Tag Archives: guitar

French Kiss First, Introductions Later.


Welcome to California.

golden_gate_bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

If all your contact with the outside world is mass media, or, say, you’re an alien from space, seeking information about earth, and your research dart on the globe hit the USA, and you began, sensibly enough, with mass media –you would surely presume the only places IN America were…

New York, and California.

Because EVERYTHING on television, in movies, etc., is located in: you guessed it. NY or CA.

Naturally, when the opportunity flung itself like a blob of goo to head west with my two daughters to the flipside of mainland America, I figured: hmm? Why not see life as the extraterrestrials – I mean, Californians – do?

I kid, I KID.

Actually, this time I DO kid, because if you happen to be reading this…

WAIT.

Don’t you just HATE when writers write: “If you happen to be reading this?

Talk about “author intrusion,”* which, of course, I’m doing now in a MAJOR way, but for some reason, I am egomaniacal enough – or feel strongly enough about this point – to have the nerve to think I can get away with it.

Duh. Of COURSE you happen to be reading this; if you WEREN’T reading this, you wouldn’t be READING this: the author’s SENTENCE that says, so very stupidly, “if you happen to be reading this.”

Why THANK you, Captain OBVIOUS.

(How do you spell “AAUGHHH?”)

I can’t STAND it when people don’t give other people the credit for the most BASIC intelligence. Or when they refuse to exhibit the most basic intelligence of their own, and simply swallow and regurgitate clichés.

Sorry. That’s just not thinking “out of the box.”

(That’s a joke. I am SO hoping you all got that….)

::-::-::

Anyway, tirade over, now that I’ve “intruded,” my job as a writer now is to suck you so hard back into the work that you forget about me again. So: forget me, move on without me, save yourselves….

To get back to Californians: if you’ve been wondering where all the nice people in the world have gone; if you’ve lost your faith in humanity, you’ve been betrayed, you can’t seem to find a kind soul in a cold-hearted world, no matter where you look…

<can you hear the swelling orchestral strings…?>

Get your ass to northern California.

InvaderZimWthoutStripesSomeone, I don’t know who – Invader Zim?

…has scooped them all up in a giant net and deposited them HERE.

Of course, the New Yorker in me wants to warn you: I’ve only been here a few weeks, so they COULD be putting on an devastatingly good show (California, Hollywood, Oscar…), and I SHOULD keep checking my back for knives…

But honestly, if these folks aren’t genuinely nice, then I’ve landed where Ira Levin got his idea for The Stepford Wives, because everybody – and I do mean everybody – walks around with a light step, a friendly smile, and an open outlook.

This is either the Cosmic Galactic Nexus of Benevolence, or these folks are gobsmackingly realistic test robots for Disneyland’s newest animatronic attraction.

They’re cheerful and concerned for others in a state with a bigger unemployment problem and more housing foreclosures than New York.

And, unlike New York – and particularly unlike, say…oooh, I dunno, GEORGIA, they are warm and inviting to strangers. Even strangers who come from scary and disreputable places like New York. No one here has prejudged us at all.

oscar-wilde-ph

Oscar Wilde

(At least not to our faces, where it counts. As far as I’m concerned, I’m with Oscar Wilde. Let people say whatever they want behind my back; I’ll worry when they STOP talking.)

These folks are even charming and positive in an area located less than – well, my guess would be, less then twelve inches from the Sun.

I can’t seem to figure it out. We aren’t any closer to the equator (although maybe we’re WAYYYY higher. As in, we’re astronauts. Californunauts.)

When they say “sunny California,” they aren’t just whistling Dixie.

(Side note: having made a side trip on the way to visit family in Rocky Plains, Georgia, I know what I’m talking about when I say “Dixie,” too.)

The sun is so strong here I carry a bottle of water around with me nearly everywhere I go, wishing I could haul a tank around, like someone on oxygen. I never realized what a deliciously humid state New York actually was.

oldwomanSomeone PLEASE let me know what moisturizing cream I need. I’m going to look about 45 years old in about 45 minutes. In another 45, I’ll look 90. As it is, the jar that used to last me six months is half gone.

In fact, Californians are SO friendly, that in a recent trip to a music store (I was rescuing a guitar I’d discovered that had been criminally abused) I got to joking with the owner, who began to tease me – and then somehow, things got a little weird.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably caught on: I’m not someone you want to DARE.

Play chicken with me? You’re pretty much guaranteed two totaled cars.

So when I jokingly said: “Well, then, I’ll just have to get one big, fat, sloppy kiss,” never in a million years thinking he would take me up on it – for no one in their right mind in New York would take that phrase as ANYTHING but, er, symbolic, when the music store owner said something along the lines of me not having the nerve…

… Well, what could I do? Apparently, he was calling my bluff – or thought I was bluffing. I had my entire state’s reputation to defend.

It was only later, perusing my copy of The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual, that I remembered that those of us with a little too much tomboy in them have to be wary of dares and the like, and that boys will steal kisses when they can, particularly from impulsive redheads.

