Blog Archive

share some please tea with me

I'm a little bit beach cottage, a little bit punk rock, and all about the cloud room. I've put them up in the links section, they're your new favorite local band - as long as you're trapped in the northeast with me. if not, then they're just your new favorite band. pop rock indie disco with an old cure cd in the back pocket of tight pants. terminal hipsters, with a few tortured relationships and faraway gazes thrown in for good measure.

I might have to go back and edit that.

so I'm toying with a backwards post, where the now is first and scene two is earlier and so forth. let's see if this works.

as it rings in my ears, and I save the band's sticker for my next notebook:

hey now now
they'll find you
when you're sleeping
now now
they'll in reach and grab
what you're dreaming
now now
cut it up and
slip it back in
and I know
and I know
and I know it...

hey now now
the smallest things
are crushing me now
the crush crush crush
is so comforting now...

~~~

so I'm talking to these kids on the train about, well, basically about not being adulterated by life. about what it looked like when the clones got on the train in westport yesterday, as they sit there in suits and ties, telling stories of touring the trading floor on wall street. I ask what the bond did today, and the kid didn't know. they're like, twenty. and they're in masters programs at quinnipiac. we started talking, just joking about the one of the conductors on the train giving me the look of death for putting my feet on the seat in front of me. and it morphed into stories of the last two days, of being an indie hipster trapped in the body of a twenty eight year old mortgage broker, and the struggles to find myself. and how now, just like a lot of things in my life, how I have to come to terms with what I'm not and what I don't want first. so, judging by past experience, by the time I'm ninety I will know everything I am absolutely unsure of, and be close to figuring out Who I Really Am. but at least I'm on the right path. I leave them demanding promises that they will not spend eternity searching for the perfect stock and the trophy wife.

I can't wait to get home and listen to my new cds. I think the cloud room might be my new favorite band. no, I'm quite sure of it. since I can't write yet and have to jet to the meeting and to find some espresso in between to keep from passing out, I call kristin and emote all over her from the union station parking lot. and as it turns out, I've got just enough to pay to get out in my wallet. I'd have more, but I couldn't leave new york without The Watch. I've been feeling a little bit punk rock these days - just a little bit. I need more hoodies.

~~~

when I get downstairs, the band is still loading into what looks like someone's dad's old car. I thank them again for a great performance, and double check to make sure I'm heading in the right direction. I make a point of looking at everyone when I say goodbye, especially to the chick who looks like the lead singer's girlfriend - she didn't say a word to anyone the whole time we were upstairs. you've got to make friends with them so that they understand the difference between people like you and screaming nineteen year olds trying to get into their boyfriend's pants. she finally cracked a smile. probably because I was leaving. I remember exactly what that felt like.

I'm ready to skip down the street, and instead I stop and put my headphones and sunglasses on. I sing, even though it sounds like pieces of some odd conversation to the passerby. shins, no, stevie wonder, no, saturday night fever, I laugh to myself at this very same walk to the museum yesterday morning. only I was heading in the other direction. all I needed were platform shoes and some paint cans... I've just spent two days with six bands and five guys from seattle, loaded in and out about twelve times, suffered the wrath of a drill sargeant corporate museum worker, walked a million steps, and had the best sandwich ever. my bag is stuffed with stickers, cds, postcards, and pieces of kristin. I've been wearing the same clothes for two days and there's still glitter under my eyes. do I really have to go back to the real world? at least I've got the weekend to roll around in it...

I stop as I pass the window of the fossil store. shit. is this a sign, or a test? dammit. I go in, knowing exactly what's coming. I explain john's watch to the girl behind the counter, along with the quandry that I am only a little punk rock and I don't want to make a statement that doesn't properly express myself (like a three inch thick studded leather band with snaps) so that the choice of watch is absolutely critical, if I'm going to do it at all.

we paw around and I scan the bands, none of them feel right but every one she takes out gets closer to what I'm picturing in my mind. it should be noted here that at least one band member from each of the six bands, if not more than one plus some of the fans, were wearing low cut black and white chucks, topped off with bedhead and gucci sunglasses. it's funny, they were all so different, but had these common threads...

she takes out The Watch. she thinks I'll like it. it's fucking perfect. the face is nondescript and the band is brown and it's snapped in by two little silver nubs. it's clean and sleek and worn in all at once. the merge of mod and mainstream indie, brought to you by fossil. I'll take it.

