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This Happened: A Mission Creek Memoir


As I write, there’s a band playing at The Mill. I’m sure it is a real good band. I’m sure they are playing to an appreciative (and hopefully large) audience. But I am so tired. I cannot finish out the week, although I would like to.

Pretty sure I lost part of my brain back there, pinballing from The Blue Moose to The Yacht Club to Gabe’s and back again. I’ll recover that lost chunk, if begrudgingly. Because losing your head to music is worth the sacrifice.

Somewhere between sticking my right ear into Times New Viking’s 12-foot speaker and trying to not to cry through Devotchka’s “How It Ends,” from the mystical noise of Skull Defekts through the “what the heck is this, country(?!?!)” music of Or, the Whale, I literally lost my ability to understand anything that wasn’t being played to me on an instrument. I could not hold a conversation for longer than 30 seconds, I interrupted people to talk about the bands I had seen and I completely ignored what anyone said to me, distracted by the way Here We Go Magic’s spaced-out “Casual” is such a great breakup song in that it’s delivery is so, ha!, casual, but what’s so casual? Oh, it’s just my heart breaking. They make it sound all soft and easy, like, hey no biggie, it’s just my silly old heart, but somehow you can tell that what they really mean is “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME YOU ASSHOLE?” But, the groovy beats, the softness, you know, it’s casual. Whatever.

Some tableaux don’t easily leave your brain, and their frozen-in-time beauty sort of distracts you when other people are trying to tell you other, very important things. Like the way a haunted, bespectacled Nona Marie Invie, her white arms webbed with blue ink, wove me into her music, injected me with her sweet poison, then sold me her cd. And the slightly wary look in the lead singer of Birds & Batteries’ eyes when I think he thought I was stalking him, but truly I didn’t want to sleep with him, I was just following him around to see if he would talk to me about his songs! Then standing at Revival, watching the radiant Alexis Stevens, wishing I could hear her playing around a campfire burning pine needles under the big sky and stars.

And all week, I silently cursed the mayor of Cedar Rapids’ daughter.

I don’t get people most of the time, and most dialogues are just so goddamned difficult. I have to work very hard not to bulldoze a conversation, not to sound as uneducated as I am compared to most of my friends, not to be rude, to keep the face pleasant, to wait, wait, for the other person to stop, hey WAITbeforeyoutalk! Don’t be distracted. Wish you could just stare into space and drink. Hope whoever you’re talking to won’t notice your desperate wish to get out of it. Engaging with people up close can be exhausting, especially after a week like this one. And I have lovely, wonderful, conversationally-gifted friends!

But listening to music? Now this I understand. This I am built for. Turn on, tune in, drop out. When a band takes my mind away, lifts me from the crowd, puts me into their songs, I don’t have to be anything but there, a receptive ear, an open heart. And since I suspect my grandest ambition in life is just to be and let be, standing in a crowd focusing on music is the best place for me to feel fully me.

Andre, Craig, Joe, Chris, Drew, Nelle, Tanner, Todd, AC , Nathan and the person I will run into next week and berate myself for not remembering here, thank you. Thank you for always saying “hello” even when you were obviously frazzled and stressed from orchestrating this rodeo round-up of literary stars, musicians and performers of all types and shapes. Thank you for being so giving of your time and allowing us to gush about Rubblebucket over and over again. Thank you for creating this epic escape – for helping to keep Iowa City hip to the new, immersed in the music of our world, and fully, stumblingly, blissfully alive.


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