I have never been a person who is at a loss for words. My words are usually right there on the tip of my tongue, ready to come spilling out, even if I would prefer them to stay tucked neatly inside my mouth, hiding somewhere behind my lips or nestled deep inside my throat. However, today I don’t feel much like talking, or writing for that matter, but I am going to anyway. A friend of mine from seminary self-produced a CD, which has, over the years, become one of my favorites. Her name? Cassie Hillman. Well, it was Cassie Hillman when I knew her. Now it is Cassie Trentaz, and I can never remember what the CD is called, but I know the cover is a pocket watch and there is a song that is sort of bluesy and talks about how “sometimes, I got nothing to say.” I dig it, sister. I dig it.
Now, I am listening to one of my favorite Christian bands, Caedmon’s Call. I love 40 Acres. In my opinion it is their best album. I decided to use my little bit of spare time between classes today to burn my big stack of CD’s into my computer. Every time I have ever put all my music into my computer it has crashed, so I have come to view the entering of the music into the hard drive, as an exercise in futility. Why do I still do it? I am an English major; I enjoy futility.
If I didn’t enjoy futility, I would be in medical school right now. Instead of sitting here trying to get better at writing so that I can someday publish something that people will want to read, I would be trying to find a cure for some horrible disease.
If I didn’t love futility, would I sit here for hours trying to craft the exact meaning of sentences, trying to forge the perfect metaphor, or weaving a strong tapestry of a tale? Would I? I doubt it. I barely want to do it now. But I am so in love with this idea of doing senseless tasks, I can’t help myself. I can’t tear myself away. This is what happens when I have nothing to write about. I write about nothing.
Anyway, back to Caedmon’s Call. Their lead singer for such a long time, Derek Webb, writes fantastic music that is about real Christianity. For example, his song “Repent”:
i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america’s dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we’re safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repent
i repent, i repent of parading my liberty
i repent. i repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way i believe that i am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
i am wrong and of these things i repent
i repent judging by a law that even i can’t keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes
i repent, i repent of trading truth for false unity
i repent, i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what i know of what we need
by domesticating you until you look just like me
i am wrong and of these things i repent
How much more antithetical to most versions of Christianity can you get? I mean, how many churches, how many individuals, how many of us sting at the words, “I repent judging by a law that even I can’t keep”? They sting me. In fact, they leave a big, red mark right across my fat little cheek!
It’s dangerous really to unleash myself like this. I don’t know why I do it time and again. I sit. I look at the keyboard. And, I think to myself that I have nothing to write about.
I could write about the time that Merideth and I drove through the Mojave desert with the windows down and the air conditioning off because I was carsick and afraid that the car would overheat. And, Merideth was getting pissed because she was hotter than hell and the wind gusts kept blowing her cigarette ashes—and once her cherry, which I dutifully chased and extinguished— back into the car. In fact, by the time we got to the rest stop with the raven sitting on the rock outside the bathroom, she was sweating through her shirt, the back seat was coated with a fine mist that looked like Mount Saint Helen had erupted all over the grey fabric, and I was afraid she was either going to hit me or make me ride on the roof. Actually, I was afraid of both, but not really afraid of either.
I could also write about how I took such pleasure in dropping Merideth off at work on Wilshire Boulevard and then going alone to the beach every day when I visited her. I could write about how much it hurt to have to leave her behind when I hiked to the tops of the foothills to take panoramic pictures of the Pacific Ocean. I could write about our trip back through that same Mojave desert, only farther South, when we stopped at the biggest Harley dealership in the US (El Paso, TX), and then cut our way across the South through San Antonio to New Orleans; how we drove all night and slept for three hours in a hotel parking lot. In the car. On blacktop that had been warmed all day long by the hot Texas sun. I could write about how we took a ghost tour and how Shannon was sick the whole time, but we forced her to go on the tour with us, and then I slipped and told her she had nice orbs. She does. At the time, me telling her that was awkward. It still is, but she still does. Only now she has cute hair to match. And a sassy attitude. I could talk about how I tried so desparately to write poetry about our trip, when I really should have been writing nonfiction, and trying to remember details instead of only images.
I could write about the time that Jodi popped her heels open on the metal gutter at Jay County High School. She was flirting with Scott and tried to splash him with the pop of her flip turn, but she over(or under)estimated the wall and hit her feet on the gutter. Her heels popped open, spilled a deep red spread into the pool, and we had to clear the pool while they let the blood disperse. This was before universal precautions in the time when we were all scared of AIDS but didn’t know what to do with that fear.
I could write about playing softball and about my coach, Beth, who taught me to say that things are “Slicker than greased dog shit.” Well, really, if something is slick beyond slick, how much slicker can you get than dog shit that has been greased. I also watched my first horror film at her house and never had a restful night until I graduated from college. We watched Don’t Go in the Woods, which, in retrospect, isn’t even scary. Regardless, I will never forgive her for that, but she taught me to play some kick-ass catcher. I will never forgive her for that, either.
I suppose I could write about how one of the girls, who lived on my floor when I was an undergrad, locked herself in her room and played Boys II Men for an entire day, all because her boyfriend broke up with her. We all liked her boyfriend better than we liked her, so we were sad, too. Secretly, I think we were all pissed that he left us with her, and took away the Carson Street parties, the breathalizers, and the police raids. There would never be another party like the Men’s Rugby Halloween Party. We would never again see so many buff boys in drag playing baseball on the roof! We were, however, privy to 24 hours of loud sobbing, door slamming, and the vocal stylings of Boys II Men. They got back together the next week.
I could write about how foolish I was then, walking to school barefoot, never wearing shoes, always wearing that jangly anklet and those long, flowy hippie skirts that reached the tops of my feet. I think I owned five t-shirts then. I wore one each day: Janis, the Doors, the Dead, the peace sign, and the other Doors. I didn’t care which shirt went with which skirt as long as they were clean. I wasn’t a dirty hippie. I could rehash the hellish days of being an art major and never quite being good enough. When Gee made me cry because “You shouldn’t even be in art school. You suck at drawing and drawing is the fundamental basis for all art.” Really? I could talk about how stupid it was to sleep with that guy who flew the Wise Owl-shaped hot-air balloon. And, how much more stupid it was to leave my favorite hooded Adidas sweatshirt on the floor next to his bed where I had dropped it in my drunken stupor. I could list a million things I could talk about, but I would still have nothing to say.
Sometimes, I got nothin’ to say…