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got a cloud sleeping on my tongue.

26 Feb

Oh, life.

Things have been interesting lately. Recall that I said I would visit my Kitten Heel Home every once in a while? Well, here I am, to update you on things in my little world. And really, I could never seriously leave my Kitten Heel Marvel. Not in a million years. She’s just become the slightly red-headed (maybe brunette) stepchild to my Tumblr.

Anyway, back to life, back to reality. Yeah, things have been interesting. For one thing, I’ve been writing like crazy. Seriously, perhaps the permanent vacation I thought my Muse was on is finally over. Inspiration has been seeping from the walls, the ceilings, everywhere. And–drumrolls, if you please–I just completed my latest short story. What? Yes! Amid the ten stories I’m currently and crazily writing at the same time, I actually sat on the couch last month and wrote this particular story longhand (haven’t done since antiquity) and finished it in one day. I have no idea what was going on. It was either a psychotic break or my Muse took some uppers and danced around in my head. Nevertheless, I am so proud of this stinkin’ story. It’s untimately a complex but feel good yarn about the responsibilities of family, love, and spider webs. Curious?

What else else? I’m working. This is a good thing. The few pesos they bequeath upon me allow for the payment of bills and the purchase of extra coins for the online Family Feud game that I’m currently obsessed with enjoying. I will say, however, that it’s time for a change. The job hunt must commence. There are a few goals I have in mind, i.e., a new apartment, traveling, that will require a little more in the salary department. I don’t need Trump figures, but an improvement would be nice. Add to the fact that being an Admin has so run its course for me, it’s time for a change.

What else else else? Oh. I have this crush.


I’ll try to explain.

Have you heard *Cloud on my Tongue by my truest love, Tori Amos?

Tori. Sigh.

Tori. Sigh.

(Are you, dear reader, a Tori fan? Please become one. Listen to her songs and weep and get lost in lyrics that will stupefy and confuse and thrill you. I’ve been musically stalking her since I was 15 years old.) In this song, one of my absolute favorites by Ms. Amos, she refers to said cloud, how “it goes”, and “he goes”, and “you’re already in there, I’ll be wearing your tattoo…” For me, the entire thing just signifies the entering and staying of someone who blankets your senses, your cells, your everything. (And this is my interpretation of it; another listener will interpret it differently, because that’s the essence of Tori’s songwriting abilities; it means something different to each listener.) Since I relate music to all of life, this song reminds me of how I’m feeling these days with this crush of mine. But only in certain ways. It’s atypical, this crush. (Kindly refresh your memory on what crushes usually are for me.) For one thing, yes, “he’s in there”, as Tori sings, and I’m going in a few “circles”, but I’m not really losing it. This is the quietest I’ve ever been about someone. I don’t even want to call it a crush. It’s a cloud. Light but heavy, in my head but above my head. You know? For another thing, precisely two people know his identity. Notable because my usual modus operandi is to inform you, your mother, and your grandmother about the latest superficial stealing of my heart, but not so, this time. This time, it’s…I don’t know. It’s different. Again, quiet. I thought I was “over the bridge now”, in the sense of being done with these things, but I’m not really even complaining about this one. I just like him. I just do. End scene. We’ll talk about that later. Was this a flimsy excuse to quote lines from one of my favorite songs by Tori Amos? Maybe. But the song seems viable now, for a few reasons. Ok, finit, for now.


Someone’s knockin on my kitchen door
Leave the wood outside
What all the girls here are freezing cold
Leave me with your Borneo
I don’t need much to keep me warm

Don’t stop now what you’re doin
What you’re goin my ugly one
Bring them all here
Hard to hid a hundred girls in your hair
It won’t be fair if I hate her
If I ate her you can go now

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tatoo
You’re already in there

Got a cloud sleeping on my tongue
He goes then it goes and kiss the violets
As they’re waking up

Leave me with your Borneo
Leave me the way I was before

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tatoo
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again
The girl’s in

Someone’s knockin on my kitchen door
Leave the wood outside
What all the girls here are freezing cold

You can go now

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing you tatoo
You’re already in there
Thought I was over the bridge now
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again
The girl’s in
Circles and circles
Got to stop spinning
Circles and circles and circles again
Thought I was over the bridge now

why i love him so.

1 Aug

I have an enduring memory: I am driving in the car with my Dad. We are en route to his chemotherapy appointment and are listening to the radio. “Fire and Rain” comes on, to which my Dad exclaims, “that’s my man! James Taylor.” I regard my father with a huge smile on my face and tell him that, yes, he’s my man, too, that I also love James Taylor. I tell him it must be genetic, to which he laughs and agrees. We listen to the song in appreciative silence, after which I promise to make my father a CD of JT’s greatest hits.

