November 2nd, 2003.

ilyAIMY dressed up as Alice in Wonderland creatures for Heather's birthday / Halloween at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.
ilyAIMY dressed up as Alice in Wonderland creatures for Heather’s birthday / Halloween at the Vault in Baltimore, MD.

Long nights. Halloween was spectacular. The show went way better than I expected, with really good turn-out and such incredible energy. There’s this feeling of pent up joy that I get – I want to cry because the moment is perfect – and I have my friends and creatures and girlfriend and bandmates all rolled into the same room. Only a few faces were missing.

Heather's brother, Justin, as Indiana Jones' father in the Last Crusade.
Heather’s brother, Justin, as Indiana Jones’ father in the Last Crusade.

The high tension of sexuality pulsing through the room, the music, the chaos and the last minute panic. So What went off pretty well, with few people knowing the song well enough to see where I’d forgotten the words. Always my panic – that I won’t remember the words. I often fear that I am the weak spot in my own band. Weird, hey?

Brian as... er... something very very angry. Yes, Ian - THIS is the Brian you remind me of.
Brian as… er… something very very angry. Yes, Ian – THIS is the Brian you remind me of.

Such highs and such lows. Every time we come back from our wanderings, I’m amazed by how tight the band remains. I’m almost angry about it. The more time Heather and I spend together, the more our cohesion falls to bits, the more my relationships turn to shit, but the band itself plays better and better.

Dan is NOT a construction worker. He is a male stripper. He's getting a PhD and this is the way he's paying his way through school. Just in case his mom reads this (cause I'm sure EVERYONE's mom reads this) - it's ALL TRUE!!! HIS SCHOLARSHIPS DON'T BUY HIM THOSE FANCY FUR THONGS, AND HIS TUITION IS PAID IN SINGLES!!!
Dan is NOT a construction worker. He is a male stripper. He’s getting a PhD and this is the way he’s paying his way through school. Just in case his mom reads this (cause I’m sure EVERYONE’s mom reads this) – it’s ALL TRUE!!! HIS SCHOLARSHIPS DON’T BUY HIM THOSE FANCY FUR THONGS, AND HIS TUITION IS PAID IN SINGLES!!!

Maybe that’s the pain speaking? How cliche. I know I’m sort of a failure as a rockstar. I don’t drink – where’s the heroin and whores? But the mood swings are fast and furious now. More black and white than they’d been since college, and the peaks are coming fewer and further between.\

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I’m reminded of my high school math teacher, who “held out” against anti-depressants till his late twenties – I had confided in him some time in twelfth grade – but he gave in. I’ve been told it’s a losing battle, and that at some point your choices narrow down to A or B, with B being medication.

Alfred (percussion) finally gets put away. The fact that he can stick his tongue through his mask makes me feel distinctly unclean. The Mad Hatter indeed.
Alfred (percussion) finally gets put away. The fact that he can stick his tongue through his mask makes me feel distinctly unclean. The Mad Hatter indeed.

Well, if nothing else, my health insurance won’t cover B, and we force an option C – music and art… will it keep me even SEMI sane? Who knows, but whereas Prozac won’t get covered by health insurance, I CAN claim strings as a tax deduction…Where was I? Oh yeah – what I MEANT to say, was that Halloween rocked! So What was this grand transformation. I got to scream DIE at an audience and mean it.

I think, I think I think… that I shall set this down and continue typing once I’ve had some sleep. This is NOT the mood in which I should continue typing…. oooh my watch and whiskers, good NIGHT!


Yeah, see, everything – so much better after having slept. NOW I can type about how fantastic the world is…

Halloween is Heather’s birthday, and when the Vault first invited us to do their Halloween party, there were all sorts of crazy events planned – it was going to be one Hell of a birthday party. So, as events disappeared, one by one – I got really discouraged… but it made us stand out. Halloween spirit was carried by ilyAIMY and our fans. An amazing time had by all. Crisp autumn air blew around tight skirts, under strange flapping wings, and kept us from spontaneous full band combustion.

Just barely.

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— distraction, Heather is teaching about corsets. Oh God. Yeah – on Halloween night, there was a questionable moment when Heather dragged me into the women’s bathroom, and in the midst of the dragging, my hormonal rush was checked by “Do you have your knife?” The Alice costume was too tight, and I spent the next ten minutes cutting seams so she could breathe… (that’s so EVERYONE KNOWS why we went into the bathroom together!!)

WHO's been a BAD BUNNY!!?
WHO’s been a BAD BUNNY!!?

Gosh, I really have to find a better way to do this damned Journal… sigh. [haha]

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The Vault truly is one of the best places we play. The sound may be shit half the time, but the people are friendly, the owner is upfront and does his math in FRONT of you and even the security guys got into the spirit of things, with masks and stuff and they help you carry drums.

I don’t know, Life doesn’t get much better than an honest owner. Thanks Jack.

A lot of musicians don’t like the Vault – and I think it’s because there’s too much math. Most musicians AREN’T mathematicians… which is WHY most of us are starving.

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really.

I’m sitting in the sunroom, watching Caramia explore the world. She’s a beautiful kitten, running rampant, Living up to the legends of curiousity befitting such an animal. Climbing on tables, chewing on plants, shedding… she needs constant supervision lest she eat dice. She’s Heather’s instant joy. If I could make Heather smile like that kitten does – well, there’d be rings.

Last night we went to see the University of Maryland’s production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Heather, as a former member of the Satanic Mechanics, got us front row seats – and as usual, there was more eye candy than I could shake a… er… a stick at. Hrm.

Heathers are ALWAYS hot. (Caramia is nibbling my laptop).

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Er, not being one to screw with the course that nature takes, I’ll leave the kitten’s additions to the journal. There, now she’s off to attack the floor or something, buying me some time to type sensibly again.

