Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'd Go Anywhere With You: Open Door Policy

Chapter Three

Gina reached into the stove to add a baked potato side to the tray of meals she was taking out. Her sister turned the prime rib on the grill, while Denise assembled a plate for Martin. Kaylie, with her auburn hair tied into pig tails, offered to run a tray for shy Debbie, a pale white pretty petite blond who had just started. “Pretty slammin’!” Denise remarked. “Sorry I lost my cool over those dropped salads.”

“Eh, can’t take it personally,” Martin replied, tucking his order book back into his apron. “I’m glad things are picking up lately. We’ll have higher bills and rent without Lewis to pitch in.”
“Your brother’s moving?” Dixie asked, as she reached with tongs into a pan for sirloin tips. “Pardon my natural nosiness; I just butt in where it feels right!”

“Ha! Yah, he said he’s leaving for Colorado in about a week,” said Denise, brushing ash blonde bangs back. “He kinda wants to hitchhike, but I suggested the bus. The days of thumbing it are done.”
“I love a great road trip,” said Martin, as he helped Kaylie expedite the plates. “Danny and I went to a Ren Fest in Texas before I moved in with Lewis. I could make a life of it.”

“Oh,” Denise cooed, cocking her head, “why don’t you and Danny just elope and be Dharma Bums?”
For a second, Gina thought of Martin’s secret, passed in confidence, about his problems with Denise. He had fallen into a similar pattern years before with his mother. His pain had brought out Gina’s own Little Mama instincts. Maybe that had been part of the draw; she wanted to give what she so desperately sought for herself, even though she told no one her problems. Look what happened every time she confessed them before.

Martin smiled and ignored the light-hearted bait. He knew Denise could get a little jealous of his attentions sometimes, but this was just part of her sense of humor. Probably. “Of course, I’ve heard that not even Kerouac thought much of the ‘go on the road and find yourself’ path after he lived and wrote about it. You see a lot of things, but sometimes you lose more than you find.” He turned to Gina and offered to take one of the big trays ready to go.

“Who’s got the party in the Garden Room?” Bud asked. He was tall, and wore a trucker cap and had a goatee. He puzzled over ingredients added, subtracted, and re-added on the print out.
“Uhm, chick…” said Kaylie, snapping her fingers, as she tried to bring the name to mind. “Chick and…dude!” She spoke with a Northeastern accent.
“Chick and Dude…that needs to be the stars of a romance,” Dixie chirped.

Gina shouldered her tray with a faint smile. So Lewis was on the way out. He had been pretty friendly. It was nice to have an encounter of any kind with a guy that didn’t backfire horribly. For a moment she envied the thought of packing up and going out on one’s own. She had never spent a single night away from her family, though. Any idea of where to go was just a fog, anyway. It was a simple pang of yearning to be anywhere else. She imagined people often felt like strangers in their own lives, so she made little fuss over it.
Across the river, Lewis finished garnishing a plate, himself, amidst a flurry of activities. He enjoyed the challenge of working “the wheel.” He didn’t plan to stay long enough to be a waiter at Gunther’s Crab Shack. In fact, this was his last night.

Cheering up people and helping for the simple reward of the task for its own sake had become his guiding lights. He didn’t feel particularly close to his co-workers, but he’d gone out with them a time or two. He’d been drawn aside by an old friend who was now a coach at an area high school. Cody had warned him earnestly that he shouldn’t get comfortable being part of this crowd. They were never going anywhere else. He had settled for whatever he could get, himself, even though he had a very pretty wife, Thea, who had graduated just ahead of Lewis. They wondered what happened to his full scholarship and how he had drifted away from that world of opportunities. Cody apologized for meddling, but the message was warmth in a cold sink of drudge work, a wave, a reminder of the high hopes everyone had felt for Lewis when he was a senior.

He clocked out two hours later, shook Maureen’s hand and thanked her for the holiday work. She expressed concern for him, too, but wished him luck. With his brakes still in need of replacement, Lewis had gotten into the habit of briskly walking to and from work. The honesty of his exhaustion and the chilly air, the self sufficiency of his path without complaint or begging for ease, all appealed to his hungry yet peaceful spirit. He reflected upon the people he’d helped and wondered what the road might conceive ahead.

