Code Of The Road (Playing The Artist Card Pt 2)

I think they say “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”…It might also be said, don’t let a good story get in the way of the truth. And maybe because it’s my birthday weekend and I’m feeling particularly grateful, I realized I left something out of my last post that needs to be said.

And that is — I am goddamn lucky to be an artist. AND there are so many people who I wouldn’t have encountered on my life’s journey if it wasn’t for going out and playing music. After I posted my last blog I thought about the friends I’ve met who have supported and cheered me on – some are fans, some are fans who became house concert hosts; fans and hosts who’ve become dear friends: Dan and Liz Ferguson, Clyde and Tobi Kaplan, the Hogans in Columbus, Jeff Mendez and his lovely late wife Missy, Kate Flynn and Scott Johnson, Rick and Monica Simpson, Vic and Jenn at Vines on the Marycrest, Tom and Jann Kohn- they’ve hosted concerts, put me up, treated me royally. Promoters, record store people, radio show hosts, book store friends. And all the talented musicians and artists I get to work with. If I left your name out I mean you too.

Maybe the truth is I feel SO lucky to get to do what I do, if anyone knew how good it was they’d go hey I want to lay down my life for…whatever it is you do. THAT is code of the road, people. What goes on out here stays out here. Unless we decide to share, but selective sharing can sometimes keep a picture alive that is a bit old, a bit tired. Artist as whipping boy. This life is AWESOME. Except when it’s hard. And even then it’s a beautiful thing because we never know what is gonna happen next.

It occurred to me yesterday morning I am two thirds through my life, if I get to live as long as my 95 year old father, which I honestly am not sure I want to do. If I can keep my wits about me and my health, I guess it would be okay. 

Eric and I had a fun day going to the Berkshires. There’d been snow the two days before so it looked very pretty and white but the roads were clear which was good because some of the drive is quite steep and probably treacherous in the snow. It felt like we were the only car on the road and I enjoyed the scenery, it was looking like New England and Germany and Austria all rolled into one, and we even sang the Beatles “When I’m 64” for a few minutes. It was nice to take a break and just be free and silly. 

I’d never been to Mass MOCA art museum and there was this Laurie Anderson exhibit I wanted to see, including her trip To The Moon which was so odd, a virtual reality excursion where Eric and I were both on stools traversing the moon and there were really scary moments and I kept thinking I’d see Eric in the lunar landscape but we were both very much alone in outer space and that was a little bit the point of the voyage, just you and the stars. There were also some amazing handmade instruments by Gunnar Schonbeck we spent a long time playing and a few other exhibits we kind of sped through because we got there a little late in the afternoon. 

It was still a lot of fun and then we checked into Tourists, a beautiful sleek motel. All the details were just perfect, down to the heated floor – it made me so happy to just stand there in bare feet, what a treat. It had seemed a little indulgent to stay in a hotel only an hour and a half from our house, but it was so cozy and restful and we had dinner and then watched Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born which I’ve resisted the few times I’ve encountered it, but maybe it was the setting, I gave in a little. Eric and I have watched the Babs and Kris version so many times it’s kind of hard to live up to our devotion to that film but this time I felt moved.

And to cap things off there was an Adam Sandler movie this morning. I felt like that was the perfect way to end a birthday because he just makes me happy. Call me juvenile (I hope you will). I seem to remember a scene with chimps playing instruments too and that was the icing on the cake. 

But maybe that’s too frivolous a note to end things on, so for a little symmetry, I’ll say that Eric and I listened to Gordon Lightfoot together and talked about recording. I really am lucky, and will stand in water with a tepid plastic cup of beer if that’s what it takes to keep doing this. It only makes all the good times feel that much sweeter. 

Playing The Artist Card

Maybe suffering and self-flagellation are the default settings for anyone who grew up Catholic. Sometimes I think I’ve put enough distance between myself and those heady, sore-knee days: “Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been at this point about fifty years since my last confession”? But it all runs so deep I suppose it takes a lifetime to undo the damage. Just thinking about that sentence (Forgive me etc)- for those who never went to Catholic confession, it went like this: You enter the dark confessional, hit that kneeler, the little door slides back and you tell the invisible stranger on the other side of the partition what a loser you are. Not even a “Hello Father” or “Good Day!” Just get right to the “I fucked up” bit. FORGIVE ME…FOR LIVING.

