Posts Tagged ‘Ani DiFranco


gratuitous new year’s day post, no resolutions included

I laid in bed last night, well, this morning, actually, as the “old folks” managed to stay up past midnight to (quietly; no tin whistles, no confetti) welcome in 2014. (I want to say that next year there will be banging on pots and pans, and shouting, but that sounds suspiciously like a resolution. Hmmm. . . .)  I listened to the furnace shut off the last time before the Big Cooldown we have programmed into the thermostat (59˚ overnight) and to Second Son rustling around a bit in his basement bedroom (nice alliteration) and marveled at how well I could see out the window given that it was overcast and there are no street lights in our neighborhood — radiant light from the snow, I guess.

The trees were vague, foggy pencil lines against the gray sky. The house made its other noises. Husband snored quietly beside me.

I wouldn’t say that I’m more retrospective on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day than I am most other days of the year. I often think that if I spent less time “navel gazing” and more time looking out at the world I might even be able to release some of my mind-fuck obsessions and be, if not “happier,” more content in the world.

Coincidentally, though, we were wanting to recreate our New Years Eve dinner of a couple of years back, so I found myself paging back through this blog looking for the post–unintentionally exceptionally retrospective I guess. I had thought it was just last year, but it was two years ago, so I ended up reading a lot of other things, including some poems that were actually kind of not awful (and that I don’t actually remember writing), and watching some video clips of some pretty powerful performance art, etc. etc. A not-entirely unpleasant, short walk down memory lane.

It seems that I’m not ranting (or posting, for that matter) as much as I used to, and now I’m trying to figure out why. I’m a little more tired, I guess, or possibly (finally!?!) realizing that my ranting doesn’t really change anything. I’ve gotten pretty busy, although I was pretty busy when I was posting almost every day and averaging hits in the hundreds per day, rather than the single digits as I am now. I upset some people a few months ago, and felt badly about it, so didn’t post for a while, even though I thought they were kind of missing the point. I guess it’s as much my fault for not making my point clearly as it is for them not “getting” it — what is the writer’s job if not to communicate clearly and well?

I miss it, my daily commune with “my blog” and you, my readers; but I don’t seem to “love” it like I did.

All those words shouted out into the ether (until your face gets hoarse, ani dif.), never really sure what I’m hoping to hear in response. Validation? Empathy? The knowledge/awareness/hope that whatever I’m thinking or feeling, I’m not the only one? And why does that matter? I find that I want to write less and read more, but even then, I have the vague sense that l am (persistently) looking for (and never finding) the answers to life persistent questions. Caroline Knapp (Appetites) speculates that all a woman needs is a good boyfriend, a good job, and a good apartment. (relationship, financial, and domestic security). I have those things, but still feel I am looking for something (what kind of paradise am I looking for? ani dif. again)

Caroline Knapp, (and the writers of Serenity), speculate that the wanting, searching, the sense of lack, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what gives our lives purpose, direction, keeps us moving forward rather than resting slothfully on our laurels munching grapes and watching bad television.

And yet I can’t help but be disappointed when things are less than I think they could be, or less than I hoped.

Again, Caroline Knapp writes of how, maybe, it is the moments we must treasure — of pure joy, contentment, ease; maybe in the afterglow of a great conversation/connection (even if brief) with someone we love, or with someone with whom we had no expectation of having a great conversation/connection; when we feel gratified or appreciated by that one person at our job; when the laundry is done and the dishes are washed and we sit on a comfortable couch in a cozy room after a delicious meal.

I can’t help but wonder (shades of Carrie Bradshaw) if those moments could be more often, or at the very least more easily held on to, if one could come to terms with the fact that there is no perfect, persistent joy. Maybe that’s the kind of paradise I’m looking for. Maybe, in this year where I, by the end, will have actually turned 50 (gasp!), I finally stop.

