Dust Radio

Chris Whitley is singing. What is this song called? It’s from his first record. The one produced by Daniel Lanois. I was just talking about this record yesterday. I could cry listening to it. It chills me to think about how he’s gone now, and so is the way the world was.

All I can think about is watching him play at Sine in the mid-nineties. Rocking in my straight-backed chair. He was unbelievable live, or rather so believable. He was vivid.

Everything is different now. Sometimes I see someone I used to know and they look like themselves, but not really. It’s like they’re wearing an “old” suit, like it’s Halloween. With every age comes entry into the secret club of that time. It’s an exclusive club. You have to get here to understand.

I’m at the coffee shop on Perry, just off 7th Ave. This isn’t the one I call my office away from home, but another, a few blocks away, closer to my 2:30 appointment. I love coming into New York, opening my computer, working in this public environment, music playing, and all these other people sitting here, working on their computers. It’s a phenomenon. I know why I’m here, but why are they? I look at everyone out of the corner of my eye and try to guess his or her story.

I have my writing class tonight. I’m not sure why I’m taking it, really. Late last summer, I looked at an apartment on Lexington Avenue and 92nd. Outside the window, I could see the Y. It was all lit up. After my break-up, I started taking classes there. I wanted to fill my life with new, meaningful activities. I wanted to distract myself with something challenging and fun. Also, I had been making another stab at writing a novel, this one called “Cat Lady.”

In my class, this has become my nickname.

“If I knew I was going to be called by my story title, I would have called it ‘Gorgeous Vixen’,” I said jokingly to a fellow writing student.

She’s working on something really good, a story about an autistic girl named Holly, who feels a kinship with the crickets in her basement. The girl can distinguish one from another by the sound it makes. I do enjoy the class, although, sometimes, I’m not sure I will ever write fiction.

In my writing, I go on and on, hoping to arrive somewhere. Sometimes, I realize I’ve gone on too long without moving the story forward, so I insert a bit of plot. It’s all quite awful, I think. It gives me even greater respect and appreciation for those who do it well.

I finally got around to reading a book I talked about last year: “Stumbling on Happiness,” by Daniel Gilbert. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s full of revelations about how we process memories and why we are ill equipped (brain-wise) to predict what will make us happy in the future. I found it fascinating.

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6 Responses to Dust Radio

  1. cindy says:

    Even when you are simply discussing your day, your words are so telling and eloquent.. My life never sounds so interesting. It’s like watching someone else eat a chocolate eclair….It looks so exciting and delicious when someone else eats it. If I ate it I would only think about how many calories I just ate.

    Love you…..your sister in law

  2. alison says:

    Plot schmot, who needs plot?

    My all-time favorite movie is “My Dinner With André” – no plot whatsoever! I think plot is way overrated…

    Alison (thinking my ‘old suit’ actually fits me better than my ‘young suit’ did…)

  3. nrvsnrg73 says:

    I really miss Chris Whitley. He brought such incredible intensity to his performances; I saw him at least 10 times. Never a bad show. And he never stopped following his muse. His style kept changing from album to album, keeping us fans on our toes.

    I saw a poster recently for his daughter Trixie’s upcoming show and the resemblance was so striking. Eerie, but comforting at the same time to see that she’s doing her own thing.

  4. PE says:

    I think whenever an artist tries a new form, whether it be a poet writing prose or a novelist writing poetry, that artist is reduced to being a toddler again, stumbling around, sometimes walking but falling alot. But that’s OK. Just trust yourself to find yourself in this new form.

  5. chuckpadgett says:

    I was lucky enough to see Chris Whitley 4 or 5 times. Powerful songs, gut wrenching voice and phenomenal guitar skills. It was impossible to be in the same room with the man and not be moved.

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