Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fun — The Live Edition

I love the energy in this track. Hell, they're even using the same synthesizer I once had.

Colin Hay brings this beautiful one to the table. It rings true for life as it is now. On top of that, he's playing a 12-string. Have I mentioned that I love 12-string guitars?

Here's an old favorite. It always grabs me when I hear it.

And one more from the classic singer-songwriter archives. Mister Browne, if you please.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Culinary therapy

The past few days and weeks, I've been trying to reconnect with the kid. Long-time readers may wonder why I say "reconnect," but the truth is that the effects of the PTSD as well as other life experiences lately have made me realize that I've been disconnected from life in general for a while now. In particular, I've been lost to some of my closest relationships.

One of those relationships, I now realize, was with the kid. To wit, I spent some time the other day trying to remember when something happened this spring. And then I realized it was last spring. Then I caught a picture of her earlier from her birthday two years ago. In it, she was showing off the new earrings I'd had made for her. In my mind, the gift had happened last year. Time has vanished in scary ways.

That said, I've been waking up lately and beginning to reconnect with her and others in my life. As part of this waking up, I took the kid and her best friend since they were three to Water Country USA yesterday. The past two years, we've had adult company on the trip — the first year another friend's mother and last year L. This year, I decided to go solo. Not only am I trying to reconnect with her and other people, but I'm trying to reconnect with myself. It was a brilliant trip — and as always full of horrible food. Afterward, though, we grabbed sushi at our favorite Richmond sushi place. It isn't the best, but it is good enough. And then the kid was treated to dessert at Secco with much of the restaurant singing "Happy Birthday" to her. It was a brilliant moment, thanks to some good friends.

The real therapy began in the morning, however. I finally started cooking again. And by that I mean something other than prepping the simplest pasta dishes. Nope. The girls had a sleepover, and in the morning, we capped things off with homemade buckwheat waffles from my grandmother's 1929 waffle maker. Then, this evening, I had crab from the farmer's market, corn, and beautiful heirloom tomatoes to use. And despite the impending storm outside, I was determined to do crab cakes and corn on the grill.

I winged it on the crab cakes. I took in pieces I'd used from Joy and from Alice Waters, and made my own take on the cakes. Mayo, grain mustard, smoked paprika, lemon, parsley, sauteed carmen peppers and garlic in butter (sauteed in one of my new pans), and panko. A touch of salt. Just enough flavor to round out the crab and let it shine at the same time. Follow this by slow-cooking on foil over a wood-fired grill, add grilled corn and a simple tomato salad. Brilliant summer meal, right?

And it was, except for one thing. I changed the recipe with a tired kid in the house. Half a crab cake in, and she said they didn't taste good. At least she ate the half. Next time, I don't change the recipe if she has tired eyes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Fun — Redemption land

Tom just kills it with this one. I don't have enough words to say about the vibe, the lyrics, and the brilliant storytelling.

And this may be one of Ben Folds best tunes in an ouevre of truly excellent songwriting.

I saw Michelle Shocked perform this at The Bottom Line in New York in 1994. She'd just broken with her record company and was touring behind "Kind-Hearted Woman" and selling the CDs at the shows. The first half of the show, she played "Kind-Hearted Woman" all the way through. The second half she took requests from the audience. When she played "Anchorage," the friend who sang at the wedding mentioned in the song came up on stage with her. They sang for nearly 12 minutes. Utterly brilliant and one of the most honest performances I've ever seen.

And a classic from the Avetts that, of course, references New York.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Fun

I've been veering in a couple directions this week, so I don't really have a clear theme. But such is life.

No video with this, but it's an old Tom Waits track I'd forgotten about. Nice, quiet, bittersweet song with some great piano playing and before he really took on the "persona."

And the Avetts are always good for melancholy moments...

Then, as I was also thinking about the lyrics of The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You," I started thinking about Brooklyn, and this one came to mind. My friend Phil put it on a mixtape when I left the borough for grad school in Arkansas. It was a hell of a tape for a hell of a departure.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Fun — Songs that pricked up my ear edition

Putting some patterns back in place here...