All as a way to say, I had a really good time last weekend at 30A Songwriters Festival in beautiful Rosemary Beach and environs. Not one thing went wrong! And – I learned something.

I flew from the new LaGuardia terminal and immediately felt like I’d entered a weird alternate reality where being at LaGuardia didn’t suck. There was the usual mess of roads and traffic getting into the airport via parking shuttle but once I entered Terminal B I just kept wondering “Am I in Europe?” There were soaring ceilings, artwork, there were Dancing Fountains with colored lights, a sight so amazing weary travelers stood in awe before them. The stalls in the restrooms were the size of NY studio apartments. Food choices abounded.

And my Southwest flight left on time. Not only that, as we were boarding, the flight attendants said “Folks, we have a half-empty plane going down to Nashville so we need you to just spread out. Take two seats, hell take three! Traveling with a guitar? We have overheads galore. Welcome aboard!”

Once settled in to my three seats, just after takeoff, a flight attendant came by and asked what I’d like to drink. And it was all free! Passengers were looking at each other warily, expecting something awful to happen to let us know we’d been punk’d but – nope. On time arrival.

The next flight to Panama City airport was much shorter – no drink service. My rental car was waiting for me even though it was well past eleven pm. A nice young man called Jason said he was keeping the Enterprise counter open until the very last traveler arrived. My car was nice but the road was really dark and I got worried when I looked behind as I headed out onto the unlit road and saw a line of cars following me, imagining I’d lead all of us into a drainage ditch. Eventually the other cars turned off and I carried on to the beach house the festival was putting me up in for the weekend.

The guard at the gate threw me a little when he asked for the name of my beach house. I had the hosts’ names, and the address, but not a name for the house. The guard and I went back and forth through a list of possibilities:

“Is it called “You Found It”?

Dun Roamin’?

Mama’s Pride!

Just Chillin?

Daddy’s Home!

and on and on until we both got tired. It was nearly one am. Eventually he let me in and I found the place and crawled around in the dark looking for a lockbox to let myself into a very nice house I hoped wasn’t occupied by someone armed.

Next day dawned bright and sunny and COLD but it was beautiful and I found a charming diner serving biscuits and gravy and saw Will Sexton and Amy LaVere perform in the local record store. 30A is nonstop songwriters and artists playing from morning til night in venues spread out over about twenty miles of beautiful beachside bars and restaurants. By the time I played that night it was close to freezing but the tent was heated and I really enjoyed trading songs with Jeff Black who I hadn’t seen since Nashville days and Hannah Miller who was super-sweet. The audience were great and so supportive. After our set I saw Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey, Mary Gauthier and Jaime Harris all on the same stage together with Gretchen Peters and her partner Barry Walsh and they were sublime. I got that old feeling I used to have in Nashville when I’d see my fellow singer songwriters play – there are never too many great songs, or too many good people to play them.

But the thing that dawned on me that day that maybe I knew already but had forgotten—there’s a real upside to being an artist. See, I was waiting to get into the record store to see Will & Amy (wow, that’s weird) and it was freezing cold and I probably hadn’t really brought warm enough clothes. I was in line with all these festival-goers and everyone was wrapped in blankets and making the best of things and hoping to get into the packed show. And then the line moved and we were on these stairs and it occurred to me that I had an artist badge. And suddenly I thought “Wait I don’t have to wait in this line! I mean, I’m with them all in spirit and I would wait my turn but I’m really cold and I’m supposed to play three times this weekend and – why don’t I just play the artist card – flash my badge and get in NOW.” And I did. Like magic.

So the next day I played at eleven AM with an interesting character called Jonathan Byrd and it was really fun. And I thought if I really hurried I could drive out to the big stage to catch Rickie Lee Jones cause I love her. But the parking was packed and I could hear Rickie Lee as I drove further and further from the stage to find parking. Still, it was cool to be there and I got some ice cream and found my way into the field where the audience was and I moved around until I found a good spot by the mixing desk and was talking to some nice folks there and then a volunteer came along to tell us to move on, we couldn’t stand there. Most of the audience had folding chairs and were all settled in for Lyle Lovett who was up next and I wondered what to do and where to go and then I saw a sign that said: ARTIST GUESTS. I asked a nice lady did that mean Artists could be guests or did you have to be specifically a Guest of The Artist (ie Lyle Lovett) and she smiled when I showed her my artist badge and said “This is all for you – you’re an artist!” And there were free drinks and couches and a tent blocking out the glare of the sun and a perfect view of the stage. It just struck me that I could’ve been standing a few feet away wishing I had somewhere to sit and wouldn’t it be great to find a drink I could buy and here it was all laid on for me. For free. Duh.

