Categories
Charleston, West Virginia Hurricane, West Virginia My Life Story Uncategorized Writings

Slippers

We met Slippers when we were living in a holler. It’s hard to describe how a place can be so dull and so colorful at the same time. Sort of like lifting a rock. First you only see brown then you realize there is life swirling everywhere. Strange creatures and you have no idea what they are doing.

In the world I grew up in, the meaning of life was clear- to be rich and important. But these aren’t the aims of life in a holler. I’m not sure I ever figured out what the aims were. But certainly not to climb a social ladder because such a ladder didn’t exist.

For starters, the majority of people were animals. And even the animals seemed rather stuffy and affected compared to the principle actor- Nature. Nature was top dog. He controlled plants, mountains, creeks and weather. Humans and animals were both second fiddle to him.

Perhaps this gave humans and animals more in common than they have in cities. At any rate, it didn’t feel much different walking down the street with a goat or a random child. Even the conversations were similar. All beings ran the gamut from deadly (copperheads & criminals) to unbearably cute. There were many involved in crime and many who appeared to have stepped right out of a story book. Sometimes they were the same people.

So on any day’s walk you would encounter chickens, goats, a sheep, children, at least one pedophile, horses, a pony and many many dogs. It was the dogs though who would accompany me up and down the road.

When I first met Slippers, her name was Nasty. She lived on the mountain’s side with a teeny dog named Banjo who was mean as anything. Even when Slippers reached 70 pounds, if 5 pound Banjo came after her she would lie on her back screaming while he tried to bite her and I ran around her immobilized body trying to kick him. Banjo’s owner was a 10 year old boy. He would try to kick Banjo as well but we never succeeded. He kept a long hunting knife in his top overall pocket with no sheath. It would keep falling out over and over again and he’d just pick it up and stick it back in.

I’m sorry I was trying to kick a dog but that’s just the way it was there. Little kids carried guns and shot birds. Pedophiles sat on their porch flirting with kids. Dogs raced cars in the street and sometimes lost in a big way. Kids tried to rob you and so did the adults. I was just one more animal trying to protect my own.

Dog ownership in the holler was not the same as suburban dog ownership. Dogs were considered more or less their own people and it was frequently ambiguous who they belonged to. Multiple houses might claim the same dog. They mostly lived outside and roamed freely. No fence, no leash. They ran the holler together in packs. One or more pack would accompany me on my walks. At first I was scared shitless of them. But soon they became the best friends I had. The only friends really.

There were the Peanuts, Bear, Jax, Jack, Lily, Toby, Nasty, Brownie and Dingleberry who would escort me through the holler. And then a few other dogs- like Banjo and Xena- who would just run down from their houses to attack. It was a world where you needed friends.

Eventually Nasty’s ownership transferred to another family though not much changed since she still ran with the pack. They renamed her Pretty Girl. I continued calling her Slippers which was the name I gave her when we first met because she seemed so refined to me.

Pretty Girl’s new family lived down by the creek which during floods would turn into a crazy river. A bridge crossed the creek leading to their house and when floods came the kids- about 3 and 6 years old- would be tied to the bridge so they could enjoy being tossed in the racing flood waters. Until one day the flood pulled the bridge away. After that it was just a couple of planks over a 12 foot drop. People in hollers are not very safety conscious. Pretty Girl’s new dad would stick his hand down a copperhead nest to show us the eggs and pull up poison ivy with bare hands.

So Pretty Girl played in the road like all the dogs did and one day she got hit by a car and couldn’t walk anymore. This was not an uncommon fate. Few dogs there were more than a couple years old. One day James was driving down a major road in the city and found traffic had been stopped because the dog pack had managed to leave the holler and was standing there in the middle of the road. Luckily they knew James and all hopped into his car and he drove them back home.