A great one from E. Cool little illustrated video too.

And a little two-fer...

A random Pixies moment...

And The Hold Steady. Interesting acoustic version of the track...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Serious Matters

After my mopey Friday Fun and a variety of leading Facebook and Twitter posts, I've had a lot of friends express concern for what is going on. It's nice to feel a community around, but it is strange at the same time. I am not typically a public person with my feelings and tend to be somewhat secretive about life in general. And yet, now I want to run out and scream at the world.

Last weekend, I was cleaning a keg during our usual Sunday brewing session. I had gotten out of the city the two nights before to clear my head after some pretty torrential life changes at home. I was still distracted, but I was following the mantra of keeping busy to keep my mind from exploding all over the place. The keg in question is an old style that is sealed with a wooden bung pounded in a hole in the side. To remove the bung, you screw a wood screw in and pop it out with a hammer.

After cleaning the keg and pushing sanitizer out through the tubing, I moved it into position to rack the beer from the fermenter. After pushing the liquid out, you need to release the CO2 pressure in the keg. I was distracted. I forgot to bleed the pressure. When I pulled the bung, it blew out at me with the force — and sound — of a gunshot. More than a week later, I can still feel the spot on my sternum where the bung hit. What's worse is my head.

Every part of the explosion forced me to re-experience the shooting. I melted down, stumbling into the yard behind the brewing garage, sobbing. Thankfully, a friend was there who happens to be a counselor at the VA. He stood with me for a while, until I was calm enough to join my partners again.

Everybody was very quiet after that. Except for a friend of a friend who said I should just meditate and readjust my attitude about the trauma from the shooting. I don't remember his exact words, but that was the gist. I snapped at him that it wasn't that easy, and he didn't understand.

In truth, I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to scream, DON'T YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND? NO. BECAUSE NO ONE FUCKING UNDERSTANDS. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS. And I would have repeated it over and over until I couldn't scream any more.

That's when I realized I had never really faced down and dealt with the trauma from the shooting. I had covered it over with a therapist who never really tackled it head-on, and I had covered over it a year and a half ago when I decided I would just let it go. Except I hadn't. It was far from gone, and small things triggered my fight-or-flight responses — small things I never tied to the experience. All I knew was that I was just under pressure and stress and snapping at the people around me.

Thanks to the friend who stood with me that morning, I began to realize what I hadn't recognized for the past four years. I jump at small noises. Big noises are impossible. I snap far too easily when the kid does something she shouldn't. I get jittery if I'm cornered or trapped. Crowds make me very, very uncomfortable. Sharing a space too closely is very difficult for me. And more. Sometimes I would react to things; sometimes I would just swallow the feeling.

In the end, then, I became that keg. I never released the pressure. I might bleed a bit as I was talking to my therapist and others, but what was really happening was the pressure was building up and building up. When I did release it, I still didn't recognized what was going on, so the pressure just began to build up again.

And in the end, I'm left wanting to scream at a random acquaintance: NO ONE UNDERSTANDS.

I hate the fact that I am re-living this trauma — and will need to go back into a different kind of therapy to tackle it. I hate the fact that writing this has left me trembling. I hate the fact that I see that keg and that gun as the same thing. I hate the fact that a popping balloon nearly left me in a puddle yesterday. I hate the fact that I am even jumpier around people than I was before.

But I'm grateful for it, too. It's like waking up from a long, boozy, bad dream. I've been shown an important lesson. The hard part will be learning it, but maybe just maybe I'll remember it. And maybe I will be able to make other people understand better, because I will understand it myself.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The return of Friday Fun — Mopey Edition

Impolitic Eye may be a little more active in the near future. For now, my heart is heavy, but it's been a long time since I kept this going the way I meant to.

I've posted this before, but can't resist it this time.

Oh, Billy. You're so good. The lyrics. Listen to the lyrics.

And how well do these guys capture the fight between our better and worse natures? Brilliantly.

And finally a track that echoes for years for me...