"I'll take it."

sixty five dollars later, I run downstairs at grand central to grab some avocado rolls (of course! what else were you expecting?) and make it onto the train with about two minutes to spare. I put my feet up as we pull out of the station, which results in the most killer look from the old black train conductor guy. I giggle and put them on the floor. he's not amused. almost simultaneously the announcer lets us know where we're going and how much metro north thanks us for keeping our feet on the floor and using the overhead storage racks. the universe mocks me constantly. I love it.

~~~

"hey, are you the cloud room?"

"yes, I'm j."

"victoria. hey."

full frontal eye contact ensues. jesus. this guy says my name back to me like he's trying it on.

"victoria."

I try to smile past my butterflies. what am I doing here again? oh, right. I come back into my body and tell him I'm a volunteer for KEXP, explaining that tori had everything running late until now, but that he was on time, how we're going to load and how there's nowhere to park, and I ask what kind of music they are.

another band member comes back from a load to the elevator. j passes the question off, and then leaves. he's got these insanely tight jeans on. these guys are uber-hip and uber-sweet, all at once. this later morphs into discussions about how they help old ladies across the street and stuff, but they try to remember not to shave. so at least they look punk rock while they do it.

a ride with jon (the second guy) in the elevator kind of narrows down the genre. he hands me this crazy review, something like gold lame with a goth t-shirt underneath, and they're teaching the indie kids to dance again. it's much more well put than that, but it gets the point across. and as we talk and set up and what have you, I begin fervently hoping that they don't suck. we've already got private jokes and stuff. and too many times I've met bands and some of the sweetest guys on the planet, and then they get on stage and they just. can't. play.

but this is KEXP, and john richards can do no wrong. most of the time, anyway.

simultaneously, I am convinced at this moment that they all have equally uber-hip rail thin fashionista girlfriends. but that's okay. I'm with the station. I help load. jon is going for waters and lunch and I decide to tag along. actually, I totally invite myself, but I manage to hold it together. we run downstairs to the little deli place that's been feeding us for the last two days, and stock up for the boys in the band. jon gets waters. we talk about the old lady not shaving thing. I get fruit. he buys it for me. I am now a smitten fifteen year old, and I can't wait to hear them play. I want them to blow my mind and assume their spot in my emotional rotation.

we arrive back at the fifth floor studios to more instrument tweaking. wires, mic check, the usual. I sit and eat kiwis. we joke about the review. I'm holding up my end of the conversation, I carry no watermelons. all of a sudden, j hands me his guitar.

"here, hold this." he's got to go change or meditate or do whatever these crazy lead guys do before they go on. instead of sitting there cradling it delicately, I pick it up and start playing. I forgot that I knew how. there's no bottom string.

"there's no bottom string?"

"yeah, that's how j plays it. you just have to pretend like it isn't there." writing that now I realize that it made total sense in that moment.

apparently that's how sonic youth and keith richards do it. I start messing around with the one song I know, and a few finger exercises, and jon is throwing in a few bass notes when I'm followable. am I jamming? jesus. I keep noodling and talking and at one point, do a total rock star strum through the glass at kevin. index and pinky finger arise. we keep shooting the breeze, and I don't want it to end. jason checks his drums and jokes about the suit jacket that j has brought (a garment bag with a few of them, actually) and puts it on. ben is checking his keyboard and wurlitzer and digging the scene in black guccis and a little collared jacket with a safety pin clasp. I want to take these guys home, but connecticut would kill them. j returns and gives me a single, that's really a double, and a sticker. I'm beaming. play. please.

I hand the guitar back, official soundcheck ensues, people start arriving, we go live. these guys bang out two of the catchiest songs ever. they really are indie rock eighties disco lovin' old cure on the playlist uber-hip musicians. they fucking rock. but just for a moment, KEXP does not, and the signal gets lost halfway through the second song. so we get to hear them again. and the introductions and interview break up the crackle of electricity that these guys are emitting, but then they pick it up again. j puts down his guitar for this one, turning the mic stand sideways and bending it so delicately, cradling it even. like he's dipping a girl mid waltz. he's howling and he's got these sharp white teeth and his fucking eyes roll back in his head. I'm practically in a trance.

the cloud room is, at this very moment, my new favorite local band.

they wrap up the set and we start breaking down and people mill around. the two chicks to the right of me are j and jon's girlfriends, assumed from the kisses post-set. one doesn't say anything to anyone, really. the other one, who went with jon I think? talks with lorilee and I about all kinds of stuff. funny how you see yourself and your friends and girlfriends and band guys represented in other subsets of people. I make my way to the manager to tell her that I thought matt pond pa was my favorite band, but that's all changed now. this is it. we mingle and mix, and jon and I trade emails. I'm writing on a KEXP postcard, borrowing j's back in the process. he attempts conversation as I'm doing so, but I'm having a hard time. all I can manage is to tell him that they are so awesome. that the set was awesome. and did I tell you guys you were awesome? I realize this state and apologize. he's all, ok, so, what other bands came and played here? and it's like fixing a stuck record, suddenly I'm talking about everything and how they should come play in CT if they can and how I'll send pictures as soon as I get them online. he was patient and understanding of my starstruck state. I mean, it's just so insane - walking for miles with famous strangers and you're ten feet away from tori amos and you hear john richards, but you see him too and then there's all these rocking bands filling your senses but there hasn't been enough sleep and the world is a little translucent and is this part of my wandering mind, or is this real time? of course I didn't manage to verbalize that at the moment, but I did the best I could.

to the effect of, hi, I totally turn into a fifteen year old when I get this starstruck. sorry. sometimes I wish I could just hand people my notebook.

one by one, people filter away... the cloud room disappears into the elevator and I shout my gratitude down the underoo plastered hallway. the room is quiet now, and disassembled. it's almost that time. one more run down the funny path to the bathroom in the other room downstairs. one last look. I clean up the postcards and pins, and grab a handful of each. a few photos and some pleasant goodbyes and lots of thanks. a quick hug for kevin, with promises of of may and sasquatch and the of montreal in studio. I walk out the door, and for this trip at least, the handle clicks behind me for the last time.

I walk down the hall with my head high and my senses full. I've got just enough time to grab something to eat and hit the 4:05 back to new haven. the elevator door slides softly as I officially head home, forever changed.