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There we are with Tweedle Dee AND Tweedle Dum - ON BONES AND VOCALS - Rowan Corbett (on loan from Tinsmith). He was all covered in blood, which makes me think his two sides were fighting. Sigh. Poor poor man. er... men. er... something.
There we are with Tweedle Dee AND Tweedle Dum – ON BONES AND VOCALS – Rowan Corbett (on loan from Tinsmith). He was all covered in blood, which makes me think his two sides were fighting. Sigh. Poor poor man. er… men. er… something.
Heather mentioned to me that this is probably our FIRST full band photograph ever. That's just kind of distression. It occurs to me that most people who read this Journal, aren't neccessarily familiar with the band... so...(activate announcer's voice!) ON BASS - the Ace of Spades - Frank Rusch ON GUITAR AND VOCALS - Alice - Heather "Danger" Lloyd ON GUITAR AND VOCALS - the White Rabbit - rob (me) ON PERCUSSION - the Mad Hatter - Alfred Kamajian and last but not least, wiggling in the back, grinning like a CHESHIRE CAT - Sharif Kellogg on keyboards and electric guitar! (insert massive crowd noise here)
Heather mentioned to me that this is probably our FIRST full band photograph ever. That’s just kind of distressing. It occurs to me that most people who read this Journal, aren’t neccessarily familiar with the band… so…(activate announcer’s voice!)
ON BASS – the Ace of Spades – Frank Rusch
ON GUITAR AND VOCALS – Alice – Heather “Danger” Lloyd
ON GUITAR AND VOCALS – the White Rabbit – rob (me)
ON PERCUSSION – the Mad Hatter – Alfred Kamajian
and last but not least, wiggling in the back, grinning like a CHESHIRE CAT – Sharif Kellogg on keyboards and electric guitar!
(insert massive crowd noise here)
Alice dancing with Taccara. Not only do we have hot fans, but DAMN they can MOVE!
Alice dancing with Taccara. Not only do we have hot fans, but DAMN they can MOVE!
She Ra and some peasant girl. They didn't even know us. I Love looking out into the audience and knowing everyone who's danc- hey, wait a minute... people we DON'T KNOW who are dancing. We know then that we are slowly taking over the world. Or at least, the Lovely blonde parts.
She Ra and some peasant girl. They didn’t even know us. I Love looking out into the audience and knowing everyone who’s danc- hey, wait a minute… people we DON’T KNOW who are dancing. We know then that we are slowly taking over the world. Or at least, the Lovely blonde parts.
Later, Alice went and sang with our hosts, Velvetene. Adaam is writhing with his guitar as... that's weird how it looks like Heather's possibly fretting the bass, but that's just not the way it is. Also weird how that reminded me that in my dream last night I found a six-string bass in the trash and brought it home but when I polished it up it turned out to just be a five-string, and I've already got one of those so I just threw it out again. Dumb dream,
Later, Alice went and sang with our hosts, Velvetene. Adaam is writhing with his guitar as… that’s weird how it looks like Heather’s possibly fretting the bass, but that’s just not the way it is. Also weird how that reminded me that in my dream last night I found a six-string bass in the trash and brought it home but when I polished it up it turned out to just be a five-string, and I’ve already got one of those so I just threw it out again. Dumb dream,
Well, either he was here because he Loves ilyAIMY, or it's because we have the absolute hottest fans of any band around. It's a sign of how good we're playing nowadays, I suppose - a mark that we're getting big. We've got a couple of fans that come down from Philadelphia, some from Virginia, some from DC and most from Maryland... so we're drawing people from four states to come see us.... I'm beginning to get Propositioned after shows.... our fans are all REALLY hot... someone ELSE carries our guitars... high school girls are writing our name on their notebooks... what other signs ARE there of rockstar success?
Well, either he was here because he Loves ilyAIMY, or it’s because we have the absolute hottest fans of any band around. It’s a sign of how good we’re playing nowadays, I suppose – a mark that we’re getting big. We’ve got a couple of fans that come down from Philadelphia, some from Virginia, some from DC and most from Maryland… so we’re drawing people from four states to come see us…. I’m beginning to get Propositioned after shows…. our fans are all REALLY hot… someone ELSE carries our guitars… high school girls are writing our name on their notebooks… what other signs ARE there of rockstar success? Oh yeah, that whole money thing. Where IS my private jet?
Sigh.
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Alice Cooper and... someone frightening. I believe these are Swathlings. Huge thanks to Jason (Chainsaw) for coming out and supporting us so much recently. I don't know, he must really like us or something.... so, when is Swath and ilyAIMY playing together? Somewhere OTHER than that shit-hole, Palomas?
Alice Cooper and… someone frightening. I believe these are Swathlings. Huge thanks to Jason (Chainsaw) for coming out and supporting us so much recently. I don’t know, he must really like us or something…. so, when is Swath and ilyAIMY playing together? Somewhere OTHER than that shit-hole, Palomas?
And then I think I made it about one more song before losing the other ear. Sigh. Heather did a good job making the ears, Justin did a good job drilling the ears, but when it comes to head, screws just ain't enough.
And then I think I made it about one more song before losing the other ear. Sigh. Heather did a good job making the ears, Justin did a good job drilling the ears, but when it comes to head, screws just ain’t enough.
 I think I made it through two songs with two ears... then one... left. Sigh.
I think I made it through two songs with two ears… then one… left. Sigh.
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 Anywho, part of my distress the other night, I think (God, I’d better reread whatever I wrote) – was over the fact that… somehow the RHPS people are real family. And I often don’t feel like I can compete somehow, simply because of lack of precedent – or the music isn’t as important because it has no lineage to it – it’s hard to explain, really. Just the feeling that when Heather looks back at her days as Frank in Rocky, she does so with a good deal of nostalgia – she misses being part of something greater than herself, and somehow the music, the Trip, the band and I – I feel like we don’t measure up. But I know that’s mostly my own insecurity talking…. Hell – THIS –>
goddess is my girlfriend... how can I NOT feel insecure?!!?
goddess is my girlfriend… how can I NOT feel insecure?!!?

Anywho, despite all the eyecandy, Heather was STILL the hottest creature in the room.

Brennan as a particularly spectacular Riff Raff. Wasn't one of the cats in that Godawful Heathcliff cartoon named Riff Raff? I wonder if there's a connexion....?
Brennan as a particularly spectacular Riff Raff. Wasn’t one of the cats in that Godawful Heathcliff cartoon named Riff Raff? I wonder if there’s a connexion….?

Everything can go so well, there can be a perfect show, beautiful people, incredible friends, gatherings of greatness… and then some assholes had to egg, mayonaise, AND molasses Mitzi’s car. And then sat on their porch and laughed at her as she called the police and they told her that they wouldn’t be able to prove anything.

That’s almost as bad as the ass-raping we had to go through to deal with our fucking car radio – except there are people here…. people who you wish you could hurt.

Our society is in this stupid phase right now, where the law can’t cover everything, and common courtesy can’t be counted on. I wish vigilantism was part of my make-up… I get so angry, wishing we could go back and do damage. $150+ damage to her car and we have faces and addresses and … we should be able to do something about that.

Of course, having it up on my website ASSURES we can’t, now doesn’t it.

Just wishes, my friends, just wishes. Wishes for molotov cocktails and pain. It’s not the damage so much as the laughter. I hate being laughed at, and it’s been a huge part of my whole Life. Sticks and stones- but eggs deserve response ten fold.

Finally! Something creative in a Rocky Horror show - throughout the night, a Ke Niggat and his coconut laden ... er... watchamacallit... corporal... lineman... SQUIRE! were wandering aboot. Here they behead the Black Knight.
Finally! Something creative in a Rocky Horror show – throughout the night, a Ke Niggat and his coconut laden … er… watchamacallit… corporal… lineman… SQUIRE! were wandering aboot. Here they behead the Black Knight.
Tori as a wrapped Rocky. Very angry.
Tori as a wrapped Rocky. Very angry.
Brandy as the doctor hims- hersel- ... as Frank.
Brandy as the doctor hims- hersel- … as Frank.
Strombad? Possibly? He was freaking me out.
Strombad? Possibly? He was freaking me out.
I had to hand the camera to Heather during this part of the show, because after a while, I just felt DIRTY taking photographs of my friends like this. Sheesh. (Cat on my toes, now - lick lick lick - erg)
I had to hand the camera to Heather during this part of the show, because after a while, I just felt DIRTY taking photographs of my friends like this. Sheesh. (Cat on my toes, now – lick lick lick – erg)
Keith and his amazing Dreamscapes Project opened the evening. He did an AWESOME cover of a Concrete Blonde song that I can't remember the name of right now.. but I can remember the bassline - doo... de doo... de doo... de doo... de doo... de dooo... sigh.
Keith and his amazing Dreamscapes Project opened the evening. He did an AWESOME cover of a Concrete Blonde song that I can’t remember the name of right now.. but I can remember the bassline – doo… de doo… de doo… de doo… de doo… de dooo… sigh.
And there was a people dancin and a writhin.... It's appropriate that page 69 should be about Rocky Horror.
And there was a people dancin and a writhin…. It’s appropriate that page 69 should be about Rocky Horror. [it sucks that page references like this go away with the move to wordpress![
Mitzi, as always, looking fine. Unfortunately, she is the centre of the imperfection of nights...
Mitzi, as always, looking fine. Unfortunately, she is the centre of the imperfection of nights…
A weird sort of sacriledge, but sometimes, you just have to go with it, besides, I figure Jim would've been flattered, though perhaps Kermit would've been awkward about Heather being able to see up his hand-hole.
A weird sort of sacriledge, but sometimes, you just have to go with it, besides, I figure Jim would’ve been flattered, though perhaps Kermit would’ve been awkward about Heather being able to see up his hand-hole.
Earlier in the evening, we played with Austin up at Port City Java - great room... great hair.
Earlier in the evening, we played with Austin up at Port City Java – great room… great hair.DCF 1.0
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November 5th, 2003.