After getting injured Pretty Girl just rode around on the back of her owner’s tractor. One day James got a really bad feeling that her owner might decide to ‘put her down.’ Pretty Girl’s family foraged in the dumpster for their own food so they didn’t really have the resources for a dog, much less an injured one. He went to their house one night to ask if we could have her but the owner said she had just been picked up by a rescue group. She was given surgery and renamed Bailey. Eventually she went up for adoption so we adopted her and moved her back into the holler.

Her friends were glad she was back. Lily would come over and rap the door with her paw each afternoon wanting to play with her. They’d go out on the back porch and wrestle together. Until one day Lily got kidnapped. She had ‘prestige’ looks so she’d probably been sold for money. I knew who did it too, but didn’t say anything cause Lily probably wouldn’t have lived much longer if she stayed. Her owner went through one dog a year. His last pony had starved to death. People in the holler love getting new puppies and baby animals but once they become adults their incentive to keep them alive isn’t as great.

So now I’d walk Slippers on a leash while her old gang ran wild around her. Generally she didn’t mind except for when they’d spot a deer and then BAM the dogs would fly up that mountain wall and she’d scream to go with them. They didn’t have long to live but it wasn’t a bad life either.

In the holler the people are more like animals and animals are more like people.
Slippers greeting Jake. Just like Lily, he would sometimes knock on our door to say hi.
Jax following me through snow.
I miss him. It hurts to think about him actually.
The creek as it was receding from a flood. During rain storms it could get several feet deep above the road and you couldn’t get in or out of the holler.
The same creek not after a flood.
Nature was #1. Then Animals. Then Humans.
Two second class citizens hanging out in Plant World.
Goats say hi in the road. They ruled this part of the holler then further down the dogs’ turf began.

Some dog pack members. (Bear & Two Peanuts)
Dingleberry says hi.
Slipper’s home when she was Pretty Girl. Before the bridge got washed away. To the right, you see one of the Peanuts getting ready to race a car. Her passion. She died this way a few months later.

Saying hi to Peanut the pony.
Categories
Charleston, West Virginia Music & Songs Sky Blue, Ether, Flags, and Fairies Uncategorized Videos

Golden Hay (Video)

This is my official West Virginia song.

“Take Me Home Country Roads,” though somewhat accurate (the dark & dusky part), also leaves people with the mistaken impression that this is a home sweet home goody goody golden biscuit sort of place, which- except for the biscuit part- it isn’t. It is the least goody goody square place I have ever seen.

West Virginia is a weird combination of things that are too earthy to be human, and things that are too spiritual to be human with not much to flesh out the middle parts. Being neither earthy, nor particularly spiritual myself, I don’t relate to many elements of life here. Still, I recognize it as a nurturing environment- like a womb- where a person can focus on growing into themselves, rather than running around chasing after shiny things.

Plus, I like its purple & gray mists. It is one of those rare places where, in the battle between nature and man, nature is winning. Living here forces you to seek a life beyond human games and human prizes. It is a true land of opportunity where you can grow in any direction you wish and there is not much to stop you. Unless, of course, you need an organized grid of human structures and expectations to help you function. Then you are screwed. This is a world where you have to bring your own yellow.

Can you see how this place is nice but also different from an office space?

Life
may not be real
Pikey what a thing to say
you know that you weren’t raised that way

And yet
sometimes I fear
God has left me so alone
a million miles from any home

To walk a road that has no end
The golden hay lies beyond the bend.

But why would we break?
Why would we cry?
In the end it’s only pain
we’ve known it in so many ways

I know
she felt it too
Remember her, that little bird
so soft we never heard a word

A hint of pink behind the door
and in the end a pile of feathers on the floor

Pikey, you know it won’t be long
Take my hand, I can feel their eyes
descending from the bluest skies

My gun
My iron bar
Life remember I was your friend
I knew that you had no end

Your fields were filled with golden hay
Three clouds they fly above then slowly drift away.