Not that into Lyle so I didn’t hang out too long and I had some other shows I wanted to catch so I moved on. That evening I saw Marti Jones and Don Dixon and then Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey – these are folks I’ve known most of my life and I guess you could say I should have sought out new talent but it was wonderful to hear them. Same with Chuck Prophet Trio after.

So the weekend continued on like that, me flashing my badge and getting right up front to see Steve Poltz who always puts the biggest smile on my face; and finally getting to play a fun show with The Kennedys and afterwards the venue giving us menus with THE SAME FOOD AS THE PAYING CUSTOMERS including steak frites. I remembered me and Eric playing a French gig where the venue in Limoges made us sit behind a partition away from the actual customers and served us some slop that wasn’t on the menu for humans because that’s how you feel like an artist sometimes, sub-human, from standing in basements where there’s nowhere to put your stuff that isn’t wet, and being subjected to band flats where middle-aged musicians are expected to heave their aging weary bodies up ladders into bunk beds and spend the night praying for morning to come while crude drawings of penises glare down at them from the ceiling. Blend all of that with a Catholic upbringing and you can see why when someone offers me a free cocktail in a clean GLASS and serves it to me with a smile and a THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE, I want to start weeping and laughing and thanking the gods I threw my lot in with the troubadors and the artist fools cause some days you’re a clown but other times you really are treated like a king or queen. The hosts of my lovely beach house came to hear me play and said they wished I was staying longer. “Stay as long as you want!” they said. After the hard time I had at the festival three years ago, I felt like I was receiving all the blessings from a god who can be benevolent sometimes, if only I remember to ask.

Band flat in Hamburg/2014

I got a parking ticket in Florida but I sent them a pic of my artist badge and they forgave it. I flew home through Nashville airport but the flights were crowded, the drinks cost and the luggage took a long time to come out. It seemed like the ole artist magic was wearing off. But when I got in my car at the long-term parking it started right up so I felt I was still on a roll. And when Gordon Lightfoot came on, singing Early Morning Rain, I felt like I was living under some kind of magic cloak I wanted to hold onto forever.

This Time…

Am I really doing this? Why am I doing this?

Flying down to the Florida panhandle for 30A Songwriters Fest.

And why did I get my hair cut? I look like Janet (the dark-haired one) from Three’s Company’s mother. Or possibly father.

Do I have some merch to bring? Why am I flying Southwest again? Oh right, so I can check a bags . And plus there was that voucher from the last time I flew Southwest and instead of landing in Albany where my car was parked we landed a few hours to the west in Syracuse. Where it was snowing. 

Am I really going to Florida for this festival? God, three years ago I was a wreck when I flew home from there. David Olney had suffered a heart attack, right there on stage next to me and Scott Miller. I can still feel the soft suede of the beautiful jacket he wore, see his new bearded look and smile when he’d greeted me at the artist check-in two days earlier. He was such a lovely man, someone to look up to. He was seventy one years old.

Marti Jones and Don Dixon talked me down that night, made sure I got back to where I was staying. I kept thinking about Olney’s wife, what it must’ve been like for her. A few months later my own husband had a heart attack. Maybe he survived because I’d seen how quickly a life can end and got him to the hospital.

Should I carry this book I bought because I heard Olney mention it in a performance? Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. I’ve taken a lot of comfort in that book over the last three years. So much has changed since I went to Florida January 2020. Back then I worried “Will people come to see me play?” Now I don’t really care. I mean I don’t want to play to noone but I realize it’s not a competition. Or if it is, I’m not in it anymore. I just want to play my songs and at least I know the other artists will be there. Keeping the bar low – basically, nobody die.

I feel excited to see friends! Friends I made when I lived in Nashville, talented folks I cross paths with out on the road: Will Kimbrough, the Kennedys, Steve Poltz. Kim Richey. Chuck Prophet and Stephanie Finch. Abe Partridge who I met onstage the last time I went. Webb Wilder. I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of artists I admire.