Without consideration of a further romantic entanglement---he’d always felt the need since adolescence to define himself with some girl of interest, before he realized he needed to be more secure in himself---Lewis valued Art now, Music especially, as his mistress, and his love was now kindness towards everyone he felt needed it. He felt he was finally growing up. Let life be the romance, now; being alive and self-sufficient offered chance meetings and ignored pleasures, free of the selfish circle of dependency that had left him empty inside. Six months with no serious girlfriend contender had become six months of re-discovering his own curiosity. It gave him time to buy and explore learning guitar, though he wondered if lessons might not have been a better choice. Still, he’d just chosen to try a few chords initially, then explore making whatever sounds he could find, in an effort to be original and different.
Even now, as he winded down Riverside Drive in the darkness, a melody quite beyond his ability to play shaped up in his mind. Hard work and new encounters were to be his only companion. Anger and depression fell away, with the self-pity that came about from lost love and confusing paths.

The next day, Lewis walked down to Stefan’s to spend a little time with his sister, who was preparing to get off work when he arrived. Her friend Gina had agreed to take her to do a little shopping, so he simply tagged along. He took a back seat in the Mercury Topaz the Archer sisters shared, and the three passed the multi-story riverside library---the sleeping place, as he thought of it, of all his intellectual fathers--- and rode down Turner McCall Boulevard to pick up a dress in layaway for Hannah, and Turtle’s Records for a used cd Denise had to have. For her, at the time, the harder it rocked, the better. She had all types of interests in music and played piano quite well, but hard-charging music was her present taste. Lewis reflected tongue-in-cheek over how long it had taken him to be comfortable browsing again without buying anything, after he’d been busted shoplifting on his fourteenth birthday with T.J., who slipped three old jazz tapes down his shirt at the K-Mart across from this very store. He watched Gina follow quietly along with Denise, and thought of how she could do with a good smile. She seemed like such a hard-working and giving person, but had a listlessness that matched her too-tiny frame, like a plucked flower. There was a reason you left blossoms in the wild, he thought: once they were cut, their beauty couldn’t be possessed personally for very long. Where had he heard something like that? A plan hatched in his mind.

Once the trio got back to the car, Lewis asked politely if he could stop by Kroger’s across the parking lot. “I have something special I need to check on,” he offered.
“What you want?” asked Denise.
“Just something special. I’ll fill out the questionnaire later.”
“Okay, smarty-pants. But if you take too long, we’ll leave yo ass!”
“Your concern is touching,” he replied blithely. Gina cranked up and gave him a ride to the door, anyway, and Lewis dashed inside.
“Wonder what’s the mystery ingredient?” said Gina, watching after him.
“Tampons!” croaked Denise.
“Condoms,” replied Gina.
“Excuse me,” said his sister in an imitation of his voice, “you got any Preparation H?”

The girls shared a wicked little laugh. They agreed, it was definitely a mission for hemorrhoid cream. At any rate, he was back, with his jacket pulled shut, in a couple of minutes.

The ride under the bridge beside the duck pond and the Civic Center had Gina on Juniper Street in seven minutes. Lewis pondered his six months in this neighborhood, just around the block from where Grandpa Green and Aunt Glenda lived.
He would have to walk over and have supper with them one night before leaving.
Gina pulled up in the driveway, beside Lewis’ sidelined Corolla. At the top of the stairs, Denise made the discovery that Martin had her key, on her keychain, to the apartment. His was locked inside. Lewis fidgeted with his jacket, mildly concerned, cradling his secret to his bosom under a winter-clouded sky.
“I forgot, I left him my car to drive home,” moaned Denise. They stood languidly for a minute before their dilemma. “We’ll have to go back up to Stefan’s and get a key to get in!”

Lewis paused a breathless second. The air pressure itself seemed to twist. “Hell with this,” he muttered coolly, as he reared back on one leg and raised his other one up to chest level. He smashed his foot into the door knob, kicking it open to swing compliantly on its frame, as his sister stood by agape. Lewis then strode up the steps inside to the apartment door, while Denise’s emotional temperature began to build to vaporous portions. Gina’s amazement at this violent if chivalrous gesture began to convert into barely-suppressed giggles. He stepped inside, with her close behind, as Denise cursed and rushed into the bathroom. Gina flopped on the couch.