Categories
Charleston, West Virginia Uncategorized Writings

Fiery Chunks

For a while things were going poorly in my domestic life. A dark and moody spirit filled the house. Then I remembered how the problems began when I removed all bright colors from my home to replace them with shades of black and purple. I can’t remember why I did this, exactly. I think I was trying to open a portal to the world where spirits live in the hopes of gaining magical powers.  At any rate, at a certain point magical powers seem less appealing than the ability to live a normal happy life. So I removed these dark colors, replaced them with yellow & other shades of cheer, and life seemed to pick up again.*

I am beginning to think the secret to surviving in West Virginia may be decorating in a colorful, chunky style, with plenty of homemade crafts and colors from warm end of the spectrum. Earthiness combined with fire.

My natural tendency, of course, would be to surround myself with all things delicate & dainty. But I don’t think lavender lace has the muscle to push through this heavy mountainous energy. And ultimately decoration is about survival, not self-expression.

Every environment presents us with challenges to our spirit. Sunny ones melt our brains, while cold ones freeze our hearts. Deserts dry out our emotions while moisture bogs us down. Plains fill us with desolation and rounded mountains with inertia. Here in West Virginia, a moist and mountainous environment, heaviness and inertia are the demons we wrestle with.

This mostly challenges men** since this squishy thickness makes it hard to be brisk and productive. It is a great place to be a woman, however, because so many of the spiritual and emotional diseases that plague other parts of America don’t exist here.

Mountain mamas don’t get ribs removed to fit into the latest fashion. They don’t see themselves as objects or obsess over the “male gaze.”  People here rarely seek meaning through career success, but rather through connections to God, family and nature.

But for men, this West Virginia environment is challenging. It is hard to get that dry, crispy feeling which allows people to think objectively. Hence why we are plagued by functionality problems- poverty, divorce, drugs, decay and disorganization. There isn’t enough yang energy for men to get their bearings.

So, what is the solution to all this? Decorating in a chunky colorful fashion, of course. This will obliterate all environmental challenges and turn West Virginia into a heaven on Earth. I hope. Stay tuned & I will let you know how it works.

* These statements seemed true at the time I made them (yesterday).

** For people who enjoy qualifications, when I refer to men, I am also referring to the masculine side in us all.

Categories
Charleston, West Virginia Earth, Pink, Mothers, Love

Goodbye Air, Hello Earth

Moving into a new home last year was an adjustment for me. For starters, all new places feel unbearably cootie filled to me, especially if they have been previously inhabited, and since this house is 111 years old, it is has been inhabited many times. (Including JFK, at least for  a day. And considering that he was a sex addict said to have sex multiple times a day, I like to think he may have done so in our house as well. Probably the guest bathroom, as was his custom when visiting a new place.)

Also, as much as I admire the down to earthiness of West Virginia culture, it can make me feel claustrophobic at times. Truthfully, the culture of every place I have lived eventually makes me feel the need to escape. The sun shiny cultures make you stupid, the icy ones freeze your heart, the airiness of the West Coast leads you to make bad choices, the human density of cities makes your head go up your ass, etc. I can’t help wanting to be the opposite of the world around me, no matter what that world is like. Otherwise it can feel hard to breathe. Although I like like people a lot as individuals, I have a hard time dealing with them once they have turned into giant globs sharing the same thoughts and perspectives.

At any rate, the point is that when I first moved here the home and world around me felt foreign and oppressive, so I compensated by making my home a symbol of airiness and flight. Painting the walls sky blue and covering them with airplanes and butterflies, clouds, stars, and lightening bolts.

But now it has gotten to be too much and my whole world feels as though it is empty and blowing around in the air. It is time to redecorate my home to make it feel like the heaviest, stuffiest place in the world. Every symbol of air must be replaced with a pumpkin or a bear. Everything white must be painted brown. Everything high must be placed on the ground.