A hat. I’ll cover this unfortunate haircut with a hat.

I wonder what the weather will be like? I wonder if I’ll cross paths with Livingston Taylor again? He and I sat in the same seafood shack when everyone else was probably seeing John Prine. I only know it was him because the guy behind the counter shouted out his full name when his order was ready.

I wish I’d gone to see John Prine three years ago. How could any of us know he would be gone in a few months? How can any of us ever know what lies ahead? I want to see Rickie Lee Jones. And Steve Earle, even though I’ve seen him a lot. These people are my heroes. We may not pass this way again.

What the hell will I wear (oh wait, I already wrote that one). I think I just won’t think about it too much. Florida in January is pretty sweet. I’m still alive, still healthy. I feel lucky to have some place I need to be. Want to be- I want to go to this festival in Florida. Playing music is one of the things I love to do. I always feel better after doing. Except maybe that last time in Florida. But this time will be different. I am definitely doing this.

This is a song I wrote on the plane flying back from Florida three years ago (I fell asleep with my head against the seat in front of me and when I woke up it was there, just had to transcribe…you can hear the ragged exhaustion in my voice on this very rough demo I made that night)


Try your whole life to make something that matters

Chords chime, words rhyme

Paint spatters

Get out the camera, take a shot - you wanna capture

Madness, sadness,

Sunsets, rapture

Doors won’t always open

That dont’ stop you hoping

Someday you can grab it

Like a cowgirl cattle roping

Selling makes you crazy

Giving up is lazy

Tough days you just play it

Like De Niro and Scorsese

First you get hurt

Then you get smart

We all wind up in the dirt

They say that living is an art

Hear the sound of laughter

From the Hereafter

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Why are we born, why must we expire

Good times, bad times

Crawling through the mire

Trouble is a season

There must be a reason

Heartbreak, earthquake

One more winter freezing

History will measure

What was trash or treasure

This woman’s pain is another gal’s pleasure

Dreams are the main vector

Luck the great selector

Rough times make you eat it

just like Hannibal Lechter

Damned if you do

But far worse not to start

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

Is it better to burn out or fall apart?

You Wear It Well

Dressing for the long game

I used to wear everything and feel great.

I was a thrift shop ninja – could fit into anything, trying it all on in front of the store’s one full length mirror. I’d wriggle into skirts, suits, dresses over and under my clothes, discard the duds and carry an armload of winners up to the cash register, hoping I’d hit the “yellow/pink/green ticket half off today” jackpot.

I used to stock up on all the clothes I never knew I needed: red bolero jacket, atomic age printed circle skirt, kelly green linen pantsuit. I won’t say I always looked great (the kelly green linen pantsuit was likely a mistake) but it all fit. I worried about my skin and my hair but had total body confidence. I was young and healthy. I stayed slim without trying.

Now it’s a struggle to find one thing that fits and feels right. Maybe part of it is the difficulty of changing my perception of who I am and what suits me.

I’ve just gone through a whole clothing journey for Eric’s daughter’s wedding. First of all it’s been years since I went to a wedding. Is it the age I’m at? I don’t know many people getting married anymore. Friends are in a paired or non paired holding pattern, either too satisfied, settled or lethargic to do anything different. Friends’ kids (my own kid) have bigger things to deal with.

Dressing to perform is its whole other set of problems but made easier by the addition of a guitar. You’re there to do a job and so in the end meaning business is crucial – no fussy shoes or flirty items without pockets. Nothing that will distract from the job at hand, which involves physical coordination and endurance but also an attempt to leave my own body and soar. That’s one of the reasons I play music.

The last wedding I attended was about six years ago – my nephew’s celebration in Charlottesville. Pre-covid, post a very difficult weight loss regime where I’d ditched twenty pounds, I slipped easily into a fitted gold dress. I was still in my fifties, hanging onto the image of myself in my forties. Before that it had been my friends David and Jolene’s party in Manhattan. I went through torture for that one, fell back on interesting shoes. When I saw photos of the event a few years after the fact, I thought I didn’t look half bad. This is a very important thing to remember – twenty years from now when I’m in my eighties maybe I’ll look at myself now and think who was that goddess?