For several reasons, the memory is quite fresh in my mind. Why? I’m in a JT mood and am presently listening to some of my favorite songs by him. Second, it is one of many moments I enjoyed with my beloved father before we lost him to cancer. Lastly, it’s a sweet reminder of how both my parents shaped my love of music.

Another enduring memory: my mother surprises me one evening with tickets to see James in concert. I proceed to run around our house, screaming at the top of my lungs, before throwing myself onto the couch in contented glee. While my mother and siblings laugh about my reaction, I hold up the tickets in the light and gaze at them in wonder. I was going to see James Taylor! (It was a wonderful show, by the way, absolutely grand. A year later, I was back in the same pavillion for the second time, watching JT with wide, teary eyes and going hoarse from my insistence on very loudly joining him on every song. Amazing. Amazing.)

What about this memory? Turning to VH1 one evening and finding that they were broadcasting one of James’ early concerts. And falling in love. With that face below. Yeah. (It didn’t help that at the time, I had a crush on a silly college boy who looked just like a young James Taylor. It was all I could do to keep from collapsing every time I saw him on campus. Anyway.)

Another one: sitting on my sister’s bed (her bed was so neat and clean, and mine…well, mine was going through a disorganized chaos period. Like Picasso and his blue period. It was art, you see, never making my bed and piling mountains and mountains of clothes on there. Oh, my artistic past), listening to *this song on my cd player (so archaic, I know), and weeping like a little child. I couldn’t stop crying. The song was moving me in places I couldn’t really understand and evoking feelings that simply boggled my mind. I was identifying with the song, but wasn’t sure how or why. (I do now, though. That’s for another post.) The only way to respond to that kind of stunned feeling was through streams and streams of tears. And that’s what I did. Cried and pressed repeat.

Memory #676: making my way through a crowd of millions, it seemed, to see James perform at an Earth Day rally in Washington DC. I was about 20 years old. And I squealed when he came on stage.

This one: watching James and one of my other big favorites, Carole King, perform “You’ve Got a Friend” at a televised reunion concert at the Troubador last year. Yeah, I cried. It was gorgeous and emotional.

Ooh, these memories: moments when I would recognize that the lovely, melodious voice in the background of some of my treasured JT songs, like “Shower the People” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” belonged to Carly Simon, one of my other favorite favorites (I have a lot). It made me giddy because they were married at one time and that fact inexplicably thrilled me. Why? Couples working together? Hearing my two favorites blend their voices in sweet harmony? Who knows? I loved it all the same.

Speaking of “How Sweet It is…”, another terrific memory: playing the song repeatedly for my little brother and hearing his infectious, toddler-y giggle when James says, in the middle of the song, “it’s like jelly, baby.” Oh my goodness, it was so cute. That kid.

Memory #5,112: Still in love with that face to the left. Never gets old.

This one: when autumn comes, I think of James Taylor. Likely and largely due again to *”Walking Man,” which has lyrics that bring everything I love about autumn (the air, the leaves, the orange) to the fore. In addition, songs like “September Grass” and “October Road” pretty much solidify it for me. Autumn, James Taylor, one and the same.

It’s amazing, to have loved an artist your whole life. Since I was a kid—sitting in my uncle’s car, whizzing about New York City and hearing “Handy Man” on the radio and being instantly hypnotized—to now, when I get daily, online updates about JT. I need to keep track!

One day, I’d like to meet James Taylor. After security warns me to stop hugging him, I’d like to tell JT about that afternoon in the car with my father, when hearing him exclaim, “that’s my man!” filled me with so much happiness that I almost let go of the wheel to hug my Daddy. I’d like to tell him that whenever I hear him sing now, I always think of my father. Then JT will sing, I’ll cry, and I will make yet another memory. Until then, I’ll press repeat.

*Lyrics for “Walking Man”:

Moving in silent desperation
Keeping an eye on the holy land
A hypothetical destination
Say, who is this walking man?

Well, the leaves have come to turning
And the goose has gone to fly
And bridges are for buning
So don’t you let that yearning
Pass you by
Walking man, walking man walks
Well, any other man stops and talks
But the walking man walks

Well the frost is on the pumpkin
And the hay is in the barn
An pappy’s come to rambling on
Stumbling around drunk
Down on the farm

And the walking man walks
Doesn’t know nothing at all
Any other man stops and talks…

The Comfort and Cutting of Memory.

2 Mar

Writing about him opened up a lot in the memory department, I have to say. I’ve been reminiscing since yesterday; I pulled out the old diary and re-read the entries that dealt with him (and there were many); I couldn’t get him out of my mind.

Typically, the occurrence of all of the above would signal major self-analysis; a thorough mental investigation, as performed by me, to determine why he is currently saturating my consciousness and my memory.

No need. 