Just got back from the College Perk Open Mic – good to be around so many friends. What was spectacularly nice – a side effect of being back for over a week – I got to sit in the background and play Magic and just work on my laptop as music went on around me. A couple of really good performers, but I was OFF for the night, and didn’t go try to whore myself on them… Heather and I played a version of Hugh McGowan’s “Lolita”, and then LooseN (fantastic guitar work if I DO say so myself) and a slightly mangled (but still fun) version of Valeri. A good night.

Came home to an email from Jerry, my boss from Glovia International – the day-job I ran off from to go on the Trip. Just a “Hey how ya doin” (the only collection of words he could say with an approximate American accent). It was good to hear from him. I couldn’t have ever hoped for better coworkers, and it’s good to know that I’m not forgotten – despite the fact that the moment I brought up leaving, they came up with plans to put a gym in where my office was. Bastards.

Anywho, I’m going to try and sleep before 3am tonight – so it’s bed for me. Had fantastic chocolate cake at the Perk (reminds me of my roommate from college trying to sell a slice of chocolate cake to a blonde he was waiting on at the restaurant he was working at – there was money on who could sell the last slice first – and he sold it with the line “This chocolate will make your pussy so wet you’ll slip off your chair.” More guts than ME – but this cake was like THAT!)

Tomorrow will be a day to test my resolutions… I shall practice for an hour… I shall do my pushups and pullups (lost weight on the Trip – about 10 pounds now, but the Lloyds feed us well while we’re around, and I need MAN TONE to my flabby pasty body)…. AND… I’ll do some portraits…

I WILL I WILL I WILL!!!!

OH – and I SWEAR I’ll do laundry, too. (later note from 11.6.03- and I DID!!)

November 10th, 2003.

Woke up from weird dreams tonight. The night before, was woken by strange dreams and sirens, and a whuffling, sneezing kitten.

Our car alarm went off in Pittsburg at around 7am. We were dazed and scattered, unable to comprehend what was going on. Search for keys, searching for windows, unable to remember where we were… very unpleasant.

We were staying with a friend, Sarah, who is endeavouring (at her boyfriend’s request) to become a hippie. Slowly, she is getting more Pink Floyd posters and dreadlocks. The dreads are currently the main issue, and are a whole lot more work than she was expecting.

Sarah trying to get her kitten, Skitz, into a pot.
Sarah trying to get her kitten, Skitz, into a pot.

The HIPPIE Lifestyle. What does that mean? Humans In Persuit of Individual Existance? Not anymore. Means dreads and the Grateful Dead. Pot and being poor. It’s a shame we can’t really make it in with the REAL “hippie” crowds because we don’t do enough drugs. I’ve got all sorts of opinionation on this, but I’m not ready to alienate the friends I HAVE made in these circles QUITE yet.

Anywho, Sarah’s apartment was beautiful, as was Sarah herself. I haven’t seen her that happy in a longtime, so something in her Lifestyle is agreeing with her. I’m hoping it’s her boy, Matt – a seasoned hitchhiker and Life Liver… I’m hoping she’s learning a little about relaxing and just enjoying the world, and I’m hoping he’s learning a little about legitimately caring about someone. But I don’t want to get into my concepts of family.

Last night, we arrived in Chicago, IL. It’s funny, Pittsburg is remarkably different. Mountainous and stone oriented, there is something to remind you of the surrounding terrain everywhere you look. The city is cut into mountains – the streets are made of those mountains, and everything feels like it’s got history.

Chicago has none of that. It feels like a generic… Just Another Big City. There is no reminder that we are 700 miles from home. We are staying in a beautiful house out in the suburbs, but it could be a beautiful house in any suburb of any city.

Well, we’re not staying long – Chicago has about 20 hours to prove it’s individuality to me.

GO!

Sarah's woodburning stove... yum.
Sarah’s woodburning stove… yum.

“Chicago has two seasons – winter, and construction.”

Tim n Mystic, the sneezing dog.
Tim n Mystic, the sneezing dog.

Tim’s deep voice is taking us touring through the Windy City. Upon being asked to take us to lunch at a suitably Chicagoan eatery, we are brought to … er… something Italian and unpronounceable. Tim guides us through ordering an Italian Beef Sandwich, wet.

Yup. Wet. Gravy, apparently, is used to make my sandwich very, very wet. It drips on me, the table, the paper, my arms, my hands, my french fries. It is delicious. It’s what a French Dip OUGHT to be.

Hwah.

Then we go get ANOTHER tire repaired (second since September) the repair guy doesn’t take the hammer approach, but rather pulls a large nail out of the wheel and proceeds to patch it up. Interstates are just treacherous…

and off to the evening’s open mic – Uncommon Ground in Chicago. Awesome talent, great host, Acoustic Boy – he has cultivated a dry, sarcastic persona to keep his open mic under control – and controlled it is. Even with a tight schedule (fitting an open mic into two hours?!!?) and a huge list (he cut it off at 21 slots) he runs it precisely and frictionlessly. Great night. A lot of good players, including our local host, Tim (pictured with his dog – who sneezed – Mystic), who has just written a new song and test drove it to grand applause. Unfortunately, I may have turned a colour or two while watching, because I finished off my chocolate cake while he was playing and the last couple of bites were just icing. Oh God, I still feel ill.

back home, tired – eating chicken noodle soup – I’m wary of tomorrow’s drive. 7 hours if we’re lucky, from Chicago to Omaha. We’re going to get up at 9am. That’s early for us. Sigh.

Sleep.

November 12th, 2003.

We’re finally in Colorado. The drive was grueling, with subterranean attack deer, bright sun glare, a near bathroom miss and a real tense moment in the book I’m reading.

But first things first.

Last night we arrived in Omaha, Nebraska. A small city apparently dominated by the First National Bank – we’d landed a gig with the help of a friend from Providence, RI , of all places, and we rolled into town, located the Stage Right Cafe, and parked with very little difficulty.

The ultimate score? It was Veteran’s Day and the meters weren’t in effect.

Can I perhaps, get you, dear reader, to stand and give me a hallelujah?

HALLELUJAH!

And maybe even a HELL YEAH!