~~~

I head back downstairs to look for the next band. the tori amos thing has pushed everything back, and no one knows where the french kicks are. I see a cab pull up to the curb, and a guy gets out to start taking stuff out of the trunk. I see a bass drum and a guitar case, and I figure I've got the right people. they are, I shake hands, and explain about the schedule and how we don't know where the gear is going yet as the piano hasn't left. we're smiles and questions and smalltalk in the elevator. these guys are kind of quiet, but cool. displaced and hung over and unwashed and hip.

by the time soundcheck is done, some fans have arrived and there's thirty seconds to air. the drill sargeant won't let me put the seats back in a normal setup because a few people are already sitting, so I wind up elbow to elbow with john richards and lorilee. it's at this point that I notice The Watch. now, you all know the indie boy chunky studded strap thing, right? well, picture a nice fat brown leather strap, and the only studs are holding flaps of leather that hold the face. silver and deep emerald green. I have to have one. but I can't go too punk rock, because it's not me. ooh - it's a fossil. that means it's probably under a hundred bucks. hmmm... shit, you're staring. stop it. back to the band.

the french kicks give us a pared-down version of themselves, missing two band members and their usual energy it seems. but they're still impressive and we cheer them on through three quick songs and we're all loading out. I walk with them to 5th to hail a cab, leaving with thanks and right ons and so forth. I hope the next band is more awake than that, I mean, tori amos was more excited to play for thirty people, you know? on a station she might have never heard of before this gig.

