April 23rd, 2004.

Somewhere on I-76, racing through Ohio, waiting for something to change. Anything. We realized before that Ohio is boring. I was perfectly prepared for Nebraska to be the worst state ever to pass through. But Ohio… Ohio is bland stretches of nothing whihc gently fade into grey horizons, in a never-ending almost mist of rain..

Dippy the diplodocous was part of our Pittsburgh tour - driving around looking for ways to kill time before Sarah had to go back to work, we naturally turned our attention to the local dinosaurs.
Dippy the diplodocous was part of our Pittsburgh tour – driving around looking for ways to kill time before Sarah had to go back to work, we naturally turned our attention to the local dinosaurs.

It’s an unfortunate state, Ohio is.

Last night we played Howler’s Coyote Cafe. A weird name, an awesome logo. It was a jam session hosted by Tim, the fleugal horn (?) player from Aspinwall. With it, I became absolutely amazed with the jam/open stage community in Pittsburgh. I’m not really aware of anything that compares to it in Maryland.

The local musicians HERE are much more funk/jazz based – and the bass player was just – spectacular. I sat there in awe… I’d forgotten the tiny little belt that I bought SPECIFCALLY for the purpose of keeping my jaw from hitting the ground under JUST such circumstances.

DCF 1.0

Sigh – so good. Anywho, the sound guy came up to us as we were setting up and gestured to me as I was tuning my guitar (God, BAD tuning night). I couldn’t hear a damn thing, and I thought he needed to get something off the stage…

A fantastic logo at Howler's Coyote Cafe. I didn't notice him the whole time we were playing, then he made himself evident.
A fantastic logo at Howler’s Coyote Cafe. I didn’t notice him the whole time we were playing, then he made himself evident.

He sat down at the drum throne, which is NOT what I was expecting – but at that point you can’t really say “er…. I thought you’d left your like.. uh.. left your cat on stage…” and we plunged into a set and hoped for the best.

God he rocked. (wow – we almost got hit by a gargantuan heron just now!!!)

It was an awesome combination, and Dramell followed all the changes and kept up and Loved it and has agreed to be our Pittsburgh percussionist. Hell yeah!

Ah, but we’re finding that in order to make up for the absolute nothing that you find in Ohio geographically, their radio stations are awesome. Perhaps a little TOO awesome, as Heather just discovered the beauty of the high-speed 180 – not QUITE a pull-the-emergency-brake bootlegger – but she still laid down some rubber. Eep.

Wondering why Heather did the 180? Read on dear reader…


I am in Oberlin, OH just down the street from the university here, which is beautiful. Some of the buildings are very old, some new, some built in the shape of huge letters indicating geographic direction for Cold War-era pilots to fly by.

The Auto-Rama Drive-in at sunset. I encourage everyone to go to www.driveintheater.com and go support your local drive-in... they are a dying breed.
The Auto-Rama Drive-in at sunset. I encourage everyone to go to www.driveintheater.com and go support your local drive-in… they are a dying breed.

Tonight I went to see my first drive-in movie at a place just down the road from here. It’s only the third drive-in I’ve ever seen along a highway and tonight during the previews, the place showed some statistics that would reflect my experiences seeing drive-ins in America. There used to be something like 2,500 of them throughout the U.S., and now there are roughly 400 still operating. Even after we left, we could still get the F.M. radio dialogue from the films running. Rob and I both wonder if people in the neighborhoods within a mile radius or so stay home at night listening to those dialogues like old radio programs or presidential addresses. Everything about small towns like this feels like it’s so long ago. You forget what year it is in towns like this, which I sort of like.


Yeah, the “Auto-rama” drive-in was awesome. T’was a double bill of Kill Bill 2 and Walking Tall… we actually didn’t end up sticking around for KBvol2 since you’re sitting there with the engine off and it actually got really cold.

Sharif has come out with us to Oberlin, and I can’t wait for Ren Fair tomorrow. I wish he could stick around and go back to Pittsburgh with us. Sigh. But it’s good to have him here. I’d Love for him to be able to travel with us on a permanent basis.

It’s just not an available option yet – we picked up a booking agent a couple of weeks ago, so maybe the money will flow freer sometime soon, but we’d also need to change vehicles. Driving two cars everywhere would just be silly. I was stupid to ever sell my VW bus. It would be perfect for this.

