What is True

“Save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone.” — Aimee Mann

Noel asked me if he should start checking for new initials. He was teasing me, saying the blog is too personal. And it is, but it’s not. What is it Jeanette Winterson said? “There is no autobiography, only art and lies.” Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant in a way. To me anyway. And what is true on a Sunday may no longer be true on a rainy Tuesday, riding the Jitney back home. I’ve gotten so used to this ride. I use it to catch up on reading or writing. It’s free time.

I’ve got my computer with me and I’m listening to Radiohead, Aimee Mann, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Enjoyed seeing them perform “Falling Slowly” on the Academy Awards the other night. I loved Once, and “The Swell Season” has become a favorite. Their acceptance speeches were sweet and genuine. And the way John Stewart brought Marketa out to speak afterwards was great. I’ve never seen that done before.

“It was as if they were speaking directly to you,” my mother said today.

My mother and I were sitting at her kitchen table drinking coffee this morning. I played her MP3′s of a couple of new songs. She wanted to hear all about the fiction writing class I’m taking at the 92 St Y. We talked about writing, about what it means to us. We talked about history, memory and my father.

My mother’s written a poem every day for the past 8 years. She uses a site that has come under considerable scrutiny for its practices of making promises to poet wanna-be’s, but my mother thinks they’ve provided a great service to her. She hasn’t fallen for the contests, for the conferences, for the prizes and fees for publication. She has a stack of poems piled a foot high on her desk (above it stands an old Geffen publicity photo by Sante D’Orazio. In it, I’m wearing a vintage dress and men’s black shoes). She writes about all of us. My sister’s wedding, my uncle’s death, my nephew’s troubles. The grandchildren. Lately there are love poems to my father. She documents the events of our family in great detail with love and worry.

“You’re so efficient,” she said to me last week. “You could be an executive secretary. You could own your own travel agency.”

“I have a job, Mom.”

“But it’s such a hard business,” she said.

Yes, well. I do finally get it, at this advanced age. She loves my sensitive nature, appreciates my dedication, thinks my voice is beautiful. The desire for me to have made different choices comes purely from worry. Every Tuesday morning we sit at the table. It’s so deeply meaningful. So important to me. I’m aware. That’s what age brings. I don’t take anything about her for granted. She has the kindest blue eyes. She loves to dissect the minutiae of every emotion. Or maybe that’s me. We’ve often been confused about who is who. A blurred boundary.

The new song happened in a most satisfying way, a response to a question never asked. It’s charged for me in a way that only happens every once in a while. “Christmas” and “Snow Come Down” are two. Sometimes a song is a remedy, a resolution. It’s like magic, to get to tell the story from a chosen perspective, to make my case. It’s irrefutable because it’s not an argument, not a plea, not a message. It’s a song. I recorded it and sent it to Paul, and he sent it back with the best guitar parts. I love the way it came out.

(And we’ve already got it up on the site. This is the fastest turn around ever.)

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One Response to What is True

  1. alison says:

    It’s brave, to be personal, open and obscure at the same time. Am I at all brave? Well… mothers. I lost mine halfway when I was 10 and she fell ill, and then the rest of the way what I was 19. But I can imagine those kitchen table mornings, the coffee, the worry, the blurred boundary. Vividly. But now I have daughters, and I try very very hard to let their freedom from worry overrule mine. And you know, I can feel those boundaries too, and they are definitely smudged.

    Thanks so much for this blog, and for these songs, freshly hatched. What a wonderful thing technology is!

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