Of course, last time I made my home as earthy as I could  it made me feel stuck, depressed and flat, as though I was being pressed beneath a heavy book. However, it turns out that was also the time Saturn was passing over my horizon, which makes everyone feel as though their life is a dry and burdensome drudge. Maybe this time the impact of earth will be quite excellent. I will let you know. 🙂

I painted this bookcase with some leftover ocher paint to be earthier. I think ocher and brown are the essence of earth. As are dogs. If you look carefully, you can also see some of my favorite collectibles in this photo, such as blenko water bottles and fiesta ware. The books in the bookcase are ones I would be embarrassed to be associated with (and the ones I read the most) which is why they must be kept upstairs. I would like eventually to have a case of books downstairs which have been purely selected for their pomposity.

Categories
Charleston, West Virginia Music & Songs Sky Blue, Ether, Flags, and Fairies Videos

Golden Hay

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny9aE8a5q-w&feature=youtu.be

For me, this song captures what I see as the essence of West Virginia, which is earthiness combined with mysticism, violence combined with faith…

Fun Fact: Did you know that (in some circles) it is considered rude to refer to cats/dogs/etc as “animals” with the preferred term being “country folk?”

Categories
Hurricane, West Virginia Uncategorized

An Update about Me

James & I are preparing to move to a 1907 four square house in Charleston West Virginia.  There are many reasons I am excited about this.

 

  1. The house was built when Teddy Roosevelt was president. He is my favorite president since the teddy bear was named after him, and I also admire his stout personality and physique.
  2. I love Charleston. I think cities tucked between mountains with rivers running through them are the prettiest, especially when the river is crossed by blue bridges.
  3. I like the philosophy behind four square houses. In their time, they represented a rejection of showy refinement and European sensibilities in favor of something practical, hardy, and uniquely American.
  4. I am glad the numbers of my address add up to the number one. My former addresses have always added up to three.  According to numerology, living in a Number One house helps you to be more of an individual. This sounds good to me, because I have definitely become whatever the opposite of an individual is. I don’t even feel like a specific person. Just a loosely knit pile of air moving through space.

 

My obsession while living in Hurricane has been redecorating my apartment in different color schemes. It has been disturbing to notice the extent to which my patterns and interests change along with the colors, as though I have no inherent identity of my own, but am just a reflection of the walls.

Of all the color schemes I tried, my favorite was probably light pink with dark purple accents. I felt more myself in this configuration. The only downside was being slightly lazy and obsessively reading tarot cards for hours each day. Still, I learned a lot, especially about dreams. I learned that dreams are not so much windows into the inner self, as spyglasses through which you can know the things that other people are hiding from you. And if you take the time to look, you will find that people are hiding a lot from you.

 

 

So, back to being a number one. Why don’t I feel like an individual with a specific personality of my own? I don’t know, it may be a product of living in isolation for too long. Perhaps with no one to be your mirror you lose a sense of what your own face looks like. Of course, I have James, but- in addition to being a hard worker- he is a man of few words. Most of our conversations consist of me asking him a question and then smelling him to find the answer. Or that is how they use to go anyway.

Nowadays, I mostly know what is going on with him through physical sensations. For example, he will be at the office and all the sudden my stomach will start jumping up and down so I know he is upset about something. Or my head will start swirling and I’ll know he’s having trouble concentrating. If I suddenly feel like throwing up, I can be certain someone just touched his sandwich with their artificial fingernail. He hates that.

This sort of communication has limitations though. Normally, I only know what emotions he is experiencing and have to rely on him to fill in the details. Sometimes, there will be numbers flying around in the feelings, but I am not very good at understanding what numbers mean yet. For example, I might get a sudden headache surrounded by black number fours. What does that mean? I have no idea. Also, there are a few emotions I routinely get mixed up. A form of emotional dyslexia, I guess. For example, I have always mistaken suppressed rage for passionate love. This led to much confusion in the beginning of our relationship, when I would burst into to tears because I suddenly “knew” he was dying to make love to his Uncle Eddie- the lime green feeling in the air was unmistakable. And why did he fall in love with the mailman every time our mail was delivered to the wrong address?

