Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

These Days

Well I've been out walking
I don't do that much talking these days
These days-
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It's so hard to risk another these days
These days-
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it's just that I've been losing so long

I'll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

-Jackson Browne

Friday, November 25, 2005

The dishes are done, man

C'mon, what movie, what movie? (Do I sound like Sus?) C'mon, guess!

Not telling.

I was just thinking of how much I luurve doing dishes. Let me alter that statement slightly. I luurve doing my own dishes. I wish I had a digital camera to show you the beautiful Before and After effect. I will have to pretend I'm a wordsmith and spin you some description.

Before: Greasy stovetop with burnt thingers under the range; counter with broccoli bits, spoons, measuring cups sprawling; sink filled with pan from candied yams, pot from steaming broccoli, bowl from warming and remashing potatoes, roasting pan from turkey leg, mixing bowl from sugar/butter loveliness smushed onto yams, corn puddn' plate, whisk, various other implements (set a-soaking); kitchen table littered with ingredients, empty tin cans, drips, food particles.


Who needs bubble wrap? Not JoBiv! ::tic tic::

Monday, November 21, 2005

So long, Solo

I love my Thanksgiving Ritual (two separate links). I love the solitude, the food, the fact that I can wear PJ's all day and watch movies that no one else will watch with me. I love that my only contact with other people is by the phone, which I can turn off. I love that I'm not hustling around on trains or trolleys, politely updating near-strangers about my life, faking smiles and questions about theirs. I frickin' love it. The insulation of an empty apartment, the satisfaction of my own cooking epiphanies, the goofy unabashed smiles while watching the Macy's parade.

Becca invited me to her Thanksgiving. It's not exactly a family Thanksgiving, although her whole family will be there. They're all going to her sister's boyfriend's apartment in Somerville, which I'm pretty sure will be a shithole co-op kind of place. Several random musicians are also on the VIP list. The menu: some kind of apple/cranberry crisp, roasted beets (the only thing Becca cooks), and a TBA Indian dish. I'm supposed to contribute something. I really want MY meal, and can't decide on one thing. And it would be rude to bring five things, right? I'm not colonizing their Thanksgiving. In fact, if all goes well, I will sit in a corner and fold napkins or set tables or search for forks, speaking to few and dodging many.

I said I'd go, though. Did I mention that? I'm a complete dumbass.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Maybe I should make an appointment with my doctor."
"For me?"
"You'll be home for four days, right?"
"Yeah, but you have to count travel time. Around the holidays?" I start to get teary.
"It would be easy for me to call her up and see if she has anything open. You need to get back on those prescriptions."
"Yeah, but those prescriptions require follow-up. I can't just see a doctor once and get drugs forever."
"Well, you could get follow-up."
"Not for months, though."
She went quiet. It was then that I realized she meant me to come home to stay.

I can't.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Holy guacamole!

Dan! Might come! To Boston! My brother!

Here's the story: I forwarded an email I get from Comedy Connection about Pablo Francisco coming on the 10th. We lurve Pablo Francisco. He's mad funny. I wrote something like, "WOULDN'T IT BE FRICKIN COOL IF YOU COULD COME SEE PABLO??"

He wrote back, "Indeeed."

I took that to mean, "Yeah, but ain't gonna happen."

Turns out it meant, "Buy the tickets, Sis!!"

Do you think he'll really come? Do you?? Oh my God I hope he comes!!!

Rave reviews and other news

Monday was a school holiday for a lot of Brookline. Devotion school had off for teacher trainings. Preschools had off for... I have no idea what reason. The result of all this holidaying was crammed parks, school-aged kids zipping around toddlers like they were mere buoys in an obstacle course.

It also meant that the baby's Auntie, who lives nearby, had her preschooler home for the day and decided to take her to the park with the new baby in tow. It was a pleasant surprise. Finally, an English-speaking woman in the park, a member of the Pea Fan Club (I believe she's the Secretary), and a playmate for Pea. Even though M is three years older, she enjoys Pea and follows her around sometimes, interested in her little Pea world.

