Sunny Day Diary Swept Away by a Rising Tide

For any of you who rely on public transit, I have this nugget of wisdom to share:  “Thank God for the almighty iPod!”  No, really.  It has blocked out the casino junkie ramblings about “fools” and “horses” and profanities that may emit from his lips.  Today, my life’s blood relied on Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary and The Rising Tide.  First, let me say:  Sunny Day Real Estate is a poet’s band.

Some of you are probably nodding.  Curious?  Buy the actual album with the actual lyrics in the jacket.  Even if you can sing every word by heart, do not hit play on your CD player (if it exists on vinyl and you own it–lucky you, and um, how did you pull that one off?!)  Merely take a moment (or twenty) make your favorite cup of _______, find a comfy chair and clear your throat.  Then, to your cat or dog or dad or son or the blank walls in your new apartment–I want you to read it aloud as if you were the featured poet at a reading in a big city. 

After you’ve completed this task, tell me what you think. 

As I listened to both albums on my cross-county, bus-hopping trek this morning I was inspired by a lot…the sun warming my skin, the fresh April air pushing out the smell of other’s unwashed hair and the kid that farted in the seat behind me…and I wrote an on-the-spot to do list which included seeing a friend of mine, Julie, who is in a band and lives in NYC.  For whatever reason, Sunny Day Real Estate always makes me think of her.  The list continued with small things to big dreams…

“These things are true….” 

Enjoy the Enigk and the sunshine.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

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It’s Tool time (mature language and content involved)

And no, I am not making a reference to the early 90s sitcom, Home Improvement.  For whatever reason, when there is a phenomenal band, it seems there is a season for them, though not limited to a particularly good part of the year.  Recently, Tool season crept in.

I have always been hesitant to write a blog post about such an amazing band, fearing that I will not do them justice.  For those of you Tool fans who are kindly reading this (thank you), you know that often, all someone has to do is utter the word “Tool.”  This utterance is like a very bold period at the end of a sentence.  It is the be-all, end-all, comprehensive synonym for COMPLETELY FREAKIN’ AMAZING. 

Tool is one of the top five bands that make going to the gym (more of) a pleasure.  “Sweating and thinking…seems like I’ve been here before, seems so familiar…seems like I’m…” on the treadmill with a serene smile on my face?  For all those SAT questions I never got right, let me try this:

Tool : Music

Intensity : Sex

Perhaps I didn’t do that correctly because, wordsmith that I am, I was never able to even get a high score on the verbal part of the standardized tests (boo, hiss, test anxiety, boo and hiss.)  Simply put, as I was sweating on the elliptical, with a blissed out Richard Simmons smile on my face, Maynard crooned away in my ear with “Jambi” and “Forty-Six and Two.”  These two tracks, though it is impossible to choose, are some of my most favorite.  It occurred to me that people must have been wondering, if they cared at all, why I had such a huge grin on my face.  Tool is the sex of music, I think.  Tool is something more than just a band.  Tool is an experience, a way of life even.  Tool is a thinker’s band. 

They are so intense that they require moderate listening, I think.  It’s like a good wine.  You appreciate it more in smaller and less frequent doses.  I really could go on and on but I won’t.  I will simply say that if you like Tool, raise your hand so I can give you a virtual high five. 

You could also post your favorite tracks in the comments below, but not before you appreciate this:

Spiral out, keep going…

Rachael

‘Round Here

This blog post should be more about a band than a location, but it is inescapably both. (Also, Snakes is my deceased cat who lived 17 years, five without me because I was in college.)

I was not looking forward to moving to Pennsylvania in 2006. To me, there was nothing better than the Blue Ridge Mountains. But my family was there, and I needed to be with them.

During the first week, Mom presented me with a generous and exciting gift: two very good seats to see the Counting Crows and the Goo Goo Dolls in concert. THE COUNTING CROWS?! She knew they were on my “must see before I die” list. I fell into her arms and cried. They were the band I fell in love with the year Snakes was born.

One of my comforts in my new situation was that Snakes and I were finally reunited. It was as though no time had ever passed. Her devotion to me never wavered. She laid on the heart rug in the kitchen when I ate, she slept right next to my head every night and greeted me at the door each day. She was on my bed the night I called Lindsey to tell her about the concert tickets.

