Bibliophiled Away


Ray LaMontagne taught me about love

The longest relationship I’ve ever had has been with someone I’ve never met. It was 2005 and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of my apartment complex and the “A lot like Love” soundtrack I checked out from the library was in the CD player. Who knows where I was headed that day, but I was in park until a song called “Trouble” was over. So captivated I was I needed to hear more from whoever sang this song. In the days of music file sharing, I literally burned for more. 8 years later, Ray LaMontagne still has me captivated.

When I was 23, I knew nothing about love. Late bloomer if there ever was one, I knew nothing about relationships as I had never been party to one. From what I knew from Ray LaMontagne, I knew that love is messy. It has a lot of names and faces. It will kick the shit out of you. It will hold tight one minute and feed you to the wolves the next as it will make its exit as quickly as it greeted you. It will keep you warm at night. It will tether you. It will break your heart and help you put the pieces back together.

Love is worthy. On my 29th birthday I saw Ray LaMontagne in my hometown of Cincinnati. After the show, I was granted the set list. As soon as the hippie of a lighting supervisor gave it to me, I had goosebumps all over and a smile as big as the PNC Music Pavillion. It was truly the best birthday present. As soon as I got home to the other Queen City I put it in a frame and hung it on my bedroom wall.

Love has four legs when love on two legs is slow comin’. I don’t know when or how it got into my head, but years before June 2010 when I finally got a dog, I already knew his name was to be Ray LaMontagne. He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And if ever the two shall meet, I bet human Ray would be flattered by dog Ray.

Love takes patience. I love Ray LaMontagne, but I’m lately hating his fans. They are so obnoxious at his concerts. They talk during his performance and incessantly shuffle out of the rows to queue up for $12 beers. And of course, the more they drink, the more noise they make. I love seeing Ray LaMontagne and would happily drive 3-4 hours to see him, but he’s coming to town in November and I don’t have plans to see him. I’ll instead start a kickstarter campaign to get him to play for me in my living room, Ray LaMontagne the dog serving as my plus one.

Love is selfish. I’ve never shared Ray LaMontagne with another man. I don’t want his songs attached to someone. I’ve never taken a boyfriend to a concert. I’ve see him 6 times now, traversing to Cincinnati, Asheville, Atlanta and Raleigh.

Love evolves. Ray LaMontagne isn’t the same today as he was 8 years ago. His “Supernova” is a departure from his acoustic set and he’s gotten himself into a groove with his band and experimenting with new sounds. The Ray of today isn’t so reserved. Truthfully, if my first introduction to Ray LaMontagne happened in 2014 I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with him the way I did in 2005. I’m still a fan, but nostalgic for the good ol’ days when he could silence a Tabernacle.

At 32, I “still don’t know what love means”…

But I would wait as long as possible for any man who loved me the way Ray LaMontagne loves, “I’d walk one mile on this broken glass to fall down at your feet”.

Mrs. LaMontagne is a lucky woman. Though Ray is private about his personal life, I’m certain that she’s inspiration to a lot of his songwriting. If I were to meet the Missus, I would thank her for sharing her husband with me.


the heartbreaking work of comedic genius

I keep waiting for Robin Williams to jump up out of his coffin and yell “Gotcha!”, a cruel practical joke he would ultimately be forgiven for. The funniest people are oftentimes the most insecure people, battling demons the audience could never begin to understand. A survival skill if there ever was one, make them laugh before they have a chance to laugh at you. We don’t post to Facebook our struggles or what’s really going on in our lives. No one would understand anyway. In the world of organic this and all natural that, no one is real anymore. We do a lot talking but nobody is saying anything of value. We over share a lot of drivel on all forms of social media. We don’t initiate relationships if there isn’t an app involved. We leave important conversations to technology. So here I am, about to get raw exposing myself.

If you were to ask anyone who knew me, they would describe me as funny.

Truth is, I am immeasurably sad.

I am single. I can’t tell you how many boxes of Kleenex I have gone through lately in taking stock of my life. I am profoundly lonely but you won’t see any Facebook news feeds about how I managed to keep it together at work until I made it to my car so I could bawl my eyes out in private. Can you imagine coming home to an empty house and having no one to tell your bad day to? Can you imagine going 32 years without love? Can you imagine going years without touch? Can you imagine feeling like no one cares about you?

I haven’t seen my parents and brother since January and don’t know if I’ll see them again. It would take more than a blog post to explain the dysfunctions of my family, but it turns out that there are conditions to unconditional love.

I have terrible eyesight. I wore glasses from first grade to middle school. I was a fat kid. My parents didn’t set limits for me at the dinner table so I easily ladled my plate with seconds. I got teased a lot because kids are cruel. I had no choice but to fulfill the role as token funny fat girl. Self-deprecating humor was the only way to survive and sarcasm was my savior. I wear contacts now and adhere to a strict diet but I can still hear the playground echos of mean kids.