We didn't stick with Auntie all day, though. We had social visits to make. There were the Russian nannies to consider, and our new friends, Ven and O, a Jamaican nanny and her Indian charge. And there were wood chips to eat, rubbish to kick around, gaping chasms to teeter on the edge of, etc.

This was all Monday, remember. Yesterday, Pea and I escaped the house for a bit, braving the drizzle for the sake of my sanity. We ran into Auntie's nanny, who's had a lot of leisure time since the new baby came. M was at school, Auntie was home with baby. She always sees us from far off with our electric green stroller.

"Johanna, I heard about you!" (Please insert Jamaican accent here.)
"You know how they talk."
"Um, you mean about us?"
"Yes about us with the kids. Total strangers think they know me, you know?"
"Yeah, I know." Many a time I've had strangers wave me down to say hi to Pea and tell me they've heard soooo much about me. Very unnerving.
"Well Baby Mama was sayin how Auntie was so impressed with you, how Pea keeps you on your feet and you always chasin' her."
"She said you are so good..."
"Well you know I can't sit on a bench with his baby."
"Oh no, not with THIS baby. OOh she know we talkin' about her!" Pea was squirming with impish delight in her stroller, smiling and chuckling.

She went on to say how impressed Auntie was with my mad skillz, how I stood out on the playground, how I obviously enjoyed my job.

I'm not gonna lie to ya. It feels good. Now where's my raise?

In the abovementioned other news:

My mother is so much more fun in writing. My father pushed her into an email account, and she's finally getting the hang of it. She cracks me up. She has this long-standing hostile relationship with the tab button and she updates me on their quarrels. She writes short emails, always afraid they'll explode or something before she can send them. And yesterday I got an email with the following subject line:

Your mother grows a set.

Apparently she's driving, by her wee self, to Boston. She wants to see my choir concert on Saturday, and she also wants to see First Light festivities. She's staying with me. I'm trying to keep her email charmingness in mind. Oh my, she is so charming. What a clever charming lady. Oh we will have such fun.

I hope.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good omens?

I continually think I'm losing my mind, as you may know, Gentle Reader. I also think I'm turning evil most days. I think, in general, that my luck has run out.

And then, today, two lovely things happened on a shopping trip to Cambridge Side. Perhaps they counteract Little Things in a light sort of soothing way.

Lovely Thing #1:

After a rigorous four-hour mall-wandering, Jenny (new roomie) and I settled down to dinner at CPK. We looked through our loot a bit, and I noticed one of my bags was missing. I tried not to freak out, just calmly removed all items from all bags... still missing. Damn. The mall was closed by now, and I'd have to make many scary phone calls to many stores tomorrow. Nooo thanks.

After finally paying for a mediocre dinner with poor service, Jenny and I managed to make it to several stores with people still folding and cashing out registers behind the rolling steel doors.

"Excuse me? EXCUSE ME! I think I left a bag here..."

Losing hope, we shuffled to the last store. After the usual whiney story-telling, and the relaying of information around the store, I got a response of, "What, exactly, was in the bag?"

Oh yes, people. It was MY BAG! Yeeeeeeeehaw!

Lovely Thing #2:

At the T station (which has had such a tiny makeover as to completely befuddle Jenny and JoBiv while contemplating how long the shuttle bus ran from Gov't Center to Lechmere), we purchased tokens from the machines. This, you may know, is risky business. One seldom finds a working machine, and if the machine works it often eats your money for breakfast and belches out... NOTHING. Neither of us put large bills in the thing.

I put a buck in, wanting quarters back.

I pushed the button...

A TOKEN fell out!

Cue the heavenly choir!

Here's the miracle which prompted a fevered five-minute bill-feeding frenzy alternating between Jo and Jenny: not only did I actually receive my T fare, it came at a discount! The machine hadn't been updated to the $1.25 rate! Whee!

As I often say, so often that I nauseate myself, it's the little things in life...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Atrocities abound!

WHY do I do this to myself? Why do I see the Big U every time he calls me up? Why are his whims my nightmares?