After Chicago and it’s innumerable 15 cent tolls, coinage was at a premium for us (though we discovered that Chicago toll booths took pennies), so a free meter was a beautiful thing – sort of like a beautiful grey pillar of holy … er… meterness, sent from some parking diety.

We got a chance to wander around for a little bit before actually setting up for the show, and ran across a beautiful sculpture (hated by the locals apparently, but created to commemorate the adventurer’s spirit OF the locals by First National) and a really cool but closed “Magic Theatre” – labelled a juice bar from the exterior, the windows were filled with installation artwork and frightening mammoth mannekin creations. Eyes followed us until it was time for the show.

Playing the Stage Right was – unmemorable. We played ok, but our need for nightly practice sessions really showed, and I wanted to make use of my new looping pedal thingie, but really need to work with it more. I tried to attract people through the window with my sinuous guitar gesturings, and even took a break so that people could go call their friends on their cell phones and attract more in to our clutches… we ended the night with about six new fans, which isn’t so bad, seeing as that was just about the population of the place through the evening.

Unfortunately, Omaha IS in the middle of everything … and yet in the middle of nowhere. 8 hours from Denver, 8 hours from Chicago, and not much fun in and of itself… or so we thought….

Nicholas was one of our six. Nicolas works at the aforementioned Magic Theatre. He is the resident “spelunker”.

The Magic Theatre of Omaha has apparently been in existance for about 60+ years, and closed maybe 6 years ago, and fell into disuse. The water no longer works, only parts of it have electricity, and all of it is filled with the faded trappings of aging stage art.

There are huge styrofoam animals, staircases, part of a whale – bins of hands and shelving units of “flying things”. Hats, old costumes, tools and spools of miscellaneous threads, echoing with the distant useage of table saws – Nicholas leads us through this excavated labyrinth followed by two excitable pit bulls.

Flash light in hand, he leads us through dripping caverns and almost secret passages. Holes in walls open to reveal prop rooms stinking of a half-decade of disuse, and everywhere there is fallen plaster and discarded … objects.

And it is these objects that find their way into the glass cases on the ground floor, pieces of art protesting war and hunting for peace and enshrining Castle Greyskull for no apparent reason. It is a heaven for a found object sculpter.

SO they are hacking their way through the bowels of a fifty-year-old theatre and creating as they go. Nicolas and not much help. They hunt for grants and time and help and treasure. They are connected underground to an adjoining disused jewelery shop, complete with massive steel vault – we are lead through darkened spaces and into hidden furnished rooms.

One of these rooms contains a true treasure. There will probably be few readers that can appreciate the true magnitude of what they are about to read… but Nicolas has an original Zentraedi Officer’s Battle Pod!

I just about fainted.

Heather just thought I was a dork for even recognizing it.

Sigh.

And then we spent the night with some guy I met on the internet.

We listened to one of Kyle Knapp’s CDs while leaving his house this morning. It kept us company off and on through Nebraska and then through the first fleeting glimpses of Colorado… an intense folk album of music about freedom and the holocaust and people left behind. His guitar playing is exquisite, and his voice is a delicious blend of mid-west chocolate and some sort of honey. It has depth and a hint of gravel.

A couple of days ago I’d been hunting for singer/songwriters in the Omaha, Nebraska area – looking for information on open mics, venues, places to play. I ran across Kyle’s website, emailed him, and in a lengthy response he not only detailed open mics and places to play, but he offered up his own home as a place to stay.

A touring musician as well, he’s been playing music for 30 years, with recent tours dragging a son along to help him sell CDs and cassettes. Another son, Joe Knapp, heads up a band called Son, Ambulance, on the Saddle Creek label – and is receiving national acclaim for his songwriting. He definately gets it from his father.

A beautiful house, a beautiful yard, and some of that kindness that I suppose the midwest is supposed to be known for. We stayed up through the midnight hour telling stories of tours and snow storms and parents and grandparents.

This morning, Nebraska was subjecting us to vicious 50 mile per hour winds, and we followed Kyle out on to the highway after a delicious breakfast of eggs and cheese and sausage and stuff. Kyle Knapp is good people.

Tonight, I’m filling in the Journal in between turns of Scrabble. Heather and Jennie are struggling to consume my literate dust. Poor beasts. I reign supreme! (Until we go to Texas and play against my brother – I’m putting that off for a bit).

Time for me to finish the reaming.

November 14, 2003.

The fly has found us. Don’t ask me how it did it. It must have hunted long and hard, but the fly has found us.

Yesterday we woke leisurely with our heads and hearts not quite wrapped around the two hour time difference. I mean, really, we sort of raced out here to Colorado, with three days to become adjusted. It’s not quite jet lag (or whatever the word is when you go the other direction) but our bodies are waking us up at 8.30am or so, which is just bloody unnatural.

The drive was monstrous. And Heather drove all of it. I’m incapable of amusing myself with the road for long stretches. My attention wanders, I get distracted by trees and litter and women in passing cars. Heather meanwhile, seems to Love it. Long, straight highways that stretch on to forever – she’s fascinated with the jet black soil of Illinois, and the windswept plains of Nebraska, and the huge skies and the blue on the grey and the sweeps of sun – and she just keeps driving. She’s a machine.

We crept our way into Loveland at around 7pm or so. Traffic was kind – “Nothing much to report, you guys just aren’t bumping into each other very much” was how the local news put it.

We arrive in Loveland, and it is dark.

Our host, Jennie, is a friend of mine from college. A beautiful, tiny blonde sculptress, she’s teaching art to grade-schoolers nowadays, while keeping up with her own bronze-work. I’m eager to see her boyfriend again… Brandt’s toy collection is unequalled (and actually, I bet HE doesn’t even have a Zentraedi Battle Pod).

Anywho, it’s time for soup, and photographs, and Scrabble, and sleep. Fried eggplant comes and goes, and we collapse into bed at around midnight.

The next morning, we discover that whole time change thing.

Fresh and rested at 9am, we feel decidedly unnatural. When we finally get out to lunch, we go to an all you can eat Indian lunch buffet, which may or may not be a good idea. Apparently the biggest effect of the altitude so far is to give BOTH of us monsterous gas. Jennie suggests standing on our heads, but Heather is unwilling to hold my legs, and I’m not going to do it for her if she won’t do it for me, so we continue into the world, spreading noxious gastrointestinal distress.

From the highway outside the Indian restaurant we can see the mountains.

I pointed them out to Heather, who doesn’t notice them on the horizon. They read as clouds, or fog, or something. Pay attention to them and they resolve into the nation’s reknown “purple mountain majesties” – snow covered peaks looming in the distance. (In a rare display of self-control, I’ve edited out an Empire Strikes Back joke here).

After lunch, we catch up with Helenbeth and her man, Nick. It’s time to go play.

Estes Park, is not a Park. It’s a resort town, I think. I’m not totally sure on that, really, I’m sure someone will set me straight, eventually. But Estes Park is the first batch of lights we see after climbing into the mountains at a steady 35 mph for about half-an-hour. We’ve been crawling in darkness in a minivan, avoiding cliff-walls on one side, and a skittish, winding river on the other. Two deer make their presence known, and we struggle skyward.

I’m so glad Nick is driving. The Saturn would’ve cried. We pass a VW bus for sale. Sigh.