As a single homeowner, I am on my own when it comes to paying my mortgage, therefore I am always broke. Always. I never have money. Instead of a Scrooge McDuck vault of coins, I swim in all sorts of debt. With no raises for the past two years and none on the horizon, I’m afraid that I’ll never get my head above water.

I have a soul-crushing job that doesn’t challenge me in any way. Between the hours of 8 and 5 I don’t save lives. I don’t make a difference. I don’t even need that college degree. I can’t believe I let myself stay for so long. God knows I’ve tried to leave. I’m envious of everyone who quits. I’m envious of those who have actualized their dream jobs.

I’ve lost a lot of friends to marriage and baby carriage and general busyness. I stopped asking friends to hang out because I was SO full from being fed excuses. I have heard them all. So I stop asking and strike out alone, an ache in my heart because I miss them so much. Disappointment keeps me company now.

How do I cope with such sadness and loneliness? Thankfully I’m too poor to subscribe to any hardcore addictions. I read a lot of books to escape into. I borrow fictional lives as my own for a few hours. I delude myself with fantasies. I seek out psychics for answers on true love’s delivery. If I give you $20, please tell me there’s hope. I lie to myself with this repeated daily mantra, “Today will be better than yesterday.”

I don’t have a lot to show for myself so I steer clear of any reunions. I’ve really failed at this Adult business. And I wonder if there is anyone out there who shares the same feelings. I’ve always felt like I was different. I’ve only ever wanted to be normal.

I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.
~Robin Williams

So there it is, my guts, spilled out in Times New Roman. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. So, do your funny (single) friends a favor and call/text them from time to time to make sure they know someone in the world is thinking about them. They are trying their best to be brave, but under that veil of quick wit and charm they’re fighting a hard battle, alone. Call your family too. You never know if the last conversation will be the last.


San Antonio spur of the moment

The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas!
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Along the River Walk
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Remember the Alamo…an impossible feat when no photos are allowed inside.
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Mo Alamo
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Well wishes
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These boots were made for walkin’!
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More from Cavenders
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When in Texas…
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Texas Trash fitting room wallpaper
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Hooker with a heart of…cardboard (seen in Texas Trash Clothing Exchange)
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This red sculpture is a touch of friendship
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Sidewalk glass
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Evening Reflection
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Sunday best
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San Ferdando Church
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I’m bringing sexy back!
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Alamo at night (what are you doing in that pose, arms?!)
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Portland’s Voodoo casts a sweet spell

Oh, Portland. The rumors I’ve been hearing about you for years are true, you are quite weird. And I love you for it! What’s weirder than centering vacation plans around food? As soon as we arrived in Portland, the first order of business was to queue up with other tourists for a doughnut or two at Voodoo.

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Not just your run of the mill doughnut. No sir, these doughnuts are topped with cereal and stuck with pretzel sticks and some of them have dirty names. I’m looking at you, triple chocolate penetration!

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“The magic is in the hole” and “Good things come in pink boxes”.
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A huge vegan cock-n-balls doughnut filled with Bavarian cream will set you back $3.25.

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Sorry pervs, no scandalous pics of me eating it. But check out this equally phallic concoction I baked once upon a time.

Where did we go next on our culinary tour of Rip City, you ask. We ate Dick’s of course!

Keep Portland Weird…and delicious!


Gracias Madre

On my quest to sample vegan delicacies from across the country, I made sure that my trip to California included a stop at Gracias Madre, a vegan Mexican (vegican?) restaurant with locations in West Hollywood and San Francisco.

Full bar for quenching thirst.

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Large, sunny patio for soaking up the California sunshine.

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A trio of veggie tacos with cashew cream and black beans.

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Dios mio! This dessert is the best dessert I’ve had in my life! Chocolate fudge and black bean brownie (you don’t taste the beans, I swear) with a dollop of vegan ice cream, bathed in caramel sauce with rafts of toasted coconut. It covered all aspects of the flavor profile, warm and cold, salty and sweet. I could write poems about this dessert!

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I would love to show you Friday night’s dinner from M.A.K.E., a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, but we had to leave because the meter was running and we couldn’t wait any longer for our food to arrive. For a raw food restaurant, I never understand why food takes so long to get out of the kitchen. No one has to cook anything! We had to grab dinner across the way at the Curious Palate.

M.A.K.E. made me sad as I can’t show off any pics of their food.

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as always, asking for a friend

That moment when you look around the city you’ve lived in for the past decade and are met with the startling realization that the friends you stayed for have slowly vanished. They’ve disappeared into the folds of husbands, kids, careers. You’ve been replaced by new friends they can create new laughable memories with.

That moment when you wake up and think about how the morning looks exactly like the one you woke up to yesterday. Begrudinglgy into middle age, you realize that everything in life is important and nothing in life is important.

That moment when you keep to yourself the sordid details of fucking a guy at an L.A. club because you don’t want to make these friends you never see jealous. Them with their tethers of potty training, work deadlines, dance recitals and meddling in-laws.