This is why: I believe, not even so deep down, that I deserve all this.

That's another post for another, more enlightened JoBiv.

THIS post is about atrocities. And secrets. And how we keep secrets from each other until they become atrocities.

I don't mean to speak in code, I'm just very, very upset. I'll tell you the little things, because the bigs things are too big to be written of here.

Little Thing #1:

Leaving The Corpse Bride, Uly waxed poetic about how good it was. I was charmed, because he usually hates anything that could possible be likeable to any other person on the Earth. He chooses to dislike things because it's fun for him to test his wit in a continual game of devil's advocate. It's extremely annoying. So when he allows himself to like something, he's charming, boyish, vulnerable, and I sincerely like him. So, as he spoke of the artistry and quirkiness of the film, and I recalled his uncontrolled chuckles during the film, I started chuckling myself.

"What are you laughing at?"
"You, I guess." Might as well be honest. Ha.
"I dunno. I just like listening to you talk about something you like."
"Why is that funny?"
"It's not exactly funny..."
"Anyway, as I was saying... blah blah Tim Burton blah brilliant, but that last scene blah blah... You're laughing again."
"I'm sorry."
"Then stop laughing."

And I realized two things, suddenly: if I told him how much I liked the film, he would argue against every point I made, just to argue. Also, he hadn't asked me what I thought, very likely in fear of wanting to contradict me.

So, little thing #1 - a vicious conversational cycle.

Little Thing #2: (Which ignores entirely the atrocities delivered on the body and soul of one JoBiv of Brookline, MA spanning the time after the Little Thing #1 revelations until the moment our story picks up once more.)

This morning, I returned from my shower and thought to call Miss Norah and see if she was up to shopping or some other thing that would be reassuring and normal. Uly's phone rang at the same time I reached for mine. It was some friend of his, a girl, and he was attempting to make plans with her.

"Brunch?" Turned down. He has never said this word to me, so I was surprised to discover it in his vocabulary.

"Dinner?" Perish the thought! Spend money on a meal? Not with JoBiv.

"But you're going to this party with me, right? ...C'mon, it'll be great! It's my brother and his goofy friends... Aww... but you're supposed to go as a pair of something. Can be anything, something stupid. I was thinking just matching shirts... Aww man, who will I get to go with me?"

Not the girl who stands in your room, holding her cell phone in wait of the end of your call so that she won't cause any questions while you're on the phone.

I was so angry in that moment that I called Norah anyway. I left a message. I didn't shout, but I didn't whisper either. Long after my short message, Uly remained on the phone with his friend, still in bed, leaning into the wall as if to create a private space. Leaning, actually, into the space my body occupied the night before.

I guess that means Little Thing #2 comprises all of Uly's efforts to limit my existence in his world.

Yes, I know. Those aren't little things. God, do I know.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Begone, foul space book!



Everything that could have gone wrong with this last freelance project DID go wrong. I won't detail the wrongness because it'll sound like prepubescent whining. I will not stoop that low.

Instead, I will share a conversation I've had about space today (paraphrased).

JoBiv: i haaaate the soooolar system
Person with whom I should not be speaking: overrated
JoBiv: entirely
JoBiv: space in general, in my opinion
PWWISNBS: so much wasted space
JoBiv: freals
JoBiv: when they could fill it with an IKEA or something
PWWISNBS: or condos

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The father of my future children, and two other bands

Jake Armerding! Good god! So talented! The boy plays every instrument EVOR.

I had Miss SMI on my mind all last night. She would have loved the concert. It opened with Halali , three women on fiddles, one guy on guitar, some piano, some dance, some craaazy-tight harmonies. Jake went on after, in fine form, pure energy and soaring vocals. Then came Crooked Still, funktifying folk. The singer's voice was so light and airy, layered on a double-bass, banjo, and spastic cello.

When I say spastic... well it doesn't quite cover it. The cellist, Rushad Eggleston, was dressed in electric green and a Jughead Jones crown, and played the cello with an animalistic frenzy and complete precision. The boy was head-banging. I swear. It was impossible to look away.