Now, someone else’s resolutions:

It’s still cold outside, we’ve had too much pecan pie and bad fudge, the family circus is performing, and we’re not sure what to make of this year that was pretty brutal at times, amiright? Take a long, belly deep breath. Feel your feet flat beneath you. Pull that core tall. Smile inside your mouth and feel your face soften. Put your head up, point your eyes forward. You with me? Listen … When your perceived troubles make you brood, it makes you a joy cannibal. Cut it out. We’re trying to have holiday spirit here. Maybe you’re bobbing along in the ocean of wherever you ended up. Pick a point, create a purpose, and move (ever slowly sometimes) towards it. Every day is the right day to reassess, make a map, rally the stakeholders to your own life, show up for someone else, and build capacity to be a better fucking human being. This is why love matters most. This is why you’re alive. This is why life is so painfully short and your sucky attitude is a waste of fine time. Break down the barriers you’ve built between you and the love of that god, that man, that woman, that child, and that person inside yourself you bully. Fly up to your own big picture. It’s a challenge to be honest with yourself, stop rating other people’s sins over your own, and steer your own damn boat. Change only comes with challenge. You can still be what you gave up on back when. You are in control of your own reaction in each moment and nothing else. Stand tall, breathe deep, smile softly, and forgive yourself for all that shit you won’t let go. Now is the time to put it down because it’s stupid heavy and you have a light heart. Get out of the harbor. Stop gripping the [buoy]. Be magnanimous, even when they don’t deserve it. Because you don’t sometimes, either. We’re all recipients of everyday grace and fear of hell isn’t what gets you into heaven. I don’t even believe in hell. Does that make you mad? Why? You are worthy of love and have so much to give. We all could work our hearts whole. Don’t be scared when someone loves differently than you, when their big plan isn’t like yours, and when their drive makes you ashamed at your own dog paddling. Pick a point, start a new year, and don’t look back. Head up, eyes forward.


Coolest F-word ever. . .

Forget “take back the night” or “take your daughter to work day.”

Let’s stop thinking of “feminism” as an idea whose time has come and gone, or one which is irrelevant to our daughters and their daughters.

We have to stop sticking our heads in the sand, imagining this fight has been fought and won. Fists in the air, heart in our hands, it’s time to fight for equal rights. For everything.

Read this.

Then read this.

Sign at least one of these. Or go here, register, and respond to one of the many (daily) pleas for help or support.

Speak up. Stop accepting “less” as the best you can hope for.

We all deserve more.


(Happy International Woman’s Day)


tick tock tick tock

When we’re children time seems endless — the day of school that won’t end, the 3-hour car trip that seems to take the entire day, the long long Sunday when we’re bored bored bored.

In our teens we “kill” time, like it’s the enemy.

When we’re in our 20s we spend it like it’s the spare change we find amid the lint in our pockets.

(I barely remember my 30s — I know, objectively, that “they” were ten years long, but it’s all just a blur, but “time” didn’t really seem to be something I thought about. . .yet. Haven’t quite tipped the scales, so to speak, since we figure we’ll live to at least 80, and we have more years left than we’ve lived.)

In our 40s we realize how little of it there really is, how fast it goes, and how it’s the one commodity we can’t borrow or negotiate.

In Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain the character Settembrini notes how, at a certain point in our lives, we look back, and past events seem chronologically both recent and distant, and speculates that this apparent dichotomy indicates a life well lived.

I try to let that be some kind of comfort to me as the years zip by.

There can’t possibly be enough time to read all the books I want to read and see all the movies I want to see and eat all the fantastic meals I want to eat and meet all the friends I want to meet.  I almost always wonder, when I’m doing something, if I “should” be doing something else.

Maybe I should have emotionally embraced my recent week-long bout of insomnia as a chance to “waste” less time sleeping.


Ani DiFranco

I have to admit, I have an addiction.

It’s to Ani DiFranco’s music; more specifically, the lyrics of her songs.

She’s led a very unconventional life, spending a great deal of adulthood being unapologetically bisexual and pro-abortion rights. Some of the people in my family would know this about her, and write her off completely. They might be willing to offer her a little bit of unnecessary redemption for the fact that she is now married and has a beautiful baby girl; she also spends a lot of time, money, and effort trying to make the world a better place.