He stopped at the bedroom door and turned, to reveal a single pink carnation. He turned to Gina, reached over her shoulder, and laid it on her chest. Her face lit up in complete surprise, as he drew his finger to his pursed lips: “Shhh.” She watched his blue eyes blink once, an impish smile of delight passing over his face as he turned, without a word, to his room, walked in, and shut the door.

Dumbfounded, Gina cradled the flower by its stem, looking after him. No man had ever given her a flower before. She wanted to share the moment with Denise. She heard a bottle smash in the bathroom, a plastic one full of Pepto Bismol, as she would soon discover after Denise stormed off into her room. Gina sat and brushed the carnation against her cheek, relishing its fragrance and suppressing tearful titters.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'll Go Anywhere With You Some play time

Chapter Two

This Juniper Street duplex apartment on the second floor was becoming home away from home for Gina Archer. Stefan’s Bar and Grill was about a mile away on Riverside Drive. She mounted the steps now behind Denise, who had posed with her and Dixie for pictures shot by Martin just a week or two before. Denise had apparently fallen in love with the Archer family after working with the girls and visiting everyone at their home. She found there a warm sense of belonging and friendliness. It was, considering the brief triangle that developed during her troubles with Martin, an unexpected benevolence.

Denise paused to take up the bonsai tree left to sun on the porch. Gina offered to take it while Denise fumbled for the house key to the place. She’d just moved in upon agreement with Martin and Lewis two months after they became roommates. She was pleased her new job had brought with it new friends. Their seemingly instant closeness had provided some placid vibes in her sometimes self-torturing existence.

“I’m just glad to have the day off!” Denise sighed, upon entering the kitchen. “We were so slow last night until right up til closing. Two orders five minutes before…but you know what? I have every intention of starting an angel food cake and maybe some homemade spaghetti sauce. Cooking’s just in my blood!”
Denise busied herself laying out the bunt cake pan and mixing bowl. She waxed enthusiastically over her recent visit to the Archer home and life in their kitchen.

“It was so great, talking to your Dad while he made chili,” she beamed. “And while he’s telling me his prison guard stories, you sisters break out singing together…and your Mom comes shuffling in to pour herself a Coke. Just such a wonderful atmosphere!”

“Yah,” agreed Gina, “I guess we were all singing and talking too loudly or she would’ve just called out from the living room for someone to fix her drink for her. She calls all three girls’ names no matter which one of us she’s calling, usually.”

“That’s hilarious!” said Denise, as she opened a bag of flour and began sifting. “Your Dad sounds like he became a counselor as much as a guard.”

“He was maybe too good at it,” said Gina, siding up gingerly. “He would befriend these wayward women, and some of them would start calling the house, even in the middle of the night, trying to get his help. Mama was NOT a fan of that.”

“I’ll bet not!” exclaimed Denise while churning away at the drifting white powder. “He told me she used to go on rides with him when he had to transport women to Northwest Regional.”

“The psychiatric hospital. Yes, they would call her up when there was no lady cop available, so they would have a female riding along, y’know…one of those things. No sexual misconduct could be claimed…or be done! Hahah. They’d ask because she was his wife. Small towns.”

“Never thought of it---hmmph!” said Denise, refilling the sifter. “Makes sense, though…they could make up anything in their heads and really believe it.”

It was best, Gina realized, while absent-mindedly rinsing out dishes in the sink, that she had closed the book on her feelings for Martin, outside of friendship. The passionless kiss decided her even before he broke the news to her. It was too much like her lack of appetite; going through the motions on something as important as a relationship just added to the hollowness of her attempts to find love before. She hoped this new friendship would work. It had been a mixture of strange and comforting, upon her last visit.