That moment when you see in black and white how much June 2014 looked a lot like June 2006. You’d wish on every birthday candle to take back all thirty two Junes and start over.

That moment when you have to buy generic plan B because it’s $10 cheaper and wonder if the San Francisco Walgreens cashier thinks a lesbian has no business buying it. Your mother isn’t saying it, but she’s thinking that your hair is way too short for any single thirty something woman needing to meet a man to give her grandchildren.

That moment when you feel pangs of sadness that not only are you not getting any younger, but neither is your grandbaby-hungry mother.

That moment when you wonder if this year will be the year that your father requests the phone from your mother to wish you a happy birthday. He doesn’t want to ruin his perfect track record.

That moment when you think about every person in your life having an invisible expiration date, yourself included. Your legacy has got to more than clock punching and credit card debt.

That moment when your best friend asks you the one question he knows you hate getting asked. You chalk it up to to loose lips from too much booze at dinner because he’s your only friend and you can’t afford to lose him. Not when he’s moving soon.

That moment when you make plans for your next vacation before completely unpacking from the last one. Once home, all you want to do is escape.

That moment when you get goosebumps about Love’s arrival within the next year. A pyschic revealed a deep, lasting love that will produce three or four kids. It’s gonna be tough, but it’s gonna be worth it. Your heart will know fullness.

That moment when you can no longer differentiate between non-fiction and fiction as the stories you’ve read and the dreams you dream bleed into each other against the canvas of ordinary life.


32 flavors…and then some

Friends and Internet strangers, your birthday gift to me this year is a giant package.

Any one will do really.

A million thanks,
Jamie


Luna’s De-light

Luna’s, Charlotte’s only raw vegan eatery, recently expanded to a bigger location. And their new space, steps from their former location, is beautiful!

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The evening sun spilling into the restaurant made everything glow.

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Don’t you want to live in this slice of sunshine?

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Patio seating

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Spaghetti bolognese

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Raw lemon raspberry cheesecake

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immobile heart

This song on repeat. All day.

Remember that one time you were hopelessly in love with a douchebag?, my friend of nearly a decade asks me one day when we meet for lunch at an uptown venue. She asks because she saw him and his kid at her workplace. I don’t need to know this as I don’t care to be reminded of how foolish I was. That girl was crazy in love, like cut her own hair crazy, drive to the beach and back in a day crazy, show up to his work to surprise him with birthday balloons crazy.

That girl has long wised up. She now leaves the hair care to the budding professionals at the Aveda Institute. She doesn’t go to the beach because she already has a lot of mileage on her car. She doesn’t make anymore grand gestures.

She leaves her heart in the garage, much like the older couple down the street who own a vintage car that sits in their garage. The sleek fire engine red exterior no more meets the sunshine.


borrowed words

A Love Letter from The Love you Haven’t Met Yet
Emily Bracken

Dear Future Love of My Life:

I know. I should have written before. Forgive me. But I got the feeling that you were beginning to think I didn’t exist. But I do. And I wanted to let you know that while I might be as elusive as a unicorn grazing in a field of four leaf clovers, I’m close. I’m around the corner, down the street, on Facebook, in your office, at our local coffee shop, a complete stranger. I made eyes at you once on the subway. I saw you across the room at a party. I swiped you right on Tinder. But it’s not our time yet. And I know you’re wondering why.

It’s really not fair that you’ve had to wait this long, or go on blind dates, endure bad sex, settle for meh relationships, feel misunderstood, cry from loneliness, wrap your arms around a pillow as you fall asleep at night. I’m so sorry, my love. You deserve an explanation. So here it goes. It’s taken me a long time to even admit this to myself much less to you, so please know that everything I’ve written here is true.

The reasons we haven’t met yet, in no particular order:

1. I haven’t thrown out the list of things I think you should be.

2. I’m with the wrong person right now.

3. I’m not ready to be loved unconditionally.

4. Since my life isn’t together, I think you’ll reject me.

5. I still believe that drama is a show of love.

6. I’ve been intentionally keeping my head too busy to think with my heart.

7. I need to date more to understand what I do and don’t like.

8. I won’t be able to appreciate you until life has kicked my ass.

9. I’m too focused on my own needs.

10. I don’t know how to create the feeling of home that lives in my heart.

Clearly, I’m not my best self yet. Or even myself—I’m still figuring out who that is. I’m pretty sure even if we did meet, you wouldn’t like me all that much right now. It’s entirely possible that we did hit it off once, and I left without getting your information; or maybe I did get your number and never called because of any one of the above reasons.

Be patient with me, darling heart. Know that I’m working my way toward you. So don’t spend any more time thinking about where I am or am not. Just keep making your life exciting and full, so when we do finally come together, we can bring each other joy, because we are already happy.

I know it’s taking longer than you’d like. It’s a hell of a lot slower than I could have ever imagined. But I’m here. This is me talking to you. And I’m not going anywhere.

Don’t give up on me.

Yours,

In perpetuity,

The Love You Haven’t Met Yet


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