October 30, 2022
THE NEW NEIGHBORS were arguing. It seemed too intense for 6 a.m. I’ve been trying to figure out their relationship. Were they partners? Sisters? Friends? Six a.m. seems like a strange hour to be arguing with a friend. If they’re queer, this could be the start of a grand alliance on our block, a resurgence of the gayborhood that thrived here a couple of decades ago.
I lay still and wished them some peace. I hadn’t meant to fall asleep downstairs again but that’s the thing about Green Couch. It just pulls you in. Eventually I woke up again and it was 9.
I only had two hours and change to get everything together for the show, a benefit performance in honor of an incredibly sweet, ailing woman.
I looked at my wardrobe and felt those pangs of frustration that surge every time I want something my wardrobe cannot provide, which is always, especially at show time. I wanted to wear a vintage queer t-shirt, the black one with the giant hot pink triangle from 1990. Couldn’t find it and totally upended my entire t-shirt collection in the process, telling myself that looking at this mess every day would finally force me to deal with it, and wore my red Stax t-shirt instead.
Got so caught up in my wardrobe crisis that I forgot to scoop the cat litter before it was time to collect my guitar, amp, and whatnot and get in the car to drive to a farm in Gaithersburg.
I also forgot breakfast, which is not the most important meal of the day. K made me a car tea and I snagged a little tub of lime-flavored Greek yogurt. K said, I ate yogurt for breakfast today too, and yesterday I wore my Stax t-shirt. This is lesbian praxis! She did her cool dance moves.
Back when I did solo gigs all the time I had this stretch in which I pushed myself to perform a new song every time, every show. Ideally an original, but sometimes a cover would work if I found myself in that song. Then I got in bands and that became less feasible, but since quitting my bands I’ve found that old desire bubbling up. I keep saying that I haven’t written a new song wholly on my own in three years, and it’s probably longer than that but who’s counting. Bands are great, but when everyone’s on their own path, they are slow trains.
In the car, I finalized my writing schedule for the week and started going over the lyrics to the new song, a song addressing the particular struggles of a mature lesbian relationship.
Is there a writer alive who hasn’t experienced the particular thrill of sitting down and having The Thing pour out of them all at once, and it’s all mostly pretty good? This is the high all writers are chasing, that moment we all know we are capable of because we’ve done it. Maybe just a couple times, maybe when we were much younger, maybe before our internal editor had become such a tyrant
The farm was lovely, dressed in autumn finery. The audience a healthy mix of queers and straights. Before my set, I ate a half a chicken with my hands, and a corn cob drenched in butter; after my set, a piece of blueberry pie.
Playing outdoor festivals is always challenging; the sound is so hard to control and you often just have to give yourself over to trust in the equipment and the audience. I offered a content warning for the new song, in which I use the F word 26 times in five minutes, but failed to offer a warning for the song’s blasphemy, suggesting that the protagonists should spend Sunday mornings canoodling instead of doing anything else, and this is probably why, as soon as I finished the song, my music stand collapsed, sending my iPads flying — and just barely missing my stage glass of mead. I took a swig of the mead and launched into the next song. Show biz.
Everything about putting a show is harder now. From the booking to rehearsals to publicity to the performance. Any one of these things can break in interesting new ways.
The other bands on the bill were delightful, and then there was a performance by an eleven-piece bagpipe band—twelve if you count the high stepper. An eleven-piece band can be called a hendectet. When they were done, I grabbed another half-chicken for the road and we headed home, discussing our need to get a non-barbecued dinner as well as some Halloween candy for tomorrow night.
We run into the same problem every year: when we don’t have candy, kids come. When we do, they don’t. But increasingly—at least at the supermarket in our neighborhood—the candy on the shelves the night before Halloween is Christmas candy, and ours is not yet the house that can make peace with handing out candy canes at Halloween.
For dinner, we settled on a pizza bar we love but hadn’t visited since the pandemic dropped. K and I paired our pizza with picklebacks. When we got the check, I miscalculated and overtipped. The place was fairly empty, with a bartender who made congenial conversation about the Cure and Tower Records. How I’ve missed bartenders at quiet bars.
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