All three of them had been hanging out together. Denise had earlier suggested Gina spend the night, instead of them taking her home. Then her suggestion evolved into having Gina stay in their tent, which she and Martin had been erecting in their bedroom for the eccentric purpose of renewing their romance and sense of fun, to remind them of good times before. Since the tent seemed too much trouble to put back up, Denise said she should just sleep in the bed with them. Gina had planned on relying on a sleeping bag, but the bed was so huge, and Gina already was used to sharing a bed with her sisters, all her life. It didn’t seem so strange at the time, because as she lied there, no sexual attentions or any kind of tension arose. Not much different than a group of puppies.
Denise disturbed the reverie by cracking an egg on the counter. “My brother’s home, too. He tends to keep to himself a bit when he’s not at work, lately. I wonder sometimes if he’s still grieving this girl he used to date; he never hears from her. I hope he’s letting go. I saw him with a couple of other girls since then, but nothing that stuck. He was a really fun and thoughtful person before that. Well, I guess he’s still thoughtful. He’s been bringing home library books when he’s not practicing guitar or playing cd’s as he sits out the window on the roof of the front porch in front of the house.

As if on cue, Lewis came out, with a thick book in his hand, in sock feet. “Oh, hey, Denise! Thought you were home. Martin’s not back from mountain biking.” He smiled at Gina. “I thought I might break hermitage to say hello to everyone. It’s funny how you can get used to your own company.” Gina smiled back as Denise set the oven to pre-heat.
Lewis sees how painfully thin Gina is. He remembers peeping out at her one time before when she came over. He’d actually come out to talk to Dixie on another occasion; her boisterous manner had made her easy to approach, the kind of person you might have a beer with. Besides, he’d heard she was into girls, so he didn’t feel conflicted about hitting on his sister’s friend. On the other hand, Denise had gravitated to a couple of his, along the way, though living here with Martin was the most serious relationship she’d had. Denise talks about Martin’s delivery cart he’d built to tow with his bike for local orders from Stefan’s.

Lewis left music playing from his room for entertainment. After the cake goes into the oven, the trio migrated to the living room. Gina noticed the book he read was Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra. He apparently shared Martin’s penchant for serious reading; it was probably their original bond.

Nothing serious was discussed today, however; Denise pulled out the old game system to challenge everyone to a few rounds of Clayfighter. After her Mr. Frosty proved unstoppable, a giddy game broke out, something like tag. After tasting adulthood, this household had made an embrace of keeping the big kid inside alive, as though childhood were already some nostalgic distance past.

Soon, they’d begun a rough housing game of sorts, falling over the back of the couch. They took turns pushing each other over the edge and tumbling over the white elephant furniture. It reminded Denise of games she and Lewis used to play growing up, rushing at the couch while the other defended the “attack” with a cushion, then bouncing off and laughing.

At one point, Gina landed square in Lewis’ lap. They made no effort to pull apart. It just felt natural. Martin then ascended the stairwell to the doorway, where Denise greeted him with a kiss. The two migrated into the kitchen to talk, after he wheeled his Giant into the bedroom. As they sat quietly, Gina found her hand slipping naturally into Lewis’s palm. They simply sat holding hands while Neil Young’s first solo album played from a mix out his open bedroom door.

Dixie came by to pick up her sister just before dinner. Lewis watched everyone go out to the car, then walked in, saw the cake was done, and turned off the stove.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'll Go Anywhere With You: a romance

Just seems like the perfect point in our lives to try a romance novel. It's not like I don't have plenty of things to finish editing, either. Does seem, though, like the perfect thing to give me a little space before trying to complete either the novelization of Electric Thieves or ...well, whatever I call the mess of my life in the past year. Besides...I've tried this story many times, and I think, after reading a few of these novels lately, maybe it's the perfect format for telling it in a straight-forward manner. Let's see what you think of the opening. Enjoy!
chapter one

When Kaylie told Gina she had customers on table thirty three, in the dining room by the street, she would’ve settled for a simple distraction, from the world of her own personal misery. Gina never imagined the next table she served might change her life forever.