Sharif and I throw candy back and forth from car to car. The poor boy fell prey to my superior bombadier SweetTart skills. // Sharif says: BAH! Superior bombadier skills, my ass. More like superior "not f*cking expecting a sweet tart to land in my nachos" skills. Anyhow, I ended up spilling those nachos during the movie, but luckily the cheese was viscous enough to not ooze out of its containter. Besides, It gave me an opportunity to go talk to the jail bait working the concession stand. Oh - Sharif's soo right, I forgot about the jail bait. All the underage hotties work at drive-ins.
Sharif and I throw candy back and forth from car to car. The poor boy fell prey to my superior bombadier SweetTart skills. // Sharif says: BAH! Superior bombadier skills, my ass. More like superior “not f*cking expecting a sweet tart to land in my nachos” skills. Anyhow, I ended up spilling those nachos during the movie, but luckily the cheese was viscous enough to not ooze out of its containter. Besides, It gave me an opportunity to go talk to the jail bait working the concession stand.
Oh – Sharif’s soo right, I forgot about the jail bait. All the underage hotties work at drive-ins.

April 24th, 2004.

Oberlin Ohio, as has been related, is absolutely beautiful, though perhaps too small for my taste. It’s bigger than California (7 numbered streets and three cross streets named after fruit), but not by much.

Our host, Aaron, gave us a patch of floor and a tour and then let us loose, as he was neck deep in preparations for the upcoming festival… all of this was actually in the couple of hours before Sharif made it up, so we got to be all knowledgeable at him when he arrived.

Aaron took us on a tour of he Oberlin campus, which is filled with an eclectic collection of buildings, many of which resemble churches, but aren't.This is "Fairkid" Chapel.
Aaron took us on a tour of he Oberlin campus, which is filled with an eclectic collection of buildings, many of which resemble churches, but aren’t.This is “Fairkid” Chapel.
Another beautiful Oberlin building. This has a big domed observatory on the other side.
Another beautiful Oberlin building. This has a big domed observatory on the other side.
Beautifully lit churchy parts.
Beautifully lit churchy parts.
Oh, the insolence of those nutsy college kids.
Oh, the insolence of those nutsy college kids.

The Beltane Festival itself was fantastic. Smaller, perhaps than I had hoped, but all in all it was an awesome time… so many moods over the course of the day. Aaron has yet another house-guest on his floor for the night, and we’re rehashing the festival, rehashing the moods. We’ve both retreated back to the house, tired of all the people… Miriam is crashed on the OTHER side of the floor (I explained that THIS patch of floor was the ilyAIMY side) with Aaron’s little cat. She has latched her claws in to Miriam’s sleeping bag and has decided that YES – this is where she shall clean EVERY part of her body. (the cat, not Miriam – all of that made sense, right?)

Sharif and I celebrate the grass and the overwhelming yellow of dandelions. Both of us ended up dusted in pollen and attacked by bees. We spent most of Friday night like this, wandering around before heading over to the drive-in. We lead a particularly good Life at the moment. We’re not QUITE worried about money, balancing on a fine edge between scraping by and… not. I could very much Live the rest of my Life like this, but am worried that I won’t be able to in a couple of years – that I’ll be too old for people to let me get away with it. But by then, I hope to be moving on to better things… hrm.

Anywho, the day started with sunshine and COLD. It’s SO cold up here, which just isn’t right, I mean – it’s not like we’re North enough to warrant Arctic freeze – but here we were, well into shriveledge temperatures, making me SO glad I’d not gone with Aaron’s style-sense – i.e. wearing a kilt. He came to really regret his wearing of such garb, or at least he came to regret wearing it in the traditional matter, as I wrassled him a bit after the show and …. well, I let his dangly bits free. They got all over. It was very sad and I scared some of the locals permanently, I fear.

The festival in full swing. Numerous booths of candles and books and jewlery and knives. No food though. Sigh.
The festival in full swing. Numerous booths of candles and books and jewlery and knives. No food though. Sigh.

We played okay, considering I couldn’t hear anything… but we had bellydancers, and that generally makes everything better. They breed them beautiful in Oberlin.

Our sound check gathered a huge crowd, and we should’ve figured a way to start our show then, but we waited till our assigned slot – still drew a crowd (perhaps everyone who was there), but the bulk of the peoples had meandered home.

