04 March 2010


My eyes popped open this morning at 4:20. The bed was a downy nest, all ten of my toes had each warmed all the way through, my pillow was perfectly cradling my curly mess of a head, the quiet was exquisite. Sleeping conditions could not have been more perfect, yet there I lay. Awake. I started thinking, which is never a good thing.

I didn't focus on the worrisome parts of life, though, I thought on the Aboriginal dot paintings my third graders would be starting today and the fact that I need to make a Target run to procure millions of Q-tips. I remembered with pleasure the quick Coq Au Vin and roasted Brussels sprouts I had made for dinner and how satisfying it had been. For some unknown reason, the subtle, sustained trill of mandolin in the song "Hairshirt" from R.E.M.'s 1988 record, Green (my personal favorite) popped into my head. So what else could I do, since my only recording of it is a warped cassette I got when the album first came out? I opened my computer and downloaded that sucker (whole album). Presto! The wonders of modern convenience.

I remember that summer, dad and I got in the white Rabbit convertible (God rest its soul) and drove to Tower Records on West End Avenue (God rest its soul, too) just because I neeeeeeeded that tape. I clicked through the rows and rows of little plastic rectangles and, thirteen dollars later, I had the goods. While taking it out of the yellow bag (with red block letters -- like it was yesterday) and giving the packaging a closer look (always important), I recall that it struck me as odd that the cover of an album named Green was actually a tangerine-orange color. I guess I've always been a literal girl, more literal than I'd like to be. I strive for the abstract; I really have to try at it. We went on a family vacation to Arizona and California that summer. I was eleven. I remember driving into the parking lot of In-N-Out Burgers and not wanting to take my headphones off to order because it seemed so perfect that the song "I Remember California" was on and I was, like, in California. So many good and brightly-colored memories from that journey with the family, but that's another, much longer story. Remind me to tell you about it some time.

My eyelids eventually remembered that they were supposed to be closed at this hour, so I cued my iPod and drifted off...."I could walk into this room and the waves of conversation are enough to knock you down, in the undertow, So alone, so alone in my life...Feed me banks of light and hang your hairshirt on the lowest rung, it's a beautiful life..."