Estes Park is a welcome patch of side streets and shops and relatively flat ground. We make our way out to Mary’s Lake Lodge. In the dark, we can’t tell how big it is, but we step out to howling wind and crystalline skies. A bulging moon keeps us from seeing TOO many stars, but the place is gorgeous. Cold, but gorgeous. I’ve never been in the mountains at night, and though we’re only about 3000 feet closer to the sky than we were in Loveland, the stars are there for the taking.

I was surprised by how well my little camera dealt with the light. Unfortunately, I didn't bring a tripod.
I was surprised by how well my little camera dealt with the light. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a tripod.
Vaguely seen Orion over the mountains. The camera does OK - but it's not THAT good.
Vaguely seen Orion over the mountains. The camera does OK – but it’s not THAT good.
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0

The gig itself goes really well. We get a great response from the mountain crowd, and sell a good number of CDs. The Lodge feeds us, Loves us, pays us, and then eventually puts us up for the night. The food is delicious – and the sound is great – the Lodge itself is just so damned cool.

We pass the night playing, eating, watching the other performers, and talking to the guys who run the place. It’s a good Life. If every night could be as easy (and as lucrative) as tonight, I’d happily stay here. For a month. Maybe two. Maybe three if it was warmer.

I also need to figure out how to counteract the flash on my camera. It’s great being able to shoot in dim light and all, but man, the colour… the colour… sigh. Imagine all the photos taken at Mary’s Lake Lodge to have a more natural, almost sepia tone to them. Everything is dim, almost candle-lit – and outside, the wind is trying to take the van away. I go outside once or twice, there are huge heaters out on the porch, but they can’t fight the mountain-driven winds.

Heather complains that this sign has a misplaced modifier. I feel that anyone who has spurs on their boots will be familiar with warnings like these, and will understand that they do not apply merely to tables with spurs on them. Hrm.
Heather complains that this sign has a misplaced modifier. I feel that anyone who has spurs on their boots will be familiar with warnings like these, and will understand that they do not apply merely to tables with spurs on them. Hrm.

Chris is a bartender? I’m not quite sure of his position at the place, but he seems to know a bit more and have a bit more control than a common bartender – he’s tall and dark and wears a replica of an old Indian jacket – beads and leather and patterns and fringe that almost comes down past his tied-back hair. He wears a young Kurt Russel-esque face and glasses that almost look like shooting glasses.

He should have two matching chromed .45 automatics which he draws in a split-second to take down those who don’t follow the bar-rules. I see him in stylized movies, moving swift and sure.

He Lives at the base of an 8000 foot mountain with the Husky he’s had for ten years. He’s waiting for a woman that both he and the dog can agree on. He leads a toast in the bar – “25 degrees!!” as the weather report shows that Estes Park has the lowest temperature on the map. Bottles clash against one another like swords. It looks like a nightly ritual.

I don’t know WHAT they’re celebrating, it’s fucking COLD outside.

Eventually, the bar mascott shows up. I never caught his name - but I think he's owned by the owners of the Lodge. He's huge and beautiful and wants IN. Sigh, it was a bad night for names - I don't remember the dog's, I don't remember the owner, I don't remember the woman who was possibly the owner's wife.... sigh.... that's Heather's job anywho....
Eventually, the bar mascott shows up. I never caught his name – but I think he’s owned by the owners of the Lodge. He’s huge and beautiful and wants IN. Sigh, it was a bad night for names – I don’t remember the dog’s, I don’t remember the owner, I don’t remember the woman who was possibly the owner’s wife…. sigh…. that’s Heather’s job anywho….
We are the guests of HelenBeth and Nick. She's got an incredible voice - I met her the last time I was out in Colorado, and she's been eagerly anticipating finally seeing
We are the guests of HelenBeth and Nick. She’s got an incredible voice – I met her the last time I was out in Colorado, and she’s been eagerly anticipating finally seeing Heather and I together. Yes, that’s a fucking hugungous buffalo head hanging on the wall behind her. There were goat heads, and cat heads, and wolf heads, and fox heads, and deer heads…. no human heads though… sigh.

Later, Nick went on to play harmonica. He gave me some advice on how to play one (after I intimated that I’d almost swallowed a chromatica once) – but I feel I should not repeat that advice here. I think you need to show me ID before I pass along what he said, actually.

The other performer of the evening was Tim Wahler. Another guy I’d encountered on my last Coloradan adventure – but I didn’t remember how good he was.

Swapping between the tiniest, but best sounding traveller’s guitar and a strum stick, accompanying himself with a Boss RC-20 – he gave some pretty amazing renditions of old blues standards, jazz tunes, all sorts of random stuff, some Grateful Dead thrown in for good measure. Incredible playing. Sort of a cross between JR Robusto’s sheer competence and Pat Klink’s grace. And a strong, solid voice to go with it. An incredible night.

Tim Wahler, adjusting something important and technical.
Tim Wahler, adjusting something important and technical.
The snow is come. It's blowing hard, and eventually the flakes get pretty huge. Snow, along with dogs, stars, kittens, fireplaces, mountains AND warm blankets, all make me hugely affectionate. Heather's actively trying to throw my Love on to someone else. Sigh.
The snow is come. It’s blowing hard, and eventually the flakes get pretty huge. Snow, along with dogs, stars, kittens, fireplaces, mountains AND warm blankets, all make me hugely affectionate. Heather’s actively trying to throw my Love on to someone else. Sigh.
The snow is beginning to blot out the mountains in the distance, and it's just beginning to stick. We've got to wait for HelenBeth and Nick to arrive from where ever they holed up for the night, and I'm a little nervous about what the roads are going to be like coming back down out of the mountains. When the sun peeks through, our Scrabble game becomes all warm and beautiful - OH!!! THEY'RE HERE!!!! Yay. Oh, and I've got to tell you about the seven foot boa constrictor.... but that's for later. - and I guess this whole thing started about the fly. I've been distracted since then. Sigh. I promise to be better. BUT THEY'RE HERE!!!
The snow is beginning to blot out the mountains in the distance, and it’s just beginning to stick. We’ve got to wait for HelenBeth and Nick to arrive from where ever they holed up for the night, and I’m a little nervous about what the roads are going to be like coming back down out of the mountains. When the sun peeks through, our Scrabble game becomes all warm and beautiful – OH!!! THEY’RE HERE!!!!
Yay. Oh, and I’ve got to tell you about the seven foot boa constrictor…. but that’s for later. – and I guess this whole thing started about the fly. I’ve been distracted since then. Sigh. I promise to be better.
BUT THEY’RE HERE!!!
Heather at the window, looking out upon the cold cold world. I think she's actually naked behind that dirty, dirty glass. Lucky glass. I'll probably have to take this down when she sees it.
Heather at the window, looking out upon the cold cold world. I think she’s actually naked behind that dirty, dirty glass. Lucky glass. I’ll probably have to take this down when she sees it.
I'm going to kick her ass.
I’m going to kick her ass.

Heehee – I kicked her ass – er… by seven points or so. She’s catching me up.

November 15, 2003.

Stayed up till 2am last night (which, with the two hour time difference that we’ve still not adjusted to IS a big deal), and talked to Jennie. Despite girlfriends and partners and distance and time, Jennie continues to be, quite possibly, the person I communicate with best. There’s something in our heads that keeps us connected, and there’s never any re-connection time required.

