The ‘pole of cold’ region in northeastern Siberia is the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth, especially the region centered around Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk where January temperatures average around -65°F. During the Soviet era children underwent ultraviolet treatment to make up for the long, dark, and cold Siberian winters with the consequent lack of sunlight.
I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.
we celebrate with you.
Three years today, I got a showcase of how she does the robot. Also, we got married. I love this fake robot a dip in Barton Springs.
"…human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”
But one of the many wise things Maya Angelou put into words that I read years ago, but perhaps the one I heard loudest and one of the things I have tried to carry in my heart every day since first hearing it. Thank you Ms. Angelou for giving me one of the anchors I try to live my life by, for introducing me to some of the Black women I come from by writing a book like Caged Bird, and for that smile. Man oh man, what a smile. Many of us will miss it. Fare well, fare best, cage open.
photo from Taylor Jewell/Vogue
—Eat For Free/a young recording circa New Orleans 2003
At the feast inside my heart, there are many who may eat for free. Myself included. It was probably New Orleans 2003. In either what we call the Yellow Room or what we call the Ocean Room. I was back home after seven years in Savannah Georgia. My mother was living in China. My sister had just moved to Hawaii. My brother started his first year at Carleton. It was just me and Pops. I felt that in the time my mother lived in a different country, he went to a lot of movies to fill his time alone. He was very happy to have me around. We would eat out, have cheeseburgers. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I was so lonely. My heart, so full and so heavy. I missed Savannah and the people it had given me for during my life there. Goddamn I missed that city. I would leave the house some nights around 11pm and drive around for hours. Downtown. Through the Quarter, past Esplanade into the Marigny. Listening to music. A lot of Nada Surf. I would sit at the Rue De La Course coffeeshop on Oak Street plotting and sketching a graphic novel about airplanes and a girl I loved and leaving a city that loved me and about going to movies by myself and about making a comic book about all these things that would never appear. I got a job at the Rue since I was there all the time and cute girls worked behind the counter. Lauren hired me. I cut sandwiches, made lattes, and smelled like coffee grounds. When I worked in the evening, I’d get off and sometimes go get a burger from Camellia Grill before they closed. I’ve been eating there since I was five years old. None of the same people work there but they all treat you like they have and they remember you. I made friends with my coworkers. Talked indie rock with Jack. Talked hometown with Lauren. Talked art with Ed and Doug McQueen. Talked shit with Tim “Cold Drip” Perkins. Joined him at Brother’s on Magazine after our shift. Would joke over the jukebox. Watch the old cowboys sitting at the bar. Ed said one of them was missing his leg. I wanted to kiss Ann. And Leila. And Evelyn. And others. I never did. But I might have could have. And while sometimes that feels worse, sometimes that feels better. And years later laying in Ann’s bed watching the sun come up in Chicago, I felt thankful. Ann and I rode bicycles through the Bywater. She stopped for a raspberry beer. I became friends with Rebecca and in the springtime of New Orleans fell in love. She taught me scales on the piano and told me about the giant clock in Prague. We kissed once. It was 4:29 in the afternoon. Tim made a closing mix of Joe Esposito. Lauren wore boas. Leila played saxophone. Dena and Doug battle for my favorite smile. Doug, Ed, and I sat outside the Race Street cafe in the warm darkness planning an art show like it was 1920s Paris. It was at the SPACE Gallery, upstairs on Magazine. I put paintings in it with them. People filled the space we had made together. I did poems. I didn’t want to. I felt little that evening. But a woman with a broken leg said she had come out just to hear them. My heart can be smoothed when held in the palms of people. Some nights after work, after Brother’s or the Buddha Bar or Camellia Grill, after the flowers of the faces, I’d come home and watch Alan Alda on Nova until just before dawn. It was probably actually only a couple times. I had started fucking around with a guitar the summer before leaving Savannah. When Allyson and Kristie beautifully let me mend myself on their couch for my last two months there, I would practice my stupid little songs, scared of my ugly voice but wanting to hear it get better. After moving back home I had gotten a mini Tascam 4 track recorder. And when Pops went to visit Mom in China, I would stay up all night, bending my guitar through the microphone, beating a rhythm out on the Kentwood water bottle, recording the echoes I would sing into it its emptiness, learning how to make songs without the knowledge that this needs, learning how to howl my inside in only the way that I know how. Making music on the floor of my parents’ house I maybe felt a little bit broken but also a little bit bigger, like I was standing my voice up before me, seeing what shape it had, unsure of when the light would rise behind it but knowing it was on its way.
music from Haley Bonar, with me circa 2003 at the end.