Little things

Are middle parts coming back? I feel like they could be.  I’ve been a side-parter for years now, but with my hair growing longer I’m feeling like a middle part could work. I think I’ll try it out for a week and see how it goes. [Update: This only lasted one day. I felt like an elementary school kid and my forehead’s much too big to be all out in the open like that. I’ll need to satisfy my hair change urge elsewhere.]

With so much going on these days, I’m surprised when I find myself idly musing on hair parts… For me, hair, make-up and shoes are a kind of escapism, I think. Whenever I find myself brooding over nail polish or buying shoes, I know I am more stressed than usual.  Last week, I bought two pairs of shoes, dyed my hair and repainted my nails 3 times in one day. Eeek.

Cute though, eh?

I do like shoes. But the thing is all this stuff feels like a kind of salve for more difficult thoughts and feelings. I don’t really think when I think about shoes.

There isn’t anything in particular that is worrying me. It’s just the news, the meaning of life, suffering – and asking myself if I am doing the best I can. Am I thinking critically, being generous enough, what is my balance of awareness vs. ignorance?

What about art! I am not thinking enough about art!

Issues at work seem to be the main culprit of my feelings of unease. I spend so much time there that when tasks and relationships aren’t fulfilling – in fact, when everything seems small and maddening – it’s a huge downer.

To end on an up note, let me tell you about how last weekend, I met one of my favorite musicians – Bonnie Prince Billy! (Noted further on as “BPB”.) As I was telling a friend, I am not a person who is really into any specific music scene. I am not a geek about music. I can name very few songwriters I love. And even then, I cannot name titles of songs or albums, or recite many lyrics, correctly or incorrectly. Seriously. I have an almost vacuous auditory memory. Usually, there is one particular song or two, or simply the tremor of the person’s voice that really gets me.

With Bonnie Prince Billy, I can remember the first time I heard him. I was living in Portland, Maine, with some of my best friends with whom I’d taken refuge after a terrible break-up. It was the kind of break-up where you keep a bottle of whiskey on the bedside table and break into tears upon simply waking up in the morning.  Despite the heartbreak, I think of this time as one of the best in my life, because of my friends – especially one, named Katie. Katie lent me her little bedroom in a giant rented house near Portland’s Eastern Promenade. There were about six of us living in the house altogether. My borrowed bedroom was wood-paneled, painted bright white and didn’t have a straight edge to it, being on the outer eaves of the attic. I had my cat, Amos with me and that was it.  I slept on a thin, lumpy mattress and consumed very little aside from sweet potatoes. And whiskey.

One night, Katie and her boyfriend (now husband!) Bernie were surfin’ the web, playing music, and probably eating cereal for dinner when I stopped by their room for the chit-chat and companionship I so needed during that time. Bernie brought up the music video, “Horses” on his tinny Toshiba laptop. I don’t know if Bernie specifically picked the video to show me because he thought I’d like it or if it was really just happenstance that I walked in at that particular time, but either way, I was immediately in love with Bonnie Prince Billy’s music. It was lonesome and uneven and poetic. The video features tractor trailer trucks and dogs and forests. That one song held so many important aspects of my soul!

Now, about 7 years later, Andrew, who is very into music and Albums and such, has given me a bunch of BPB’s records – all of which I cherish and only bring out when the mood is exactly right to listen to them. Miraculously, I heard that BPB was playing a free outdoor concert in Santa Fe. This truly is miraculous because no one comes to Santa Fe to play. We get local and regional bands. Albuquerque gets big names, like Miranda Lambert and Morrissey.

I don’t know the details of how he came, but BPB came to Santa Fe and I was excited, but not super excited until… Until we were outside at the Railyard, with only a small crowd brewing and dark clouds moving in from the mountains and – I saw Bonnie Prince Billy hop out of his van. In a zip-up onesie and flip-flops.  So. Excited! At first, I just made Andrew take this funny photo:

Me standing in front...far in front... of William Oldham.

Me standing in front…far in front… of William Oldham.

I did not want to bother him or chit-chat about nothing or embarrass myself, so this was the closest I got. But Andrew really likes to chit-chat with musicians – and this is why we are made for each other! Because while I am too shy to even browse merchandise at shows, Andrew went right up and bought a record and asked BPB to sign it for me!! Then, I did something crazy: I saw Andrew chatting with BPB and I thought, okay, this is my chance. So I ran over and said “Hi” and Andrew said, “Oh, this is her, this is Emma.” And I just smiled really big. And then Andrew said we should take a picture and though I am usually a grump about pictures, especially posed ones, I didn’t hesitate and BPB put his arm around me and we took the greatest picture!


It was really, really wonderful.


"Emma listen with an open heart. Will O"

“Emma listen with an open heart. Will O”


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