as I walk back, I think about what it would be like to have this as a full time job. I'd probably implode over constantly needing to be cool, because sometimes I'm not. actually, lots of the time I'm not. and I like it that way. because then when I am cool, it kicks ass. like getting dressed up all fun, only for your mind. I'd love to have a decent paying admin job at a radio station where I could have a crazy time slot once a week instead of paid overtime. where I could dance like nobody was listening.

~~~

I wake up several times during the night, not because I'm scared, but because it sounds different here. there's the rain on the patch of roof outside my window, and gravel crunching under the tires of unfamiliar cars on unfamiliar streets. in between dreams, I wonder if michael has left an umbrella behind that I could use. I've left the radio on, every once in a while a note rings loud and jogs me from my sleep, and around 4:30 the station changes to a church program. friday morning salvation in central park west.

there's a pudgy sweet cat sleeping with me, punctuating my hellos with little growls and yipping meows and submissiveness. I curl up and uncurl and stretch and realize suddenly that I have no idea of the timing of trains and the arrival of the tori amos entourage. I'd better get going.

the fifty blocks I walked yesterday come rushing back to me as my feet hit the floor. it's like someone bruised me gently throughout the night with a nine pound hammer and some good intentions. it walks off soon enough and I shower in an unfamiliar bathroom with four knobs and clean corners. I left my apartment so indecisively that all I've got to wear is what I came in, clean socks and underwear notwithstanding. I managed that, at least. less eyeshadow than yesterday but more sparkles to even the game and I'm off for the C train.

I manage my way back to the museum, from the C train downtown to 50th to a starbucks without their morning delivery to a query about 5th street. I buy a bagel from a corner stand for a dollar and a good morning, and lean against the cement with my headphones on. hoping that I don't have bread chunks in my teeth as I smile at the passerby.

kevin comes ambling up the sidewalk, I'm listening to the shins. he's got breakfast in his hand, I'm smiling at the steel guitar. we've managed to scrape together some semblance of a friendship in the twenty four hours since we've met, and we talk about walking and the piano that's coming and bands and the show and plans for going home. I'm leaving after the broadcast, he's staying another day. people start to filter in, some from maintenance, some from the tori amos crew. no one knows where the piano is, and the drill sargeant has starting freaking everyone out about chairs and plants and tables that can't move and unreasonable demands and such.

as usual, it all works out in the end. the piano comes from a showroom floor, tori amos arrives eventually, and I'm sent downstairs to run the entry with list and stickers in hand. everyone is on the list except for these two girls, who have been standing outside for an hour and a half. I send them up amidst their promises of talks with station people in seattle and I figure if they're not supposed to come in that kevin cole can handle it. I'm a fan, running the door, and I'm not leaving these kids outside. they're just like me and they've got no idea.

tori's set is spellbinding. she sings, she talks about gardening, she mugs for the audience, and she's convinced me that I need her new album. I wrote her off hours earlier, leftover ninties little earthquake something, and was considering taunting her with shouts of "cornflake girl" mid set. instead, I gain a newfound respect and cheered after her verses. I was sold.

they take as long to leave as they did to come in, and we all stood trapped in the hallway. everyone - including label people and yours truly and museum staff, so our shiny star could make her getaway. or more precisely, down to the first floor for her mtv spot. we finally head out, and with no sign of the next band, I head to starbucks. I've got important people looking for caffiene and banana bread, and I can't let them down.

~~~

the bar is dark, the kind of dark in the daytime go get some fresh air dark. but it's hip and dimly lit and there's scraps of KEXP promotinal items everywhere. we're in the right place.

it's like heaven just to sit down after all that walking - kevin and I have just come down 5th from 52nd to union square, taking in the sights and sounds along the way. we decided to take the long way, what with so much to see and not much to do. the only real tragedy of the afternoon was losing my hoodie, but we found it again, trampled but unscathed. people are different... here, sirens are the norm - so much so that no one even looks up as twelve police cars in a row fly down broadway at full pace. insanity is simply the every day in new york city.

one of the many interesting facts I learned today about kevin suggs is that he played pedal steel on the shins' "gone for good" off of chutes too narrow, and I check to see if the dj has it when she arrives. she doesn't, but promises to sneak in what she can. a few beers later, the crowd is gathering and the music is perfect and we're chatting up the strangers around us. we linger and mingle and I am doing alright - I'm holding up my end of multiple conversations, I'm buying kevin and john some beers, and for a few moments, I'm actually cool. I've managed to blend in, and this scene, these people - this feels like home.

