My Church: Then you do the watusi, yeah do the watusi…

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I remember when I became set in the ways of becoming writer. It started young – I wrote stories in my head when I went around town with my mother shopping and running stories. I would made up stories up about what was the real truth about the cashier, the dry cleaners where we picked up my father’s work uniforms, the baker at the end of the street, the preacher on the pulpit. I filled notebooks as soon as I could form sentences. Locked diaries, or marbled composition books, or spiral ring binders. It didn’t matter. I wrote and wrote. I sketched now and then. One person plays. Shorts. Poetry. Everything.

However, there weren’t a lot of women writers around. Not that I had been exposed to, at least. At least, not until Patti. The incomparable, Godmother of Punk, the Priestess Poet. Patti Smith did what Jim Morrison wanted to do, but didn’t quite accomplish. She merged rock-n-roll and poetry and storytelling. So, to Patti I owe a huge debt of gratitude for being the first strong artistic influence in my life. Thank you, Ms. Smith.

Nothing told me that storytelling was in my soul like sitting in my room listening to her music, specifically her album Horses. I would sit on the floor, lay on the bed, dance to this one album and pour over its excellent lyrics for hours and hours. The images it put in my head, soothing and bolstering my teenage angst and rebellion all at once, kept me sane. I would rewrite the lyrics in my journal. I serenaded it to my boyfriend at the time – who is probably scared for life now. (“….Johnny gets up, takes off his leather jacket…)

My girlfriends who were all gaga for the boy band du jour couldn’t understand my fascination with Patti. But I persisted. She was teaching me all about art. I rewrote it in my journal. To this day, I can recite each line of the song Horses by Patti Smith. Each.and every sweet word. I loved all the songs. But Horses…changed my life. If you’re not familiar with it, you’re missing out.

It was then that I knew that storytelling –whatever its form was inside me. It was part of the DNA coursing through me. That Patti had spoken to me (“…..I put my hand inside his cranium, oh we had such a brainiac-amour…”) and I had my mission in life. Like her, my course was not a straight line. (“….Life is filled with holes…”)  It went up and down and all around. (Read her Just Kids to know what I’m talking about.).

That life-changing album – HORSES – was ferreted out of my father’s collection. My brother inherited it later on. He’s a Patti Smith convert, too. I’ve converted my daughter, now, too. I have seen Patti Smith a few times in my life now, both as a poet, writer and musician. Going to see her is like going to Church for me. I have to go every so often, otherwise I start to die a little inside (“he felt himself disintegrating…”). I listen to her music every day. If you’re on my facebook, you likely see my soundtrack posts, and Patti is featured prominently.

She’ll be in Seattle in a few weeks. I’ve known for sometime. But, living the artist life with kids – because that’s a whole other animal than just being a starving artist – doesn’t mean you can purchase tickets when the window first opens. Starving artist with kids (SAWK) means concert tickets, poetry reading escapades, motorcycle trips, etc. are on hold for braces, college visiting trips, doctor visits, food (dear goddess the food!), etc. Those that know me know that I never seem to do things the easy way (“…Except for one who seizes possibilities, one who seizes possibilities…”). I had every intention of going, and taking my daughter to this cyclic Church service. We were finally gifted the funds to go. I went to sit down and purchase the tickets this morning. But tickets are sold out. Stubhub tickets are stupidly double the general admission cost. I’m naked in my grief here. It feels stupid to feel so sad over such a thing. But, this was truly one thing I could share with my daughter.

I’m thinking this is what it means when religious zealots can’t do their mission, go to their mecca, share their epiphany with others. “at that Tower of Babel they knew what they were after…”

There’s still time to make this happen. People buy tickets and can’t use them. Contests can be won (it’s happened before in my life). I’m blogging about it to put it out into the universe as I am wont to do to help put energies where they need to be. Also, to give you a little personal glimpse into my upbringing as a writer. Also, if you don’t’ intimately know Patti, you need to get to know Frau Smith now.

Tell me, what’s your “Church?” How do you fund such pilgrimages?

Julia

Horses are definitely my church. Initially I didn’t have to afford them because I could volunteer at horse rescues to be around them. But now I afford them by working part-time to pay for the expenses. It does eat into my writing time but it’s a trade-off. I don’t write as much because I have to work but without horses I would be miserable because like the whole concept of “church” my time with them keeps me grounded and hopeful and able to keep going with the other things that I can’t fail at no matter what’s going on with me- like being a parent. I have always liked Patti Smith too.

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