A Story About Luggage

first published by great weather for MEDIA

When you are carrying all the baggage around from childhood and a mismatched set from adulthood as well, it’s really hard to get around. Everyone is tripping over your teenage years and let’s not even mention ages 24-27, 32-34, 35 too. You can’t fly because you can’t afford the extra fees for the weight of what you carry around with you everyday. People (before meeting you) think this is a metaphor. Oh, right, baggage. But this is inconveniently heavy with zippers and hidden pockets and it all looks the same so if you left it alone, you wouldn’t know it’s yours and this is when you realize other people carry around baggage too. Lots of the same shapes, but some a little smaller and (yeesh) even bigger than yours. There are dull colors coding these bags, but bright ones too. You swear you can see a leopard print in the distance.

Now that you start to see other people’s baggage, you realize you aren’t alone. So, you start to walk more, sweating and grunting a little by the weight of it all, but while you’re out, people start to ask if they can help.

“That looks heavy,” one says. “Can I…can I carry something?”

Your eyes grow wide like your hips when you went from girl to woman and you say sure. You give them a bag and suddenly you feel lighter. Just a little, but enough to notice the difference.

You keep walking and notice someone else. They have tied all their bags together with hemp string and masking tape, carrying the whole lot on their back.

You approach them because you recognize the pain in their face.

“Hi,” you say.

“Hey,” they shoot back.

“Looks like you’ve been carrying all that for a really long time.”

“I have,” they say.

“See that water over there? They call it the East River. Think we could walk over there together and just…let our baggage go? If not all, then some?”

“OK,” they answer.

So, you and this stranger walk to the East River where the birds fly just above the water and the secrets down below carry their own version of baggage and you each choose a few bags to let go of. There are moments you each cry, dropping tears into the water like soft stones creating hints of rings swelling the salt. There are no words spoken between you as you lift and let go. Lift and let go.

When you are done, you notice what is left. Still a significant amount, but some of the heavy ones are gone, doing a limbless breaststroke away from you. The stranger beside you has walked away, with only one bag left.

*

Now, you step outside more. venture inside new places. Your arms still carry this baggage around but you have enough breaths in you left to speak and even sometimes laughYou thought you saw that stranger again, though you almost didn’t recognize them by the width of their smile. And when you looked down to note their baggage, all that was beside them was the comfort of others.

You still have your bags. Far less and not as cumbersome to carry around. You’ve since met others who you’ve walked to the water with to let go of some weight. It makes it so much easier to live.

TODAY 1/8: The Debut of Hydrogen Junkbox

Several years ago, while in a tiny music shop in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I fell in love. I called her Pancetta and she was the most glorious ukelele. I carried her around with me everywhere I went. She was light and small enough, that even when bike riding, I slung her over my shoulder (neatly packed inside her case) and played whenever I had a moment. While waiting for friends to arrive. Before work. After work. On benches. In the park.

Pancetta will always be my first, though I have since fallen in love with a few other ukeleles. There was a banjo uke, a concert uke and now Pancetta IV, acoustic electric. I slowly started performing with one of them while reading my poetry. Then, I’m not sure what compelled me, but I began to sing a little. I’m still not quite sure what I’m doing, but it’s brought me to this moment with one of my favorite poets/humans: David Lawton.

He and I created a poetry/band collective called HYDROGEN JUNKBOX and we have our first feature today!!! Joined by the marvelous Starchilde on synth and hand claps, we will be performing a few altered cover songs and two original poem songs. Inspired by Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, and many others, we are excited to to share our sounds today!

Come to great weather for MEDIA’s Spoken Word Sundays open mic at The Parkside Lounge located at 217 E. Houston St. NYC from 4-6pm. There is an open mic and Richard Loranger will be featuring as well!

$2 donation/2 drink minimum (there are non-alcoholic beverages as well). I really hope to see you there!!!

 

hydrogen-junkbox

Hydrogen Junkbox is a music and poetry collective created by David Lawton and Aimee Herman, guided by the spirit of Brant Lyon. We aim to stir, rumble, and rouse! With Starchilde appearing on synth and handclaps.
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Upcoming Performances

I’m proud to be part of two great collectives in celebration of activism, poetry, music, and all that resonates within creativity:

Responding to a divisive political campaign, THE RESISTER PROJECT is a variety show of performances featuring 10-new plays, stand-up comedy, music and poetry. By and for the community of indie theater artists to partake in peaceful resistance through the power of live performance, every night will also feature dialogues and talkbacks. Proceeds from the evening will be donated to the ACLU. This is presented by the feminist theater collective, The Dirty Blondes.

The RESISTER PROJECT will be at the Kraine Theater on 85 E. 4th St/ NYC  from January 4th to 15th, 2017 from 7pm

I will be performing new poems from January 4th-7th! Come celebrate community, creativity, and semi-peaceful resistance.

