Easter, Saving Lives, and Lucinda Williams & I Spiritually Intersect

day zero project, holidays, restaurants

An Easter 4-day weekend is nearly upon us, and it felt almost like Christmas break in the office today, with visitors being asked about their holiday plans, people thrusting aluminum wrapped chocolate morsels upon you, and our bookeeper jovially dashing off “happy holiday” greetings to all she left for her break early this afternoon.

Partner-in-Crime and I are not going to fight the holiday travel rush, and have opted for staying home over this long weekend. We’ll likely find a few interesting things around town to occupy ourselves. If the powers that be are merciful, the weather will stay exactly as it has been for the past week. Our summer was a wash, and I do mean that in two senses of the word – both a loss and a complete rain out. But this sunny, mild autumn is looking like our reward.

Last weekend, we took advantage of the weather with another trip out to the bar at Cockatoo Island. Being at a bar on an island in the middle of the harbour with good friends is my definition of ascension to a higher plain. After a few hours of drinks, we took the ferry back into town and reconvened at Pancakes on the Rocks, or as someone in the group called it, “Denny’s.” Pancakes on the Rocks is as close as I’ve seen to an American style diner, and it is also one of the only restaurants here that is open 24 hours. Because we had just had a time change the night before, it was dark much earlier than usual, and the combination of that and the afternoon drinking did make it feel like I was back in my 20s, eating a Lumberjack Slam after the club at 2a.m.

I had another big day out yesterday. Mimi and I had booked ourselves a Groupon to do a First Aid training course, which turned out to be a whole day of insanity (the other students were nuts and our teacher seemed to have personal stories for every tragic eventuality we covered. She was almost as bad as Angela Lansbury’s character in Murder She Wrote for being a kindly seeming lady you don’t want to stand next to). At one point, the teacher launched into yet another story (dog bites husband, I believe), and I almost choked on my latte. Maybe my favorite moment was when she asked us, if encountering an emergency, who we were going to call. “Ghost busters,” Mimi whispered under her breath. Again with the latte. Ah, but the good news is that we are both now First Aid and CPR certified, though with the amount that our attention wandered, I’m not entirely sure we should really try to save lives.

After class and a couple of celebratory drinks, I met up with Partner-in-Crime for a pasta extravaganza at the very lovely and accessible Jamie Oliver restaurant, which we’ve been meaning to try for a couple months. And then, we headed off to see one of my very favorite singers, Lucinda Williams at the jewelbox State Theatre.

When I was 14, I fell into a mad obsession with the singer Mary Chapin Carpenter. It was a weird obsession for a 14 year old, maybe, but I loved her lyrics and I loved the type of self-assured woman she seemed to be. Her most famous song at the time, and one I listened to on what must have been a maddening repeat for my family, was “Passionate Kisses.” Now, knowing that “Passionate Kisses” was written by a singer/songwriter called Lucinda Williams (and, incidentally, that MCC had fallen in love with the song while they were on tour together, with Rosanne Cash, in Australia), I bought a Lucinda Williams CD. There was one song that I loved, but other than that, I did not know what to make of this woman with a gravely voice and sparse lyrics. In fact, upon reflection, I really did not like her very much at all, and gave up on the CD after a listen or two. Thank goodness that sometime in my early 20s, I had the presence to drag that CD out again and give it another listen. At that age, with a little bit of heartbreak, self-possession, and just plain drinkin’ in bars behind me, I came to an instant and abiding appreciation for Lucinda Williams that has only grown over the years.

And so last night, there she was in front of me recounting the tale of how Mary Chapin Carpenter fell in love with “Passionate Kisses” in this very country just over two decades ago, an event that I don’t believe it is hyperbole to say would change both her life and mine. I don’t know if the shape of my personal relationship to that story is exactly a circle, but it all felt round and appropriate, somehow.

Here’s Lucinda Williams doing the very sexy, grown lady song “Essence,” a song I (thankfully) could not have appreciated on any level when I was 14.