She’s outspoken about politics (“I wonder who’s going to be president, Tweedle dum or Tweedle dumber?“), society, how we fail each other (“I remember the first time I saw someone lying on the cold street; I thought, I can’t just walk past him, this just can’t be true. But I learned by example to keep moving my feet; it’s amazing the things we all learn to do.”), she asks things like “What if no one’s watching? What if when we’re dead we are just dead? . . . What if it’s just us down here, what if there are things we need to do, things that need to be said?”

I discovered her by accident, one summer at Interlochen Arts Camp. I was looking at the brochure, deciding which concerts I wanted to attend, thought it would be interesting to go to hear someone I knew nothing about, and the description of her music piqued my interest. Her performance had more integrity, more energy, than anything I had seen in a long time, and the bits of words I could catch here and there really caught my attention, specifically the poem Grand Canyon (I’ll post this link as soon as I can; this part of her website is “under renovation.”) and the song To The Teeth.

I now own almost every one of her “albums” and I continue to discover new words that speak to me in a new way. Despite the dramatic differences between her life and mine, she just seems to “get” me, it; to “get” what it means to be a woman. Two songs in a row from her album Knuckle Down shook me out of the lethargy of 20 years of an unhappy marriage and unsatisfying relationships with my children and “friends.”

The first, “Studying Stones”:

I am out here studying stones/trying to learn to be less alive/using all of my will/to keep very still/still even on the inside . . .You see, numb is an old hat/old as my oldest memory/see that one’s my mother and that one’s my father/and the one in the hat, that’s me/it’s a skill i hoped to abandon/when i got out on the open road/but any more pent-up emotion/i think i’m gonna explode. There’s never been an endeavour so strange/than trying to slow the blood in my veins/to keep my face blank/as the stone that just sank/until not a ripple remains. . .”

and then, “Knuckle Down”:

“And there’s a dusty old dust storm on Mars, they say, so tonight you can’t see it too clear/still i stood in line to look through their telescope/looks like a distant shiplight, seen from a foggy pier/and i know that i was warned, still it was not what i hoped. . . Lecherous old lady wannabe, much too young and shy/flailing her whole life just thinkin’ she can teach herself to fly/vehement romantic, frantic, for forever right now, but forever’s goin’ nowhere tonight/Think i’m done gunnin’ to get closer/to some imagined bliss/gotta knuckle down, and be okay with this.”

The song that’s “speaking to me” the most this week is Imperfectly.

I’m married, now, to “the” man I used to look for, and decided didn’t exist. He’s smart, and sensitive, and complicated; my favorite person to talk to, my favorite person to be with. When we “started” we lived in an imaginary world of ideals and perfections; how happy we would always be, how our devotion and deep, profound friendship would take away all of the pain and disappointment the world had to offer.

As we got to know each other better, and to realize that there are hurts and disappointments and frustrations that our love, no matter how deep and true and profound, can’t make go away, we worried that the resulting “misalignments” (I’m not being coy; we don’t actually, ever, argue) would chip away at this ideal, this perfection that we envisioned, and that we would end up with a derelict, crumbling edifice that didn’t look all that different from our previous marriages.

What I’ve seen this week, as we dealt with the consequences of parking a car in an un-level garage and not applying the parking brake, and the fact that I might have won my first game of Scrabble if G hadn’t “surrendered” first, is that these flaws are part of what cement us together. Besides the fact that we’re getting to know each other better, we’re building something, something that’s stronger where it’s been mended than it was before. Love, life, in three dimensions, imperfectly.


. . .we get a little further from perfection
each year on the road
i think that’s called character
i think that’s just the way it goes
better to be dusty than polished
like some store window mannequin
touch me where i’m rusty
let me stain your hands

when you’re pretty as a picture
they pound down your door
but i’ve been offered love
in two dimensions before
and i know that it’s not all
that it’s made out to be
let’s show them all how it’s done
let’s do it all imperfectly

© 1992 ani difranco / righteous babe music

p.s. To my bff M: hang in; complicated is good, remember?

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