by Angeliska on August 7, 2011
To christen and complete my newly cleaned and decorated studio, I got a little half-moon Siamese fighting fish
that Colin named Finnegan. He’s adorable. It’s been a long time since I had a fish. The last betta I had, Nico,
was given to me by my friend Jentz when she went to Morocco. He had traveled everywhere with her up until
then, swimming around in a big Miracle Whip jar with holes cut into the top. I remember coming to see her in
her pup-tent slung up in the neighbor boy’s backyard, and how she would hang Nico’s jar from wire in the tree
there. That morning it was raining, and there was something so strange and beautiful about seeing that fancy
fish, swimming around in his glass jar while the rain fell down all around. Water and water, separated by glass.
I loved having Nico, but when I went to New Orleans, my friends who were looking after my shack let it get too
hot in there, and I came home to fish soup. So sad! I took him to the bridge and gave him a sea burial in the lake.
We sang Nico songs mournfully, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “My Only Child”. I’ll make sure Finny has a better shot!
Before the Joanna Newsom concert at the Paramount. It’s so lovely to see her play there, in that big grand place.
This time and the last, I couldn’t help the tears that just popped out of my eyes and kept flowing, unwished for,
unbidden. Last time, it was “Cosmia” that did it, but that’s a given. This time, only three songs in, “Easy” unexpectedly
slew me, and then “Cosmia” kept it going. I’m trying to get better at weeping. I’m a pretty ugly crier, all red faced,
snot-strewn and crumpled. Maybe it goes easier if you don’t fight it like I’ve been doing all my life. When music moves
me, or a sad film, a book, or a painting – I give myself over as wholly as I can manage. I try and just let it come and
wash over me, run down my face and keep going, deeper into what I am being given: this art, this feeling, this moment.
It’s funny, because I never noticed the lyric from the end of “Easy” until that night – “Speak my name, and I appear.”
Perhaps Miss Newsom is some sylph that can be beckoned in this way, because she did just that once – or twice, that I can
think of… It’s a long story, but I had been saving some little treasures to gift her, in return for all the beauty she’s bestowed
on my life with her songs. I grabbed them by impulse one morning on my way out the door, late already, but still I felt the
weird sting of sight that made me run back inside for them, and then forget as soon as I got to work. By the end of the day,
I lingered over a stack of constellation cards like the one with the sea-monster on it above. I had to choose which ones to buy,
and which must be put back into circulation, and it was very hard, because they’re all so wonderful – with little holes poked in
where the stars shine through when you hold them up, aligned with their originals spangling the night sky. I chose the seamonster,
the unicorn, the lynx, and then paused over Ursa Major, thinking “Oh, this one I ought to keep to give to Joanna, for Ursala in
“Monkey and Bear.” At that moment, the bell over the door clattered and in slipped a cute fourteen year old wrapped in an old
red and black flannel, with a brooch-studded tam perched over one ear. I tried not to goggle, with those constellations shivering
in my hand when I realized it was none other! I wrote a quick note of thanks on the back of the bear, and gathered those treasures
I had unthinkingly run back in for – a silver Victorian owl buckle, a little tin of pretty bits, blue morpho butterfly wings, and went to
summon up my guts to give them to her. She was dear and kind, and even teary – but I had to hug her and run away quick before
I fell over. So that’s my story – Miss Melissa Petitchou has another one, that’s similar – it starts and ends with a bell, a thought of her
and then she appeared. Maybe she’ll share it with us if we ask very, very nicely. Oh, won’t you Miss? Oh, do!
On my letter writing desk (where very few letters ever get written, alas! Hopefully that shall change soon.)
Green frog ink bottle, fairy compact that was my Nonnie’s, tintype, Mint Humbugs tin filled with pen nibs,
ink sticks and calligraphy accessories in brocade boxes, embroidery of a wishing well by Holly Bobisuthi.