Not that she was ever the drama queen. Despite a healthy diet of romance novels and soap operas while babysitting all her younger cousins and sister, Gina had been the quiet one, safely ensconced in the shadow of her vivacious big sister Dixie. In fact, her penchant for caution had won her the affectionate, if derisive, nickname of “Little Mama.” Her conscience activated whenever Dixie and the other “members of the Dead Beat Club” tried to seek out typical high school girl trouble. Besides, as she knew, her parents always seemed to know what was going on, like a gut feeling, and would find out in the end.

But teenagers grow up, and suddenly a world of personal decisions and explorations that owe no accounting to one’s parents opens up. In Gina’s case, this world had swallowed her without mercy.

She had worked hard after high school; her family had to defer college for financial reasons, so to help out, Gina and Dixie worked full time. They had recently joined their brother Ash at Stefan’s, the riverside bar and grill situated on a bank beside the Oostanaula, with Dixie going to the kitchen and Gina training to wait tables, such as the one seated by Kaylie just now.

“It’s Martin,” she said, as she stuffed the menus into their pouch on the hostess stand. So her friend and fellow server would be her next guest. This made Gina smile a little, even if their relationship had taken an ambiguous turn of late. The emptiness she felt inside---the apathy and quiet despair---had been alleviated by his humor and engaging conversation. Unfortunately, another hostess, Connie, had broken the news of the other type engagement---to his girlfriend, about whom she’d heard nothing during the times he’d tickled her and otherwise cheered her up. Connie had relished crushing Gina’s hopes. On top of that, the girlfriend had joined the kitchen staff. Gina had started a friendship with her, though, at the New Year’s Eve party a couple of weeks before.

The awkward situation that followed was shuffled into a mental vault, as Gina walked over to table thirty three. Her kiss with Martin Reimer flashed before her eyes as she rounded the corner. It had been an unexpectedly dispassionate kiss, and one she tried not to regret. After all, her months of miseries before had left her in desperate need of a friend…even one with whom she’d shared some confusion.

“Gina! I thought we might get you,” beamed Martin, as he leaned out of his seat to give her a hug around the waist.

“This is my roommate and college friend, Lewis King. We thought we’d catch up over lunch, and since it’s slow this time of day, we just walked over.”

His friend had curly brown hair flowing over his ears from under his black beret, and expressive lashes flickering over crystal blue eyes. He was dressed in a denim shirt with a hunter’s green fishing-type vest, and his pretty lips spread out into a placid smile as he gave Gina a friendly wave.

“Can’t stay away on your off day?” she bantered. “I may have some silverware for you to roll!”

“I’ll be glad to Bissell your section when we go,” Martin laughed.

“Oh, is that what we’re calling it these days?” said Lewis, arching an eyebrow humorously. The easy laughter between everyone belied the slight tension Gina still felt with her friend. Only the next day after their kiss had he explained that he was getting back together with his fiancĂ©. She pushed this aside again to get their drink orders.

“I think I may have a Heineken,” said Lewis, looking up from his thoughtful perusal of the menu. He was always excited by the sheer possibilities. He hadn’t been spending much on food of late, with his big plans. In fact, this was the subject of his lunch conversation with Martin.

“Oh? Could I see some i.d.?” Gina asked.
Taken slightly aback, Lewis grinned and reached into his vest, digging out a guitar pick and a folded slip of paper.
The pick, she recognized readily; her father often kept them around. He had played guitar a lot during his days as a reverend; Gina had sang lead in the family’s gospel group.

The slip turned out to be his temporary driver’s license, with his old photo stapled to it. She eyed this a moment.

“I’m really not supposed to take anything but a real i.d.” Lewis’ mouth dropped open as she turned to Martin. “Can you vouch for him?” She privately enjoyed teasing Lewis. It was nice to feel a little spark of her old self.

“Hmmm,” Martin said, stroking a blond goatee. “I think this is legit.”

“Give me a break,” said Lewis. “I just had my birthday…you know that! The real one just hasn’t come in the mail.”

“Oh, so this isn’t a real one, is what you’re saying,” grinned Martin, flicking back his long Nordic hair. Gina tittered.

“Well, if you can’t serve me, you can’t serve me,” Lewis said with faintly mocking resignation, as he eased back in his chair.