For Luci’s wedding, I felt the pressure of being the wife of the father of the bride. This wasn’t a day to shine but to supportively glimmer. I looked through my closet, thinking maybe something I’d stowed on a hanger years back had transformed into something I could wear. Of course it hadn’t.

So it was time to trawl websites. I saw cute dresses everywhere, but then I’d remember “I’m not thirty anymore. I’m not even fifty anymore!” I’m not saying I want a Nancy Reagan two-piece. I’m just saying the me in my head still dictates a script that the me in reality won’t find a role in. The “cute dress” of my twenties or thirties was cut for a tiny bust, slender waist and sylphlike hips and I have none of those any more. I keep in okay shape, could be better, but I’m a well-earned “womanly” now. Not quite in “what would Jennifer Coolidge do?” territory yet but getting there.

Sometimes I’d forget and go ahead and order a dress for my past self. I’d even get two sizes, hopefully – “one of these has got to work!” An order from H&M which if you’ve ever tried stuff on in their dressing room on lower Broadway or near Macy’s in Manhattan know surely stands for hell and misery ended up down in Virginia, back up to New Jersey, over to Boston and finally arrived after so long I’d probably gained and lost five pounds. It was so wrong I think I only took it out of the package as a joke, a cruel joke.

I spent some time on The Real Real – it’s a fun site where fancy stuff you could never afford for real comes scarily within reach. The photos are professionally clear, but in the fashion world most of the brands come from, a size 12 US is an XL so you have to swallow your pride. Fine. I zeroed in on a few fluid style dresses ie the cut is forgiving. The type where you choose where your waist is, if you want one. An interesting print in a good quality fabric. That kind of thing. I texted a choice to my friend Julia because we talk about what to wear a lot. She gave me the confidence to at least give it a try. They have a decent return policy if it didn’t work.

The dress arrived and it was cute. It actually fit, in a fashion. I still kept looking, just not sure. And what would Eric wear? I wanted to be slightly coordinated, not like we tried too hard, not like a stage costume kind of thing or salt and pepper shakers but to go together.

I hedged my bets, ordered another dress at 5 in the morning one day, hit a few charity shops – a jacket here, a belt there. The weather came down, cold and snowy and i realized we’d be spending a lot of our time in coats. A rugged down vest wouldn’t do. At the last minute I grabbed a fluffy fake fur coat from a local store holding a going out of business sale to toss over the dress.

Oh and Spanx-like tights. The packaging said Bum Tum and Thigh shaping. The waistband comes up to the ribcage. God they’re amazing! When I got married the first time I didn’t even own a bra, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to get one. Technology and undergarments have come a long way. Dammit so have I.

Wedding day I belted the dress, which may have been a cop out, I don’t know. Eric’s suit, my dress, my daughter’s dress all complemented Luci the bride’s pale creamy gold gown. I felt good about that, glad I’d sent back the 5 AM last ditch effort. It had been perfect for a younger me maybe. I still can’t enjoy wearing polyester (does anyone? There sure is a lot of it out there) so that had decided it for me. We were in our coats for the wedding in the beautiful town hall and took them off to sit down for dinner in a cozy pub so I think the outfits passed muster. Eric looked sharp, and I don’t think we let Luci down. Luci the bride looked gorgeous and perfect, her new husband Simon effortlessly smashing in a blue tattersal check suit. Their three kids were a picture (maybe a motion picture, because at 12, 8 and 6 they never stopped moving).

I wish Luci’s mother had still been alive to see her daughter marry the love of her life. She would’ve looked amazing in the mother of the bride role. That’s the main thing about getting older, we can fuss about how we look and wish we were younger. But getting to stick around for the big moments, embrace our elder status, the privilege of still being here? Vanity be damned, if we’re alive we’re gorgeous in our decrepitude.

Maybe I wish I’d gotten my hair blown out to look smoother. Worn brighter lipstick. But when Eric walked his daughter into the registry office to the tune of the Small Faces’ Autumn Stone, he looking so proud, Luci a giddy combination of beauty and strength, I felt nothing but joy and was especially glad I’d worn waterproof mascara.

Parade Of Lights

“I just wanted a chicken sandwich…”

Your order will be ready at 7 pm said the text from our fave local bar/venue where the Korean lady Annie cooks five nights a week. There aren’t a lot of takeout choices in this little town. Delivery? You’re joking. This is the country—doesn’t matter how many city folks have moved up here in the last few years.