 

 

Categories
Blue, Black, Silver, Water, Moons, Death & Ghosts Hurricane, West Virginia Music & Songs Sky Blue, Ether, Flags, and Fairies

Golden Hay

Recently, I was suffering from ridiculous allergies, but when I finally recovered I felt better adapted to living in West Virginia. Living in the hills is just so thick and dense that if you aren’t used to it, it feels like trying to eat a whole stick of butter with no bread. There is a sense that your future does not exist and your present can not be changed.

Coupled with that, is the black and purply feeling of death… or more specifically..
1. A black feeling of our human reality being sandwiched between so many other, non-human realities which cannot be understood, much less controlled.
2. A purple feeling that the whole of our life is just a dot in eternity, and even a dot in the larger picture of who we are.
That is my impression anyway, I doubt a single other person would agree with me. But I do think you have to run your furnace hotter here to avoid being swallowed up by feelings of futility and fatalism.
At any rate, this song was inspired by my newfound appreciation for West Virginia.  After my allergies, I could see more of the value in accepting life as it is, rather than always trying to sculpt it into a shape of my choice.

 

Golden Hay

 

Life
may not be real
Pikey what a thing to say
you know that you weren’t raised that way

And yet
sometimes I fear
God has left me so alone
a million miles from any home

To walk a road that has no end
The golden hay lies beyond the bend.

But why would we break?
Why would we cry?
In the end it’s only pain
we’ve known it in so many ways

I know
she felt it too
Remember her, that little bird
so soft we never heard a word

A hint of pink behind the door
and in the end a pile of feathers on the floor

Pikey, you know it won’t be long
Take my hand, I can feel their eyes
descending from the bluest skies

My gun
My iron bar
Life remember I was your friend
I knew that you had no end

Your fields were filled with golden hay
Three clouds they fly above then slowly drift away.

 

Download Mp3: Golden Hay

Categories
Hurricane, West Virginia Uncategorized

Hi, it’s me!

IMG_3103
Slippers & I out and about, hoping to bump into some friends.

Hi there, it’s me! I feel like it would be rude if I didn’t, every now and then, step out from behind my songs and say hi as a person. I know some people prefer musicians to “shut up and sing,” but personally I find it a bit uncordial if someone keeps singing at me and never says hello. As they say in West Virginia, “Handshakes before hugs.”

Perhaps that is why I dislike concerts, as a rule. Not only are they extremely expensive (I prefer spending money on tangibles), not only are they cold, smelly, and impersonal, but I find it dull to watch a person perform for hours on end without ever removing the mask to reveal their self, if only for a moment.

Since musicians are supposed to like concerts, it took me a long time to admit how I really felt. Finally the day came when I had front row seats to a Roseanne Cash concert, but I stayed home to watch Columbo instead. It wasn’t like anyone was going to get murdered at her show. A couple weeks later, I had front row seats to a Justin Townes Earle show, but once again I couldn’t bring myself to go. I tried to give myself a pep talk- he’s a heroin addict, maybe something exciting will happen.  But I couldn’t budge myself. I knew he would probably be on his best behavior, singing his songs without a hitch and making witty comments about the wonderful audience. Perhaps I am a bad person, or maybe just a Scorpio, but I find it so dull to watch someone put their best foot forward. I always want to see their worst foot. But professional musicians never seem to fall off the stage or forget their medication. What is the point then? If I just wanted to hear someone sing, I could take a shower.