a guy stops to say hello to kevin early on, it turns out to be the drummer from the national. they played an in-studio wednesday and john richards has been giving them a lot of love. the guy is looking me over, tall studious bespectacled type. he tells me he knows me. I tell him that roughly ninety percent of the people I meet tell me that I look like someone's sister or cousin or some friend of someone they know. either I've got that familiar feeling, or there's less pickup lines than I even knew about.

no, he really does know me. he starts talking about the new haven scene in the early nineties. I'm all, yeah, like blind justice and quest of the moonbreed and stuff? and he goes, yeah, and mighty purple, right? I almost fall off my stool. it turns out that this guy - brian - was playing in a band called gem I think? and remembers me, and of course kristy, and jon and beth living in new york for a while, and we're struck with nostalgia. here we are, in new york, at a listener party for a seattle station, talking about new haven. random disco action happening, buddy.

oh - I've got to take a minute to tell you about the bathrooms.

so the women's bathroom has a picture of farrah fawcett on it, and the men's room has burt reynolds. all framed glossy headshot attached to the door. but upon entering, you've got the opposite inside. backwards (sideways down) and just perfect. red walls, more dim corners, strings of green christmas lights between window panes reflecting just so. and burt reynolds posters. like, twelve of them.

the second one doesn't show how disproportional the woman's hands are on the football. but then, I really don't think they were concerned with the proper sizing of her, um, hands.

I emerge triumphant with photos for kevin, and he confirms that it's all about farrah on the men's side. we've been there for about two hours at that point, and we start wrapping it up even though it's only about eight. we've got to be back for the tori amos thing pretty early on. john has told me to get there by 7:30 or so, to avoid any denial at the door. we say our goodbyes and get all kinds of looks for our plan to walk from 2nd to 8th, back to union square to pick up the C. those long city blocks seem so daunting - you guys should take the bus, or take the L across, etc. we decide to wing it and start walking down the street.

we're halfway there it seems, after maybe five or ten minutes. were they kidding? we even stop to ask a strange man with a bag full of bagels, and when he says it's about a half a mile, we're concerned. then he tells us about the mountain ranges and ocean views to look out for before we hit 8th, and we know he's just giving us a hard time. in another few minutes we're across the street from the subway entrance and decide to puruse the whole foods market before we get on the train. we emerge triumphant with our weight in avocado rolls and soft baked cookies, and hop on the C train heading uptown.

I've never eaten like that in my life. famished. I did have the. best. sandwich. ever. a few hours into the day, but that was it. now walk for two hours in freakish 70 degree heat, no dinner, and throw in a pinch of nervous energy for good measure. avocados and cookies and the promise of central park west are quite the relief at this point. kevin leaves me at 50th and I leave the train at 81st. I walk up to michael's apartment, a little apprehensive but mostly excited, and search out clymer bayshore on the buzzers. there it is, looking back at me. I push through the buzzing doors and come into his apartment gratefully, then flop on the couch most ungraciously.

what seems normal apartment size to me is apparently quite spacious for city living - a long hallway opening up into the open living room, kitchen in the corner, loft sleepspace, and a full seperate bedroom. bookcases and closets and two gorgeous little cats, stuck in the corner watching an ant fervently. if you didn't know, they might of looked like they both had some kind of ADD and were trapped in a moment of staring at the floor and couldn't get out.

michael is warm and welcoming and leaving me with the pets and the keys. he's heading for seattle in the morning. we take a few minutes to discuss kristin and I am trying to break your heart and where the towels are and and my awakenings and possibilites. I love him already. he tells me to think of him as the central park west hostel, to come back any time I want or need to, and I hug him fiercely. telling him that if he ever wants to come to branford that I'll save a spot at the beach for him, and he goes, or maybe if I need somewhere to stay in portland, and I smile broadly. he's most excellent.

the door clicks behind him and the laughter of strangers echoes in the hallway outside as I wash up. I'm gross. I brush my teeth, tear out my contacts, turn down the radio and flop onto the bed I made earlier. there's a light drizzle falling as I drift in and out of my dreams, I hope it's not pouring tomorrow, ray's on the radio, and one of the cats has decided to nap with me. I met john richards today and told him about ray, and a week ago tomorrow I met ray and told him about john richards. tori amos will be withing ten feet or so of me in the morning. is this real, or have I projected my notebooks out into consciousness? I can't exactly tell right now.

