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I just finished the rough draft of my dissertation prospectus in August 2013.
Typing alone in my room and coffeehouses for three months on a ton of B-12 and coffee. But the strongest force behind me was actually this upsurge of happy emotion I picked up in Phila. from meeting a new friend. (I wrote pages and pages on the busride back to Boston; it felt like 20minutes.) Often writing 10hrs a day on that month-long second wind.
Anyway I called it a draft, and the next day I bought a light rail ticket to Providence and left in the late morning. I was gonna trade my bass for a guitar at this music shop I’d never heard of. Closing-chapter-of-life stuff. Reading Dennis Cooper, Try, on the train down. Providence, end of August was exactly as my memory said it would be: clammy and a little weird with lots of concrete hills. Not enough street signs.
I think I brought almost nothing, map etc., so I spent the first half hour walking in big, unapparent circles with my bass on my back around the train station. So I picked a direction and went straight that way for another twenty min. and came to a major-looking bus terminal. Crazy old man wants to talk to me. Crazy old man 2 wants to talk to me. Then a cute, musiciany-looking kid tries to get my attention. I turn around after one more “hey, dude” than it’s polite to ignore, and he’s like
“Ohh, youu’re not a dude!”
“You’re very beautiful!”
I threw out “Where are you headed?” in a musiciany way. But feeling pretty good. (In hindsight, this was probably obvious.)
“Do you know any place that sells guitar cords–” His friend interjects, “he’s looking for a guitar cord” (obviously).
“Yeah it’s funny you mention it, cause I’m looking for something something guitar shop, I don’t know how to get there from here,” except I said the name of an actual guitar shop in North Providence. I forget it right now, though.
Cute kid tells me he heard from “this guy” to take the 91 bus there.
He gestures toward (another, different) crazy old guy.
I go in the bus terminal’s little cabin thing where they have maps and RIPTA employees to get a second opinion. They actually have the second, and she tells me yes, take the 91 and it’s leaving in like 3minutes. OK, of course I have a 20 dollar bill and no obvious way to make change so I just dig out all of my coins and go get the bus.
Turns out North Providence is actually kind of far from there, wherever the cute kid and crazy guys were, and I can’t really space out or I’ll miss my cross-street. Another musiciany guy is on the bus (which looks exactly like all public buses everywhere), holding his tenor saxophone with no case. He’s talking to another man about how it’s hard to play since he had a heart-attack, which must be from his diet and his smoking but he’s not going to stop or stop playing sax. I like him, but I’m listening for street-names.
This part of North Providence feels big, or rather long, and wow it’s boring. A strip of completely uniform gray sky, tattoo parlors and vacant lots full of broken junk. It might actually be interesting, idk; I guess I didn’t look very hard. The something something guitar shop shares a building with this loan shark place. Animated LED “LOANS” marquee out front, guitar pawn shop in the back. Except it’s not, it’s this tiny, expensive-vintage-guitar shop, like in Manhattan. I go in, greet the guitar nerds who run it, and ask to see the black Strat. “Y’know, that I asked about yesterday on the internet?”
It’s a few years old, black, maple-board U.S. Strat. But it’s got this weird circular thing on the pickguard that I can’t quite make out. They guitar nerds are apologizing for its presence, “we tried to pry it off, but it looks like it’s Krazy-Glued.” Whatever, just cheaper for me I guess?
Now I’m leaving happy with a new guitar and one less bass, but starving. And it’s time to take an hrt dose.
The only thing is Dunkin Donuts.
I eat a horrible chicken sandwich and a huge iced tea, but the one cashier calls me “miss” or “honey” or something that indicates she thinks I’m a girl. Which is good; it’s pretty much what I’m going for. And it makes using the women’s bathroom easier (though it’s not that easy to get in and out of its powerfully spring-loaded door holding a huge hard guitar case).
Now I have Jonathan Richman “That Summer Feeling” playing on my headphones.
It takes another forty minutes, I think, to pick up the next 91 bus and get back to the train station. I think the next day, though, I wrote a song on that guitar about the person I met in Phila. That was the first song I’d written in over a year. Later next month, my friend posted on the internet this song “Black Walls” by Pavement from a show around 1991, writing that I’d showed it to her at a certain time and it meant something that she wanted to remember. In the video, young-kid Stephen Malkmus in a big flannel shirt playing.. a black Strat. I was thinking of Throwing Muses and Kristin Hersh, too, the whole time I was in Providence.*
Anway, the circular thing on the guitar is this brass medallion inscribed “SEABEES”, which apparently is a special unit of the Navy (?) My point is that it’s a cartoon of a bee-person holding a machine gun, which I think should be self-justifying.
*They’re from RI and they played that particular kind of guitar at the time, afaik.
Seabees is doing OK but desperately needs a real setup atm. Am sure that this guitar has more songs in it. Will see about that once my other work junk is done in a few weeks.
Update: figured out the setup problem. And done with work for a few weeks. !!