Not that I’m saying we’re anything LIKE in the same place – but we’re dealing with a lot of the same problems right now – about what our responsibility is to the world and how to fulfill it. Thoughts on children and family.

She’s teaching high school – which is quite possibly the most important thing there is to be done right now. In elementary and middle school, you can instill good habits, and watch these habits and thoughts get torn apart later in Life… or in college, you can watch the cynical with their formed ideas – and the ones you REALLY need to reach never get to college anyways….

But high school is a cusp – a turning point for a lot of kids. There is an awakening right there, I know there was for me. And especially with Jennie and other young teachers, there is not so much of an age disconnect yet. Teachers that manage to keep that connexion later in Life, whether because of their own failing energy or because of the down-trodden bitterness that hooks into them after a couple of years of seeing so many efforts fail – teachers that manage to keep that connexion are rare… few and far between. God knows I couldn’t handle it.

I plan to perhaps go back to school some day for my Masters, and perhaps go back and teach. I’m worried that with my Trip I’m aiming in the wrong place. Do college students care? Or am I missing the right people all togerher.

Jennie and I are arrogant. Arrogant to an extreme.

We’ve maybe mellowed over the last 10 years, but we both believe that we are smart and creative, maybe even “better than average” (except her trouble with staying UP late! – she’s collapsed on the couch and does NOT look happy) – and what is our responsibility there?

Is it a realistic statement to think that we’ve got good genes to pass along? Is it our responsibility to make sure that there’s other kids that contain that stock? I don’t know, it seems that sex is the popular recreation for the kids nowadays, and that the people having children are the ones least capable of dealing with them, taking care of them… I remember thinking about this when I ran across one of my students in the grocery store, buying diapers for their new baby.

This child, at 17, had a kid. In most cases, that’s it – game over for that 17 year-old. It will be a subsistance level existance for them for evermore – which dooms their kid to the same – which dooms their grandkid to the same – it creates a cycle of failure that is VERY hard to escape. That 17-year-old mother has effectively sat their child down and told them “because of MY decisions, you can be NOTHING, and you’re kids will be nothing, and your kids’ kids will be nothing”… Sure, there are poster children of broken homes – the great success stories… but there are a LOT more success stories that are never told on television because they’re kind of boring – i.e. – “I had two parents, I went to school, I didn’t get hooked on drugs (alcohol included), I didn’t get pregnant, I got a job, and support myself well”.

So, Jennie and I – we have teacher inclinations. We’re storytellers and we give a damn about the world. But do we raise our own kids? Or do we spend our time trying to correct the overwhelming and massively numerous mistakes and failings of others? In the couple of months of teaching high school, I know I effected a change in 3 children, at least. I opened the door to change for a dozen more – with a child of my own, I can perhaps work on them for 20 years – and still fail.

I don’t know, I’ve probably just offended about a billion of you just now. Sigh.

Adam sent me a text-message last night in the middle of this lengthy soul-searching with Jennie. And that’s what it’s all about, right? In a world in instantaneous communication, if I’m thinking about someone, I should let them know. Don’t let it go – there is no excuse anymore for that age-old regret of “I haven’t talked to him in years, I should really just call him… someday”… I was tired and vulnerable and almost cried while reading the message to Jennie.

That’s what it should be all about. No-one forgotten.

Hrm, open thoughts – Amy just sent me a beautiful email… I’ve just written too much to respond just at the moment… I still plan to do website stuff for YOU!! The cats are hunting leaves… Heather is tapping at her laptop… I feel bad because I’ve dragged Heather half-way across the country, and we’ve got nothing to do for Thanksgiving. Last year, Amy and I spent Thanksgiving together, with a smattering of other friends, coming and going. It was the best I’d ever had. Just before leaving for Pittsburg, we had a grand gathering at Amy’s. She is about 7/10ths of HOME right now.

Ha, that and Jason’s cooking. Mew. I think I may be a little bit homesick. Especially after my Dad emailed me a lengthy blurb displaying his knowledge of what exactly a Zentraedi Officer’s Pod was. Good work!

7 points. She's getting closer. There were some close moments, I suppose. The Scrabble games are becoming fierce and furious. Heather's learning quickly - she's learning about the Power of S.
7 points. She’s getting closer. There were some close moments, I suppose. The Scrabble games are becoming fierce and furious. Heather’s learning quickly – she’s learning about the Power of S. Thanks to my Mom for the travel Scrabble. It’s made our Lives a little closer to complete. We don’t have a television, or pets, or even beds to sleep in, but Scrabble fills a huge gap in my Life.
AND Jennie plays Magic. Life’s pretty good at the moment.
Someone left this mask in our lodge at Mary's Lake Lodge - scared the shit out of me. Yes, when you squeeze the lil heart thing, blood squirts all over the face. Urgh.
Someone left this mask in our lodge at Mary’s Lake Lodge – scared the shit out of me. Yes, when you squeeze the lil heart thing, blood squirts all over the face. Urgh.
Some elk we encountered while leaving Estes Park. I like the action of the van slowing down, my sliding the door open, and firing my camera like a madman. The locals don't care that their lawn is being consumed by hungry elk - I am a tourist, and I want to capture it all. They have llama butts. Helenbeth made that observation, and proceeded to recount her experience riding a camel when she was younger. They are apparently everything that popular fiction makes them out to be.
Some elk we encountered while leaving Estes Park. I like the action of the van slowing down, my sliding the door open, and firing my camera like a madman. The locals don’t care that their lawn is being consumed by hungry elk – I am a tourist, and I want to capture it all. They have llama butts. Helenbeth made that observation, and proceeded to recount her experience riding a camel when she was younger. They are apparently everything that popular fiction makes them out to be.
Deer. Oh deer. Lots of deer. There was a family (pack?) of about 8 of them or so, all crossing. There was one straggler who waited to cross the road until he could catch a Jeep Cherokee unawares.  I think that perhaps deer are actually quite evil.  Really evil.
Deer. Oh deer. Lots of deer. There was a family (pack?) of about 8 of them or so, all crossing. There was one straggler who waited to cross the road until he could catch a Jeep Cherokee unawares.
I think that perhaps deer are actually quite evil.
Really evil.
House from the Shining, apparently. Never saw it myself.
House from the Shining, apparently. Never saw it myself.
A dragon-headed lodge for Cat. And elk horns... this little house looked ready for battle, or something. The last time I was out in Colorado, it was with Cat. That's made for some awkward moments between Heather and I - and I'm trying to be good about not saying things like "this is where Cat and I saw mountain goats!" I believe that I find places, and that I share them with people. Heather believes that one share's a place with a person, and somehow the place belongs to the person you share it with. You use up a lot of space that way... I want Heather to see what's special here, and I hope she's becoming less clouded.
A dragon-headed lodge for Cat. And elk horns… this little house looked ready for battle, or something. The last time I was out in Colorado, it was with Cat. That’s made for some awkward moments between Heather and I – and I’m trying to be good about not saying things like “this is where Cat and I saw mountain goats!” I believe that I find places, and that I share them with people. Heather believes that one share’s a place with a person, and somehow the place belongs to the person you share it with. You use up a lot of space that way… I want Heather to see what’s special here, and I hope she’s becoming less clouded.

November 16th, 2003.