I'd better get some rest.

~~~

"hi, are you john richards?"

"I sure am." it's The Voice.

"hey, victoria. I emailed? nice to meet you. jesus, it's hot in here." I throw my sweatshirt and bag onto a chair and try to pay attention. he's cute and hip and makes me think of beck and a guy I went to high school with. he fades back in.

"...and we're constantly running out of coffee, and the bathrooms are through that room and that door and then down the stairs, and the bands don't know where to park, and that table looks like shit, and the fans don't know what to do when they come for the instudio, we're busy and they just kind of hang out and we could really use help with all of this... stuff. with everything."

I assure him I'm on it, and set out first to clean up the merch tables. which, in this case, are piles of the groovy from / to postcards, stickers, and pins. I do a four-frame warhol thing that comes out pretty nice, and proceed to clean up around the room. hauling boxes and breaking a sweat. it's good to be home.

so the bands are coming about an hour before air time, and I start my first run down to see if the dutch kills have arrived. they're walking in as I turn to do this, and load in starts up. sweet guys, who end up being a tight little indie rock outfit. the lead singer does this thing, he sings up to the microphone and goes a little cross-eyed in the process and it's enough to pull you in... after the set I keep the crowd informed and full of stickers and postcards and flyers for the listener appreciation party later that night. we pull it together to load out, and the bass player gives me a cd. I politely refuse, and then graciously accept. we love them.

all of a sudden everyone is gone and I'm straightening up the room and it's 11 o'clock. coffee run ensues, grande, okay, venti hot water for kevin cole, done, and then john richards says the unthinkable when I ask directions for the nearest starbucks:

"it doesn't matter, I'll drink anything."

no, john. bad. thankfully, as it turns out there's a starbucks one block over and one block down. perfect. you learn an appreciation for these things after driving 1500 miles with nothing but gas stations bearing burnt coffeepots and non-dairy creamer. I've got a sticker on my jeans and sunglasses on my head. I'm with the station. john richards takes it black. I know this, because I'm handing it to him. is this real? pinch me. it is. awesome.

the guys are great, bill is instantly funny and a great photographer on top of it. kevin cole reminds me of dave kone, only younger and hip. kevin suggs is quiet but busts out some funny lines and I know instantly that I'll get along with him. and john's friend john, running the playlist, wears the following on his back.

'nuff said.

by the time I settle in, the second band shows up, or more specifically, artist plus one. one husband, that is, who is a little on the nervous side. suggestions, songs, adjusting her mic stand, looking for tea, double checking, triple checking, saying the same thing to the sound guy three or four times. he loves her a lot, and wants her to sound good. she does. she sings with a far away look in her eyes and a side to side bob of her head. the guts and gravel of ani difranco in a little pixie with icy corneas and a sultry smile. no load out for little kristin hersch. time for lunch.

I wander down to the street to the window where I ate my fruit a few hours before. they've got a hot sandwich bar in the back where they'll put anything on anything and make it hot. this place rocks. turkey, american, tomato, and avocado on chunky whole grain bread. smack it in the panini grill and come to mama, melty and fresh and fabulous. I burst back into the studio triumphantly and stuff myself happily. I'm five, sitting in the abandoned chairs, crosslegged and messy. yum, yum and yum.

band number three arrives, with another request for coffee and waters. I head back to starbucks with two girls from the label and leave with three grandes and five waters. starbucks run #2. now we're talking about bands and boys and I can't wait for this set - I've heard a good buzz about matt pond pa but haven't seen them yet. I was going to try for the show at the webster a few weeks back (worst. venue. ever.) but it got snowed out. it happens all over again: loaded, plugged in, soundcheck, two songs, interview, two songs. I can tell by the soundcheck I'm not going to be disappointed.

all in one moment they are my new favorite band. the bass player sits behind the drums and claps, and the drummer plays the tambourine. they sing this great song, last song I think is the name of it, and halfway through the tone and sound change completely along with the timing and everything and it just sucked me right in. two verses and back to the body of the tune with the jingles and the clapping and I'm hooked. I need to own a piece of this. they sell me a cd with the ten bucks they gave me back for the eleven I spent on coffees and waters. we load out, and that's it for the last band of the day.

this is work. when I joked I'd be interning for a radio station, I didn't know how close to the truth that would be. with the broadcast done, we've got about three hours before the party - I fill kevin in on my best. sandwich. ever. and we decide to feed him and spend the day wandering. he went to harlem the other day, just for kicks.

this should be an interesting afternoon.