Today I did some research on the lad, and he has his own band called Rushad Eggleston and His Wild Band of Snee. Do take a listen. (I highly recommend The Clover Show.)

Anyway, the whole night was excellent, the Somerville Theatre was packed tight with enthusiasts, and the energy pushing into us from the stage was phenomenal. It's amazing how YOUNG folk music is, I kept thinking. In Crooked Still, especially, I kept hearing strains of other song forms I love: jazz, blues, funk...

AND they had a Big Fat Finale, with all musicians on the stage! So much talent in one smallish space... It was mind-blowing. They finished with Graceland, led by Jake, transformed in turns into Celtic, bluegrass, and pure folk. It was bizarre and beautiful. I wish you could have heard it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Apologies to My Former Therapist, Or denial ain't just a river in Egypt

Who orders PURE VODKA with a twist? Isn't it more civil to order a very, very dry martini? Why not ask for a frickin' IV? Dad put the server on edge with the request. He couldn't help elaborating, "Who needs the other crap. Why crowd out the vodka..."

I hate that the time I spent with my father was mostly spent counting drinks, counting the requests for ME to drink, counting all mentions of drinking... We must have talked of other things. I can't remember.

Why am I surprised every time? Why does it kick my fucking naive ass every time? He said he'd try and it would get better. My mom said it was better. When was that... back in the summer? When I went home I was sure it was just a celebratory mood that kept the booze flowing.

I'm so stupid. I'm so fucking stupid.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sibling Rivalry

My brother is writing a children’s book.

Or at least this is the latest proposed project that will prove once and for all that he’s intelligent and capable and so, so deep. And better than his sister.

I don’t write any of this with bitterness in my already shriveled heart. It’s more a feeling of, “Wow, you know, you don’t actually HAVE to pour that lemon juice on my gaping wound. It’s actually a choice. No, really.”

Why does it hurt? Not because I feel threatened. If I know my brother, his enthusiasm for this project will last no longer than the beer he cracked open when he first thought of it. The hurt comes from the knowledge that he’s still bothering to pull this kind of thing. This kind of, “here I go, foraying into Jo territory to show her how much better I am than she is.” And then the eventual fall. And then the addition to the list of things we may not talk about together.

The List, annotated:

  1. My grandmother’s death, prior to which Smacks flaked and refused to come out of his room while I held the bowl for her vomit all night long.
  2. College in general and St. Bonaventure especially. We were caught up, nose to nose, little sister and older brother both second-semester freshman. He stopped going to class.
  3. Grad school. It’s a swear word in the house, as far as I can tell. I’m beginning to believe it never happened.
  4. Music school. He claims he got into Eastman. My parents would have remembered those tuition bills. They sure as hell remember mine!
  5. Singing. Again, not entirely sure I’ve HAD gigs because of their place on the verboten list.
  6. Traveling. On one’s own. With one’s own money. Without run-ins with Police or other officials.
  7. Any books I’ve ever recommended unless he’s suddenly found them on his own and can’t remember my recommendation to save his life, and as long as I don’t add any criticism or background to the discussion.
  8. Our father’s drinking. Because I was the first one to say Something, I think. The pressure to say Something has turned into disapproval of my constant criticism.

Shall we preemptively add…

  1. Children’s literature? Might as well, since I can’t talk about grad school in the first place.
Really, if you saw me at home, you would think I was mute.

Okay, that’s not true. But you WOULD occasionally nudge me in the ribs and say something like, “Jo, YOU know all about that. Didn’t you have that cool project, et cetera? Why not share with your brother, who is clearly groping blindly through life and could use a hand?”

Thank you, I prefer to lend a hand only when I know it won’t get cut off at the wrist. Which, with Smacks, means never.

hair on the carpet

Sleepless until this morning, when nightmares ran through my whole body.

Book project was due Monday, got an extension because of my move. I'm trying to write today, but I can't make room in my head. I keep seeing this nightmare.

Dad's in town. Can't let him see me like this.