I hadn’t seen much of America before this trip and didn’t have a real good idea of the progression from state to state. But now, I’m drawing little simple pictorals of the landscape from Pittsburg to Loveland, like a combination timeline and topographical map. Rob thinks they look like illustrations of a skin condition.

There is something iconic and timeless about the American cross-country road trip. So much of the highways and the midcountry is virtually unchanged. The farms are sprawling. The kitschy diners and truck stops are still running. And if you find yourself a good classic rock station, which are ever-present and indistinguishable from signal radius to signal radius, time slips into nothingness and there is just the archetype and the rhythm of the road and the feeling of freedom. And in my case, a passing of the torch.

My mother took her cross-country trip at 19, the summer that the infectious guitar riff of the Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” was a permanent fixture on the radio. Mid-way through Indiana I found a classic rock station and the song found me. I called my mother and turned up the radio.

After bedding down at the Naperville, IL house of my old friend Tim Bracken, we set off for Omaha. After Chicago, Illinois is flat and endless, full of lush farmlands and sky that goes on in every direction for miles. We pass a sign for an Orchard Road and I smile when the air smells thickly of apples and cider. And it’s here that I get my first glimpses of the black dirt I’d been hoping for.

As a Maryland girl, my dirt has always been the red clay and iron-rich soils of the east coast. Black dirt only came from the garden store in little plastic pots of heavily altered earth containing a single plant. Telling a Maryland child who has dug in the red dirt all his or her life that there is black dirt elsewhere in the world is like telling a Fremen that there are oceans of water on other worlds – unbelievable. In Illinois I think we are passing a quarry or a coal field before I realize its that rich mid-western soil I’d always wanted to see.

Yes, I like dirt and made a Dune reference. I get to be a little more of a dork because the touring musician coolness is balancing it out.

Iowa is lumpy – the “skin condition” section of my America drawings to which rob is referring. For miles before we saw its near-theme-park construction and grandeur, there were billboards advertising the Iowa 80 truck stop: 8,000 spaces! Iowa’s Largest Truck Stop! Only Ten More Miles! Next Exit! Though I scoffed at all the hoopla at first, about halfway through Iowa I begin to realize that the small clusters of buildings that look like isolated towns are rest stops, and they ARE something to celebrate. There are miles of nothing and then giant signs that have “FOOD” spelled out in big letters high above the establishments before miles of more nothing. They are the only sure indications that you are moving, and not on some turntable driving the same looped section of ground over and over.

The only other noteable thing about Iowa was that we passed Winterset, which boasts a sign declaring it the birthplace of John Wayne. I begin to feel like I am getting the real American tour.

Nebraska is lumpy around Omaha and then flat again for much of the rest of the state. The trees start to get meaner-looking, squat. Like the Depression-era farmers of Farm Security Administration and Dorthea Lange photographs – hardy, tough and frugal. The winds, soil and water is beginning to change.

In Omaha, we stay with a virtual stranger, a fellow singer-songwriter named Kyle Knapp. He is warm and soft-spoken. I like him very much. We sleep in the tiny bed of his grandson’s playroom, surrounded by shrunken furniture that makes me feel like a real grown-up. In the morning, he makes us scrambled eggs and onions, and my eyes surprise me by welling up when the smell conjures images of my grandfather making the same breakfast for me during my childhood. I drink coffee, to shake off the sleep and make sure I don’t nod off during the drive, which also makes me feel like a real grown-up. His golden cat, Mosha (the Yiddish for Moses), eats from a dish inside a wooden holder that has cartoonish cat faces painted on the ends. I do a double-take to realize the face does not belong to Mosha’s protruding body, his head hidden by the cartoon. Kyle begs us to take butterscotch cookies, left at the house by someone during a church group meeting, because he and his wife are on the Atkins diet together. We are in no position to turn down food, let alone good food. With our new rations we set out for Colorado.

I force rob into the one-street town of Paxton, Nebraska because we need gas and it is the first and last such stop for miles. I also just love small towns. When I thought about running away to be a small-town newspaperwoman, these midwest towns were the kind I envisioned. There is a local general store with four-letter words printed on the siding advertising all that’s really important: BEER, WINE, FOOD, AMMO. Though the grill at this place is closed after 1:30 p.m., the proprietor refers us to the Windy Gap Grill and Bar just across the street, so named for the wagon-wheel path etched by the settlers heading north through Paxton (says the back of the menu). I love this place. This is cattle country. There are representations of different types of barbed wire on the wall, and instead of painted borders on the walls and bar, there are examples of cattle brands burned into wood. Real cowboys with their occupational spurs clink and jingle when they walk around the wood floors listening – to my great amusement – to Sweet Home Alabama. We are so north we are just below Yellowstone in Wyoming.

And I have the best steak sandwich of my life. So good, I get another one before we leave. I’ve always been a little sad to come across things like that, things I love so much. Because it means they can be discontinued, or hard to find, or require 1,000 mile drives for a sandwich. Oh, well.I get to have one more on the way home, I suppose. Let’s see, that’s in just over two weeks …

When we enter Colorado, the world gets lumpy again. We pass the childhood home of Glen Miller. I have to hum “In The Mood” for rob to get him to remember who that is. The trees virtually disappear and are replaced with ground-hugging brush and scraggle. The farmland of Illinois and Iowa gives way to grazing land for cattle and horses. The one gas station we see to the side of the road is closed. We don’t see a town for miles. And there are sign for deer.

This perplexes me. Looking around I am struck by the open field and the absolute lack of forest. Where the hell do the deer live? Rob says the houses.

Regardless of where they live, I see a doe bounding up the hill to the highway in front of my car. I swerve, miss it, and leave it standing in the middle of the road behind us. I think I scared rob to death because he was asleep at the time. Whew. That’s all I need is to hit a deer at 75 miles an hour on a road like that.

So here we are and will be for three weeks. My first glimpse of mountains surprises me more than I expect. The altitude and the dryness bothers me at first, causing a tight feeling in my chest, but I down four glasses of water and things start to feel better. By the time we have to sing at 8,000 ft, I’m a regular native.

I feel like I am living. So much in four days when I sat desk-bound for months.

Iowa 80 looks like a carnival from a distance. A truck stop in disguise...
Iowa 80 looks like a carnival from a distance. A truck stop in disguise…
Heather's pioneering spirit.
Heather’s pioneering spirit.
Sculpture at the headquarters of First National Bank.
Sculpture at the headquarters of First National Bank.
Heather riding one of the First National Swans. Lucky swan.
Heather riding one of the First National Swans. Lucky swan.

The Paxton Pit Stop.
The Paxton Pit Stop.
Paxton, Nebraska. Best damned steak sandwiches anywhere - but little else.
Paxton, Nebraska. Best damned steak sandwiches anywhere – but little else.
A lesson in perspective in Paxton.
A lesson in perspective in Paxton.

November 18th, 2003.

Gosh, I can truly embarass myself some nights. We come, we play, we kick ass. That’s a standard, but sometimes I’m just not funny, and I know that, and sometimes someone gets offended.

Last night was awesome. We played at Lucky Joe’s in Fort Collins, and I think we played particularly well – the sound system was that extra bit more powerful, and it sort of felt like we were back home, playing with the whole band. We met good people, ate incredible sushi (thanks Ken!!), and even landed another gig. Great night. Maybe I got cocky.