Aaron, all disheveled after the dangly bits freedom moment.

Knife throwing - unfortunately, it was just a demonstration, rather than a come one come all sort of situation - and Sharif had to sit on the side-lines and watch, his knife wiggling eagerly, but sitting ignored in his pocket.qKnife throwing - unfortunately, it was just a demonstration, rather than a come one come all sort of situation - and Sharif had to sit on the side-lines and watch, his knife wiggling eagerly, but sitting ignored in his pocket.
Knife throwing – unfortunately, it was just a demonstration, rather than a come one come all sort of situation – and Sharif had to sit on the side-lines and watch, his knife wiggling eagerly, but sitting ignored in his pocket.
In the future, we suggest squirrel-throwing as an amusement. They've got a couple big fat ones in the park there, and a couple of albino ones which should be easy to catch, easy to hold, and easy to chuck a pretty good distance.
In the future, we suggest squirrel-throwing as an amusement. They’ve got a couple big fat ones in the park there, and a couple of albino ones which should be easy to catch, easy to hold, and easy to chuck a pretty good distance.
DCF 1.0
Squirrely squirrely - you can't tell from the pictures how orange he was. His fear is unrelated to Sharif and ze knife.
Squirrely squirrely – you can’t tell from the pictures how orange he was. His fear is unrelated to Sharif and ze knife.

Poor Sharif, wants to be in Heather and will take her any way he can get her. Whoa – I didn’t mean that. This is us just sprawling in the dandelions together. Then we were ALL pollenated, and we were ALL attacked by bees. Sigh. So sad.

Fittin shit in the car. Sharif in a "you want that where?" moment.
Fittin shit in the car. Sharif in a “you want that where?” moment.

April 25th, 2004.

It’s a lazy day. Exhausted from carrying far, far too much musical equipment back and forth and back and forth and back and forth across the Oberlin campus, we find our heroes crashing on couches in the Aaron Abode. Aabode? Hrm.

Sharif has to be back for work, so he’s on the road, driving steadily homeward, but Heather and I are just draping ourselves like lazy kittens here and there through out the town.

Heather’s hunting through Aaron’s hard drive for old We’re About 9 music that she hasn’t gotten her hands on yet… she’s found a lot of it, but as of yet can’t figure out how to move it from point a to point b.

Anywho, I’m not really sure, but this trip out has been extra exhausting. I think mostly because we haven’t had any beds to sleep in. We’ve gotten uber-spoiled, in that almost every place we’ve gone, up till now, has had a guest room or something for us to crash in. Unfortunately for our current predicament – Sarah’s place only has the worst foldy outy bed in the history of man’s creation of foldy outy beds, and Aaron has hardwood floors. I’ve become a pansy, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Gosh, I want softness.

In the “good things” category, we have the publication of Heather’s post to a body modification ezine – Go to http://www.bmezine.com/pierce/01-ear/A40422/earillus.html. That’s my story. Two more weeks and I go back to get measured for the barbell. Yay! as well as a new article about us in the Prince George’s Community College OWL (look for the entertainment link on the left).

Audience at the Beltane Festival. Calmly attentive. Later there was a mosh pit. With daggers.
Audience at the Beltane Festival. Calmly attentive. Later there was a mosh pit. With daggers.
Belly dancers attracted more people to the show - this one in particular did this wiggly thing that made me forget my lyrics.
Belly dancers attracted more people to the show – this one in particular did this wiggly thing that made me forget my lyrics.

Since we’re just putting some weird links up in the Journal at the moment, I also feel it is important to post a link to monstrous thing that inspired soo much conversation last night – the horrid camel spider. Sweet mother of God. Amy, those bastards are ALL yours.

Today we went over to WOBC and did a little half-hour with local DJ Cosmic. Things were a bit chaotic, but it was awesome to find a radio studio big enough that it had an actual piano inside. We held our collective breath as Sharif checked it out – he played… and played… and proclaimed that it was good. So happy.

More dancing. Gesturing. Their CD player eventually died and Heather got to play some djembe for their hips.
More dancing. Gesturing. Their CD player eventually died and Heather got to play some djembe for their hips.

And so we used WOBC to record a couple of songs that we really wanted on tape – Will, PUSH, Steel, and the much demanded In the Water.

