”. Do we have enough words to fill the page? Do we have enough page for all these words?

Does he write enough words to me? Did he echo my enthusiasm with an appropriate reciprocation of vowels and consonants. Well, if our dialogue was a two-page spread, his half would have run short and mine would have had overset.

Let’s talk about it. Paragraphs and paragraphs and so much leaky, earnest, passionate expression, and all finely crafted to exhibit wit and insight and consideration and have you recovered from that cold? (End with a question to prompt response.)


Oh, never you mind, I will find another thread to pick up and weave around some anecdote to stimulate you into commenting once again.


Right, you are so right! Such an interesting way to look at it. I had never thought of it that way. You are so smart and I am so captivated by you!


Long pauses followed by witty comments that distilled my pages of text into one brief and perfect punchline. Long pauses followed by the occasional question to maintain some semblance of interest, which I interpreted as a marriage proposal. One pre-dawn in Spain after a significantly long pause I mistook a clever reference to our favorite book as a personal insult. Blame jetlag, but I was one damn vulnerable girl.

One, damn, vulnerable. And still, here I am.

When I look at the grotesque imbalance of words I sent and said compared to his unsaid, I wince in the exact same way I crumple when I can feel my mother’s pleading eyes beckoning me from the edge of my periphery. I refuse to look her direction, but she tugs at me with such raw, open, desperate, pleading, unbound love. She loves me completely, and when I am grumpy she just loves me more. Patient through my pauses, she awaits my next feat of brilliance. And the expectation and neediness strangle me, lock me in a choke hold that have me coughing and gasping for escape.

When did love start to feel like asphyxiation. I best fix that if I ever think I can measure out my love in proportionate portions for somebody in the future. Right now I just burst forth with enthusiasm, and we all know that no man can withstand the strength of my enthusiasm.

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