Packing your CDs to move is almost more procrastination than progress. You can make it take forever, and it does, if half your CDs are in your car, in the glove box, or in the back seat or passenger's side floor in those big black cases, but in my car, they're also under the floor mats, in the side pockets along with a bikini and some sunscreen in a ziploc bag. There are some in the back map pocket, with the atlas Susan and I used on our road trip and a bunch of Polaroids of Bobby from when we drove up to Whidbey and got in a fight (my fault, that one), and there are a bunch in the trunk, with my old rubber riding boots and a roadside assistance kit that Brady and I discovered does not contain jumper cables. You can bring CDs for whatever car trip we're taking together, but I've got CDs.
I don't even remember all the CDs I've got. I realized this when I found two copies of Nada Surf's Lucky (which I still haven't really listened to) and two copies of Sky Blue Sky, which I bought twice because it went missing for 15 minutes one time and I didn't want to wait to hear it again, and an unopened copy of a Gourds CD that I bought at a show, and forgot I had, because I haven't always been the guaranteed designated driver and I was fond of bourbon around the same time I was fond of the Gourds. I don't have an explanation for why I forgot about my unopened copy of that Rolling Stones album that has the song Lady Jane on it. I think I was with Susan at the Farmer's Market one Sunday and made her go to Sonic Boom with me when I got that one, sober as a judge. I was glad to find the Stones, never get sick of them. I've been loving all this stuff about the rerelease of Exile on Main Street, the old videos from the south of France, Keith shirtless, Mick messing around in the recording studio with some kid who belonged to one of their entourage, or with Bianca on some jet somewhere.
When I was meeting people in college, I always wanted to see their CDs first. Nate liked the Sugarcubes and Dawn played AC/DC's Back in Black as loud as it would go before seminar on Monday and Thursday nights, and Diana played me this song by Ten Hands that Susan and I listened to on repeat when I went home for the summer. Susan used to send me packages when I was in college, always with a mix tape, some of them with themes, like songs with Love in the title, or Body Parts, or songs to cure a broken heart.
I still do that when I can, check out people's music collections when I first meet them. A lot of times it's iTunes now, standing in front of someone's computer with them while they scroll through their playlists. That's actually the ideal way to see someone's music, since you can get them to throw a few songs into a folder and burn you a CD that will change your life, a preview of the new world that person will turn out to be. Some stuff you knew, heard before, recognize by sound but not name, others things you couldn't have imagined on your own.
Sometimes at the Lucky Dumpster, Jessica knows exactly what she wants to play. Jenny Lewis, or Go Slowpoke or The Sadies. James and I were at the shop together one day and he played a bunch of Tom's stuff, and that was funny because it made it feel like Tom was visiting, or on the phone or something. Sometimes none of us know exactly what to put on, and Jessica tries to make me do it, or Tom. We both tend to defer. But when I was sorting through CDs tonight I kept thinking about which ones I wanted to take in to play for Jess in the store some Sunday. Avett Brothers, the Aretha Franklin Tribute to Dinah Washington, Let It Bleed.
I'm getting these weird little habits up in Edison, like waking up in the morning and hearing James in the other room, going to the kitchen in my pajamas to say hi and then not going back to my room to change until well after noon. It's just that James is always doing chores. Like the dog walk in the morning, or going to Tweets to get his tea. Things I want to do, so I don't change out of my pajamas, because it would take too long and I don't want to miss anything. Then I've got my sweater on and my red clogs with green pajamas and James and I are back in the shop, and Jess wanders in and laughs at me but likes my shoes and it's time for breakfast so we go back to Tweets again to share eggs benedict and lemon pear tart. When Todd tells me how good the Edison cafe is for breakfast, I find myself wondering if I'll ever spend enough time in Edison to be willing to skip breakfast at Tweet's for one day to try it.
On Saturdays or Sundays, at some point in the day, either Jess or James goes back again to the shop to open it up. James does the stop and talk all the way down the street but it doesn't really matter that much because you can see the door of the shop from anywhere he might linger. All day long, the table behind the counter is in a state of flux, James rearranging it, tidying up, Jessica making tags out of old file folders, me dumping one or more cameras off, all of our mugs of tea being filled and drained and refilled. Lots of tea. In Edison, even I forget to drink coffee.
This last Sunday, it was rainy all afternoon. The shop was open, but quiet, and Jess and I looked through all the new Karie Jane stuff that had come in, and tried on Jessica's new earrings, wings made out of beer cans, long grey leather feathers. I chose two finger puppets for the twins and a necklace that I wore to the Daffodils show at the Longhorn that night and forgot to pay for before I left. All of us drifted between the studio and the shop, the kitchen and the two orange couches upstairs. Jess, James and Tom all practiced for a while, and when people came into the shop, James told them to just let him know if they wanted help and went on playing.
The show they were practicing for was at the Longhorn that night, for Will's birthday. Will had enough beverages to forget which burger was his and accidentally eat the rest of James' but no one really cared. Christina and I sat together and tried not to get distracted by the National Spelling Bee which was on mute on all the TVs in the bar, but it's hard when those moms are so intense. Even on mute, the tension is nearly unbearable. Still, that seemed sort of appropriate, since Jess got so nervous for the show that for a straight hour she looked like someone had just run an ice cube down her spine, and when someone asked Tom if he wanted a drink, his blue eyes went all saucery and he said "NO!" and when someone asked him why, said "Would throw up!" James just wrote a bunch of copies of the set list and I begged him to play the quiet quiet song but when he told me he wanted to keep the stress level down for Tom and Jess, I had to agree that was probably a good idea.
Their set was great though, they sounded so good and dear, and the bar, which usually closes early on Sundays, was packed. After they played, the crowd called for an encore and Tom looked like he was having just about the most fun I've ever seen him have. Klaport was there from Vietnam and he recorded the show on his little digital camera in between the bobbing heads of two guys at the table in front of him. Tofe surprised them by showing up and Brandin popped up at one point during the show to ask if the band would play at his place next weekend, and James said Sure! as though Tofe's birthday party hadn't been planned there for months already. But it felt like that kind of night, where you could ask for what you wanted and get it, which is why the beer pitcher that was passed around with a sign that said "The Hat" got passed around and filled, only to be emptied again to pay for everything else we wanted, fish sandwiches and fried oysters and salads and Jameson on the rocks or Bud Lite or in my case, more ginger ale.