Well, some other kids popped out the feeds for our recording mix really close to the end of PUSH and played hip hop until well into In the Water – so we’ve got really interesting remixes of that… now. My heart sort of really sunk when we heard that. It’s been kind of a rough day of technical glitches and rushing and finger-pointing. Pleck.

Then she played for Sharif's SUPER hips.
Then she played for Sharif’s SUPER hips.

Hrm. Well, I’ve sort of glossed over the whole point of the festival, but now that their speaker is sitting in the Living room with us, speaking of energies and magiks… I never know what to say. It’s not that I disbelieve, it’s just that I’m not particularly a believer in anything.

Sharif doing a soundcheck at the Beltane festival –>

It seems that everyone else is so much more vastly educated that I am – I can’t bandy around the terminology that ANYONE in Oberlin seems to be able to… I feel perhaps… ignorant. Aaron seems entranced, and they now have moved to biocomputing and genetics… and now the photon emissions of DNA. I’ll have to ask this guy’s name again and put up a link. He’s fascinating to watch – his energy and his charisma, it’s obvious why they flew him in to speak. It’s funny, he reminds me (visually) very much of Gary Oldham from that movie with Harrison Ford as the President of the United States, where Gary is a Russian terrorist zealot. Amazingly charismatic, and burning.

Playing Beltane.
Playing Beltane.
New friends at the Beltane festival - the woman second to from the right asked me many a strange question. Also a singer-songwriter, she gave us the fantastic compliment "You didn't give me a bad feeling"... she later clarified that she felt we didn't broadcast the kind of unkind arrogance that most other musicians did. A good compliment indeed.
New friends at the Beltane festival – the woman second to from the right asked me many a strange question. Also a singer-songwriter, she gave us the fantastic compliment “You didn’t give me a bad feeling”… she later clarified that she felt we didn’t broadcast the kind of unkind arrogance that most other musicians did. A good compliment indeed.
Later in the night there was a bonfire - this guy was amazing. Firedancer with glitter all over his body. He had lost his lampoil earlier - and had to hunt it at the local Drugmart, which didn't carry it. I don't remember what happened after that - lots of stories told around the BURNING FLAMES!!!
Later in the night there was a bonfire – this guy was amazing. Firedancer with glitter all over his body. He had lost his lampoil earlier – and had to hunt it at the local Drugmart, which didn’t carry it. I don’t remember what happened after that – lots of stories told around the BURNING FLAMES!!!

April 26th, 2004.

Yes, the pagans. So many conversations, so out of my depth – the speaker’s name was Sam Webster – Google him and read. I don’t feel that I’m dumb, but I certainly couldn’t comprehend half of what it was that he was writing. Maybe I was only half paying attention – but even half paying attention, I usually do better than most, and I wonder at the effectiveness of trying to spread a viewpoint when that viewpoint is incomprehensible to all those not already in the fold.

Flame breathin fire ballin exploding men.
Flame breathin fire ballin exploding men.

It’s become one of those nights where you realize you shouldn’t have taken the nap. The trees are blowing back and forth with unrealized electric energy, destined to be denied, as it looks like the storms that were teasing our horizon earlier have decided to shun us. It’s 3am and it’s just about as dark as it can get.

There’s something tender about sharing a room with someone you don’t know. You listen to a stranger’s sounds, and wonder if they don’t snore, or if they are lying awake, thinking. I don’t even know her name, but know she has to be up in an hour to catch a bus to catch a plane – and the upstairs tenant (unseen and unknown) has an alarm clock that starts just about every half hour. I’m wondering if they have a paper to write? Or if they just don’t believe in sleep.

Heather dozed off hours ago. She was tired from exploring the edges of Lake Eerie. She captured glass and stones and found the rotting remains of something long dead. I wonder if she remembered in her dreams – rolling over, making moaning night sounds. She quieted when I put my hand on her cheek.

The world is 100% adventure.

Except for me, because I can’t sleep.


Today Heather took me to Lake Eerie. She had gone out yesterday, while I was crashed on the couch, all a nappin – She had escaped out to the beach and watched the sun set over the water, and the returned in the gloaming, just after I’d regained some semblance of consciousness.

Today we drove out and back before heading back to Pittsburgh (I’m writing from I-80 in Ohio) and picked at shells and stones and the dead things on the beach. We have quite a collection of beautiful things for Amy to build from.