*

At any rate, here is what is going on with me- nothing. My life is so boring that I feel a pang of awe that I am able to survive it uncrushed. A testament to the human spirit. The most exciting part of my day is walking Slippers and saying hello to the rotating cast of semi-wild dogs that join us. As I’ve mentioned before, Slippers used to be one of these roaming dogs until she got hit by a car and was going to be ‘put down.’ Back then her name was ‘Nasty.’ Because “Keepin’ it Nasty” is the unofficial slogan of our holler. At first, I wasn’t sure what it meant. I thought country people were supposed to be square, with rigid morals. Boy was I wrong! If it isn’t illegal for at least three reasons, they won’t even touch it around here. Especially when it comes to love.

I sort of admire their krazy spirits, but only from a distance, watching with binoculars from my window.

So why is my life so boring? Personally, I think it has less to do with isolation and more to do with geography. There are hills on all sides. If you want to see the sky you have to look straight up. Giant walls of earth pressing in on me from all directions, vibrating my body with their cold brown waves. It is the sort of feeling you get in a library, being surrounded by heavy books, except it’s brown rather than gray. I like to think it is making me strong. Maybe wise too.

 

I am trying to get over my
No friends today, they were all hiding because of the flood and Slippers is pissed.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Blue, Black, Silver, Water, Moons, Death & Ghosts Hurricane, West Virginia Music & Songs Uncategorized Yellow, Gold, Kings, Fathers, and the Sun

Golden Fingers

 

Checker Board
The Greenbrier, West Virginia

Watch the world with hopeful eyes
staring at its black disguise
hiding-where are you?

Underneath a checkerboard
knights and kings keeping score
crying- can it be true?

Under your purple eyes
black squares and white squares lie
fighting- which one is true?

Under your aqua shirt
hope is killed off by hurt
all on the surface is blue.

Don’t lose heart whatever life brings
you must believe that behind all things
Golden Fingers pull on the strings!

Prop your head up on your arm
in your eyes I see no intent to harm
that’s why I love you.

But the day will surely come
when you will kill or be the one
whom they pour their poison into.

Don’t be their fluffy sheep
sink into places deep
let evil flow through your root.

Hardened heart, inky skull
feast like a cannibal
all of the black squares were true.

Killing hurts and killing stings
but you must believe that behind the scenes
Golden Fingers pull on the strings!

When you’re dark, when you’re mean
doing things that shouldn’t be seen
I will be here with you.

Bodies lie, angels spy
we fall to earth, one day we fly
all of the white squares were true.

In the sky they saw
your hand and they understand
you did what you had to do.

Kill or be killed they know
that’s the way black squares roll
all of their tears were for you.

Don’t lose heart whatever life brings
you must believe that behind all things
Golden Fingers pull on the strings!

 

Download MP3: Golden Fingers

Categories
Hurricane, West Virginia Music & Songs Plants and the Emerald Kingdom

The Wire

 

Goodbye to Peanut Lily, one of the neighborhood dogs who used to walk with me.
Goodbye to Peanut Lily, one of the neighborhood dogs who used to walk with me.

 

You held my hand by barbed wire
You covered my mouth trash burned in a fire
The hills rose high
No thrills, no sky

We walked the road through shack and shed
We fed the dogs some whole wheat bread
Likes fleas, like friends
Burdens that bleed, yearnings that end

You cry but all along
I knew that it was wrong
Under my breath I sang a song
I don’t belong, I don’t belong

Good morning dogs scratch at my door
Could I delay for just a moment more?
Cold air, always so gray
Always want more, carried away

Goodbye, Cotton. We will miss you.
Goodbye, Cotton. We will miss you.

You place the slippers on my feet
We watch the kids play on the street
Let’s try to have faith, let’s try to have fun
Look the kid in the stripes, he’s wearing a gun

You cry but all along
I knew that it was wrong
Under my breath I sang a song
I don’t belong, I don’t belong

I set a rock upon a log
I watched the trees dissolving into fog
Forced to remain, forced to hang on
Always the same, just expanded upon

You cry but all along
I knew that it was wrong
Under my breath I sang a song
I don’t belong, I don’t belong.

 

 

 

Download MP3: The Wire