Usually I love living in the country. But sometimes, like after working an arduous Black Friday bookstore/bar shift — where I served so many customers buying books and beer I was a book/booze automaton: “Would you like your receipt?” “Do you want to keep it open?” Pour beer, coaster on bar;”Do you need a bag for those?”; bookmark in bag…— I just want to come home and lay on the couch. Dial a number and have food magically appear in front of me. You might say “well isn’t that why you’re married?” but it sadly doesn’t work that way. Eric had landed in England the day before Thanksgiving and I would follow him soon but for the moment, I was on my own and just…felt…so…tired.

I can do this I thought! I’ll just pop down when my order’s ready in ten minutes, bring my sandwich home and wolf it down, then I’ll collapse. Then it hit me: the annual Parade of Lights.

Hadn’t I seen somewhere that it was this night? Oh God no. But surely it would have happened just as dusk fell, a cozy 5 pm or so?

I found a link online that took me to a Facebook page informing me they would be parading down Main Street beginning at 7 PM. Not exactly sure who “they” are but I started worrying they were going to interfere with me getting my sandwich.

But the place is on a side street, tucked away from all the action surely? It really shouldn’t be a problem, I thought. I’ll just pop down there at seven and if I catch a glimpse of some parade action happening a block away, great.

As I went to get in my car (Main Street is a mile from our house so retrieving a sandwich meant to be enjoyed hot and crispy on foot wouldn’t work…besides, there are no sidewalks in the country so walking anywhere after dark is generally not an option) I heard sirens. Gosh, I thought, I hope everything’s okay down there. The Walmart shooting in Virginia had deeply disturbed me. Like every shooting this past week. And the week before that.

I approached Bridge Street that would take me across the creek but there was a police car with his lights flashing, blocking traffic. Fine, I thought, I’ll just turn in the opposite direction, park my car and get across the creek via the foot bridge. It’ll be dark but I can just shine my phone light. 

A policeman approached my car and shooed me in the opposite direction, AWAY from my sandwich. FINE, I’ll swing up and around past Walgreen’s, Dunkin Donuts and the car dealership, then under the railway trestle where I can come at the sandwich from the opposite direction.

The cop with the flashing light’s twin brother was directing traffic away from the top of Main Street. Oh hell. So I parked my car under the railway trestle and took off on foot. And then I was in a crazy dream. When had Catskill turned into a Greene County version of Marakkech? There were people clopping along on horses and leading Shetland ponies. Firetrucks with horns blasting, flat bed trucks with entire families clinging to ropes and fake snow bouncing along up the hill. The gathering point was clearly RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BAR/VENUE WITH KOREAN FOOD. Tractors, teams of rather large elves yoked together with Christmas lights, all coming up the hill towards me as I tried to navigate across the road.

Many years ago I lived in Brooklyn along the New York City Marathon route. The race came up Bedford Avenue, a major artery of the neighborhood, and without fail anything you wanted on race day was on the other side of that street tightly packed for hours with people running as if their lives depended on it. I’d learned the only way across was to act for a few seconds like you were in the marathon yourself, move with the herd and work your way across.

I can now claim to be a Parade of Lights alumnae. I ducked and dived, do si do’ed with some inebriated reindeer and landed right in front of the bar. It was seven twenty. 

“Are you here for the show?” asked Punk Rock Joe who works the door. I suddenly felt really happy that I was only weary and hungry from working retail on Black Friday and wasn’t trying to load in and play a gig during Parade of Lights. It’s like the joke about which version of hell you prefer. I collected my sandwich from the empty bar (the staff were all outside watching the horses and fire trucks ), ran back up the hill alongside the elves and reindeers, air horns blaring all around, and split off away from the madness to my car. The couch was waiting.

A week later I’m with Eric over in Cromer, a small town on the North Norfolk coast. There are cordons and barricades up everywhere. “What’s going on?” we ask the young woman at the local coffee shop.

“Oh, it’s the annual Christmas lights ceremony. People come from all over!” she said. “I don’t think they even enjoy themselves, they just come because it’s what they’ve always done.” I can see how standing in the cold and damp, with wind and rain slashing through at frequent intervals, might not exactly be fun. But it’s the season dammit and face it, you haven’t fully celebrated until you’ve made life inconvenient for someone else.

Waiting for the lights to come on…

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