Avoiding waves, searching for the beautiful things.
Avoiding waves, searching for the beautiful things.
Heather on the beach of Lake Eerie, exploring the rocks, wandering the apparent edge of the world. The Great Lakes always amaze me - hard and cold and grey like the ocean.
Heather on the beach of Lake Eerie, exploring the rocks, wandering the apparent edge of the world. The Great Lakes always amaze me – hard and cold and grey like the ocean.
Heather finds a coconut.
Heather finds a coconut.

April 28th, 2004.

After the radio show Sunday, rob was really tired, but I find that we live so much at night these days that I crave sunshine, and I was determined to go out and soak up the last rays the day would give me. I didn’t have any particular destination. The only thing I knew about where we were was that, if all else failed, fifteen miles or so down the road there would be an intersection with a gas station on each side of it and a tavern. If I made a right there, there would be some shopping strip or something. The man at the bar who gave me those directions made it sound like that was the most happening spot I might find. Really, I didn’t care about “happening” or not. I just wanted to go somewhere.

Hrm. The other highway was sponsored by boyscouts. Imagine them meeting on the borders..
Hrm. The other highway was sponsored by boyscouts. Imagine them meeting on the borders..

So I got onto 58, the main road through the campus and the location of Aaron’s house, and just kept driving. It confirmed my suspicions about how small this place is. I passed a sign along the road that I could have sworn said “Adopt-A-Highway,” and the adoptees were the “Lorain County Witches,” but I wouldn’t get to verify my weak eyes until the ride home … yup, Lorain County Witches. Much more interesting than the later adopt-a-highway sign with its “Boy Scouts.” It took me at least 15 miles to find a Wendy’s, a convenience store, a KFC and a car dealership or two. Other than that, fields of dandelions as far as the eye can see.

And I just kept driving, not knowing what I would find, not looking for anything, but liking the cool wind through the car and wishing I could put the driver’s side window down and get it back up again. Liking the feeling of safety of driving small town roads in the spring sunshine. Something untouchable about it. Something always young.

And then my road dead-ended.

I pulled forward into a small, unpretentious community of houses and pulled into a driveway to turn around. And there it was, Lake Erie right in their front yard, stretching so far out it looks like ocean if I didn’t know better. So I decided to see if there was a way to go down onto the beach.

I found a park a little ways down. Parked the car and took my shoes off. With delight, I sank my toes into the damp, fluffy sand (it had been raining all morning before this sunny afternoon), and headed for the beach.

The tide was low, and I wanted to see if I still remembered how to skip stones. Like many similar childhood pleasures, I only learned how to do it about three or four years ago. My boyfriend, Zvi, took me back to his tiny home town of Highland Park, NJ, and in a park there, in the rain, he patiently taught me how to skip stones. So years later alone on a sunlit beach, I went about hunting for those flat, rounded stones, the ones he’d told me were the best for skipping, and set about relearning how. It took me a few tries, and some flew wildly in unintended directions (I was glad the beach was nearly empty), but many hit the mark. I could only get about three skips before any given stone would plunge in.

Everything about a beach is about the passage of time. I trolled the beach, picking up tumbled stones, shells and sea glass, rounded by the progression of years of waves, travelers from lake bottoms, river beds, other states or other countries. The sand erodes under your feet, gently threatening to take you out with it. You sink a little deeper into the beach. Waves come in steady, almost ticking alternation, with little half-waves and catches that remind me of my heart murmur.

I’ve always been fascinated by beach erosion, because it is one of those natural processes that human beings throw themselves into desperate, unrelenting, futile attempts to slow or stop. At Lake Erie, they’ve built barriers to take the appetite out of the waves, but the curve of the beach shows they are still gobbling up sand and taking it downshore, building up a new beach while eating away at another. Comparing pictures of islands taken in the early 1900s with pictures from today, it’s amazing what a century of water can do to land, shrinking it, changing its borders drastically. I always look at beach-front properties with a certain knowing smile: They are fighting a losing battle with time. And to add to all this obsessive chronology, I looked over to see the sun was about to set.

So I walked down the beach until I found a dock of rocks that went out into the water. I walked out onto it, beach treasures safely tucked away in my pocket and sandals still in hand, and put my self as close as I dared to the darkening lake water.