“Yeah! And what’s that song…that really great song…Colorblind. It’s…it’s on the fish bowl album. Oh, what the hell is the name of that album?!” I exclaimed. “I always call it the fish bowl album but can never remember the title. Hang on, lemme check…Oh, my God. OW! Ow…ow…ooo…eee….” I dropped the phone and Mom came running. Somehow, I tripped backwards over a pile of clean laundry and fell to my back on the floor. There was a hot and blinding pain searing my right knee.
“Rachael. Rachael? Are you okay?” Lindsey’s distant voice crept from the receiver of our house phone.
Mom grabbed the phone as I rocked with my injured knee. “Lindsey, we’ll call you back. I think she’ll be all right.”
“Can you move it?” Mom asked.
Tears streamed down my face. “No, it hurts too bad.”
We put ice on it. I had no doctor and no insurance. In retrospect, we should have gone to the ER immediately. This physical setback, however, did not prohibit me from going to the concert. There were 17 stairs from Mom’s kitchen door to the porch, and then another five to the sidewalk. The outdoor arena, Montage Mountain, was exactly that: a steady, uphill climb up a mountain to the outdoor arena. As we neared the venue, signs burned my eyes: “The Counting Crows will not be performing due to illness.”
Tears threatened my eyes. “Illness?! I broke my goddamned knee and hobbled up here to see them and they’re cancelling due to illness?!” We stayed for the Goo Goo Dolls anyway. While I am a fan of their music, (I own three studio albums, in fact) the concert was anti-climactic. They are, unfortunately, a band that is verbatim to their albums. No surprises, no great energy. The seats were so incredible, the best I’ve ever had. And the whole time I kept trying to imagine Adam Duritz (the lead singer) crooning there in my sight, close enough that I could see his facial expressions.

The Counting Crows, much like Pearl Jam, have been a constant in my life. Though I knew I was a poet by age eight, the poetry of their lyrics as well as the somber tone of some of their music, has always spoken to me. Their first album, August and Everything After, is arguably their best. You could argue otherwise, but it would be difficult to persuade me. That was the album I danced to, sang to, lived to. It was an album that always made me think of Snakes, too. The final track is called “A Murder of One” and, when I was only 12, I made an interpretive dance to go along with it, much like my Madonna days.

It wasn’t until recently that I saw a documentary on PBS about crows that the meaning behind the title made sense to me. A group of crows is called “a murder of crows.” For some reason, my adolescent mind had always associated murder with the violent taking of one’s life. Though I knew the origin of the term “murder of crows” this refreshed look at the title was more meaningful. I’m not well-educated on the band but I do know that Adam Duritz suffers from some horrible mental instability like bipolar disorder or manic depression or something. I say horrible, because I am, what I like to call, a survivor of clinical depression.

A time after the concert, when reflecting on the disappointment of not seeing them, I softened. I was well aware that illness doesn’t always mean a cold or flu. Flashes of my college “dark” days illuminated my mind. I was able to forgive them, but I vowed then and there that I would see them before I left Pennsylvania. In 2006, I never fathomed I’d be here in 2011, but life does some strange things. Sometimes you just have to let things happen. Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell them the story of how I trekked up a mountain with an injured knee for them.

A recurring theme in the band’s lyrics is rain. “Raining in Baltimore” and “Rain King” are two of the most well-known, but there is a mention of rain on almost every album. Now, when it rains, my right knee aches. But I can walk and drive and dance, still. Sometimes, I think on that. I’ve used music to make sense of my life. It is fitting that even my injuries are music-related.

Be good to one another.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Oh, for the love of…poetry, of course.

How separate are music and poetry anyway? I have a few poetry items to share with you. First off, my poem about hula hooping has recently been printed on a lovely background. It can be purchased if you’d like, here:

http://hoopoetry.blogspot.com/p/order-posters.html

But wait, there’s more!

There’s a great poetry series I’m hosting at the Osterhout Free Library. I’ve asked a few of my great poet friends to help me run a series of workshops regarding poetry. Space is limited, so sign up soon! Info is below:

Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Gates Lab

September 6: Rachael Goetzke “Writing tools and habits.”
September 20: Dawn Leas “Channeling memories.”