So I called his bluff back, and dashed over boldly right behind his workspace, again, never dreaming his own oncoming car would not swerve.

Yet swerve he did NOT, and put his arms around me, and kissed me like Bogart kissed Bergman in Casablanca.

Yipes.

Careful to keep my New York cool, I then shook his hand and said:

“How do you do? I’m Elizabeth. And your name is?”

“Larry,” he said. “Welcome to California.”

::-::-::-::-::-::

Author Intrusion (also sometimes called, literarily, “authorial intrusion” – I don’t know why they like the extra two syllables, but professors sometimes do…) is explained nicely here, at about.com:

Have you ever read a book where the author suddenly jolted you out of the storyline with a comment that just doesn’t flow with the rest of the work? That’s an authorial intrusion. Sometimes it works, but only when it’s done by a master storyteller/writer.

Authorial intrusions are of substantial length (not just a brief aside in a novel) and they are addressed to you (the reader).

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Brainbone: Am I the monkey at the monolith?


picture-31I have a definite love-hate relationship with Facebook’s Brainbone. You know, the kind of love-hate relationship you have with someone who doesn’t even know you exist, like a random celebrity, a robot, or one of the bitchy popular girls from middle school.

You really WANT them to like you, for them to think you’re cool and smart, but on the other hand, you sort of want to swagger by and act like you don’t care, too.

Still, you can’t manage it. You attempt a swagger, but you end up stumbling over your bookbag as it falls off your shoulder when you try to fling your hair back, casually but ungracefully, incurring the laughter of the entire seventh grade class.

So that’s where love-hate gets you. Absolutely nowhere but your knee socks tangled in your bookbag straps, and your hair in your beet-red face.

Why doesn’t someone tell you out of the gate that you only get cool when you stop caring about being cool?

Oh. Wait. They do. Only it’s your stupid, retarded, dorky parents, so what the heck do THEY know? Especially when they put it this way:

If everyone else jumped off the Empire State Building, would you do it, too?

Which of course, in middle school, you absolutely would. No questions asked. If it were that, or being hideously embarrassed? Off the ledge you would sail, like a ground-bound dart.

That’s how Brainbone makes me feel.

It doesn’t help that growing up, my sisters and I each had labels plastered on us. Actual labels, practically, with “Hi, my name is” strips on them, only mine was: “The Smart One Who Plays Guitar Really Well.”

I have two sisters. Theirs read: “The Pretty One Who Sings Really Well” and “The Quiet Skinny One.”

This kept life fairly uncomplicated for my parents. Nice for them, but confusing for us, since all of us were fairly skinny, all of us were actually pretty, and the quiet one only SEEMED quiet because she was, for the most part, virtually ignored.

As far as musical talent “assignments” went, turns out the One Who Played Guitar could Also Sing Pretty Damn Well, Too, and the One Who Sang Rocked on Keyboards – and the Quiet One, to whom no one paid any Damn Attention To At All signed her own damn self up for piano lessons when she grew up and ALSO Rocked The House on the Good Old Piano, inspiring the mother with the label-maker to trade in said label maker for her OWN piano, with lessons to go with.

Ah, how much more comfortable life is without all that sticky label adhesive.

Yet another reason I get a frisson of horror whenever Facebook’s Brainbone application asks me if I want to show my Brainbone stats on Twitter, or my web site, or anywhere public at all.

Show my Brainbone stats? Are you kidding? Why not also show my weight? And record me Confessing my sins to my local parish priest, while I’m at it, as a global podcast?

(Presuming I ever actually WENT to Confession… “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been… er…. it’s been… well, Padre, I think it’s been since second grade – you know – when they MAKE you go, in order to get your First Holy Communion? I think THAT was the last time I made my Confession. Wait – wait – <<insert sound of me sailing like a cannon out of the booth>>)

Yeah, I’m about as likely to show my Brainbone stats as I am to show off my untidy living room to unexpected company. (Wait: I do that.) Okay – as I am to show off my untidy living room to my mother, unexpectedly.

Because here’s the thing: I never realized how deeply I internalized that whole “I’m the smart one” thing. Every time I get a Brainbone question wrong, I feel deeply rattled, as if I should know this, somehow. Why I think I should know which country the city of Timbuktu is in, I don’t know, but somehow, I do.

Why I feel smug when I guess right is another mystery. I know I only guessed randomly, but when Brainbone rewards me with an exuberant “That’s correct!” I still feel like: “Boo-yeah!” As if I really earned it, instead of throwing dice.

Because I’m stupid enough to still feel like “the Smart One.”

Even though according to my percentages (SEE, Brainbone? I’m GOOD at math!) I’m technically FAILING Brainbone.

And because of this, I relentlessly answer the “Day’s Question,” for the sole purpose of upping my percentage to AT LEAST a passing grade.

THEN – and ONLY THEN – would I dare display my stats.

Because then EVERYONE could see, that of course…

I’m the smart one.

