Monday, October 19, 2015

Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you

The title of this month's post is a tribute to Elvis Costello for three reasons:

1. It's Elvis Costello, do you really need a reason other than that? If so, we cannot be friends.
2. This summer, DB and I saw him in concert with the Imposters, and it was the best show we've ever seen, together OR individually. No contest.
3. He just released his memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, which is already packed in my suitcase for this weekend's trip to Pennsylvania (because my nephew is getting married).

And, since we're talking about matrimony and Appalachia, I've decided to post a chapter from my magnum opus (she says sarcastically) that discusses both. Also, to my writing group, who, "Stood by me in the middle of Chapter Three," I know you think it's bad juju to share this since it hasn't been published; but, seeing as this story is also about the Blues, maybe Albert King is right, "If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all." With that...

Chapter 35: It’s a good day for the Blues. 

Not only is that one of the greatest songs ever written, Malford Milligan, Storyville’s soulful, sage, lead singer is right, “Sometimes you fly so high, you can’t find a place to land,” but still ... “It’s a good day for the Blues.” Well, I get it. Though I’m the recipient of countless, huge blessings, when I’m stressed, even a little, like I was while planning DB's and my wedding in 2011, I have a tendency to snark at people about any and everything. And frankly, it’s unacceptable. In fact, on that same trip home, at my nephew’s party, my mom was so exasperated that she called me on it and said, “Do you think we created language as a species to accommodate your inner need to whine? If so, do you suppose Mother Nature gave me feet to walk away from you while you do it?”

I ask you, in all honesty, do you understand how I became this person? Do you?

Cynicism notwithstanding, the worst part of that conversation is that she’s right. On second thought, the worst part is that she had our entire family jump on the bandwagon. And I don’t mean my brothers and sister with whom I actually will fight. I mean her cousins and aunts: women in their 70s, 80s and 90s. People you simply can’t debate, and not just because they’re deaf or because your mother will kill you for being disrespectful. Women you can’t bitch in front of because they actually have reasons to complain and still don’t do it. Women who have buried children and partners, witnessed more than one war, and fought for the right to vote, the right to fair pay, and the right to live their lives as they see fit. Women who did all of it admirably ... grateful for the things they had ... not devastated over the things they lost.

So, when they tell you that you’re missing out on the happiest times of your life, you listen. After all, like Woody Allen once said, “Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and it’s all over much too soon.” The trick is to find people to share that desolation with, especially the big moments, which is why a few years ago, DB went to Pennsylvania with me for a wedding.

Just so we’re all on the same page, unless you’re a local, nuptials in Appalachia are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Because, not only are the Blue Ridge mountains home to the world’s best Bluegrass music, they’re also a Mecca for mullets and preachers who handle snakes, all of which you’re likely to experience if you’re there for a special occasion.

Don’t get me wrong. Where I grew up is honestly one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. So much so that the natives say they only inbreed to, “keep outsiders from coming in and ruining it.” But, like everything in life, it has its pros and cons. Pro: Mountain people definitely know how to party. I’ve actually attended receptions where the bar served homemade moonshine then handed the empty jugs over to the band so the music could start. Con: After too much moonshine, I’ve played the jug ... on stage ... and there’s a fine line between being so drunk that you go blind versus being just drunk enough that you’re willing blow “whoo whoo ... whoo whoo” into a bottle while a large bearded stranger in overalls sings, “Billie Jean is not my lover.” Sadly, while you may be tempted to believe that’s hyperbole, it’s not. Nor is the fact that it didn’t just happen to me in Pennsylvania. It also happened to me in Mississippi at a barbeque festival. Though I remember neither incident, I’ve been told I’m a natural.

You know, it’s sad that Storyville broke up in 2000. I feel like we could have made really beautiful music together.

Note: Dear Mr. Milligan, on the off-chance a snowball landed in hell and you’re reading this, please call me. I’m totally available for your reunion tour, and (spoiler alert) I also play the spoons.


  1. I love, love, love your blog, and this post was hilarious. Though I'm a big Elvis Costello fan, I've never seen him in concert. Consider it added to my bucket list (and thanks for the laugh).

    1. Awwwww, thank you! Your wonderful comment completely made my night. I'm sure his book will be awesome, and definitely see him live. Best. Show. Ever.