It’s funny the way the sun seems to speed up in those last moments before sunset. Like it’s been steady at work all day, but now it’s time to punch out and it’s thinking it might be able to sneak out a few minutes before quitting time without the boss really noticing. When it hit the horizon, it was a perfect ball of orange-red, and I kept my eyes wide open, refusing to let that last light go unseen, selfishly wanting it all, wanting every last minute of daylight. And at the last moment, eyes burning, it looked like a match being blown out, or a single birthday candle taken out in one clean, wish-fulfilling exhale. If it could have made a sound, I swear it would have been: “Poof!”

And when it was dark, on the walk home, I met the dead thing.

So waterlogged, such a black mass of spread out, decaying fur I couldn’t guess at it’s true size and I didn’t even know it was a creature until I made myself look closer at the glimmer of white among the darkness, and saw very sharp teeth. It made me shiver.

The next day, when I returned to see the beach again in sunlight, the dead thing was gone, washed away by high-tide, taken by scavengers, or cleaned up for our safety and protection. There were new shells on the beach, abolone and the spirals of very small unicorns cowering beneath Haggard’s Red Bull, the fierce daytime sun back and high.

“I was born mortal, and I have been immortal for a long, foolish time, and one day I will be mortal again; so I know something a unicorn cannot know. Whatever can die is beautiful – more beautiful than a unicorn, who lives forever, and who is the most beautiful creature in the world.” – Schmendrick, The Last Unicorn.

May 3rd, 2004.

Today is a frustrating day. The last week has been fantastic. We have played many a gig – we played outdoors in Frederick, indoors in Frederick – now we’ll go BACK to Frederick THIS week… but today has been frustrating.

I finally have my fancy computer back from Alienware – and that’s awesome, but they also sent it back with a huge bill, and as of yet STILL haven’t explained what work was done. My brain is reeling from that – my internet connexion keeps crapping out – my head isn’t currently able to wrap around the fourteen billion things I’m trying to accomplish all at the same time…. it’s like – every time I think I’m just about to get a handle on things, something else crops up. Either Heather asks me if something’s done, or I run across the damned brown envelope, reminding me that I need to get my Saturn inspected to make sure that it’s at least as environmentally friendly as the SUVs everyone’s got.


rob and Sharif in the WOBC archives o records.

Sigh, it’s a grumpy day. On the other hand – I like reading our new forums, and we just landed a gig at a Nudist Colony. Life is just weird. Sorry – Clothing Optional Resort.

A frustrating world we Live in. I just don’t own that much… a car and a computer and a couple of guitars… which I guess, when I think about it, IS an awful lot – but it seems unfair that I can get hit with repairs for one and upkeep on another. I don’t know how people survive.

Sunday, we went to the Sheep and Wool Festival and watched the fantastically fantastic sheep dog demonstration. I kept having flashbacks from Babe, though - and wanted to see a sheep pig. Or perhaps a shig.
Sunday, we went to the Sheep and Wool Festival and watched the fantastically fantastic sheep dog demonstration. I kept having flashbacks from Babe, though – and wanted to see a sheep pig.
Or perhaps a shig.
I don't think he did this on purpose. I'm sure he was pushed.
I don’t think he did this on purpose. I’m sure he was pushed.

Now that I no longer have a day job, I feel like I can legitimately keep up – I mean, there are certainly days, like today, when I feel overwhelmed – but when I still had a day job eating up x hours a week, I really felt like I couldn’t keep up. How does someone deal with the MVA if they can’t take a whole day to do it? How do you get your car repaired? How do you meet other people?

What happened to all that leisure time we gained when our ancestors started clubbing buffalo and we no longer had to spend all of our waking hours grubbing for berries and bird eggs? Sigh – I guess what I’m saying, is I just don’t have enough time to procrastinate like I’d like to.

So, I’m thinking about this Clothing Optional gig now – and I’m reading what Christine Lavin had to say about playing there (they didn’t buy many CDs, since they had no money with them, since they had no pockets)… and I’m reading about the fact that they have a folk festival (which We’re About 9 is playing) and a regular coffeehouse music series (which the Dreamscapes Project is playing)… and … well… everyone’s played to naked people but us. Time to get on the ole naked bus…. I guess. Hrm.