BUY TICKETS HERE or HERE

 

THEN……Celebrate the debut of HYDROGEN JUNKBOX, a marvelous music collective with David Lawton and I.

8 January, 2017 @ great weather for MEDIA Spoken Word Sundays at The Parkside Lounge located at 317 E. Houston St. NYC from 4-6 pm. $2 suggested donation/ 2 drink minimum/ OPEN MIC too!

HYDROGEN JUNKBOX  is a music and poetry collective created by David Lawton and Aimee Herman, guided by the spirit of Brant Lyon. We aim to stir, rumble, and rouse! With David Lawton on vocals, Christmas drum, and kazoo. Aimee Herman on vocals and ukelele. Starchilde will be appearing on synth and handclaps.

hydrogen-junkbox

a dangerous shadow

She called everyone a misfit, wearing the city like a cloak. Fire eyes. Field of poppy lashes. “No one expects anything from us,” she said, “which makes us more dangerous like unidentified alphabets.” I started rummaging for what hides in my shadow, finding a grocery list for ends of times. “Nothing is quiet anymore,” she added. “Our wrists harmonize with the wind.” “Don’t forget our tongues!” someone shouted. “Yes,” she spoke quietly. “Our tongues are the synthesizers to our souls. And we’ve got entire albums hoarded behind our lungs. So, let’s turn up the volume and dance!”

An Assignment

for Adam (and always Rebel),

tell the world 1 thing you think they might never know because it is purely you and not an ounce another person         I’m so fearful of dying and yet I think about it everyday.
 
then tell of 2 reasons which your experiences have directly informed in your being unique to that thesis        That time when I was fifteen but also before that and then again at thirty-five but also the subway tracks and that rootftop no one knew about and the collection of stickers, rocks, postcards and pills, plus that time that time and when I hoarded so many secrets in my body everyone called it weight gain but I knew the truth.
 
then tell 3 fibs as to disguise again. they must directly abort your truth on purpose as a test to the reader       1. When I was eight or eleven, I ran over a small child with my bicycle which was somebody’s cousin in a well-groomed neighborhood in New Jersey where the adults competed with the size of their swimming pools and the children competed with the size of their fists. 2. I never really graduated from high school, but still sat beside my alphabetized best friend at the ceremony and when they didn’t call out my name, no one seemed to notice. I waited many years before trying out college and by then no one seemed to ask for proof of what came before. 3. I love myself.
 
finally, propose 4 items of intrigue. those can be from your process as you go along and find a need to vent about, or a nocturnal fog that leads us (the readers ) astray, or a picked-over analytical debut of what it all means, or even an offering of some sort, an out-of-the-way muse flicker, if you will.       1. In Colorado, I lit my secrets on fire. She stood beside me and I explained to her what that smell was all about; she loved me anyway. 2. I don’t know anything about truth; I’ve been lying for longer than I’ve been standing, but I know that it is so much easier to walk away and I’m interested in challenges right now. 3. I know that I am walking around with a crowd of voices inside me, and I can only speak one of their languages. 4. I know that mouths are like ashtrays, full of the rubble of smoke and ash of what is left behind. 5. I know a dirty word and it rhymes with everything that is difficult to pronounce. Like life. Like this.

 

Hairy.

I don’t want to seem frazzled or hungry, but the way you’ve amputated parts of me to solve your mood swings unnerves me. You never asked me if I preferred my blond dirty coils, which were so long everyone noticed. They call me dry now. Bleached and removed. Bold, but someone else’s version of who I should be. You never ask. I love when you lose your fingers inside me. Remember how lonely I get when the wind is not around to tousle me. Or the sun is hidden behind clouds or Winter and I’m cold. You cover me, sometimes, but not often enough. You never ask.  You never asked when you changed my complexion to blue, orange (a mistake), pink, green (intentional, but still a mistake). And red. You insist on controlling me with scissors. You think you understand me better than I do. But you never ask. I look terrible in bangs; please stop cutting them into me. If I was meant to be shaved, I wouldn’t keep growing back. You. Never. Ask. Maybe it’s time you did.

What are the coordinates?

Have you checked for asbestos?

Could there be mold hidden beneath your teeth?

Are the cracks in your skin signs of shiver and haunt?

Can I rent a kayak and travel the length of your amygdala?

Is there an ingredient your fingernails like to hoard beneath them?

Why is that area of your body police taped and boarded up with planks and nails?

Are your wrists remorseful?

Can you climb or have your knees asked you not to anymore?

Why don’t you wear make-up to cover-up to brighten?

Can everything be altered? Will that make you feel better?

Why do you crack your knuckles?

Why does your belly bend?

Can your shoulders survive the childhood you house on your back and lug around?

What do you mean you never had a welcome mat?

What do you mean your doorbell is broken?

What do they wipe their feet on?

How do they let you know they’ve arrived?

Are you the sort who leaves your body’s windows unclasped and doors wide open?

How stained is your glass skin?