~~~

I awake with a start, after a four hour nap it seems. there's somewhere I need to be, why is the alarm going off, where am I... oh shit. I've got to catch the train. get up, get up!

shower. brush teeth. fuck, I didn't want to wear these jeans, and they're the only thing I have clean. shit. the shirt I wanted is dirty too. dammit. black hoodie will have to do, what if it gets hot, bring something to change into, it's after five already, just go. get the fuck out of the house. figure it out on the train. buy a tshirt somewhere if you need to. go!

I pull out of my little parking spot to a cold car and glen hansard crooning me through the morning. funny how the people out at this time of the day are either really dedicated to the hours they work, or they're total baseheads still up from the night before. I've been both. I prefer the former.

union station welcomes me, and I'm shocked to learn that it's almost twenty dollars each way on the train. I remember when you could go round trip for less than twenty five bucks! I give up my money to the man and his machine, and head out with my ticket and some butterflies. my standard two-seat spot welcomes me as I pick a car and head out for the big city.

at one point on the ride, at the westport stop, I am completely stricken with fear. it seems we've been attacked by clones. about three thousand men get onto the train, in every car, all in their suits and starched shirts with properly coordinated ties. all carrying briefcases and copies of the times. button my collar and get me to wall street, quick. for a moment I'm actually terrified, but none of them speak, so they can't harm anything. like supermen stripped of their powers, they can only talk about bond fluctuations and crude oil prices. phew!

I've got my headphones on, and when there's silence between tracks, I realize that, clones aside, no one else is singing. or saying anything, for that matter. I resort to lip synching while I put on some powder and lip stuff. just enough to hide the tired. just enough to up the shimmer. before I know it, we're hitting 125th. I wonder what harlem is like. I program a playlist for when I hit the sidewalk - stayin' alive, just for kicks. livin' my life like it's golden, some nikka costa, the only living boy in new york, and stevie wonder's greatest hits vol. II. the perfect recipe to wander the city streets with.

I stop people smoking cigarettes outside the station, and query as to fifth street. I know fifth will hit 52nd or 53rd or wherever the fuck I'm going. it's 7:45 on a thursday morning, and I'm in new york city. quick, press play. well, you can tell by the way I use my walk ... I'm such a dork. but I love it.

I get closer to where I need to be, and after another stop or two (punctuated by some iced starbucks) I've located the museum. breakfast calls, and there's a little spot here that looks like it might be groovy. it's an au bon pain type of place, with hot and cold food, beverages, salads, sandwiches, every kind of everything. sweet. a little tub of fruit for $2.75, water in my backpack. fresh kiwis and headphones full of stevie wonder, early in the morning. I'm about to meet john richards and work for KEXP for two days.

I'm not sure if it gets any better than this. but then, you all know what happens every time I say those ten little words...

~~~

so I come home to this box on my doorstep. actually, it was on top of my mailbox, but doorstep just sounded better then, didn't it?

it turns out that kristin's timing is, as usual, totally impeccable. she's sent me pieces of herself, straight from the portland planning committee. enclosed we find:

a picture of john richards at the museum from when she went last year,
a cat grass growing kit,
a lavender growing kit,
some japanese cookies,
purple chrome nailpolish,
some reading material that begins with a sentence about how no one in high school understood,
a big fat KEXP sticker for my new ride,
and a picture of her cat.

all delicately packed with sweet smelling easter grass, and a note that reads:

have fun in NY! who loves ya, baby?

you do. you always do.

I put some of her on my refridgerator, some of her in my notebook, and all of her in my heart. this is going to be one of those adventures that shifts my insides, I can feel it.

Victoria Uhl