Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender

My birthday was one week ago – I turned 27. I spent the week in Boston for work and then Nashville with friends. This was the first birthday I had spent away from my family. It was nice.

When I was a child, I used to get so excited for my birthday. It was the best thing. I thought about it every day during the weeks leading up to it. I remember making birthday lists and picking out a restaurant and eating up all the attention. It was perhaps the only day of the year that I was comfortable with all eyes being on me. May 8th – That was my day. As I’ve grown older it’s been so much more difficult to invest the same energy. If I want something, I’ll buy it for myself. I want a decent home-cooked meal. I loathe the attention. As a child, it was hard to understand why my dad was always so exhausted on July 1st but now it makes a lot more sense. There’s nothing really special about most days, and there’s typically nothing special when the bells ring the next year, either. Rinse and repeat 75 or so times and our time here is done. Damn, when did I become this cynical?

I’m not very adventurous so new experiences are pretty euphoric for me: traveling, making friends, finding hobbies. There are fleeing moments inside of those things that make me feel refreshed, happy, and thankful. They are endorphins to the pain that is living. Waking up in Boston the morning after we got in was one. I noticed a lot of blood on my pillow from having accidentally scratched my scalp the night before (a common occurrence). I took a shower then dried off. The room was too bright, the walls too white, and my eyelids too heavy. I walked to the lobby to get some coffee and when I got back, I remembered it was my birthday. I guess the magic really has worn off over time. It was a few more hours before I received my first happy birthday text from a coworker. It took me an hour or two to reply to it. I felt very small and unimportant. It felt good. Big cities are amazing but they certainly don’t make us feel powerful. I was but a faceless ant on a gridlocked canvas – I felt very vulnerable. Finally, I did not feel that this day was about me. It simply was, like so many others simply are. Sometimes I have a good thought and the muscles in my mouth I use to smile instinctively flex, even if the grin doesn’t quite come through. It ends up coming off as more of a smirk, which I’m okay with.

I smirked.

Still, I wonder what happened to feeling like this more often. Maybe I’ve just been a little down. Maybe this is a logical node of my neurological development. I hope it get to feel it again soon.

This place is damp and ghostly
I am already gone
And the halls were lined with the disembodied
And dustly wings, which fell from flesh
Gasplessly

And I go where the trees go
And I walk from a higher education
For now and for higher

It beats me, but I do not know
And it beats me, but I do not know
It beats me, but I do not know
I do not know


Palaces and storm clouds
The rough, straggly sage
And the smoke
And the way it will all come together
In quietness and in time

And you laws of property
Oh, you free economy
And you unending afterthoughts
You could’ve told me before

Never get so attached to a poem
You forget truth that lacks lyricism
Never draw so close to the heat
That you forget that you must eat, oh…

Joanna Newsom – ‘En Gallop’