Thursday, February 21, 2013


Last night I dreamed -- blessed illusion --
that I had a beehive here
in my heart
and that the golden bees were making
white combs and sweet honey
from my old failures.

- Antonio Machado

February has always been challenging for me.  I know why: it's because February's not impressed with me, and has something to teach me that I don't particularly want to learn.  February's like Mary Poppins, but not the sweet, pretty, bell-voiced Poppins in the Disney movie, but rather it's the bitchy, dowdy, exasperating Mary Poppins from the books. 

But February does have one thing going for it: Jonathan Richman.

I don't go out to listen to music anymore because I'm old-ish and tired and bands playing in Athens usually start around 1:30 in the morning or something.  And just because somebody plays music out loud doesn't mean I need to be there for them to do it, regardless of whether I'd appreciate the music they're playing.

But Jonathan Richman comes almost every February, and I do need to be there for that.  Because it is, as Bryan calls it, "sacred music":

And this:

And this:

So, Bryan and I went last Friday to see him at the 40 Watt, and there were crowd-wide sing-alongs and clapping and ridiculous dancing and people grinning at each other like weirdos, and Jonathan Richman told a 20 minute story about being 16 and asking Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison about what being on drugs was like, and they gave him a bunch of homework to go out and hunt down people who knew a lot about each kind of drug he was interested in, so he just interviewed those people instead of doing the drugs.  It was boundlessly adorable. 

But here's what I want to say about February--or whatever your February is: it can be tough and disruptive and uncomfortable, but sometimes you find your very own Jonathan Richman in the midst of it.  And you got to surrender to Jonathan.  I promise, it helps.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This is how mornings go:

4:30 - 5:00 AM: Bryan's alarm goes off to let everybody know it's veeeery early in the morning.  He gets up and works.

5:00 - 7:30 AM: Odessa and I snuggle and snooze.

7:30 AM: Dessa gets up and thumps into the kitchen. Bryan makes her cereal, and they talk.

7:30 - 8:15 AM: I either continue to sleep all by myself, or just lie there thinking at the ceiling until somebody comes in and insists I get up.

But this morning, I listened to Bryan and Odessa telling a story.   Here's how it went:

O: Daddy, tell a story. 
B: What do you want the story to be about?
O: A princess named Odessa who lives at the store. She has three friends named Lucy, Loretta, Tucker and Ben whose mommies died. They live with a lady named Jesslyn who is all of their mommies. Odessa's daddy died looooong ago.
B: laughing
O: incoherent scolding

Odessa's very interested in dying lately.  Her favorite episode of Sesame Street is the one from 1982 where Big Bird has to come to grips with Mr. Hooper's death. Every time she sees my 95 year old grandmother, she tells her she's sorry her mommy died.  She's constantly trying to get me to promise to adopt her friends in the event that some fatal misfortune befalls their parents.

Death has even made its way into a game we play in the bath called "Yucky Soup, Yummy Soup."  The rules are pretty simple: one of us says to the other, "Would you like some soup?" And the person being offered the soup very politely asks, "Is it yucky soup or yummy soup?" And then the cook has to divulge whether it is, in fact, yucky or yummy, and enumerate the entire list of ingredients.  Yummy soup is kind of boring--it's mostly just candy and orange juice and berries, and when you taste it (FYI: it's bath water served in a tiny wok), you have to smile and nod and say "mmmmmmm mmmmmm mmmm, yummy!"

Yucky soup is more fun because you get to make a scene of spitting it out.  But my favorite part is when Dessa lists all the ingredients: "a towel, grownup toothpaste, beer, teeth, necklaces, Mommy's lotion, dirt and worms, green, black, pictures, hair, poop-and-pee, sticks, kitty food, kitties, bunnies--no...not bunnies...." And tonight she added a new one:

"...and DIED."

"YUCK!" I said, and spat bathwater all over the shower tiles.