“I’ll let you slide,” Gina offered, “this time.”
So that’s Lewis, Gina thought, as she placed the order. Martin’s girlfriend Denise’s brother. The one Connie had gushed over the week before, claiming he was her best friend. She had tried to be Connie’s friend, too, but there was a cruel streak and a tendency towards laziness that irked Gina and really, all the wait staff. She was three months pregnant, but Connie used that as her excuse to lean on the podium and do nothing. It was too bad; Gina really loved babies and pregnant women. It seemed almost everything in her life lately that should have been a good thing turned out to have some nasty twist.

Dixie dried her hands off on her apron, smiling broadly. Her arm had burn marks---“diamonds” they called them---from her bad habit of inflicting pain on herself, as did all the cook staff, like it was a “diamond club.” As if being naturally clumsy wasn’t enough! But Dixie was a bright spot. She shared her sister’s dark hair and dark eyes, with a presence that filled the room.
“Hey, I heard Martin’s here!” she said. “You get him?”
“I just put in the order.”

“I’ve got a salad in there for you…need to eat, girl!” Dixie said, patting her thin little sister. Gina smiled lightly and proceeded through the swinging door, where she found her late lunch, with bits of chicken lovingly hidden under the lettuce bed. Along with her consistent exercise habit, Gina had lost almost all of her appetite. In a family of hearty eaters, her dwindling weight had not escaped Dixie’s notice. They each had their own underlying problems. Neither of them said much about what really troubled them. Easier to turn on some music on the drive from home each day and talk about basically nothing. Dixie was always happy to fill the silence.

“So I put in my notice last night,” said Lewis. “I’ll be ready at the beginning of next month.”
“I understand,” said Martin. “Danny and I have made a lot of trips on the road. It can be really good for clarifying your state of mind. He took me to this Ren Fest in Texas, one year…”

A girl in combat boots and an over-sized t-shirt came up to the table to give Martin a hug. Her friend behind her had a similar, punk-rock style. The girl was like a taller, younger version of her sisters.

“Hannah! What are you doing here today?”
“LeeAnn and I are out of school for Martin Luther King holiday!” said Hannah. “I just wanted to come by and bug Dixie and Gina. Maybe steal some onion rings!”

“Well, perfect day then for you to meet my roomie…his last name’s King…”

“Oh!! Hahah!” She extended a hand to Lewis. “I get it. Pleased ta meet ya!”

“You wanted to apply for a job washing pots in the afternoons, you can see Keith,” said Dixie. “I’ve got to get a Swiss bacon mushroom burger on for this gentleman. Where are you two going?”

“We thought we’d catch a movie while we’re in downtown,” said Hannah. “You wanna join us when you get off?”

“Sure!” said Dixie. “I’ll be ready in a bit. Nice seeing you guys…I’ll try to come out before you go, I’m just cleaning up.”

“Here comes my other sister!” said Hannah. “Maybe we’ll all go?”

“Oh, that’s okay,” said Gina, “I took a double shift today.” By now she was often the “star server” who checked others’ stations and got the best sections. Ash had trained her well. She worked more and more these days, pitching in her part for her family. She was done with romantic misadventures. Her sisters were gone with LeeAnn as soon as she delivered Lewis some Heinz 57.

She was back with the burgers and the ticket soon enough, watching Martin and Lewis talk earnestly from afar while she caught up her side work.

Connie came in late after a doctor’s appointment. She settled her belongings, chattering hectically. While she went to the bathroom, Gina watched the boys head for the door.

“Feel free to come by again Thursday if you’re not doing anything,” said Martin, hugging her again. “Denise is off all day. Maybe you two can do something?” He sincerely felt sorry for the confusion he had caused. If Denise and Gina could build a friendship, perhaps it would make up for it in some part. He had a very rocky relationship with Denise of late, but they’d talked over their engagement and reconciled. Perhaps Gina had such a sweet spirit, but how could he give up on all the work he’d put into things with Denise? He banished thoughts of what might have been.
Gina, for her part, remembered her last visit, how chummy everyone had gotten. It reminded her uncomfortably of the encounter that had started her downward spiral. But the shadow of something stranger yet loomed beyond even that. It seemed fear had shaken up everything she took for granted one fall day and nothing had ever quite been so innocent again. She bid Lewis and Martin farewell, noting the faraway look in Lewis’ blue eyes.