I completely understand why. It’s death. It’s unnatural and it forces doors to shut, regardless of questions, of the need for closure, of everything. His death is driving all these memories. Discussing the past inevitably brought me to this particular present, where this human being is no longer living. And that is why my mind is saturated.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.
Billy Collins, “Nostalgia”


1 Mar

Once upon a time, there was a young, bright-eyed, excited girl entering Borders Books for her first day of employment. Her excitement knew no bounds. After years of slaving away at another store that will remain nameless (rhymes with Shtaples), she was happy to finally work in a place she wanted to be.

It was his first day at Borders, as well. (Scroll down to “Um…”)

Admittedly, the stars fell into her eyes quite immediately. Why? Well…he was super cute, to begin with. They were placed in the same group for training and orientation, which increased the general giddiness of the situation. She tried very hard not to use her peripheral talents and stare the young man down while they were being trained, which was a feat all of its own. Later, as they shelved a few books, he struck up a conversation with her. Our heroine nearly collapsed. He mentioned that someone told him that she was an English major and a writer. She shakily affirmed what he had heard. He replied that he, too, was a writer and dazzled her with a smile. “That’s good,” was her reply, as her heart burned in her 19 year-old chest. He mentioned comparing notes sometime. The girl knew she was in trouble.

Therefore, despite the giddiness of it all, the girl made a few decisions as the day wore on. Significantly, because she knew herself and the pattern these things usually took (cute, charming, AND a fellow writer? Please; she was toast), she told herself to push away the feelings that were threatening to come . She, a crush veteran, was quite sick of the process and was in no mood to get lost in yet another hopeless infatuation…

Note from the Author: sadly, it’s called crush for a reason. Doesn’t feel like roses in the end. The word itself promises what will happen at the finale. Anyway…

…But the promise lasted about a week.

They had great conversations. He was funny, attentive, genuine. He laughed at her silly jokes. They laughed together. They discussed poetry and authors and he recommended books for her to read (which she purchased so quickly there was probably steam coming from her shoes). He said things like “there’s romance in the sunset.” To her everlasting delight, of course.

Note from the Author: ah, 19. When statements like the above didn’t elicit rolling eyes and laughter. Pre-cynicism. Anyway…

He shared his poetry with her and she shared hers with him. He once watched her struggling with tying her apron while they were both scheduled in the cafe (maybe because they would be together in the cafe for two hours? And her fingers were shaking so badly she couldn’t stand it?) and offered to help. Her cries of “no, don’t!” still tickle the Author to this day. The girl knew what the proximity would do to her. He ignored her and tied the apron. See above comment about nearly collapsing. It happened a lot in his presence.

They worked together for two years. After two years, he revealed that he was leaving Borders to move back to his hometown and go back to college. She stopped herself from weeping and pushing books onto the ground out of protest.  Each day leading to his final day in the store was a bit torturous for our heroine. The day after he left, she found a note that he had written to her, placed in her inbox. His words—thanking her for her inspiration and her friendship and hoping their paths crossed again—resulted in lots and lots of tears. Lots. And lots.

They communicated briefly by mail. Eventually, she never heard from him again. Not hearing from him, however, hardly erased him from her mind. 

After the girl had her own last day at Borders, former colleagues would occasionally mention seeing him at the store, visiting. She would feel a tiny twinge in her chest…but ultimately, she forced herself to move on.

The End?

Not quite.


About a year or two ago, I Googled him. I was curious about what became of him.

I found out.

After some searching, I saw a link with his full name and the words “memorial service.” Slowly, with terror, I clicked on the link. There, in front of my stunned, shocked eyes, was his online obituary. I couldn’t stop shaking. Rapidly blurring words mentioning that he died in 2002; that he was survived by his parents and brothers and sister; that he was a poet. Unfortunately, there was no room for doubt that it was my old friend. A photograph of him accompanied the obituary. There was that familiar face—the smile, those eyes. It was him.

After more searching, I learned that a scholarship had been created in his name by the college he attended. Despite the several years that had passed since his passing and me learning about it, I sent an email to the contact name for that scholarship and asked the person to send my condolences to his parents, that I knew him, that he was a wonderful person. He replied and thanked me for my kind words and said he would relay the message.

I still can’t quite get over it.

From the moment I met him to the moment he and I lost touch to moments afterwards—he was fodder for every poem I wrote. He was the “he”; the “you”; the memory; the anger (I blamed him for us losing touch and I blamed him infinitely); the smile; the everything. The above is only a summation of our time together. I had plenty of reality to work from, as far as the words I composed with him as the source.

Every now and then, he comes to mind. No more anger. Only questions: what happened to him? How did he die? What happened to him?

In the end, however, when he does come to mind, I focus on what I do know, the simple truth of it all: he was a great guy.



Sincerely, Taj

Dear World, I have stuff to say, so get cozy. Here, I've got cupcakes.

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