Tonight we played the Mead Street Station, and we came, we played, and we kicked ass, and I managed to offend the host.

Often I don’t really care if I offend people. Either I meant it to be offensive, or am callous enough to figure if they can’t take a joke then I don’t care to let them in on my sense of humour.

But here was a guy who I actually enjoyed watching. I enjoyed watching Tony dodging between tables and people and bending over to pick up things in front of waiters in compact spaces. What I meant as a sort of commiserating comment on the tightness of space in the bar came across as “you’re in the way”.

Apologies never work once you’re in that situation, either. It’s seen as sucking up, it’s seen as… well, as anything but genuine. So his response to my apology was “I’m not offended, one of the things that’s kept this open mic going for 10 years is that I’m always open to comments and criticism”…

If I was clever, and if I was quick, the response would’ve been “And as a performer, I’ve learned to do the same thing, so you should tell me that I’m not funny, and let me know that my sense of humour isn’t appreciated.”

But I’m not clever, and I’m not quick – and he liked us, and was a good host – but I didn’t make a friend out of him, and he seemed like someone I’d have liked to hang out and talk to.

Damn.

I feel about three inches tall, and hot as I burn from embarassment.


I get over things, I suppose. Heather keeps burping up lentils, and I just can’t continue my depression under these circumstances. I thought that that was one of those charming details that really should be included in any honest attempt at completeness.

A pub for my Dad (Sanford). This was at the edge of a really artsy square in Fort Collins, Colorado. Grub and Pub or Grill and Grub? I'm not sure which would've been better. Fort Collins itself was a really neat area. We've got to go back in the day time. Beautiful area, all lit up with Christmas lights (those pictures didn't turn out so well) - I'm in Love with Christmas lights.
A pub for my Dad (Sanford). This was at the edge of a really artsy square in Fort Collins, Colorado. Grub and Pub or Grill and Grub? I’m not sure which would’ve been better. Fort Collins itself was a really neat area. We’ve got to go back in the day time. Beautiful area, all lit up with Christmas lights (those pictures didn’t turn out so well) – I’m in Love with Christmas lights.
And some nutcrackers for my mom. These guys were at least 8' tall.
And some nutcrackers for my mom. These guys were at least 8′ tall.
DCF 1.0
A Saturn that had recently suffered a similar fate to our own. It makes me sad, but proud to see an identical grey badge.... it also makes me a little sympathetic, knowing that after they replace the window, they, like us, will have nasty sticky grey residue on their door till the end of time.
A Saturn that had recently suffered a similar fate to our own. It makes me sad, but proud to see an identical grey badge…. it also makes me a little sympathetic, knowing that after they replace the window, they, like us, will have nasty sticky grey residue on their door till the end of time.

November 19th, 2003.

Tonight we played the Java Lounge, and I’ve got conflicting emotions upon our return. On the one hand, we saw… well, I think she’s the most spectacular singer/songwriter I’ve ever seen. There were no unneccessary words, nothing missing from the chords. Incredible guitar playing, and a beautiful sounding guitar. Her voice was exquisite, and she was visually stunning.

I just sat in awe of Danya River.

I’m at a loss of words. Exquisite… fascinating… beautiful – one of those people you want to compliment, but you know you can’t, because you know she must’ve heard everything you’d like to say before.

Sleepy puppies.
Sleepy puppies.

I sat entranced – transfixed. A creature that kept me wishing for eye contact. She played like a goddess, and no goddess is straight. What else is there to say? We got her CD, and I’m afraid to listen to it lest it lets me down… Heather went straight to her guitar once we got home, and I went straight to the Journal.


Photo By Charles Steinberg From Danyariver.Com

Sigh. She was like Jennie’s creme brouille… too sweet to consume en masse – and yet, you never wanted it to end. There’s very little that I’m willing to ration, but Danya… and the creme brouille, were just like that. I wanted to savour every moment. I wanted her to play slower so I could integrate every note into my body. Hwah.

I’m probably going to be in trouble with Heather for ranting like this, actually, so I’d best quit writing about her.

Go check her out. There are a couple of East Coast dates on her calendar, and she’d be worth the road trip. I swear, no disappointment. Not there, anyhow.

However, with us…

And CRAZY tall, too!
And CRAZY tall, too!

With us, it’s a different story. I’m beginning to have my first doubts about surviving like this. I always make it sound easy, and I always felt good, because there are a bunch of people who swell my head into believing that because it’s me, it can’t fail.

I’m beginning to worry about messing it all up. We tried doing the portraits for the first time today, and there wasn’t even anyone who came over to take a peek. We DID sell CDs – and we can blame it all on the incredibly sparse crowd… but it was very discouraging. I say it out loud sometimes – making connexions with people… portraits… taking pictures and sharing email addresses – and I feel stupid. There’s a whole lot of contact in the world already. My water drip isn’t going to see much change, is it…

Jennie's creme brouille. God knows if I'm spelling that right... it's ... er... go back and see all the Danya adjectives. It's like that.
Jennie’s creme brouille. God knows if I’m spelling that right… it’s … er… go back and see all the Danya adjectives. It’s like that.

And I watch people like Danya – and realize that our song-smithing has SOO far to go… our vocals, even guitar work… SOOO far to go.

Well, at least my ego’s getting trimmed. Heather’s practicing scales right now… I should be doing the same… instead, I’m becoming a spectacular typist.

Hee... creme brouille with my new knife that I bought from a mountain man! It's like a straight razor, just in case I get TOO frustrated with Life on the road.
Hee… creme brouille with my new knife that I bought from a mountain man! It’s like a straight razor, just in case I get TOO frustrated with Life on the road.

Erf – such a weird mixed night. The beautiful echoes in my head, and it’s wonderful to hang around with Jennie again… and the mountains on the horizon, and the smell of woodsmoke in the air… and the fear of failure nipping at my heals.

Yeah, I should go practice scales too… in the meantime, celebrate page 100 with me…

Helenbeth gets half of page 100 cause she and Nick are awesome.
Helenbeth gets half of page 100 cause she and Nick are awesome.

And Amy gets the other half, cause she’s keeping me alive right now.

November 20th, 2003.

Erf. Another sort of nothing night. Playing to five people. The Java Lounge recently placed a cover on their open mic, and saw their attendance drop from the full house they had two weeks ago (and this place is BIG) – to tonight’s turn out: 6 people at it’s height.

And the owner’s irked at the host? Sigh.

Long night. But we ran up to Estes Park again for lunch… that was wonderful. Met a one-eyed cat. An old woman tried to give it an alcoholic drink. Also, the owner moved the buffalo head because it kept weirding out the people playing shows there. Go fig.

Anywho – movie… then sleep.

So much angst today. And to top it all off… band difficulties. I just don’t know that I want to go home. It’s so beautiful here. We’re not getting anywhere at the moment, but on the other hand, it could be so easy to relax into something… everyday… here….

Our current host, Jennie.
Our current host, Jennie.
DCF 1.0
Snow blowing off the Rockies.
Snow blowing off the Rockies.
DCF 1.0
Driving up to Estes Park. Look in the side-view mirror - you can see Heather and Jennie. Whee!
Driving up to Estes Park. Look in the side-view mirror – you can see Heather and Jennie. Whee!
The cat we ate lunch with up in Estes Park.
The cat we ate lunch with up in Estes Park.
DCF 1.0