Thursday, November 10, 2016

Venting, the New Normal

Star log: Day two of bizarre new world order.

Nothing could have made me happier than Mac messaging me shortly after I woke up asking if I wanted company on my walk today. I sure did and I knew just the route I wanted to take: over the Lee bridge.

I needed an uplift, literally and figuratively, and walking over the Belle Isle-spanning bridge provides just that. There's something about being that high over the river - distinctively deep blue today - and looking down on the treetops, shed rooves and railroad tracks that provides a bit of necessary perspective.

The river still shimmers in the sunlight, the loaded coal trains continue to chug eastward and from up there, nothing reflects the seismic shift in our lives. We spent well over five miles railing against an outcome we hadn't even considered, sharing with each other the tidbits we'd read and seen to compare notes.

"Thanks for letting me vent!" she said, hand on my shoulder in appreciation, after we finished vilifying all the stupid white people who'd swept this badly-coiffed reality star into our lives for the foreseeable future.

Her only regret was that I hadn't told her to bring money so we could stop at Sweet Fix and soothe our bruised hearts and minds with sugar.

My pleasure principle was exercised tonight at In Your Ear Studio for an evening involving two of my best uses for time: music and conversation. I'd have been there sooner but I'd mistakenly gone to Sound of Music (and not even the current location, but the former one on Broad Street) instead.

Fortunately for me, I have no problem asking strangers for assistance.

When I asked the two guys in the nearby Afrikanna shop for help, they both had ties to the musical community and pointed me in the direction of Shockoe Bottom instead. I didn't bother pointing out that I'd actually been there before, so I really should've known better.

Walking up to the studio, I was joined by a bartender friend and political junkie who immediately asked if I was ready to discuss the election. In a meaningful in-depth way, you mean? Not sure that I am.

The moment we were inside, we were directed to the studio doors that blocked us from where Yeni Nostalji had just begun their set of '60s Turkish covers and original songs. Lead singer Christina looked like a sultry '60s songstress in a tight black dress with the shoulders cut out and her long dark hair swept to the side, the better to cascade down one shoulder.

After the songs, she'd explain the Turkish lyrics and one involved a warning about how if you loved a woman, she was like a rose and if you love roses, you have to put up with the thorns.

"Amen!" one of her bandmates observed, although I won't say whether it was Vlad (he of the superb guitar faces) or Rey (stylishly '60s attired and a master on maracas) who recognized the wisdom of the translation.

For all I know, all the men in the room did.

Their set was only five songs long, but it was especially cool for me because as many times as I've seen this band, tonight I got to watch a lot of other people who hadn't seen them before and were blown away.

In fact, afterward, during the conversation and mingling part of the evening, I talked to the sound guy who laid it out. "I record all these shows, but it's always amazing when a band is this good and this easy and I just get to watch and appreciate."

The two of us spent a good amount of our social time talking about music, finding your life's passion and how it's the people in your life that matter, not dwelling on the potential horror of what may go wrong in the years to come until 2020.

The Man About Town introduced me to a young writer from VCU and we three did some medium-deep ruminating on what might change for women over the next four years.

Unlike me, she's never known a world where she didn't have certain protections as well as services available to her and I sensed that because of that, she wasn't nearly as worried about loss as I was.

I also met a copywriter, a whole different beast than what I am, but a person with an appreciation for words, written contact and a new fan of Yeni Nostlaji. Like me, he'd been happy to hear Christina say they were working on a new record of all-original music (and just as charmed when she said they were on "social media," purposely using finger quotes)

As I was walking out, it occurred to me how really lucky I am that I'd been invited to hear this gorgeous music in this acoustically-perfect room on this still-shaky night. Only a few familiar faces, but so much positive energy being given off.

My final stop was at Lucy's for dinner with a duo of Democrats a man and his sister-in-law a chef and an editor two steak eaters already embroiled in discussion of what has just happened to our country.

W agreed that surely one upside to all this turmoil will be a return to political activism on a wider level and more grass roots organization to address issues within our system.

Hoping to order something fast, I chose mussels in a broth of smoked paprika butter, garlic and white wine, but it was the one-two salt bomb of capers and crispy fried shallots on top followed by chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream that gave me faith in sunny tomorrows to come.

If there's a silver lining to having to deal with this nasty business, it's that I've adjusted to several very difficult things in my life, often alone, and at least this time, I'm in it with my friends and community.

Is it too soon to start singing "We Shall Overcome?"

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