After they were in the parking lot, Connie came back out. “It seems like I have to go seventeen times a day!” she declared. Gina thought about telling Connie Lewis had been there. She considered it when Connie first came in. For that matter, Connie had shown her own designs on Martin, until he had neglected to give her the same level of tickling and joking he’d shown Gina. This was behind her “helpful advice” about Martin’s girlfriend, when she had noticed the bit of hope emerging in Gina’s eyes.

Gina tended to think of everyone’s feelings, no matter how sick at heart she felt from the disastrous roller coaster that had emerged with her blossoming love life. This time, she followed a slightly vindictive impulse, which she recognized for what it was. Well, so what, she thought, as she left Connie in the dark about the visitors until they were safely gone. Even a good girl has to get a little of her own back sometimes. It felt foreign to her. But then, she wasn’t so sure how good a girl she really was anymore, after all.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Writing songs: "Over" and "Angela Dawn" (from sadness to reflection to hope to joy)

"Over" by Soul Ba-Doom Ba-Doom Written by Cecil Disharoon, Jr.
I've mentioned how writing a song can be a way of empowering yourself regarding a situation, much like listening to the same music sometimes makes you feel better. It's a great way to tell stories that affect you. You can also take a journey---whether through personal acceptance of your understanding of a situation, or empathetically guiding your characters through their situation as the lyrics progress from beginning to end. (I can't say for sure at what point I heard the melody, but lately it's been coming along with the words from the first.)

If you yourself are the character in the song, writing gives you a perspective to witness the journey...and maybe understand it better.

So upon waking from dreams---I was reading a sports page, and earlier heard "Rocket Man" playing as well, in the dreams---I decided to cope with a feeling of loss by telling the story of "Over." We move from the story between two people to a wider perspective, a philosophical reflection in simple words. The feeling of hope and vision that informs the third verse completes the journey of knowledge into acceptance...and wraps up nicely with the song, and the words, being "over." It seems to have taken me about fifteen minutes to get it all down, and the music came alongside it with little trouble. The gentle guitar riff is exactly the sort of touch that stays with me most often when I'm in a very emotional mood.

These reflections gave my best friend pause, as I've been writing about this sort of thing (loss) a lot this year. "I'll be glad when you write something that's not about a break-up or death need a happy song," she said. Well, like "Evolution" and many other times, the first words of my song once more came from her words straight out of her mouth, which lends them a conversational tone naturally. I decided the silly rhymes that came to me were no reason to stop, because the melody compelled me. Why let anything stop me from writing for sheer pleasure? The results have continued to cheer me since...and that's a nice quality in a song. I hope you find it lots of fun! I wrote it in about forty five minutes, chorus last. I took some time working out the chord progression, but once I was sure of the key I just experimented.

Musically, it's pretty straight forward. I had a real front lawn in mind: her parents' house. I imagine our bike path when I'm thinking of "run beneath the skies of blue"...a bit of heaven on Earth! The real Angela Dawn gave the song its inspirational who better to whom to dedicate what could fairly be called a "ditty" ?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vado Bujinka discovers Semeicardia

Deep within the Caves of the Living Land, Vado's mind reaches out to the crawling caterpillars, to explore what lies behind the crystal wall...its amethyst glare leaves little hint, and so, she begins to slowly trace the unseeable portion beyond the closest stalagtite, until she hits upon an open area. With her gradual probing, she begins to sense a vacuum...and so, she does a bit of excavating. "I wonder how my grandmother's doing?" she thinks, wiping the sweat from her brow. When she clears an opening, she slithers within.

Suddenly, the air itself omniously draws her off her feet. A telepathic call from the Living Land itself warns her, beckons her, in its 5th dimensional hyper language: this pocket is of otherworldly origin. But where does it lead? She sits and meditates: nothing living seems to go beyond that strange null zone.
Outside the caves, she draws her steed Aya-Anda to her side. She walks the creature cautiously to the amethyst opening...and casts a pebble into the void. The rock seems to spin without regard to natural laws, but is otherwise unharmed.

