musical interludes

1. thursday night, 14 mission

“I’m moving to Florida tomorrow. Miami. I’m going to make music again. When I was in high school I made the most beautiful record-album-CDs. I wrote my own songs: ‘Waiting for my lover to come.’ ‘Walking in the rain.’ ‘Look at all the pretty flowers.’ God has given me the gift!”

The speaker was a black trans woman*, who seemed to be in her twenties except that her face looked much older. She had her hair in braids and she wore a pink shirt, a black miniskirt, torn fishnets and platform heels. The avid listener had wonderful blowaway silver hair and a beard; he looked like a mad professor. The woman got off the bus at Sixteenth and Mission and the professor waved a fond goodbye.

2. sunday afternoon, geranium place


Claire toddles directly to the cabinet piano and hoots to be lifted to the keyboard. Morrisa puts Miranda down next to us. Claire starts playing the tonic and fifth of an E flat chord. She touches them softly, over and over.


Miranda looks interested. Claire grabs her finger and puts it on the keys. Miranda, aged four months, plays the piano.


“E flat, huh?” says nj. He goes to the grand piano and starts improvising around the girls’ notes.

3. sunday night, eugenia avenue

R & J (unison): Old Macdonald had a farm!

Expectant pause.

C: Yi yi yo!

R & J (joyously): And on that farm he had a Claire!

C: Yi yi yo!

We call everyone we can think of and get Claire to sing to their voicemail.

* I used a transphobic slur here in 2004 even though I should’ve known better. Claire called me out in 2017 and I fixed it.

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