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Embarrassment? I’m Bulletproof.


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Elizabeth Williams Bushey in concertI’m a grownup. That means I can eat frosting right out of the can if I want to. (Yes, I said the CAN. Is there anyone who still makes homemade frosting? Okay, then, you probably aren’t a parent with a job. And if you ARE a parent with a job, and you still make homemade frosting, and get everything else done you’re supposed to do, then you must be my very nice, but gobmackingly perfect sister. Please forward a package of your frosting in one of your gazillion extra organizing tubs.)

I have a vehicle. I can drive to the mall anytime I please. I’ve got a cell phone, too, complete with a butterfly charm from the Icing at the Galleria. How cool am I? I have a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, and I rock with it. I even perform onstage. With a real wireless headset mike. (Testing. 1, 2, 3…) I am SOOOO AWESOME.

Oh, wait, I forgot – I’m the Dork of the Universe.

I’m someone’s mom.

Please do NOT TALK TO MY FRIENDS, MOM.

Please do NOT KISS ME, MOM.

Please DO NOT EMBARRASS ME, MOM.

Now: I, my own self, am nearly impossible to embarrass, being a rather outspoken, outgoing sort. (Anyone who sings in public doesn’t exactly have a low embarrassment threshold.) But one does have to remember what it’s like to NOT be a grownup.

We were in McDonald’s, happily enjoying our happy meals.

“Mom!” Urgency crept into my daughters’ voices – an alarm so deep I wondered for a moment if an armed gunman had entered the establishment.

I bent my head, the better to hear their agonized whispers.

“Ourfriendfromschooljustwalkedin. PLEASE DON’T EMBARRASS US.”

Okay. I don’t mind being considered a dork by my kids, even though in reality, I’m fairly cool. They’re supposed to think I’m a dork. I’m the one teaching them right from wrong, sending them to bed, etc. If they DID think I was cool, I’d be messing up.

But there I was, sitting quietly in McDonalds – a restaurant I don’t even like all that much – minding my business, not doing any of the things they generally hate, like talking to their teachers, or their friends’ parents, or performing.

I’ll admit my baser instincts got the better of me. C’mon, we all – a little bit – hate it that our kids don’t know how cool we really are, don’t we? Don’t we all wish, deep down in our black hearts, that our kids could have seen just how awesome we really are?

“You would have WANTED to be my friend when I was your age!”

Isn’t that sometimes what you want to shout? “You would have thought I was cool THEN!”

So, more than a little peeved about accusations before actions, I stood up.

“You mean, embarrass you by doing something like… dancing to no music at all?”

I began to dance. Slowly, deliberately… embarrassingly.

“Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, Mom, pleasepleaseplease sit down, I’m begging you!”

“Something like this? Is THIS what you’re afraid I might do? Or maybe…”

“MOM!”

I sat down with a smirk. “Eat your dinner. She didn’t see.” She didn’t. Naturally I was watching. I DO take care not to embarrass them. Whenever possible.

I do recall that feeling when you’re a kid. Grownups realize everyone else in the universe is so wrapped up in themselves that they’re not paying anywhere NEAR the amount of attention you once thought they were. But kids are still the center of their own universes – the heroes of their own movies, and everyone else is a cameo player.

Extreme self-consciousness is so vivid, so much a part of your life, that any hair out of place, any fold in the cloth of your shirt, any label that’s not up-to-the-minute current makes you feel like a pariah.

You know you’re a real grownup when you realize the “pariahs” – the ones who dance to their own music – are who make the world so very, very interesting.

Kids love McDonald’s because it’s predictable; it’s always exactly the same chicken nuggets, precisely four, precisely cookie-cuttered into the same eerie, unnatural shape.

We grow when we peek beyond the predictable, to investigate: who that is dancing around the corner?

Look: no, really. Look.

(photo credit: © 2006 Tom Bushey)

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Just in time for bathing suit season.


Keith Richards with a guitar and - yikes! - nearly no clothes on.Anytime you’re feeling just the tad bit sensitive about how YOU look naked, go back to your bookmarks and FIND THIS PAGE.

Think of the confidence THIS MAN HAS.

BE INSPIRED.

Yes. He has WAY more guitars than you do.

Yes. He has seen a lot more women naked than you ever will – even if you ARE a woman: a woman with perfect attendance in phys. ed. class. Even a woman who doesn’t even get uncomfortable in department room fitting rooms with no doors or curtains, even.

Even if you are a promiscuous, beautiful lesbian woman with perfect attendance in gym class who doesn’t get uncomfortable in fitting rooms with no doors or curtains, even.

But STILL:

(What was I talking about?…) Oh, YEAH!

CONFIDENCE. The man has it in SPADES. And couldn’t we all use some?

That’s what we all need to look at today. Keith Richards naked. Or nearly.

You can’t really look away, can you? I mean, go ahead. Try. You can’t. It’s like an accident on the highway.

G’head. I dare ya.

See…

(photo source: http://www.hecklerspray.com/)

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