A call for help! Is this real? A flaming arrow point floats before her, wavering in the non-void. Is this an audible call...or simply part of her thoughts? Yet, its urgency whispers to her. She sets up her communication device within Aya-Anda's cybernetic circuitry, to send relays back to the Dome Tribe, the quasi-technological nomads for whom she has ranged so far afield.

She takes a reading of the bizarre environment...and hears the call again. The language is an ancient Danish dialect...some of the words, she does not recognize, but its intention is clear...and now, she faces a choice. How can she simply walk into a trap without regard for her life, or those who love her? She tries again to reach some kind of animal life, with which to establish rapport. Nothing.
Her own mortality, and its place in the web of her soul group, shines brightly in her mind before the void of non-existence.

From deep within, her own spirit guides offer her the strength, to leap empty-handed into what lies ahead.
Vado Bujinka closes her eyes, a thread of silver seeming to connect her belly to the path of fate. Her own destiny awaits, as the air itself shimmers around her...and symbols, ancient runes, light the darkness of her mind. She stands atop one of three pillars...and about her, a green light to the north...and a red light, to the south...and a woman, haunting her from the blue light of the west...

A blast of wind, chill as the North Sea, makes every light about her dance...and suddenly a body of black water seems to rise all about her...she counts each breath, recognizing her own body, recognizing the essence of her own life.
She identifies symbols, tries to connect them to her memory, some rational activity to center her as she and her horse seem to sink...deep within the unconscious mind...

...and when her eyes open, beneath a dark purple sky, she smells a flower unlike any she's ever known...and hears a mighty bird, whose strange call fills her body with animal fear...

"Where..AM I?" she questions, as she counts her breaths...slowly assimilating to the byzantine geography that emerges in the twilight.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

writing a song: Evolution (Bananas)

The singing's flawed more than what I usually put up, but it's expressive, so hey. "Evolution (Bananas)", written by me as Lue Lyron for Soul Ba-Doom Ba-doom and displayed above,

is my demo...I really must take it over to Ed's and do something with it, and at least a dozen others...I just lost touch with my original music for a little while, with a couple of exceptions, but last week I started pulling out more of it again.

Now here's the thing: when I wrote "Just an Illusion" for example, sometimes you don't want the situation to exist, and you're miserable (this was three years ago?) and then you hit upon something to say, and it writes itself...and you feel empowered, right? But then you have to accept that things are as they are...and so, songs are a way of dealing with reality, emotional realities that are complex for feeling people. (ooh, I'm getting a blog here! Ha! It's been a while since I updated.) So you have the song...and over time, you heal...and you have the song, and it gives you back the power you lost. So actually, if your heart's breaking, the song's a pretty good way of dealing with things, for that reason: it's a coming to terms. Probably "easier" if it's someone else's situation and you pour your empathy into it.

This one started with a desire to write The Marc Kane something with great, more personal and fitting lyrics, while listening to her play "Still The Same" by Bob Seger. Glorifying the cold-hearted gambler in the song just didn't feel right for her fresh, sweet voice, so I took some of her words (talking about her struggle years ago with anorexia, and what she learned from it about moving on) and paired it with some of the chords in "Same." As the song wrote itself, I rhymed "ape" with "escape" uncertainly; it had some logic to it, a song about mimicking love or actually living up to it. Then my friend DJE3, over at Underground Masters, had said something about "involution" preceding "evolution" and while I've been through these strange processes in my life, I was shaking off the hangover from a deeply disappointing situation that really took me off my game. So "Evolution" was triggered by "ape" and now the song had a lyrical theme to carry itself all the way through! The apes and bananas thing leaped out of my subconscious and made me laugh: "go bananas, throw bananas...slip on a peel" ! But I kept it, because it gave the song an originality and humanity with which I couldn't part.

Now here's the next step, two weeks later..before the study recording.

I hope it's a lot of fun for you to hear, and maybe you'll feel some inspiration, at least, the creative feeling will manifest itself in your life and whatever you do, however you live it.

Peace! Be Chill, Cease ill