October 4: Amye Archer “Language Poetry.”
October 18: “Performance Poetry.” Bring an original poem.

November 1: Alexis Czencz Belluzzi, Topic TBA
November 15: Jennifer Hill “Heavy Metaphor.”
November 29: Brian Fanelli “Home and Place in Poetry.”

December 13: Open Mike Finale, Reading Room

Gates Lab, Osterhout Free Library
71 S. Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
570-821-1959
Hosted by Rachael J. Goetzke rgoetzke@osterhout.lib.pa.us
Please register in advance to reserve your spot
(You may attend a few or all of the sessions.)

Poets will have their chapbooks available for purchase and signing.

Thanks and have a great day!

Rachael

ZineFest

http://scrantonzinefest.com/

Scranton’s first-ever ZineFest is taking place this Saturday on Center Street. Trading and buying of zines will be from 12-3 and the readings, where I will read along with some other great writers, will be from 4-6 in Anthology.

Check out Brian’s ZineFest plug for more info:

http://brianfanelli.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/zinefest-follow-up/#comment-48

While that may sound like I was being lazy, I’m not. He worded it really well.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Local creativity

Recently, I was interviewed by the Weekender for ZineFest and perhaps I rambled. One comment I made really rang true: “People take for granted what is available to them locally. Like with big bands, we love them, yes, but there is a lot of good local music. In the same way, we local writers may not be the ideal ‘great American novelists’ but there is a wealth of quality creativity in this area.”

Would I like my book to sell enough copies that I could actually pay my student loans off? Heck yes. But to me, as most writers will agree, it’s about the actual creating of the works, the process of writing itself, and the community networking that is the prize. The pay-off comes when you have even two people to listen to and appreciate what you’ve done.

My brother, finally bursting with pride for my recent degree, keeps greeting me in this manner: “Hello, great American novelist!” I laugh every time. Especially because my project hasn’t been about selling books. The important thing is not the nice parchment on my wall that announces that I have my M.A. in Creative Writing. The most important part, for me, was the journey that lead me to that.

Before I could ever write, a neighbor told my mom, “She’s going to be a writer.” Maybe it was the way I gazed at the stars, delighted in the lightning bugs (that’s what we call them in the South), or stared off into the distance for long periods of time. We had a project in first grade. We were given blank books with hard covers. We were told to write our own book. By second grade, I fell in love with poetry. In fact, I struck up a friendship merely because her dad was a local poet. To my seven-year-old self, this was bigger than my (yes, I’ll admit it) undying love for the New Kids on the Block. (Hey, I was seven, okay? Every generation will have its boy band.) A professor of poetry? Wow. He’s now the director of Virginia Tech’s Creative Writing department. If you see Ed Falco, tell him “hello” and “thanks again!” for me.

Somewhere in college (dark times) I lost sight of my inclinations to write and perform and create music. Wilkes University gave that back to me. It was like prying a metal sculpture of a fetus apart at times, I won’t lie. I’ll admit, too, that I struggled with a lot of things when I came here. I was not happy here, but the creative community reached out to me and helped me be the most successful I’ve been in all my creative days. I owe that thanks to Paper Kite Press and Book Store, Wilkes University’s Creative Writing Department and writers and friends, especially to my mentor for his patience and unyielding support.

Transplanted into the pot-holed, high-tax and “corrupt” Luzerne County, I found gemstones. There seems to be a resurgence of creativity in the area and it’s there if you seek it out. Scranton has a billion things to do, but don’t forget to look around the Wilkes-Barre area, especially now that the weather is nice.

Over the bridge into Kingston, there is a lovely bookstore called Paper Kite Books (www.paperkitepress.com). The square now has “Art Seen” Gallery. There is ArtsYOUniverse (http://www.artsyouniverse.com/7.html) There are also all the college galleries and local bands. What the area is lacking, however, is a nice independent coffee shop, like Northern Light in Scranton. Had I the financial means, I would open one in downtown W-B. The high school Rachael had dreams of having her own quaint little coffee bar and poetry venue…

Well, thanks for listening to me ramble. My point is: write, find writers, support local artists and believe in your potential to create something worthwhile.

Be well and get out to the park on this glorious return of spring, however temporary it might be. Carpe Diem, baby.

Rock and write on,

Rachael